Thursday, January 27, 2022

Stand Fast in the Tradition

Paul explained to the Thessalonians that two events must occur before the “Day of the Lord sets in” - the “Apostasy” and the “revelation of the Man of Lawlessness.” At the time he wrote his letter, certain voices were setting false expectations about the imminence of that day and even attributed their information to the Apostle (“Do not be troubled by spirit, word or letter as by us”).

According to Paul, the “Mystery of Lawlessness” is at work in the world preparing the way for the arrival of the “Lawless One.” At the appointed time, he will be revealed when he “seats himself in the Sanctuary of God,” the ‘naos theou.’

Bible Study - Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
[Photo by Ben White on Unsplash]

In his letters, Paul consistently applied the term “
Sanctuary of God” and related words to the “Body of Christ.” Moreover, he showed little to no interest in any end-time Temple building in old Jerusalem. Instead of waiting for this malevolent figure to appear in Jerusalem, perhaps we should pay more attention to developments in our churches.

Be that as it may, Paul links the “Man of Lawlessness” inextricably to the coming “Apostasy.” This person will be characterized by his ability to deceive “those who refuse the love of the truth,” including his use of “lying signs and wonders.” The target of his deceptive activities will be the saints.

Paul wrote to arm the Thessalonians with this knowledge so they could avoid the coming deception, and in this regard, he exhorted them to “stand fast and hold the traditions you were taught, whether by word or epistle from us.”

Rather than heed every new word by spirit or letter allegedly from Paul or anyone else, we must adhere to what we have received already from Jesus and his Apostles. In the context of 1 Thessalonians, the reference to the love of the “truth” refers to the teachings handed down by the Apostles that are preserved in the New Testament.

The Apostolic Tradition is the anchor that will hold us in the coming storm and equip us to avoid apostasy. Likewise, Paul urged the Assembly in Corinth to become “imitators of me” by holding fast to the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.

The way for believers to persevere through this coming satanic onslaught is to learn and follow this body of apostolic teachings. Paul was referring to the traditions passed on by him and the other Apostles.

There is only one collection of documents that reveals what Jesus and his Apostles taught, namely, the New Testament. All other claims about the faith must be measured against that rock-solid source. Any teaching, message, or “revelation” that deviates from the tradition, whether received from prophecy, vision, dream, or even an “angel from heaven” must be rejected.

Matterhorn - Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash
[Matterhorn - Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash]

So, where does this leave us? If we are to avoid apostasy, we must learn the apostolic “
tradition” and make it our own. This means spending time learning and applying the teachings of the New Testament. There is no shortcut, no way of getting around this necessity. If you depend on or seek revelation from extrabiblical sources rather than the Scriptures, you will be deceived and find yourself at risk of departing from the faith.

As the Letter to the Hebrews states it, “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest we drift away.”



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