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The Bible vs Tradition



"And the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with defiled hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) And the Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with defiled hands?” And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDS OF MEN.’ “Leaving the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” And He was also saying to them, “You are good at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. “For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever you might benefit from me is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer leave him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that” (Mar 7:1-13 LSB).

The Pharisees were guilty of adding their traditions to the Law of Moses. Can we be guilty of doing the same to the scriptures ourselves? Are there traditions in which we must keep? Are there some that we make mandatory that are not? These are questions that I intend to deal with throughout this article. I began here with the passage where Jesus deals with the accusation of the Pharisees towards Jesus' disciples. They accused them of breaking the "tradition of the elders". Jesus points out their wicked intent by pointing out that there "tradition" was not found in the Word of God. Yes, there is a need to be clean. This is true. However, making it mandatory as if it was required by a law was their error. Let us explore this matter further.


Can we be like the Pharisees adding our tradition to the requirements of God? I believe it is possible. For example, is there a set scripture that demands us meet at a specific time on the Lord's Day? The answer is no. The only thing that is stated is the day (Acts 20:7). Is it possible to bind that time to the point where if it were to be changed from ten o'clock to ten thirty that it would be considered sin? It is possible. I would hope that is not the case ever, but it can happen. We know that we are to come together o the Lord's Day (Heb. 10:25). However, no time or number of services are specified in scripture.

Are there "traditions" that we are to keep? What says the scripture? Consider this passage:

"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who walks in an unruly manner and not according to the tradition which they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we did not act in an unruly manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the authority, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would imitate us" (2Th 3:6-9 LSB).

Paul says to "keep away from every brother who walks in an unruly manner and not according to the tradition which they received from us" (2 Th. 3:6). What "tradition" is Paul referring to here? Is it the same as the traditions the Pharisees had? Is there a contradiction between Paul and Jesus? We can say "of course not"! Why? The tradition Paul speaks of is the scripture. We should continue to sing. We should continue to be together. We should continue to work righteousness. We must make sure that our traditions that are not bound in scripture are not a stumbling block to honoring the traditions that are found in scripture. I want to encourage us to examine ourselves to see whether we have allowed our "traditions" to come before the traditions of scripture.


In conclusion, I want us to do our best to hold fast to the scriptures and not allow our traditions to prevent God's traditions from taking place. Let us treat others in the way we would want others to treat us (Mat. 7:12). I pray that we do our best to seek what's best for Christ's church, and each other. We must do that. It is not wrong to ask ourselves, "what would Jesus do"? It is wrong to bind that which God has not bound. May God's richest blessings be upon you as you seek to help one another please Yahweh.


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