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2 Thessalonians 2:15  (King James Version)
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<< 2 Thessalonians 2:14   2 Thessalonians 2:16 >>


2 Thessalonians 2:15

How frequently the servants of God have had to say this! John uses almost the same words at the beginning of I John 1: "Look, our hands have handled Him. We have looked at Him with our eyes and heard Him with our ears." Who is the we? He speaks of the apostles, intimating, "Get back to what we taught you." Jude and Peter say the same thing.

These men were not confronting the same people, but they probably were confronting elements of the same philosophical system that affected the church so strongly even as early as the AD 50s and 60s. Human nature always has a strong drive to make the way of God more attractive to the senses by blending it with traditions that are not part of God's Word.

This is what is found in Exodus 32, which God included in His Word so that we would see it etched vividly. The Israelites tried to introduce the Egyptian religion they had just left into the way of God. They used the bull to represent the nature of God. No wonder God was so upset! They were trying to syncretize paganism with the truth of God, just a few chapters after He gave them the terms of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was signed, sealed, and delivered in Exodus 24, which was a very short time chronologically - and they were already trying to twist the nature of God into something radically different.

We see elements of this in the book of Colossians. The theological term for this is, as has been already mentioned, syncretism. It means "a joining, a meshing, or a blending together," "an alloying." Is anything purer than the Word of God? How could a person think to improve it by adding something foreign?

The outstanding historical example of syncretism (at least in terms of what we call "the Christian religion") is Catholicism. It is a universal religion precisely because it has absorbed traditions of worship from cultures all over the world. Its Protestant daughters, having come from the same system, have not rid themselves of most of the sycretic beliefs, having thrown off only the governance of the Pope and several of the more blatant pagan practices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 22)



2 Thessalonians 2:15

God has His traditions. On the one hand, God is teaching traditions us through His Word and the ministry, traditions to which He wants His Family to conform. However, we have brought traditions with us from the world: Southern traditions, Northern traditions, Western traditions, Eastern traditions, Texas traditions, European traditions, Asian traditions, and so forth. These conflicting traditions set the stage for conflict. The traditions of God and the traditions of the world we brought with us cannot in many cases co-exist! When we add to this our desire to be free, it makes for a most interesting mess!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 1)



2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

So stand firm, and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father (who has loved us and given us unending encouragement and unfailing hope by his grace), inspire you with courage and confidence in every good thing you say or do. (Phillips)

When we read I and II Thessalonians, it does not appear that these people were going through any hard or difficult persecution, yet things were happening within the church. He tells these people, "Hold on!" There must have been pressure coming from somewhere to turn these people away from the truths, the traditions, they had learned from the apostles.

That causes one to think that, even though their neighbors were not persecuting them, nonetheless something was happening. They were in danger of being persuaded to turn away from the things that they had been taught.

It appears as if the focus of this pressure to which they were subject was something mental, doctrinal, and theological. So he tells them to "hold fast." The words J.B. Phillips uses in his translation sound like the words spoken in war: "Hang on! Hold fast!" he says. "May God inspire you with courage!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Endure as a Good Soldier



2 Thessalonians 2:13-15

What did Paul teach them that he calls "traditions" (verse 15)? The King James Study Bible says in a note regarding traditions which you were taught: ". . . refers to more than customs. In view here is the totality of the apostolic doctrine as it was given to them."

He is not referring to the rituals or ceremonies of the apostolic church. He is talking about keeping the commandments of God—about keeping the Sabbath and the holy days, about living the Christian way of life, and about salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 2:14 says that the Thessalonians were "imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus." How were the Judeans conducting their Christian lives? They certainly did not think the law of God was done away.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 20)



2 Thessalonians 2:15

Tradition is broader than some admit. A note from a study Bible contains a bit of useful information regarding this word:

Traditions refers to more than customs. In view here is the totality of the apostolic doctrine as it was given to them—all of the teachings, not just what we would think of being the foundational teachings that appear in Hebrews the sixth chapter or things directly pertaining to the great goal in life that gives us the vision of being born in the kingdom of God.

The writer understands that word applies to the whole revelation given through the apostles. "Traditions" reach out to include policies and practices or procedures that the Bible does not specifically speak to. The apostle has the authority to establish them while he is God's apostle.

Notice an application in I Corinthians 11:2. Corinth was a badly divided congregation, at least internally; church members there had all kinds of different ideas. In I Corinthians 1:10, the phrase about being "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" has to do with the way we see things, with our perspective. He is saying that we should not be divided even in our perspectives. I Corinthians 11:2 reads,

Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

Ordinances is the same word that is translated "traditions" in II Thessalonians 2:15 and II Thessalonians 3:6. Here, the translators have rendered it "ordinances," as if it referred to law. However, consider the issue in I Corinthians 11: the way—the manner—in which Christians should keep the Passover, the procedures that were to be followed. He instructs them to eat at home first before coming to the service. The passage deals with what we would call church-service procedures. "Traditions" includes these matters.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 2 Thessalonians 2:15:

Ephesians 5:21
Colossians :
2 Thessalonians 2:3
2 Thessalonians :
2 Thessalonians 2:15
James :
1 Peter :
1 Peter :
1 Peter 5:5-6

 

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