4:1-5 People will turn away from the truth, they will grow weary of the plain gospel of Christ, they will be greedy of fables, and take pleasure in them. People do so when they will not endure that preaching which is searching, plain, and to the purpose. Those who love souls must be ever watchful, must venture and bear all the painful effects of their faithfulness, and take all opportunities of making known the pure gospel.
3. they—professing Christians.
sound doctrine—Greek, "the sound (see on 1Ti 1:10) doctrine (didascalias)" or "teaching," namely, of the Gospel. Presently follows the concrete, "teachers."
after their own lusts—Instead of regarding the will of God they dislike being interrupted in their lusts by true teachers.
heap—one on another: an indiscriminate mass of false teachers. Variety delights itching ears. "He who despises sound teaching, leaves sound teachers; they seek instructors like themselves" [Bengel]. It is the corruption of the people in the first instance, that creates priestcraft (Ex 32:1).
to themselves—such as will suit their depraved tastes; populus vult decipi, et decipiatur—"the people wish to be deceived, so let them be deceived." "Like priest, like people" (1Ki 12:31; Ho 4:9).
itching—like to hear teachers who give them mere pleasure (Ac 17:19-21), and do not offend by truths grating to their ears. They, as it were, tickle with pleasure the levity of the multitude [Cicero], who come as to a theater to hear what will delight their ears, not to learn [Seneca, Epistles, 10.8] what will do them good. "Itch in the ear is as bad in any other part of the body, and perhaps worse" [South].