By Charles H. Welch
Fables. The word translated "fable" in the A.V. is the Greek muthos, and the five occurrences are as follows:
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.
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 statement:
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.