Canker

And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus 2nd Timothy 2:17.


A local church is a body of believers. Like any body, it can suffer maladies. The Apostle Paul warns us here of a spreading canker. We still use the word canker today but only in the limited sense of an ulcerated sore on the mouth. It is obvious in the context that the King James Bible translators were aware of and used a much wider meaning.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines canker as: A destructive or corrosive agent, a. A chronic, non-healing sore or ulcer, esp. one that extends into surrounding tissue; (in early use) spec. a cancer, or the disease cancer. I don't think that that definition comes as a surprise to anyone who has learned to discern definitions by the context in which a word is given in their bible.

Today, we have divided the word into two categories. We have canker sores which are mostly vexing and painful, and we have cancers that can go beyond vexing and painful to being debilitating and deadly. Our translators saw both in that word and the warning in 2nd Timothy 2:17 goes beyond just warning us about uncomfortable ulcerations upon a local church, but to the possible debilitation and destruction of a church.

The canker to which Paul has drawn our attention is orally transmitted without physical contact. It goes from the mouth of one person to the ear of another. No wonder the good apostle spoke of those; Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake, Titus 1:11. In the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus we are told that what they said was profane babbling. They got the second coming all wrong.

A more complete look at the context of the warning gives us these three verses;

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some, 2nd Timothy 2:16-18.

One of the duties of a pastor in a church is to see to it that false teachers are shut down. I live in an area of the world in which most formerly fundamental churches are now either closed, have gone worldly and silly, or are just clinging to life. Cankers have eaten them. There is no firmer step that a church can take to insure doctrinal correctness than teach its people the virtue of the King James Bible. It is absolutely essential that a pastor be able to defend the word of God and to teach from it in such a fashion that his people trust it.

Just knowing the manuscript evidence is not enough. In my 13 years at the Black Creek Baptist Church, I have mentioned manuscript evidence only once or twice. Instead, I have preached and taught from it in a close application of its principles upon the lives of my people. I explain that the King James Bible is the owners manual written by the one who created them. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, John 10:27. They hear the voice of Jesus Christ in the words of a King James Bible. It makes for a flock free of cankerous infections.

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