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The Persecuted Church


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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 since the New Testament was still in the process of being written and it is referring to Timothy as a child. Timothy learned the New Testament as it was still being written by Paul. 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 as being inspired. This is why it is called God’s word, it is written, God gave it for all.

The Old Testament was cited by Jesus when He came along two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus discussing the events (Luke 24:13-27). Luke 24:44 “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.” As Jesus stated "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39)

Certainly having in mind 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 Gods word. He admonished the religious leaders to “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39), saying “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). He always pointed to the word written and never spoke well of their traditions nor introduced what he taught as a new tradition. 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 it is not found once. You would think over such a long period of time from various writers they would mention this. The fact is the New testament apostles do mention tradition from the old Testament but denounce it.

Paul in Gal 1:13-14

Mentions his former conduct in Judaism, persecuting the church of God trying to destroy it. Why? V.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.”

The Judaism of his day was corrupted by tradition (Mk.7) and this is why he hated Jesus and the church.

Peter speaks of tradition in relation to salvation 1 Peter 1:18 “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers”

There are 8 references to tradition from Jesus himself, all of them are derogatory. Not once does he insinuate they are useful for a Christian life. Why is that? Every time the Pharisees, the religious men, brought up traditions they considered them equal to the Scripture. Jesus brought to them the word to correct their traditions. He called what they taught the traditions of men because they did not come from God (Paul does the same in Col.2:8), they came after the Old Testament was completed, they were added on by religious men who 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 radically 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 either believing in him or the religious traditions of the elders, Mark 12:10 “Have you not read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”

When one listens to other mens reinterpretation or additions they are rejecting the cornerstone just as the religious leaders did in Jesus day.

2 Thess. 2:15 “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 often used to prove traditions are acceptable.
However Pauls 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?” Paul says he already taught them in person and now he is writing it down. Not something different but the same. Anything else said would be consistent with the rest of the teachings they received, those things were written down. It would not be a new revelation not taught before but what would be used to have one practice their Christianity.

Acts 17:10-11 When Paul and Silas went to Berea, they went into the synagogue. We read in v.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 another, but they did this themselves and were commended for doing it 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.

In 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 just as Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Tim.3:15.

In Acts 18 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 synogogue 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 by the apostles appointed by Jesus. So there is no concept of tradition 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 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 alive, 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 but mens, and do not have his spirit or life.

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