Traditions: Human Or Divine?

Albert E. Farley

Did you know that the church must walk in traditions that have been handed down for almost 2,000 years and, that, if we do not do so, our worship and service is vain?

What is a tradition? The word "paradosis" is found 14 times in the New Testament. In the King James Version, it is translated "tradition(s)" thirteen times. It is translated "ordinances" once. Vines, a complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, states that this word means, "a handing down or on; denotes 'a tradition,' and hence, by metonymy, (a) 'the teachings of the rabbis,' interpretations of the Law, which was thereby made void in practice; (b) of 'apostolic teaching,' of instructions concerning the gatherings of believers (instructions of wider scope than ordinances in the limited sense); of Christian doctrine in general, where the apostle's use of the word constitutes a denial that what he preached originated with himself, and a claim for its divine authority." This is an extremely important word that we all need to understand.

On the one hand, God strongly condemns the use of human traditions as doctrines in the Lord's church. When our Lord addressed the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes of His day, He strongly condemned their human religious traditions that made the word of God of no effect. They were guilty of laying aside the commandments of God. He said, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Mark 7:9. In Matthew 15:9, He said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." To the church at Colosse Paul wrote, "Beware lest any man spoil (rob) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8) In verses 13-17, he declared that even the divine traditions of the Old Testament had been taken out of the way and nailed to the cross of Christ. They had been only a shadow of things to come. Then, in verses 19-23, he condemned the use of the rudiments and ordinances of the world, saying they were after the commandments and doctrines of men. See also 1 Peter 1:18-25.

On the other hand, traditions that Jesus and His apostles taught are absolutely valid and must be kept by all who would walk in the faith of Jesus Christ! In fact, the divine traditions of the New Testament constitute our authority in the church. Paul was adamant is declaring that the gospel he preached was not after man. He said, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:11-16. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15, he wrote, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle." In these verses Paul equates the traditions that he had taught them in person and by letter with the gospel, itself! In 1 Corinthians 11:1-2, Paul showed how the gospel was to be handed down from one generation to another. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I have delivered them to you." This word "ordinances" is elsewhere translated "traditions." In 2 Timothy 2:2, we see how divine traditions are to be continually handed down to generation after generation.

The importance of keeping the divine traditions of the gospel is so important that Paul gave this charge concerning any who would not walk by them. "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." 1 Thessalonians 3:6.

Dear friends, the entire New Testament of Jesus Christ is divine tradition given by Christ to His apostles who, in turn, have given it to us. Anything taught which is not authorized in the New Testament of Christ is human tradition.

Which tradition are you following: human or divine?


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