Originally written in April of 2016. Reposting now with an important link to Scott Hahn's testimony restored.
μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων
"And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men" Mark 7:7
ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων
"leaving/abandoning the commandment of God, you are holding onto the traditions of men"
The Aorist participle of "leaving"/ "neglecting" / "abandoning" (aphentes- αφεντες, from aphiaemi αφιημι ) seems to be contrasted with the present active verb of "holding onto" ( κρατειτε )- because they are so focused on teaching as doctrine, the commandments of men (verse 7), or they are so focused on holding onto their own man-made traditions (8b), it caused them to neglect, abandon, leave the commandment of God (the word of God, the Scriptures). Or, it could be an adverbial participle of means or manner, modifying the way they are holding onto the traditions of man - "by abandoning" or "by neglecting" . . . "you are holding onto". Or it could be a causal participle, "because you neglected the commandment of God, you are holding onto the traditions of man". Or it could be a temporal participle: "while neglecting the commandment of God" or "after neglecting the commandment of God". Any of these three fit the context. This is exactly what the church started doing little by little in history.
It is interesting to me that the word for "leaving" ("abandoning" or "neglecting") is also the word used in Revelation 2:4 - "you have left your first love"
ἀλλὰ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην ἀφῆκες "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love"
Matthew 23:23 - "you have neglected the weightier provisions of the law . . . "
Dr. Plummer pointed out in the video that this word, aphiaemi / αφιημι - has a wide range of meaning, many times, in context, it means "to forgive" sins, and other times "to divorce", but you can see the idea of "leaving", "abandoning", "neglecting", "forsaking" in the basic concept.
This is what the Roman Catholic Church did in history, by clinging to man-man traditions and holding onto them, they neglected and abandoned important doctrines such as justification by faith alone; and emphasized Mary too much and exalted her too much, and created doctrines such as Purgatory; and said that bread and wine turns into the body and blood of Jesus by the words of a RC priest. They emphasized and clung to external works and relics and penances and pilgrimages, and clinging to those things caused them to not see the main issues. Justification by faith alone was there all along in the Bible, and hinted at by some early church fathers, but it was left behind and neglected by their emphasis on external works, focus on non-Biblical things about Mary, statues, priests, penances, relics, etc.
Some Roman Catholics like to say that Protestants treat "tradition as a dirty word" or "always negative" and some (far too many) Evangelicals have done that; but that should not be and everyone should be able to handle the passages that speak of "traditions" in a positive way, since they are the true apostolic traditions.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you rom the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15I have never understood why former Evangelicals who have converted to Rome say that they could not explain or handle verse 15. As in the following in Scott Hahn's testimony of how he just melted into goo when the question was posed to him about 2 Thessalonians 2:15: (to see where this is, scroll down to the paragraph with the heading "Teacher at a Presbyterian Seminary") ( As I recall, a lot of the Surprised by Truth (edited by Patrick Madrid) testimonies also told of how they were unprepared to deal with that verse.)
Then he turned the tables on me. The students were supposed to ask him a question or two. He said, "Can I first ask you a question, Professor Hahn? You know how Luther really had two slogans, not just sola fide, but the second slogan he used to revolt against Rome was sola Scriptura, the Bible alone. My question is, 'Where does the Bible teach that?'"Aside for failing to distinguish between 1 or 2 Timothy, it is amazing to me, that he could not handle this, when one looks at the context of verses 13 and 14; and the date and historical background of when 2 Thessalonians was written.
I looked at him with a blank stare. I could feel sweat coming to my forehead. I used to take pride in asking my professors the most stumping questions, but I never heard this one before. And so I heard myself say words that I had sworn I'd never speak; I said, "John, what a dumb question." He was not intimidated. He look at me and said, "Give me a dumb answer." I said, "All right, I'll try." I just began to wing it. I said, "Well, Timothy 3:16 is the key: 'All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for correction, for training and righteousness, for reproof that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work....'" He said, "Wait a second, that only says that Scripture is inspired and profitable; it doesn't say ONLY Scripture is inspired or even better, only Scripture's profitable for those things. We need other things like prayer," and then he said, "What about 2 Thessalonians 2:15?" I said, "What's that again?" He said, "Well, there Paul tells the Thessalonians that they have to hold fast, they have to cling to the traditions that Paul has taught them either in writing or by word of mouth." Whoa! I wasn't ready. I said, "Well, let's move on with the questions and answers; I'll deal with this next week. Let's go on."
I don't think they realized the panic I was in. When I drove home that night, I was just staring up to the heavens asking God, why have I never heard that question? Why have I never found an answer?
1. The historical context of when the Thessalonians epistles were written. (50-52 AD)
Obviously, at this point, the only other letters that Paul has written are Galatians (48-49 AD) and 1 Thessalonians (50 AD), so it seems obvious that the apostle was preaching and teaching content that will be later included in letters such as Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Timothy, etc. There is no evidence at all that the apostle taught anything that Roman Catholics claim he may have, RC traditions like Mary as a perpetual virgin, or purgatory, or priests as a NT office, or indulgences, or the Papacy, or the Immaculate Conception of Mary, or Transubstantiation, external penances, relics, praying to Mary. No; it is obvious that Paul means was essential doctrine that will be later in the rest of Scripture. There is no evidence that the apostles taught any of those things that Roman Catholics developed centuries later. They read their own traditions back into the word "tradition".2. The context of the verse within the paragraph.
Verse 14 identifies the traditions of verse 15 as the gospel ("our gospel"), and verse 13 shows the doctrines of election, salvation, "sanctification by the Spirit", "faith in the truth" as part of the gospel.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
This verse points to the context of the teachings in verses 7-14, and what Paul already taught them in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and 5:14.
1 Corinthians 11:2 - same principle here; 1 Corinthians is early also, around 55 AD, so the same principle goes, and by the rest of the content of the whole letter of 1 Corinthians, especially in the rest of chapter 11 and 15, but not excluding any of the letter. Paul considers his teaching and letters as spiritual truths (1 Corinthians 2:12-13) that he is passing on/delivering/handing over = "traditioning" to them. Since they have written questions about issues that were raised after he taught them (see 1 Cor. 7:1); and he will also write another letter to them (2 Corinthians, which may have as part of it embedded in it, the same content as the "painful letter" about church discipline mentioned in 2 Corinthians 7:8 and 7:12 and possibly with 2 Corinthians 2:2, or it may also refer to 1 Corinthians 5 about church disciple), (or it may be a lost letter); it seems obvious the traditions are basic gospel issues and teachings. These essential teachings will all be included in writing, that will eventually all be finished by 96 AD. All Scripture is written down by either 70 AD or 96 AD. Also, the context is on the content of what he writes to them in chapter 11.
1 Corinthians 15:3 has the verbal form of "tradition", "to deliver", which is also used in Jude 3 - "the faith once for all delivered to the saints". It seems obvious that the context of 1 Corinthians 15 is about gospel essentials (which agrees with 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15, and that Jude 3 shows that all the truths of the faith necessary for the saints was already delivered once for all. This, along with Jesus' promise that when the Holy Spirit comes, He would lead the apostles into all the truth (John 16:12-13) and bring to their remembrance everything (John 14:26); it is reasonable to assume that all the truths needed would be written down.
It seems to me easy to see, when 2 Timothy 3:16 says that "all Scripture is God-breathed", that whatever is God-breathed or inspired is revelation from God, and when that revelation is written Scripture; and since it is God-breathed, is also "canon", since "canon" meant "principle", "law", "criterion", "standard", before it meant "a specific list of books" recognized / discerned as "God-breathed".
As Dr. White has said many times, and James Swan in an article below, "The canon list is not revelation, it's an artifact of revelation."
This means it is physical evidence and a result of revelation, a proof that revelation happened in history, since all 27 books were first individual scrolls in the first century, and each one was God-breathed Scripture, the list is merely the "footprint" or evidence or product of them all together.
Scripture is sufficient to equip the man of God in the church for "every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17; verse 17 is important to include), for ministry and teaching and counseling people (rebuking, correcting, training). Paul assumes that the "man of God" is a man like Timothy who has already been qualified to be an elder/pastor/teacher/overseer in the local church (see the whole letters of 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus). Things like the local church (1 Timothy 3:14-16), teaching, being an elder/pastor/teacher, a man of God, a man of prayer, qualified, are assumed in the whole context of the whole letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. The fact that Paul quoted gospels with law in 1 Timothy 5:18 as Scripture, and that Peter wrote that all of Paul's letters are Scripture (2 Peter 3:16), along with the "once for all" of Jude 3, rounds things out as logical and reasonable to assume that all things that were needed for the church were written down in Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:15 is about the OT only, but 2 Timothy 3:16 expands it to "all Scripture", including by principle, all of the NT books, even those written in the future.
Colossians 2:8 and 2:20-23 are also negative on man-made traditions. They also point to man-made traditions, (as Mark 7 and Matthew 15 do), philosophy, and the "elementary principles of this world" (see with Galatians 4:9-11) - these things seem to point the things that Roman Catholicism emphasizes - external rituals and laws, asceticism, rites and things that humans can do to make themselves feel religious - like visiting graves and praying to the dead, kissing relics, and the legalisms of adding things to faith as being necessary to do in order to merit finally that one may be justified before God in the future.
Those gospel essentials or essential doctrines are what Irenaeus (180-200 AD), Tertullian (190-220 AD), Origen (250 AD), and Athanasius (297-373 AD) refer to when they explain what "the tradition of the apostles" or "the faith" or "the preaching" is to their readers in the centuries that follow. When they explicate what the tradition is, it never includes any of the things that Roman Catholics read back into it. They are the same basic content as the early creeds, such as the Apostles Creed and the Nicean Creed. More on that later, Lord willing.
See Irenaeus, Against Heresies
, 1:10:1 to 1:11:1
Tertullian, Presciption Against Heretics
Against Praxeas 2:1-2
Origen, On First Principles
, 1. preface. 2-8
Athanasius, To Serapion, Concering the Holy Spirit Against the Tropici Heretics
, Book 1, 28-32
This work, unforuntately, is not available at the www.ccel.org or www.newadvent.org site.
But the others are there for all to see and read.