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By Tom Ballinger

In Israel it was found that a great deal of emphasis was placed upon that which one generation passed on to the other; that is, what father passed on to son. It was found in Israel at the time of Christ that layer upon layer of tradition had been superimposed over the Word of God. This tradition was the opinions, the doctrines, the practices, the rites and the customs that were handed down from one generation in Israel to the next. As a matter of fact, the word tradition means the handing down or transmitting of any opinions or practice from forefathers to descendants without written memorials.

Thus, in the religious sense or in the Biblical sense "tradition" means that which is passed on to others as truth but not based upon the Word of God that which has some sense of antiquity about it. That is, some opinion, practice, rite or ceremony that dates back in time and thus carries with it some weight of authority because of its age.

Now at the time the Lord Jesus Christ was being proclaimed as the long awaited King in Israel He was confronted on every hand by the religious leaders in Israel because He failed to pay any attention whatsoever to their tradition.

"Then came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with UNWASHEN, HANDS, they found fault" (Mk. 7:1-2).

One of the chief characteristics of tradition worshipping Pharisees and scribes is that they find fault. They point out things that are contrary to their tradition. They are fault-finders. They tear down; they do not edify; they do not build up. "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?" The Lord answered, "Why do ye transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?"

"For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not.  And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels. and of tables.
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him. Why walk not thy disciples according to the TRADITION OF THE ELDERS, but eat bread with UNWASHEN HANDS?"(Mk.7:3-5).

They are offended at the disciples because they are a little. crude. They wash not their hands before they eat. But they paid more attention to the Word of God than they did the tradition.

"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me (note it is in VAIN but they do worship), TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN. 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. And He said unto them. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition"(Mk. 7.6-9).

They held fast to their tradition. By so doing they not only ignored but rejected the Word of God. "Ye hold the tradition of men . . . and full well reject the commandment of God." To "hold" the tradition of men means to maintain or observe in practice that which has, been handed down. Note how "hold" is used in other passages

". . . hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21).

"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:23). "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. let us hold fast our profession" (Heb. 4: 14).

Now some will not only hold to tradition but in the tribulation there will be those who hold to false doctrine; such as . . .

"But I have a few things against thee, because thou (the church of Pergamos) hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam. . . " (Rev. 2:I4).

"So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans" (Rev. 2:15).

This is contrasted by the exhortation that the believer is to HOLD TO THE WORD OF GOD.

"Holding forth the word of life" (Phil. 2:16). 

"Holding fast the faithful word" (Titus 1:9).

"Holding faith. and a good conscience: which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck" (1 Tim. 1:19).

"Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Tim. 3:9).

The believer is to hold to that which has been reported from the Word of God. He is not to reject the Word of God nor is he to do as did the Pharisees and scribes: for the Lord Jesus Christ told them in Mark 7:13 that they made the Word of God of none effect through their TRADITION.

"Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered:"

Here we see the chief characteristic of tradition as something delivered by men and not by God. There is great danger in this. Remember what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 1:13-14.

"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure 1 persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion , how that above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the TRADITIONS OF MY FATHERS. "

They were not zealous of the Word of God but of TRADITION. Watch out for tradition for it is the seed bed for persecution. You ask why? When churches, Christians or people hold to their tradition and they are confronted with the fact that the Word of God is contrary to their tradition it causes them to become angry with the one who calls attention to their error. Then those who are exceedingly zealous about their tradition want to rise up and gnash on you with their teeth.

Being very zealous of the tradition of his fathers, Paul was able to place a great deal of confidence in the flesh when he had been a "blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious" (1 Tim. 1:13). The reason being at that very time he was as "touching the law blameless." He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee who lived after the most straightest sect. If anyone had a standing in the flesh, in religion or in the traditions of the elders Paul could say, "I more." Those who are zealous toward their tradition are very sincere. But sincerity with God does not count if your sincerity is not in harmony with God's Word.

In 1 Timothy the Apostle Paul refers to himself when he had been a zealot 
of TRADITION. He states that "he did it ignorantly IN UNBELIEF." This therefore must he the Divine commentary on TRADITION. Folks do it, maintain it, observe it or practice it ignorantly in unbelief.

The Lord Jesus Christ stated that individuals full well reject the commandment of God in order to keep "YOUR OWN TRADITION." It must be then considered a very important thing for Christians to examine the traditions to which they hold. It may very well be that they make "the word of God of none effect through (their) tradition."

Simon Peter makes mention of the fact that believing Israel during the Book of Acts was redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ from the vain traditions which Israel had passed on to them from their fathers.

"Forasmuch as vie know that vie were riot redeemed with corruptible things. as silver and gold, from YOUR VAIN CONVERSATION (i.e. behavior) RECEIVED BY TRADITION FROM YOUR FATHERS: But with the precious Blood of Christ. as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Note what it took to redeem them from the TRADITION OF THE FATHERS - THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. That ought to speak to the heart of the Christian concerning tradition.

Lest it be ignored it must be pointed out that during the Acts economy the Apostle Paul delivered to the saints certain traditions. This is tradition in the good sense of the word. That is, he delivered to them something that he had received from the Lord which he did not put in writing. There are two references to this. The first reference is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, (notice carefully) whether by word (what he told them verbally), or by our epistle (i.e. what he wrote). "

Again in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we read:

"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 WHICH YE HAVE RECEIVED OF US."

The tradition in this instance is relative to the body of truth Paul delivered to them either by his own mouth or by his own written word. It is said that those at Thessalonica received Paul's word not as the word of men but rather as it was in truth the Word of God .

. . . When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe"(1 Thess. 2:13).

Therefore in the sense implied in the letter to the Thessalonians "traditions" received from Paul were appropriate for that dispensation. Thus, traditions had the idea only of the "act of delivering over from one to another." There is no idea here of antiquity, only the transmitting of truth from Paul to others. At the time of the writing of the Thessalonian epistle the Bible was not yet complete thus much of the New Testament truth was of necessity passed by word of mouth (i.e. tradition) until such time as Pentecostal truth (i.e. N.T.) vas committed to writing.

But now in the dispensation of the Grace of God (Eph. 3:2) we are told that the Apostle Paul has received a special revelation from God which he refers to as the Mystery (Eph. 3:3). This Mystery made known to him after Israel was set aside in unbelief superceded all other truths made known or revealed up to that time. As the prisoner of Jesus Christ for-the Gentiles the Apostle. Paul finishes writing the Scripture (Col. 1:25). In his last seven epistles and especially in Ephesians and Colossians he makes known Present Truth. He gives a very serious warning in he Colossian epistle where he says in Chapter  2 Verse 8 "BEWARE." And dear Christian friend where the Bible says BEWARE you ought to BEWARE! That is, in Plainer Words, watch out!  Make sure you are aware for CAUTION must be demonstrated. But as you know Christians go on their merry way and pay absolutely no attention to the warning God gives -

"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" (Col. 2:8).


1. They find fault (Mk. 7:2).

2. They are offended if tradition is not kept (Mk. 7:5).

3. They honor God with their lips (Mk. 7:6). .

b. They draw nigh to God with their mouth (Matt. 15:8).

4. They have an affinity for ceremony (Mk. 7:4).

5. They worship but in vain (Mk. 7:7; Matt. 15:9).

6. They keep their own tradition, and ignore the Word of God (Mk. 7:8).

7. They make the Word of God of none effect by their tradition (Mk. 7:13)