I find it sadly interesting that the current evangelical view of scripture ends up perverting the very words meant to uphold the gospel of grace. One such passage is 2Tim 4:2-4. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. What did Paul mean when he had a scribe pen the words preach the word? Well, he did not mean preach the bible or the scripture for sure. He meant preach the gospel. We have amply shown through out this blog that Jesus, Paul and the other writers of the New Testament defined the word... word of God as the gospel or Jesus and it was never truer in this instance.
Paul defines the word of truth as the gospel in Ephesians 1:13. We have shown how substituting the phrase word of God, word of truth and word only makes sense when it is substituted with Jesus or the gospel. This is easy to establish in Paul’s use of the term in both of the letters to Timothy. Look at what Paul says in 2Tim 2:8-9 “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, (9) for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.” Here just like in 2Tim 2:15 and Ephesians 1:13 Paul defines the word of God as the gospel. It is obvious that Paul does not mean the scripture.
So then, what about his admonition to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach? It is the very opposite of what most evangelical preachers lead one to believe about the passage. The conventional wisdom is to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach those whose doctrines do not line up with the bible. That is not correct however. What Paul is really saying is to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach those who do not insist on the gospel of grace. That is the sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is not what we think scripture plainly or subtly teaches. Sound doctrine is to proclaim unabashedly the gospel of God’s mercy, love and grace and to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach those who do not.
Turning away to fables; turning from the truth is to veer off the course of proclaiming the gospel. Paul suffered as an evil doer for preaching the gospel of grace. He did not suffer for teaching what the bible says about correct behavior. He suffered because he preached the gospel to the Gentiles and Jesus suffered because he taught the gospel to tax collectors and prostitutes. It saddens me how twisted sound doctrine has become.