by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 January 31, 2016 Humble, Texas
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
1901 ASV Translation:
15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.
I. Consequently, Brethren...
A. As a consequence of being chosen from the beginning.
B. As a consequence of being called through the Gospel.
II. Stand Fast...
A. 1 Thessalonians 3:8 says, "For now we live if you stand fast...". The situation is the "test" of the Thessalonians' faith in the Gospel. Paul was on pins and needles until he learned from Timothy that they were, indeed, standing fast.
B. Our current text suggests that Paul has been on the trail of this "standing fast" from the beginning.
C. Philippians 4:1 indicates that he had the same concern for those in Philippi. Likewise the Galatians (5:1) and the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:13).
D. The undercurrent of this concern is 1 Corinthians 15:2. There is a real possibility that those who "believe" will not continue to do so (Luke 8:13). God's "justification" of the "believer" does not occur when a profession of faith is made; it occurs when the "faith" has settled into the heart (Romans 10:10).
1. There are two general areas of exhortation regarding "standing fast".
a. Standing fast as an element in "faith unto justification".
b. Standing fast as an element in "inheritance in the Kingdom".
2. This current text is set in a post-justification, post-validation, context wherein Paul has already affirmed their "election by God". This makes his "stand fast" exhortation a matter of "calling in view of the 'believer's' participation in the glory of Jesus".
3. There is always a real "loss" for not standing fast.
III. Take a Firm Grip Upon...
A. The verb is illustrated abundantly in the Gospels as meaning "to take a firm grip upon".
B. The things gripped are the "traditions which ye were taught". These are, most fundamentally, the doctrinal formulations and the consequent behaviors: what a person "believes" and what can be expected to follow in terms of "behavior".
1. A "tradition" is revealed by Matthew 15:2-6 to be a "teaching" that makes details "clear" with the possibility that it will actually circumvent the larger issue by twisting the details. Thus, a "tradition" is a "clarifying doctrinal formulation".
2. A "tradition" is not, automatically, a "bad" thing as both 1 Corinthians 11:2 and our current text clearly reveal; but, it can be a very "bad" thing as Galatians 1:14; Colossians 2:8; and the Matthew 15 texts also clearly reveal.
3. What Paul is addressing is the necessary issue of further explanation to general statements that have too many areas of application for easy understanding. The Ten Commandments are "traditions" in respect to Paul's declaration in Galatians 5:14 regarding "Love". In the same way, the 600-plus commandments following the giving of the Ten Commandments are "traditions" in respect to the Ten. And, in a very real sense, the entire Bible is a "tradition" in respect to the most fundamental aspect of the Creator/creature relational reality. "Love" is the bottom line and all else is explanation ("tradition").
IV. Which Ye Were Taught...
A. This brings special revelation into play: they were "taught" things they could not have "deduced" from observing natural revelation.
B. This bring methodologies also into play.
1. "Taught" "through word".
a. "Word" is the large issue of "comprehensive message" -- large thesis with multiple details.
b. "Word" assumes intellectual involvement and response.
2. "Taught" "through epistles".
a. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 has already raised the issue of false "epistles" (letters "as from us").
b. Also, the Gospel and its Truth/truths, have already been identified as "our Gospel" in 2:14. This makes "canonicity" a serious topic of study at some point.