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Bible verses about Tradition
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 18:20

The word translated “walk” is halakhah in Hebrew. Israel had to walk "in the way."

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 2, reads under "Judaism":

The authoritative Jewish way of life as expressed in moral law and ritual precept. It embraces the whole body of Jewish teaching, legislation, and practices that proceeded from interpretation and reinterpretation of the laws of the Bible. . . . Although legalistic in content, the Halakhah is designed to bring all human occupations into relationship to the service of God and to establish the supremacy of the divine will as the measure of all directions and strivings of human life.

On the surface, this sounds good; we should search and meditate as to how the Scriptures apply to every aspect of life. However, these interpretations were merely human opinions. Some of them were right on, but others were grossly off the mark. The Halakhah was not the Word of God.

Over the centuries, the Jews first gradually elevated these interpretations to be equal with Scripture, and then to be more important than Scripture. Mark 7:3 describes such a tradition that did not come from God's law but from Halakhah. Jesus says that they rejected the commandments of God so that they might keep their own tradition (verse 7). He also said their traditions destroyed the effect of God's Word (Mark 7:13). Halakhah was their tradition—the Jewish way of life.

In addition, not only were they zealous in collecting these interpretations and putting them into books, but in their zeal, they encouraged each other to live rigidly according to these interpretations. They were also zealous in proselytizing. Jesus says in Matthew 23 that they would encompass land and sea in order to gain one proselyte, and then they would make him a child of hell.

It became a major problem for Jesus and the church when the Jews did not have the humility to admit that many of their interpretations were wrong. They did not agree with God's Word, and they viewed Jesus, and then the church, as enemies to be obliterated.

Halakhah, the Jewish way of life that Paul called "the traditions of my fathers" in Galatians 1:14, had been his religion. It was in question in the book of Galatians, not the law of God. It was the Jewish way of life, the Halakhah, with ascetic, demon-driven Gnosticism added to it. This was the yoke of bondage that could not be borne.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 25)


 

Matthew 15:1-2

This ties in with Galatians 1:14, where Paul writes about being "zealous for the traditions of my fathers"—his description of the national religion of Judaism. Jesus' disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders, not the law of God. One cannot find a command concerning what they are accused of in God's law.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 24)


 

John 7:25-27

This is a clear example of a "private interpretation" (II Peter 1:19-21). Nowhere in the Old Testament does it say that no one would know where the Messiah was from. In fact, it says just the opposite! Matthew shows that Micah 5:2 names Bethlehem in Judah as the town in which He would be born, and that Isaiah 9:1-2 identifies Galilee as where He would launch His ministry.

Where did the Jews get such an outrageous, unbiblical idea? It was someone's private opinion that over time had become tradition, an accepted "fact." It became a proverb that is just as true as, "If you touch a toad, you'll get warts."

Is it any wonder that the people argued about Him so much? Earlier in John 7, we see some of this:

And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." (verse 12)

They had no idea what to expect because they were burdened by their traditional yet wrong understanding about the Messiah.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
No Private Interpretation


 

Acts 15:5

The issue in this conference was whether Christians needed to keep the ceremonial aspects of the law of God to have salvation. At no time was the question of keeping the Ten Commandment ever even raised. Because of this, it should be clear that the Sabbath is not a ceremony.

Since believing Pharisees are directly noted in verse 5, the term "circumcision" may very well include the unwritten "Oral Law" that was a part of Pharisaic tradition and not part of the Word of God. In other words, the Pharisees wanted the Gentiles to obey the oral traditions. This is why Peter uses the terms "tempt God" and "yoke of bondage" in verse 10.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 18)


 

Ephesians 5:21

Why is submitting so difficult? There are two basic reasons: education and attitudes. The one occurs because we all want to be free. Everyone wants to have more liberty than he has right now. Liberty is a major theme in the Bible, but we have a problem: We have been mis-educated.

Because of this mis-education, each of us puts a different spin on what it means to be free. Being free does not mean the same thing to every person because the same things are not equally important to everybody. Some people have placed their spin on freedom, because of their circumstances, as a need for more food. Other people want to be free to exercise their sexual passions with a great deal more liberty. Everybody puts a little bit different twist on what he or she would like to be free to do. Why? Peter writes,

. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct [conduct going nowhere] received by tradition from your fathers. . . . (I Peter 1:18)

Tradition is that cultural way, method, or outlook that is imposed on us from birth. The influences of our culture are layered on us like an onion. What layers of culture and therefore, traditions, heaped on us?

The initial layer is impressed on us by the home, the family—or the lack thereof. It begins to set our minds about what is important in life. Then there is a slightly larger segment—the neighborhood. At first, the neighborhood does not have a great deal of influence, but once we begin to expand our lives outside of the home, mother's and dad's influence slowly begin to wane. Our peers in our neighborhood begin to impress upon us a little bit broader cultural layer because we have escaped, as it were, from the home and have now gone out into the neighborhood. We keep layering it out: The city has an impact on us, the state, the region, and then the nation.

Peter said that we have been redeemed from tradition. In the United States, this thing about tradition has become crazy. One of the buzzwords of our time is multiculturalism. We have people in the United States who want to make sure that English is not the official language of the nation because they want to hang on to another culture. It used to be that, when people immigrated to our nation, they strove to conform to the American culture and tradition. They wanted to become full-fledged Americans. So what did they have to do in order to do that? They had to submit to the customs and traditions of their new homeland.

But today there is a powerful drive to get people to do just the opposite, to hold on to the customs and traditions of their former homelands. This process is helping to tear the nation apart! We are slowly being driven toward an absolute confusion of ideas because these cultures cannot agree. We have an environment ready-made for conflict—unless someone submits.

The world is the way it is because Adam and Eve took of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which indicates knowledge from many sources. This was sort of a preview of multiculturalism—knowledge from many sources without the spiritual guidance of God. We have to get God into the picture.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (II Thessalonians 2:15)

God has His traditions too! On the one hand, we have the traditions that God is teaching us through His Word, through His ministers. He has traditions to which He wants His Family to conform. But we have brought traditions with us out of the world. It sets the stage for conflict! The traditions of God and the traditions that we have from the world will not mesh! When we add to this our desire to be free, it makes an interesting mess!

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (II Thessalonians 3:6)

The major difference is that His traditions are right and true, and they work! However, because conversion is a process, and because we do not instantly and magically know all of God's traditions, we all bring our former traditions into the church with us. Thus, the church is set up for conflict, which is a major reason why Paul wrote the book of Ephesians. It shows that for there to be unity, both Israelite and Gentile have to submit to Christ because both of their cultures and traditions are wrong!

Again, we have been mis-educated by the traditions of family, society, region, state, and nation. We carry those characteristics with us. Not every one of them is wrong, but they do set us up for conflict with God and with each other. Only the traditions of God are completely right and true and will produce the right things. When there is conflict between the traditions that we have brought in to the church and God's traditions, we have to submit to God because we are not free to do as we please. If we do as we please because we put our own particular spin on what we think liberty is, it will bring us into conflict with God—and that is not nice! It is detrimental to one's spiritual health and one's relationship with God!

The second reason we have trouble is because our attitudes are perverted.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh [notice what drives human beings: This wicked spirit is motivating the lusts of our flesh], fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

There is a spirit characterized by desire—lust—to have it our way. Mis-education combined with negative attitudes equals conflict. Human nature is a package of attitudes dominated by the desire to gratify the self. That is why there is so much conflict (see James 4:1-3).

Our desires—whether it is husband and wife in marriage, or in business, or in politics among nations—keep crashing into one another. Conflict will never end until everyone is keeping the traditions of God. That is why we are in the process of conversion. It is our responsibility to convert over to God's traditions so that we stop crashing into one another. We have to overcome this mis-education and this attitude to gratify the self.

Satan is ultimately the source of both of these. We have to recognize that we are still influenced and that we pick up on his broadcasts. It makes submitting so difficult. The adversary is still working and bringing about conflict. Anywhere Satan goes, conflict erupts. He is a master at producing it.

Liberty without guidelines (like laws, principles, doctrines, policies, or even the example of another person) to which one submits (meaning we as individuals submit through self-control or self-governing) will turn into chaos because of the desire for the power to control. The desire to control is what we would call freedom—liberty. That is why there are so many horrible divorces and re-marriages. Submission, whether accepted willingly or grudgingly, is a necessity. It is better to accept it and do it grudgingly than not to do it at all.

We have to understand, then, that there is authority. It may be God, another human being, a law, a precedent, etc., but there will be an authority. It is an unavoidable fact of life. We face it all the time. Everybody lives under authority, and everybody must submit, even if it is only to the laws of nature—there is hardly a person who will not submit to the law of gravity while standing on the edge of a thousand-foot drop. It is that simple. Thus, because we step away from the cliff and not over it, we have submitted to a law. Why? Because we want to preserve our liberty, our desire to live. We know if we break that law—if we do not submit to it—it will break us to bits at the bottom of the cliff.

Notice that this subject has a broad application. Submission does not involve only relationships with God or relationships with other people. Submission occurs in almost every area of life, even in submitting to things we would call common sense or the laws of nature. Anybody who has the mind of God will be looking for every opportunity to submit because that is, paradoxically, where true freedom lies.

Recall John 8:32, where Jesus says, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Is not His implication that one shall be free only if he submits to the truth? Knowing the truth is not enough; liberty comes to those who submit to the truth. If one is standing on the edge of a thousand-foot drop, common sense and the truth of God say that one should obey the law of gravity—unless one desires to give up his freedom to live. True liberty consists of submitting to truth. It is the liberty God wants us to have.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 1)


 

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)


 

Find more Bible verses about Tradition:
Tradition {Nave's}
 




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