Traditions Encyclopedia


Any tradition formed on any other basis than the Word of God will sooner or later be found in contradiction to the plain commandments of God. We see this with the copious traditions developed in the Catholic Church down through the centuries. Holy candles, holy robes, holy incense, holy smoke, etc. all are in opposition to the principles of New Testament doctrine. Generally speaking, the traditions valued so greatly by the Church are deviations from the Word of God.

“But he answering said to them, Why do “ye” also transgress the commandment of God on account of your traditional teaching?” (Matthew 15:3)

We are not saying that traditions in the sense of practical applications are bad, so long as they are formed on scripture and never elevated above (or even close to) scripture. For instance, we are told to go unto Jesus without the camp of Judaism; leaving all the elements of a natural religion behind (Heb. 13:13). One application of that is to omit instrumental music from assembly worship. That is a tradition or application based on a scriptural principle. However, we should be very careful not to "do things how we've always done them" without looking afresh to the Lord and His Word for direction. This is the religious tendency of the flesh, and it is the opposite of dependence on the Lord.

The word "traditions" is used several times in the New Testament, not only for the added sayings of men (Matt. 15:1-7), but for what the apostles exhorted the saints by inspiration, first orally, then in writing while the canon was in building and not yet complete (Rom. 6:17; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 11:2).The word could also be translated "directions" or "instructions". In either case, these "instructions" were commandments from the Lord; "if any man thinketh himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge the things that I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). We have those same "instructions" with us today, in the completed canon of scripture. The idea that there is a separate set of "traditions" (man's word) that are to be valued equally or superior to God's Word is very dangerous.

Whether it be the Jewish Talmud or the Christian Catechism, the traditions of men always lead to transgressing the commandments of God! Why? It is looking to man rather than looking to God, and it is adding to scripture.



Matt. 15:3; Rom. 6:17; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 11:2