The Tradition of Traditions.
Does the Bible speak
of knowing tradition, or just Scripture?
Paul writes in 2 Tim.3:15 says: “From a child you have known the holy
scriptures....” The “scriptures” at this point meant the Old Testament. Timothy
was not brought up on the New Testament as it was still being written. This
verse explains that as a child he was taught the Old Testament by his mother and
grandmother. The Apostle Paul states that the Scriptures were available and
sufficient to lead one to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because they
contain what would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that all scripture is inspired but never speaks of tradition
in this manner.This is why it is called God’s word, it is written, God
given for all.
The Old Testament was
elicited by Jesus when He came along two disciples who were on the road to
Emmaus discussing the events (Luke 24:13-27).
“Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was
still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law
of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Ps 40:7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the
scroll of the book it is written of me.” His purpose was to fulfill what was
written of him by the prophets that are found in the Old Testament.
Jesus would argue often with the religious leaders about
their traditions outside God’s word. He admonished the religious leaders to
“search the Scriptures” (John 5:39), “is it not written in your law?” (John
10:34; Luke 10:25),
“have you not read?” (Matt.12:3; 12:5; 19:4; 21:16; 22:31).
This clearly shows that the people had access to and were
recommended to read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves, not blindly
rely on their religious teachers to teach them what it meant.
The word tradition occurs only 14 times in the
whole New Testament but in the Old Testament not once is it found. 8 references
to tradition are from Jesus himself, all of them are derogatory. Not once does
he insinuate they are useful or scriptural. Why is that?
Every time the Pharisees, the religious men, brought up
traditions as equal to the Scripture, Jesus brought them to the word. He called
what they taught the traditions of men because they did not come from God, they
came after the Old Testament was completed. These religious men thought the
word was not sufficient. God had Moses write everything down in the book of the
law, so there any mistakes would be minimized. If God did so in the Old
Testament would He change His policy in the new? Jesus pointed to the Old
Testament word, just as Moses did.
Jesus always quoted the Scriptures as the final source of
His authority (Matt. 22:29 32; Mark 7:9 13) He corrected the people if they
had a wrong understanding because of the religious teachers traditions, Stating,
“You err, not knowing the Scriptures.” This eventually led to the
confrontation of believing in him or the religious traditions of the elders,
“Have you not read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected has
become the chief cornerstone.”
When one listens to other
men’s reinterpretation or additions they are rejecting the cornerstone just as
they did in Jesus’ day.
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught,
whether by word or our epistle.”
It is this one SCRIPTURE
that is used to often prove traditions are acceptable.
However Paul’s point is that these traditions which were taught were the same
ones were written down. V.5 Paul previously stated “Remember ye not, that, when
I was yet with you, I told you these things?” This Paul says he already taught
them in person but now is writing it down. Not something different but the same.
Anything said would be consistent with the rest of the teachings they received,
those things were written down. These are what would be used to have one
practice their Christianity.
When Paul and Silas went to Berea, they went into the synagogue. We read inv.11
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received
the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out
whether these things were so.” What Scripture could they search to validate
their message except the Old Testament? They did not ask their rabbi, pastor or
priest. They did this themselves, and were commended by the apostle that wrote
most of the New Testament letters.
The book of Acts has numerous examples of the apostles using the Scriptures.
They often quoted the Old Testament to validate the meassage they were
preaching, especially to the Jews.
Acts 8, Philip was led of the Lord to where a certain
Ethiopian eunuch was passing by. As Philip approached, he heard him reading from
the book of Isaiah. The Ethiopian invited him to ride along in the chariot and
Philip explained, “Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and
preached to him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). The Holy Spirit used the book of Isaiah, it
was sufficient to lead this man to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ
when explained by one who knew the fulfillment.
Apollos, known to be mighty in Scripture He was preaching the “things of the
Lord,” but he knew only the baptism of John (v. 25). He did not know that the
Messiah had come and died on the Cross, and was resurrected. Two disciples,
Aquila and Priscilla, heard him in the synagogue and took him aside and
“...expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (v. 26). And from that
point onward he continued to preach and exhort, “showing by the scriptures that
Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28). He is later mentioned several times by the
Apostle Paul (1 Cor.1. 3).
Paul specifically warns in
1 Corinthians 4:6: “Do not exceed beyond what is
written,” which negates any traditions coming after the Bible was completed as
having any equal value to the Scripture.
That is why what Paul taught was penned on paper, pointing
to the Scripture as our final authority as 2 Tim.3:16-127 states.
Paul explained in Gal 1:14
“And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation,
being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Paul
understood the differences of what tradition was and what Scripture is.
Paul stated in Colossians
2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments
of the world, AND NOT AFTER CHRIST.” He said to” let the word of God dwell in
you richly.” He never spoke of learning of tradition. It is ONLY the word of God
that is living and active (Heb.4:12) to change one from the inside, traditions
can never be of equal value to what God has written down for all generations to
live by. As Jesus said.... My WORDS are SPIRIT and they are LIFE. Traditions in
the church hundreds of years after are not His word and do not have his spirit