“Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:13,14).
The “vain talkers…of the circumcision” in Crete (Tit. 1:10) were telling “Jewish fables” that were turning men from the truth, so Paul told Titus to tell people to put them on the pay-no-mind list. But what were these fables about?
Whatever they were, they probably had to do with “the commandments of men” that Paul says they were also using to turn others from the truth. And since these fables were being told by unsaved Jews of the circumcision, it seems reasonable to believe that they were about the commandments of men Paul mentions in Colossians 2:21,22:
“Touch not; taste not; handle not… the commandments… of men.”
The commandments of men here were the commandments of the law of Moses. The law was filled with commands concerning things that couldn’t be touched, tasted or handled!
You say, “But the law contained the commandments of God, not the commandments of men!” And you’d be right—if we were under the law. But our apostle says “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15). And when you put men under commandments found in past dispensations, those commandments of God become the commandments of men. What a testimony to the importance of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
But now that we know which commandments of men Paul is warning Titus about, it helps us determine the nature of those fables. He was telling him to beware of men who teach the law, and then tell stories about the law. A fable is a story that is told to teach a lesson, and the fables these unsaved Jews were telling were designed to teach the lesson that we are still under the law.
What kind of stories? The same kind men tell about the law today. How many times have you heard this verse from the law quoted:
“…serve… God, and He shall… take sickness away from the midst of thee” (Ex. 23:25).
That’s a promise God made to the people of Israel under the law. But when you tell people who quote that verse that we’re not under the law, and so we can’t expect God to honor that prom-ise, what do you hear? Stories! “But Brother Jim serves the Lord, and God took away his terminal cancer!” That’s a fable, a story designed to teach the lesson that we are still under the law.
The law also said, “the LORD thy God… is He that giveth thee power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18). That’s another promise God gave the people of Israel under the law. If they would “hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD” (Deut.28:1), God promised to multiply their crops and livestock (v. 4,11,12). But when you remind people today that we’re not under the law where this promise is found, what do you hear? More fables! “But Brother Smith always hearkened to God, and now he’s so rich he can afford to pay Bill Gates to cut his grass!” More stories designed to teach the lesson we are still under the law. Paul says to pay no attention to fables like that!
But as I’m sure you know, most Christians put a lot of stock in those kinds of success stories. But that shouldn’t surprise you, for the Apostle Paul predicted it, saying,
“…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but… they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:3,4).
Sadly, this prophecy has come true. Most Christians would rather believe a fable than the Word of God, rightly divided.
Don’t you be one of them! Table the fables, turn back to the truth of grace taught by Paul, and never look back!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.