By Charles H. Welch
Fables. The word translated "fable" in the A.V.
is the Greek muthos, and the five
occurrences are as follows:
1 Tim. 1:4
Neither give heed to fables.
Refuse profane and old wives' fables.
2 Tim. 4:4
Shall be turned unto fables.
Not giving heed to Jewish fables.
2 Pet. 1:16
Not followed cunningly devised fables.
Most of us have been influenced at some time or another by the wisdom and the
instruction of AEsop's fables. He so persistently incu1cated morality that the
people of Delphos took his life by throwing him from the top of the rock!
AEsop's fables fall under the heading of parables, and have no other purpose to
serve but instruction. Fables, however, are never spoken of with approbation in
the N.T., and Peter's description "cunningly devised" (sophizo)
could be applied to the four occurrences in Paul's epistles. Some of the fables
mentioned by Paul appear to refer to the Cabalistical interpretation of the
Scriptures favoured by the Gnostics. In no passage is the fable considered as an
innocent and useful mode of conveying truth, but as the weapon of the enemy.
In 1 Timothy 1:3,4 it is opposed to sound doctrine, it ministers questions
and is contrary to "a dispensation of God". The A. V. reads "godly edifying",
the R.V., however, reads "a dispensation of God", the Greek reading
oikonomian, "dispensation", instead of
oikodomian, "edifying". In 1 Timothy
4:6-8 the fable is put over against "words of faith and sound doctrine", and to
godliness which is profitable both for the life that now is, and of that which
is to come. Titus 1: 13, 14 places the fable in antagonism to the soundness in
the faith, and dec1ares that these fables "turn away from the truth". It is this
"turning away" from the truth that is the deadly result of the fable, and which
alas will be the character of the closing days of this dispensation. If the
reader opens a modern commentary on the Bible, he is more than likely to meet
the word "myth" before he has read many pages, and the word myth is the word
translated fable in 2 Timothy 4:4.
"They shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto
fables (or myths)."
When it is realized that the two words
mystery and myth are derived from
the same source, it will be seen that when the truth of the
Mystery is withstood, there may be a
judicial turning of the mind to myth.
This "turning away" of 2 Timothy 4:4 is but the consequence of an earlier
movement. "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me," said Paul in
chapter one, and that fatal turning away from Paul that is so characteristic of
much teaching today, can but lead to the apostacy of which Paul prophesied. Let
us hold fast the faithful testimony of the Mystery, even though all around us
are seen to be turning to their myths. The one is of God and of the truth, the
other is of the Devil and of the lie. We shall need the whole armour of God for
the evil day that is drawing near. The Mystery is "truth for the times". (See
the article THE
MYSTERY for fuller expansion of this theme.)
Since writing these notes, a letter from a clergyman dealing with the
interpretation of Job 19:26 has come to hand. In it he makes the following
"I will say no more about translations, etc., but would mention that you
and those holding your views are destroying the truths of Christ for the sake
of the Old Testament religion which you conveniently put in its place, because
it is easier to be Jew than a Christian. Our Lord used the Jewish scriptures,
solely because He was speaking to Jews and they would not have understood any
other. If He had been born a Greek He would have used their wonderful
scriptures; or if born in China, He would have used Laotza and Confucius and
so on. Through all of these and others, Vedas, Pitakas, Upanishads, Avesta and
so on, God was speaking in 'sundry times and divers manners in times past' and
through all we can (or should) see the many and varied reasons why man could
not grasp all the truth, and learn from all these various lessons. But with
you people who are so conceited that you know it all without, there is no
"So also, as our Lord said, He would be with them in 'a little while' (not
centuries after) in the person of the spirit of Truth, and of course has been.
The physical sciences for in stance have been a most important means of His
continuous revelation (here comes a personal note). If at that time I could
have got some sense into some of you people as to what God was saying so
plainly through electronics 30 years ago, we should be in a very different
state today. . . ."
We make no comment. The letter at least shows that Paul's prophecy concerning
the last days was not overdrawn; men are most evidently having their ears turned
away from the truth, and turned unto myths.