The RICHES OF GRACE
hath appeared to all men. Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." II Thessalonians 2:15
+ Biblical Traditions +
What does the word Traditions bring to mind for most people? We mostly think of religious traditions, whether good or bad. There are also cultural or family traditions, which can be good or bad. There are traditions we must reject, and there are traditions we must embrace. Again, my goal is to look at Biblical Traditions, in which we are to believe and practice, in contrast to unbiblical traditions, in which, we are to abhor. May we who are Christians know the difference between Holy Traditions and unholy traditions. Our desire should be to please God in all things. Amen.
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." II Thessalonians 3:6
This article will consider the meaning of the word Traditions, and the traditions of men, and the Apostolic Traditions.
The Meaning of the Word Traditions
The word traditions can refer to a teaching whether good or bad. It occurs fourteen times in the New Testament. It does not appear once in the Old Testament. The Lord Jesus uses the word eight times in a negative way. The Apostle Paul used the word five times, both in a negative and positive way, and Peter uses it once in a negative way. The first use of the word is by our Lord Jesus in Matthew 15:2-3, "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" The word tradition is used in the sense of a teaching that is handed down or delivered from one person or a group to another, whether it is bad or good. The Latin root of this word is trado (to deliver). Trado is the act of delivering into the hands of another. It is a teaching or practice given over to someone else.
In I Corinthians 15:2, the same Greek word paradosis is translated ordinances. This is apostolic ordinances to be kept and observed, for it is the transmission of God's law. The context of I Corinthians 11 is speaking of worship. In verses 3-16 is the issue of praying or prophesying, that is, conduct in modesty, and verses 17 and 34, the issue is the Lord's Supper, that is, conduct in charity. In verses 2 and 23, the apostle speaks of the ordinances which he delivered to the church. He is speaking of the instruction he gave them, which were the commandments of God. To disregard them is to ignore God Himself. The word ordinance is used in many other places in Holy Scripture (Luke 1:6; Psalm 99:6-7; Malachi 3:7; Exodus 12:14, 24). The Lord God takes great pleasure in those who keep His ordinances.
The Traditions of Men
The traditions of men are any teaching of man that is placed on the same level of authority as the Word of God. In Matthew 7:1-9, the Lord Jesus rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees who transgressed the commandments of God by keeping the tradition of men. In Galatians 1:24, before Paul's conversion, he was zealous of the traditions of his fathers. In Colossians 2:8, the traditions of men is used in a broader sense that includes all human teachings and not just the Jewish traditions. The context of verses 8-10 warns us of the doctrines of men. In I Peter 1:18, we see the vain conversation received by the fathers, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers."
The Apostolic Traditions
Apostolic traditions are divine revelations given to the apostles and handed down to the church to be cherished. The church that holds Biblical traditions today is held in contempt, as old-fashioned, out of date, and needs to catch up with the times. Some may refer to it as a traditional church.
In II Thessalonians 2:15, the word traditions (plural) refers to Christian Doctrine in general whereby we are saved, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." According to verses 1-2, the church had been taught some bad doctrine about the coming of Christ, and the apostle corrects it and confronts the believers. In verses 12-17, there is one final charge given about apostasy. In verse 15, they are told to stand fast and hold the traditions which they had been taught. The word hold has the idea of to guard, keep, secure, or cling to. Again, these traditions refer to Christian Doctrine that is to be embraced and kept by every believer. May we love and hold dear the traditions of God given to us in Holy Scriptures.
In II Thessalonians 3:6, the word tradition speaks of our practice, conduct or behavior, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." According to verses 4-15, some were not working for their daily bread. We do not know why they were not working unless they thought the Lord was returning soon for verse 10 says, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." Again, the instructions here are for our daily conduct as Christians.
Biblical traditions, whether doctrine or practice, are to be embraced and cherished by the believer. In Jude 1-3, we are told to keep the faith once delivered to the saints, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." In Acts 2:42, we are to continue in the apostles doctrine, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." And according to I Corinthians 16:13 we are to stand fast in the faith, and Ephesians 6:14 says we are to stand with our loins girt with the truth. II Timothy 1:13 tells us that we are to hold fast to sound doctrine and in II Timothy 4:3, we are given the warning that the time will come when some will not endure sound doctrine. The doctrine of Christ is to be believed and obeyed.
Sacred traditions are things handed down by the Lord through the apostolic preaching and writing. It is the body of doctrinal truth based on the authority of God's Word. Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone. Let us build upon that foundation (Ephesians 2:19-22). The Bible speaks of timeless apostolic traditions. Please understand that obedience, holiness, and standards are not legalism. There are no non-essentials in the Word of God. There is no unnecessary doctrine. Biblical traditions are to be kept, loved, and guarded. May this be our heart's desire. Amen.
"Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." I Corinthians 11:2
"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523