Stand Fast

II Thess. 2: 15. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”

Paul’s epistles are so rich in doctrine, the praise of God, the understanding of the scriptures; and yet, he always manages to be practical at the same time.  He has been speaking of high spiritual matters, and now brings them down to where the rubber meets the road. 

Therefore:  “Because of the divine choice and calling, pay attention to what I’m about to say!” (That’s a paraphrase, folks, not a strict translation.) What Paul is about to say applies to those whom God has chosen, who are accepted as brethren, because with great privilege comes great responsibility.

Stand fast: In 2:2, Paul had admonished them not to be quickly shaken or agitated.  The verb hold is basically to exert strength, both physical and mental.  They’re being encouraged to stay grounded, rooted, in what they’ve been taught and not to allow themselves to be distracted by all the arguments against those “traditions.” 

Traditions: Literally, things handed on to you; the teachings passed from teacher to pupil. There are three ways this word is used in the New Testament.  First, there were the rabbinical “traditions of the elders” (Mark 7:3-9; Matt. 15:2-6), the oral teachings of the Pharisees which had had become monstrosities by the time of Jesus.  Second, there was the heretical teaching teaching seeking to invade the church at Colosse. Paul refers to this teaching  as “after the tradition of men (Col. 2:8), a doctrine of purely human thinking and nothing of God’s.  Third, there was/is the true God-given gospel message that never changes. It needs no embellishment, no reframing; it stands the test of time and still brings peace and understanding to the hearts of men just as it always has.  Paul’s reference here is both to the various doctrines that he had taught and to his instructions concerning everyday behavior. 

Stop for just a minute and consider this: Doctrine is the foundation of  Christian behavior.  What was true in Paul’s day is still true today.Let me give you just one example.  Paul did some very clear teaching in Ephesians 5 about how the filling of the Holy Spirit works in Christian marriage.  First the doctrine, then the behavior. It is we who have complicated that passage of scripture by our tendency to separate the doctrine from the behavior, looking at the injunction for wives to submit and husbands to love sacrificially as a separate teaching from the earlier verses on the filling of the Holy Spirit.  It is not separate.  The truth is very clear that without the Holy Spirit, wives will NOT submit and husbands will NOT love sacrificially.  That is simply because we don’t WANT to!  It is the filling of the Holy Spirit that makes the behavior possible. Doctrine, then behavior.  Never look at doctrine as being boring, dull, stuffy.  It is the bedrock of our faith. I believe that part of the pathology we see in our churches and our society today is due to a lamentable lack of doctrine being taught in our pulpits and our homes.  The Israelites were told in Deut. 6:7 and 11:19 that they were to teach doctrine to their children at every opportunity of the day.  Doctrine is the foundation of faith and behavior. 

By our word, or our epistle: The tradition of faith had been taught in two ways: By word, and by letter.  Both were inspired of God and were to be obeyed. 

Today, we have inspiration only in the Word of God. The age of apostleship ended centuries ago, but those mighty men of God left us the inspired Word of God that has stood the test of time and remains the cornerstone of faith. 

 

 

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