Scripture & Tradition of God Vs Tradition of Men Over Scripture
The Bible and tradition both teach that our convictions are not to be based upon human wisdom but upon the power of God and His spirit which He gives to those who obey Him! The problem is not that human (carnal) wisdom is always wrong but that human wisdom is clearly fallible and is not a sufficient foundation for believing anything about God. Hence our doctrinal convictions should not be based upon human wisdom. The apostle Paul warned against such and we see that he knew this because of the written word of God.
1Corinthians 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. ... 1Co 3:18 ¶ Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. We will endeavor to build 'line upon line' to show the truth of the matter, to build you up in the Word, and to strengthen you in Christ.
Tradition is mentioned in the bible and its seen in two very different contexts. The two forms of tradition illustrated in the bible consist of :
1.) The traditions of men - which nullify scriptures or are not supported by the holy writ.
2.) The traditions from God which are in accord with, and recorded in, scripture.
Let us take a look at the word translated into the English bible as "tradition."
Strong's # 3862 paradosis: par-ad'-os-is from 3860; transmission, i.e. (concretely) a precept; specially, the Jewish traditionary law:--ordinance, tradition.
Notice that the greek word "paradosis" may also be translated as "ordinances", "precept ", or "law" rather than "tradition". Also we acknowledge the absence of any indication that this automatically means "oral" transmission of a precept and determine rightly that this may also include "written" transfer of tradition or law as well.
Tradition of Men
The scriptures hold warnings against any traditions, customs, precepts, or laws that are in opposition to, contradictory to, that nullify (or do away with) God's commands as written in the scriptural record. These customs, rituals, practices are inventions and traditions of men -- alone, apart from God. We must be cautious of the emptiness of the traditions of men passed down through time ... even those from our own forefathers or elders.
1 Peter 1:18-19, "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; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
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.
Matthew 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Scripture therefore determines whether tradition is acceptable.
Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
We see that Jesus and His early disciples warned strongly against any tradition or law that caused any transgression or nullification of God's laws.
Tradition of God
This truth is further supported in the scripture and we can see in 2Thessalonians 3:6 ¶ 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 [paradosis i.e. law or ordinance] which he received of us. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
Now the "traditions" of the apostles was what? Why the same tradition they learned from both the scriptures and the Lord Jesus Christ [Y'shua Messiah], of course! Are the ways of God outlined in the Old Testament? Are they not adhered to, and even expounded upon, by Jesus in the New Testament? Yes, of course they are.
We show you that the apostles taught these precepts both verbally and written, as any good preacher would do today, speaking of a scripture(s) (or a precept outlined in scripture) and then expounding upon it. The scripture is what gave credence to the speaker. The spoken words had to be in accord with the scripture or the person was not to be listened to. We see that Paul taught these precepts verbally and by written letters of faith (epistle). We also take note that both forms of transmission carried the same data!
2Thessalonians 2:13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions [paradosis i.e. law or ordinance]which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
There weren't scriptural rules and then also different rules transmitted orally. These were the same precepts taught by either method to some individuals - and both to others. One did not supercede or contradict the other. One did not contain information that the other didn't. Paul wrote that they should obey the 'paradosis' whether you heard it, or read it, or heard it read. God's word is true whether spoken or written. Thanks be to Him that the spoken words of God that we needed to know, along with the spoken words of the prophets, were written down into the scrolls that would later comprise the Old Testament. Thanks also to Him for the spoken words of Jesus and the apostles that also were preserved in written form.
1Corinthians 11:1 ¶ Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances [paradosis i.e. tradition], as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Is it alright to add traditions to God's word? The traditions of Christ and the apostles are things that would be recorded in scripture would they not? Would the four different gospel writers fail to make a mention of such things beyond what is faithfully written. Paul, Peter, James, and Jude all fail to mention things added to the word of God so can this assertion have any validity? What principle would have these men learned on the subject having only the Old Testament scrolls to discern things by?
Isa 8:16 ¶ Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
That didn't mean to the oral testimony; it meant to the written inscribed testimony of God's prophets and the Law which was already there in writing. We see that the scriptures are explained to be a sort of measuring tool. Let us see what else Christ and His disciples would have believed.
Deuteronomy 4:1 ¶ Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
There it is! The same principle again ... DO NOT ADD TO GOD'S WORD! It's an extremely serious thing for any human, in his or her own wisdom, to subtract from or to add anything to the Word of God. Is this an admonishment to believe the bible only? Is this “sola scriptura”?
What do the heavenly angels believe?
Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
We see that the angels considered themselves to be "fellowservants" of the apostles and of the prophets and groups them into a category of people "which keep the sayings of this BOOK."
Even the (unnamed in scripture) angel only expounded the words of the scriptural writings to Daniel. This is what it means to PREACH or PROPHESIZE.
Daniel10:21 But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
Read another warning from the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the apostle:
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
This is not some kind of minor, trivial point of theological dispute! God says in His word, more than once, that your faith is not to rest in human wisdom. That people should not use human wisdom or reasoning to tamper with His Word! You are not to add your own thoughts in “your wisdom” or to ‘correct’ or subtract from His thoughts. It's a very serious thing to violate this principle. If a tradition is not recorded in the bible then is it not indeed an addition?
Our example in all things is the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever Messiah did not directly appeal to His own inherent authority, He clinched His arguments with His opponents by saying, "It stands written!" or "Have you not read?" The Gospels reveal that Jesus held Scripture in the highest regard. His statements speak for themselves:
John 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
The strongest evidence for the authority of the Bible is the fact that Jesus used Scripture as the final court of appeal in every matter under dispute. When disputing the Pharisees on their high view of tradition, He proclaimed as we previously read, "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition..." (Mark 7:13). Later, when Jesus was tested by the Sadducees concerning the resurrection we read of His position on the weight of the scriptures:
Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
When confronted with the devil's temptations, Christ responded three times with the phrase, "It is written" (Matt. 4:4-10). Clearly, Jesus accepted Scripture as the supreme authority and subjected Himself to it (Luke 24:44). And, as followers of Christ, we should follow His righteous example. His example alone should be witness enough for any Christian to believe that the scriptures are called the Word of God and carry His authority.
Jesus clearly told us that status in heaven will be measured by obedience to Scripture:
Mt 5:17 ¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Mt 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.Mt 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
In the New Testament, the "spirit of error" was to be identified by comparing whatever the prophets are saying to the teaching of the Apostles. In I John 4:6, the Apostle John says, "He who knows God hears us!" That's the standard; what we have taught! In I Corinthians 14:37, Paul says, "If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord." And yet, even the Apostles called for the Church to test their own instruction according to the written revelation of God, according to the Scriptures which were in hand.
Jesus EXPOUNDED on Scriptures - as did the apostles. This was not ADDING to the word that which is not already there but only a clearer detailed amplification of the authority already recorded in the scriptures. The promulgaters of extra-biblical traditions are ADDING some things that are not found in the scriptures at all. It is THEY that need to heed the warnings of tampering- be it adding or subtracting - with the indelible word of God.
We see that Jesus did not add tradition outside of what was recorded but that He made the scriptures to be understood by His disciples.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. .... Lu 24:31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. Lu 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Jesus opened the scripture through His expert exegesis of the written word found in the Old Testament scriptures.
Lu ke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Let us read together some more testimony of our Savior.
John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41 I receive not honour from men. 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
The scriptures needed to be searched as they testified to who was the Messiah. The word also needed to be adhered to in action from a sincere heart. Christ said that He was not adding to what Moses wrote but was the living subject of what Moses wrote - a living exposition of scriptures ... The Word.
Paul said more than once "what saith the scripture?" when proving his doctrinal points. We see Paul using the scriptures - not traditions - to teach Jews AND Gentiles on the sabbath days.
Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
We see the faithful Bereans proving all things, testing the spirits, trying the doctrines by doublechecking all the disciples told them in comparison to the scriptures - not with any extra-biblical traditions.
Acts 17:10 ¶ And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Apollos also expounded the scriptures and taught Jesus out of them ... not out of traditions.
Acts18:24 ¶ And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
The revealing of the truth of Messiah was by scripture and the explanations thereof - again not by traditions outside of what is written in scripture.
Romans 16:25 ¶ Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, [i.e. the exposition of scripture] which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen
No, personal spins on scripture were to be considered. Peter tells us that men were able to expound on God's word only because they were inclined by God's holy spirit - and therefore stayed true to the scriptural record. 2Peter 1:19 ¶ We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
***In I Corinthians 4:6, we have what amounts to a virtual declaration of the Protestant doctrine or principle of Sola Scriptura! I Corinthians 4:6, Paul says, "Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us you might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other."
New Century Version : Brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself as examples so you could learn through us the meaning of the saying, "Follow only what is written in the Scriptures." Then you will not be more proud of one person than another.
Bible in Basic English: My brothers, it is because of you that I have taken Apollos and myself as examples of these things, so that in us you might see that it is not wise to go farther than what is in the holy Writings, so that no one of you may be lifted up against his brother.
Jamieson-Fausett-Brown Commentatry expounds this idea and says: not to think, &c.--The best manuscripts omit "think." Translate, "That in us (as your example) ye might learn (this), not (to go) beyond what is written." Revere the silence of Holy Writ, as much as its declarations: so you will less dogmatize on what is not expressly revealed.
Take notice of this important scripture! Long before Luther, long before Calvin, long before the 16th century and long before our current debate, we see Paul saying in writing that he instructs the church to learn the meaning of this phrase, "Not to go beyond the things which are written!" In the Tyndale Commentary on this verse, Leon Morris says, "that what Paul is referring to is a 'catch' cry familiar to Paul and his readers, directing attention to the need for conformity to Scripture. This is an important principle for us all today. It is very simply the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura in a single verse of the bible! And a whole plethora of supportive scriptures are present as well; of which we have already examined some of and we will certainly forge ahead and study some more of them as well.
Paul, in his letter of faith to the Romans, tells us that the scriptures are written for us to learn from - to develop our faith from ... and again we see no mention of extra-biblical teachings being used for such.
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The book of II Timothy has some more straight-forward answers for the readers on the veracity and authority of the scriptures to a Christian.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The bible does not teach us everything there is to know about everything but it does teach us everything we need to know for salvation. We clearly see that the scriptures can make you wise unto salvation. It is the scriptures that teach us of Jesus Christ and our faith. The apostle Paul makes this point undisputedly evident and then continues on the matter.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Notice that it says ALL SCRIPTURE. It doesn't say all scripture and other traditional doctrines that are not included in the scriptures. And what can be obtained by adherence to the scripture as a teaching and measuring tool? Why did God make sure we had the holy writ?
2 Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Notice this! By the scriptural writings, a man of God may be perfected . i.e. lacking nothing [hence no need for extra-biblical traditions] What follows in the text is a warning that some will seek teaching elsewhere than from the scriptural record and shall turn away from God's Word. (John 17:17 ¶ Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.)
The admonishment is to preach from these scriptures - to prove all things by them - to see what is from God.
2Timothy 4:1 ¶ I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
If someone speaks God's truth (His Word is Truth) and they cannot hear or will not acknowledge the Words of God it is because there is no light in them. So what if someone rejects all the scriptures as as laid out here line-upon-line? They reject God's Word do they not? What if they add teachings and rituals outside of the authority of scriptures? They reject God's Word do they not? Jesus also spoke of this truth.
John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46 ¶ Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
We have studied the biblical texts regarding traditions and scriptures. We have seen that any traditions that cannot be clearly proven out of the bible are suspect and should not be brought into your worship of God in spirit and in truth. If any of the readers of this study are adhering to these non-biblical doctrines they need to reject them and continue growing in the faith and in God's truth. We also see that scripture has God's own authority as it is His word. We have seen that the bible is all that is needed to prepare a man or woman to receive the living Word, that is Christ, and then to continue on to perfect him or her. It is clear that the bible, in the hands of someone with God's holy spirit, is the only reliable source to prove a doctrine. We are straightly admonished to not go beyond what is written in the scriptural record. You can call it sola scriptura if you like ... I prefer to call it (proven line upon line) ... God's Truth.
My brothers and sisters, We need to learn to love our Father, to trust His word, to believe the testimony of Jesus, and to learn to love one another by the expounded scriptures as revealed by the holy spirit - in all this we fulfill the greatest laws of God. Peace to all those who hear and believe His Word
John17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
It is written ...
... have ye not read?
... what saith the scripture?
John 8:31 "... If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.
©2001 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth Hoeck or Brian Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety, attributed to Truth on The Web, and that proper author credit is given.