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ATS Bible Dictionary

Colossians 2:8 Titus 1:14, a doctrine, sentiment, or custom not found in the Bible, but transmitted orally from generation to generation from some presumed inspired authority. In patriarchal times, much that was valuable and obligatory was thus preserved. But tradition has long been superseded by the successive and completed revelations of God's will which form the inspired Scriptures, the only perfect and sufficient rule of belief and practice. With this, even before the time of the Savior, Isaiah 8:20, all traditions were to be compared, as being of no value if they conflicted with it, added to it, or took from it, Revelation 22:19. The Jews had numerous unwritten traditions, which they affirmed to have been delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, and by him transmitted to Joshua, the judges, and the prophets. After their wars with the Romans under Adrian and Severus, in view of their increasing dispersion over the earth, the Jews desired to secure their traditions by committing them to writing. Accordingly Rabbi Judah "the Holy," composed the Mishna, or second law, the most ancient collection of the Hebrew traditions, about A. D. 190-220.

To this text two commentaries were afterwards added: the Gemara of Jerusalem, probably about A. D. 370; and the Gemara of Babylon, A. D. 500; forming, with the Mishna, the Talmud of Jerusalem and that of Babylon. The contents of these voluminous works poorly remunerate the student of the laborious task of reading them. Our Savior severely censured the adherents of such legendary follies in his own day, and reproached them with preferring the traditions of the elders to the law of God itself, and superstitiously adhering to vain observances while they neglected the most important duties, Matthew 15:1-20 Mark 7:1-13. The traditions of the Romish church, with less apology than the ancient Jews had before the New Testament was written, are still more in conflict with the word of God, and still more deserving of the Savior's condemnation.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 3:6, "tradition" means inspired instructions from the lips of those who received them from God, and were authorized to dispense them in his name. These apostolic sayings were obligatory only on those who received them as inspired directly from the apostles. Had any of them come down to our times, the only means of endorsing them must be by showing their agreement with the word of God, since inspiration and miracles have ceased.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Any kind of teaching, written or spoken, handed down from generation to generation. In Mark 7:3, 9, 13, Colossians 2:8, this word refers to the arbitrary interpretations of the Jews. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6, it is used in a good sense. Peter (1 Peter 1:18) uses this word with reference to the degenerate Judaism of the "strangers scattered" whom he addresses (Comp. Acts 15:10; Matthew 15:2-6; Galatians 1:14).
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The act of delivering into the hands of another; delivery.

2. (n.) The unwritten or oral delivery of information, opinions, doctrines, practices, rites, and customs, from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity; the transmission of any knowledge, opinions, or practice, from forefathers to descendants by oral communication, without written memorials.

3. (n.) Hence, that which is transmitted orally from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity; knowledge or belief transmitted without the aid of written memorials; custom or practice long observed.

4. (n.) An unwritten code of law represented to have been given by God to Moses on Sinai.

5. (n.) That body of doctrine and discipline, or any article thereof, supposed to have been put forth by Christ or his apostles, and not committed to writing.

6. (v. t.) To transmit by way of tradition; to hand down.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

tra-dish'-un: The Greek word is paradosis, "a giving over," either by word of mouth or in writing; then that which is given over, i.e. tradition, the teaching that is handed down from one to another. The word does not occur in the Hebrew Old Testament (except in Jeremiah 39 (32):4; 41 (34):2, used in another sense), or in the Septuagint or the Apocrypha (except in 2 Esdras 7:26, used in a different sense), but is found 13 times in the New Testament (Matthew 15:2, 3, 6 Mark 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13 1 Corinthians 11:2 Galatians 1:14 Colossians 2:8 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6).

1. Meaning in Jewish Theology:

The term in the New Testament has apparently three meanings. It means, in Jewish theology, the oral teachings of the elders (distinguished ancestors from Moses on) which were reverenced by the late Jews equally with the written teachings of the Old Testament, and were regarded by them as equally authoritative on matters of belief and conduct. There seem to be three classes of these oral teachings:

(a) some oral laws of Moses (as they supposed) given by the great lawgiver in addition to the written laws;

(b) decisions of various judges which became precedents in judicial matters;

(c) interpretations of great teachers (rabbis) which came to be prized with the same reverence as were the Old Testament Scriptures.

It was against the tradition of the elders in this first sense that Jesus spoke so pointedly to the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 15:2 Mark 7:3 f). The Pharisees charged Jesus with transgressing "the tradition of the elders." Jesus turned on them with the question, "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" He then shows how their hollow traditionalism has fruited into mere ceremonialism and externalism (washing of hands, vessels, saying "Corban" to a suffering parent, i.e. "My property is devoted to God, and therefore I cannot use it to help you," etc.), but He taught that this view of uncleanness was essentially false, since the heart, the seat of the soul, is the source of thought, character and conduct (Mark 7:14 f).

2. As Used in 1 Corinthians and 2 Thessalonians:

The word is used by Paul when referring to his personal Christian teachings to the churches at Corinth and Thessalonica (1 Corinthians 11:2 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). In this sense the word in the singular is better translated "instruction," signifying the body of teaching delivered by the apostle to the church at Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 3:6). But Paul in the other two passages uses it in the plural, meaning the separate instructions which he delivered to the churches at Corinth and Thessalonica.

3. As Used in Colossians:

The word is used by Paul in Colossians 2:8 in a sense apparently different from the two senses above. He warns his readers against the teachings of the false teachers in Colosse, which are "after the tradition of men." Olshausen, Lightfoot, Dargan, in their commentaries in the place cited., maintain that the reference is to the Judaistic character of the false teachers. This may be true, and yet we must see that the word "tradition" has a much broader meaning here than in 1 above. Besides, it is not certain that the false teachings at Colosse are essentially Jewish in character. The phrase "tradition of men" seems to emphasize merely the human, not necessarily Jewish, origin of these false teachings.

The verb paradidomi, "to give over," is also used 5 times to express the impartation of Christian instruction: Luke 1:2, where eyewitnesses are said to have handed down the things concerning Jesus; 1 Corinthians 11:2, 23 and 15:3 referring to the apostle's personal teaching; 2 Peter 2:21, to instruction by some Christian teacher (compare 1 Peter 1:18).


Broadus, Allen, Meyer, commentaries on Matthew 15:2; Swete, Gould, commentaries on Mark (7:3); Lightfoot, Meyer, commentaries on Galatians 1:14; Lightfoot, Olshausen, Dargan (American Commentary), commentaries on Colossians 2:8; Milligan, commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6); Weber, Jewish Theology (Ger., Altsyn. Theol.); Pocock, Porta Mosis, 350-402; Schurer, HJP, II, i, section 25; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, chapter xxxi; Josephus, Ant, XIII, x, 6. Charles B. Williams

3862. paradosis -- a handing down or over, a tradition
... a handing down or over, a tradition. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration:
paradosis Phonetic Spelling: (par-ad'-os-is) Short Definition: an ...
// - 7k

3970. patroparadotos -- one who kills one's father
... inherited From pater and a derivative of paradidomi (in the sense of handing over
or down); traditionary -- received by tradition from fathers. see GREEK pater. ...
// - 6k

1485. ethos -- custom, a usage (prescribed by habit or law)
... Cognate: 1485 (from 1486 , "to be accustomed") custom; behavior based on tradition
(a habit) fixed by the religious social life of a nation. See 1486 (). ...
// - 7k

1486. etho -- to be accustomed, part. custom
... 1486 (cognate with 1485 , "behavior based on tradition or custom") -- doing what
one is to do, ie on the basis of or (see Mt 27:15; Lk 4:16; Ac 17:2). ...
// - 6k

Strong's Hebrew
4687. mitsvah -- commandment
... command (15), commanded (7), commandment (34), commandments (118), commands (2),
obligation (1), prescribed (2), terms (1), things (4), tradition* (1), what (1 ...
/hebrew/4687.htm - 6k

376. ish -- man
... 1), swordsmen* (1), this one (1), this one and that one (1), those (1), those who
(3), tiller* (1), together* (1), traders* (2), tradition* (1), traveler* (1 ...
/hebrew/376.htm - 7k


The Influence of Tradition.
... IV. THE INFLUENCE OF TRADITION. "Making the word of God of none effect through
your traditions: and many such like things ye do.""Mark 7:13. ...
/.../percival/sermons at rugby/iv the influence of tradition.htm

... The DESIRE of AGES Chapter 42 Tradition. ... In the presence of the multitude they said,
"Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? ...
// desire of ages/chapter 42 tradition.htm

The Tradition of the Apostles Secured by Other Excellent ...
... SECT. VI. The tradition of the apostles secured by other excellent instructions;
I. The tradition of the apostles secured by other excellent instructions; II. ...
/.../sect vi the tradition of.htm

The one Tradition of the Faith, which is Substantially Alike in ...
... Chapter XXVIII."The One Tradition of the Faith, Which is Substantially Alike in
the Churches Everywhere, a Good Proof that the Transmission Has Been True and ...
/.../the prescription against heretics/chapter xxviii the one tradition of.htm

The Tradition of the Church Prior to that of the Heresies.
... The Stromata, or Miscellanies. Book VII. Chapter XVII."The Tradition of
the Church Prior to that of the Heresies. Those, then, that ...
/.../clement/the stromata or miscellanies/chapter xvii the tradition of the.htm

Papal Infallibility Explained, and Tested by Tradition and ...
... A HISTORY OF THE CREEDS OF CHRISTENDOM 34. Papal Infallibility Explained, and Tested
by Tradition and Scripture. ... [328]. Papal Infallibility tested by Tradition. ...
/.../ 34 papal infallibility explained.htm

Since Custom and Ancient Tradition have Prevailed that the Bishop ...
... Canon VII. Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop
of ??lia i.? Since custom and ancient tradition have ...
/.../schaff/the seven ecumenical councils/canon vii since custom and.htm

Rejection of the Tradition of the Elders.
the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.". ...
// life/rejection of the tradition of.htm

Concerning the Pharisees and Scribes who came and Inquired, Why do ...
... Book XI. 8. Concerning the Pharisees and Scribes Who Came and Inquired, Why
Do Thy Disciples Transgress the Tradition of the Elders? ...
/.../origens commentary on the gospel of matthew/8 concerning the pharisees and.htm

The Heretics Follow Neither Scripture nor Tradition.
... Against Heresies: Book III Chapter II."The heretics follow neither Scripture
nor tradition. 1. When, however, they are confuted ...
/.../irenaeus/against heresies/chapter ii the heretics follow neither.htm

Tradition (13 Occurrences)
... committed to writing. 6. (vt) To transmit by way of tradition; to hand down.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. TRADITION. tra-dish'-un ...
/t/tradition.htm - 17k

Mamre (10 Occurrences)
... The one site which has a claim on grounds other than tradition is that called Khirbet
and `Ain Nimreh (literally, the "ruin" and "spring" of "the leopard ...
/m/mamre.htm - 16k

Golgotha (4 Occurrences)
... This tradition apparently originates with Jerome (346-420 AD), who refers to (3),
to condemn it, and says that "outside the city and without the gate there are ...
/g/golgotha.htm - 19k

Traditional (3 Occurrences)
... 1. (a.) Of or pertaining to tradition; derived from tradition; communicated from
ancestors to descendants by word only; transmitted from age to age without ...
/t/traditional.htm - 7k

Nahum (3 Occurrences)
... The Four Traditions One tradition, which cannot be traced beyond the 16th century
AD, identifies the home of Nahum with a modern village Elkush, or Alkosh, not ...
/n/nahum.htm - 21k

Deluge (17 Occurrences)
... del'-uj 1. The Biblical Account 2. "Noah's Log Book" 3. The Egyptian Tradition 4.
The Indian Tradition 5. The Chinese Tradition 6. The Greek Tradition 7. The ...
/d/deluge.htm - 47k

Melchizedek (12 Occurrences)
... speculation. It is an old tradition among the Jews that he was Shem, the
son of Noah, who may have survived to this time. Melchizedek ...
/m/melchizedek.htm - 19k

Melchisedec (10 Occurrences)
... Beitrage zur Assyriologie, IV, 101;, 279;, cited by GA Smith, Jerusalem, II, 8,
note 1). It thus becomes clear that possibly tradition identified Melchizedek ...
/m/melchisedec.htm - 17k

Lamentations (6 Occurrences)
... The spirit, tone, language, and subject-matter are in accord with the
testimony of tradition in assigning it to him. According to ...
/l/lamentations.htm - 20k

Noah (55 Occurrences)
... Unrestrained tradition would have been sure to distort the proportions, as is
shown by what actually occurred in other accounts of the Ark. ...
/n/noah.htm - 66k

Should Catholic tradition have equal or greater authority than the Bible? |

How should a Christian view tradition? |

How much of the Bible was transmitted by oral tradition? |

Tradition: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Tradition (13 Occurrences)

Matthew 15:2
"Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don't wash their hands when they eat bread."

Matthew 15:3
He answered them, "Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?

Matthew 15:6
he shall not honor his father or mother.' You have made the commandment of God void because of your tradition.

Mark 7:3
(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, don't eat unless they wash their hands and forearms, holding to the tradition of the elders.

Mark 7:5
The Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why don't your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?"

Mark 7:8
"For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men-the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things."

Mark 7:9
He said to them, "Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

Mark 7:13
making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this."

Colossians 2:8
Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion, and not after the tradition which they received from us.

1 Peter 1:18
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

2 Chronicles 35:25
Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and singing women spoke of Josiah in their lamentations to this day; and they made them an ordinance in Israel: and behold, they are written in the lamentations.
(See NIV)

Isaiah 29:13
And the Lord said, because this people come near to me with their mouths, and give honour to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and their fear of me is false, a rule given them by the teaching of men;
(See NAS)



Tradition: Commandments of Men

Tradition: Not Authoritative

Tradition: RV

Tradition: The Decisions and Minor Precepts Taught by Paul

Related Terms

Mamre (10 Occurrences)

Golgotha (4 Occurrences)

Traditional (3 Occurrences)

Nahum (3 Occurrences)

Deluge (17 Occurrences)

Melchizedek (12 Occurrences)

Melchisedec (10 Occurrences)

Lamentations (6 Occurrences)

Noah (55 Occurrences)

Unwashen (3 Occurrences)

Linus (1 Occurrence)

Fringes (4 Occurrences)

Elders (203 Occurrences)

Aside (416 Occurrences)


Seventy (97 Occurrences)

Wherefore (448 Occurrences)

Ephesus (20 Occurrences)

Syriac (2 Occurrences)

Bethlehem (49 Occurrences)

Gerizim (4 Occurrences)

God's (602 Occurrences)

Machpelah (6 Occurrences)

Preacher (27 Occurrences)

Nethinim (16 Occurrences)

Isaiah (64 Occurrences)

Sanhedrin (19 Occurrences)

Abiathar (29 Occurrences)

Commandment (209 Occurrences)

Sermon (1 Occurrence)

Ecclesiastes (1 Occurrence)


Tabor (12 Occurrences)


Conception (6 Occurrences)


Simeon (48 Occurrences)

Olives (30 Occurrences)

Holding (62 Occurrences)

Eat (690 Occurrences)

Discomfiture (6 Occurrences)


Passover (81 Occurrences)

Fasts (3 Occurrences)

Feasts (45 Occurrences)

Sinai (38 Occurrences)


Void (64 Occurrences)


Nullify (8 Occurrences)

None (573 Occurrences)

Uz (8 Occurrences)

Lazarus (19 Occurrences)



Gamaliel (7 Occurrences)

Gath (44 Occurrences)

Jacob's (34 Occurrences)

Trees (179 Occurrences)

Tomb (70 Occurrences)

Transgress (26 Occurrences)

Rachel's (5 Occurrences)

Rahab (14 Occurrences)

Raddai (1 Occurrence)

Emmaus (1 Occurrence)

Effect (173 Occurrences)

Diana (5 Occurrences)

Disobey (15 Occurrences)

Physician (6 Occurrences)

Bethesda (1 Occurrence)

Commands (216 Occurrences)


Artemis (5 Occurrences)

Alphaeus (5 Occurrences)

Africa (1 Occurrence)

Anah (10 Occurrences)


Salamis (1 Occurrence)

Shamgar (2 Occurrences)

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