Below are the two most common prooftexts1 that the Roman Catholic Religion used to support their most cherished doctrines. It can be rightly said that her entire system will fall once we faithfully expound those passages. So, here’s Bro. Jezreel Madsa on the texts, with few additional insights from me, that deal with Sacred Tradition and Supremacy of Peter. You can go here if you like to watch the full video.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:15 and THE ABSURDITY OF sacred TRADITION
This verse is one of the most often-quoted Bible verses used to support the concept of Oral Tradition as taught by the Roman Catholic Religion. For the benefit of our listener and those who watch our podcast. Let us first define what we mean by the term “tradition”.
The term “tradition” is translated in Greek as “paradosis” or with its declension “paradoseis” or something that is handed over or something that is passed on from one person to another (1 Corinthians 11:2) or from one generation to another generation. The medium of transmission could be oral, digital, or written.
A good example of this would be The Creeds of Christendom where it contains brief articles of faith which distinguish orthodoxy from heterodoxy; and Confessions which distinguishes our local church being Reformed from other denominations. At this point in time, we see many churches still have these documents being memorized and even incorporated in the liturgy of most Protestant Churches. In other words, we are not against traditions. How can one be against tradition when it is biblical? So, we do not reject tradition but rather make use of it sensibly as long as it is in accord with the Scriptures and speaks the truth.
So this gives rise to the question, if both Roman Catholic and Protestant believe in tradition. How do they differ to each other? We can talk about this in detail later on. But before we dive into it. There are at least two kinds of tradition as exemplified in the Scriptures:
- Human Tradition – These are traditions that came from human: their customs, cultural practices, philosophy, rituals and etc. Since this tradition came from men, therefore it is not infallible. (Matthew 15:3, Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:8-9; Colossians 2:8)
- Sacred Tradition – These are traditions that came from God himself. (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6) And this sacred tradition according to Roman Catholic is transmitted in two different ways. Written and Oral.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church Articles 81-82:
And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence. "Catholics, on the other hand, hold that there may be, that there is in fact, and that there must of necessity be certain revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible" (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XV [New York: Encyclopedia Press, Inc, 1913], p. 6, 2nd column).
The RCR’s use of tradition is said to be her Achilles heel, which when proven false can lead to serious downfall. It goes on to say that part of the infallible truths are contained in the Holy Scriptures, the rest are contained in the Oral Tradition. So whenever they are demanded to provide Scriptural proofs to defend their unbiblical teachings like Purgatory, Mary being co-mediatrix, Immaculate Concepcion etc., whenever they are pushed against the corner, they would appeal to their mysterious undisclosed oral tradition. The problem here is that there is absolutely no way for us to verify the content of this oral tradition even their apologists don’t know the entire truths contained therein. Sounds mysterious isn’t it? This text is very fundamental in their defense since it would make their job easy. They can now endorse a host of outlandish teachings that are not taught in the Bible but they would claim to be in the Oral Tradition. So how do we deal with this argument? Let’s go and examine the text being used to support this concept.
“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Does Paul teach the Thessalonians that there are two separate depository of truths?
- The context tells us about the Second Coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1)
- There is a dubious oral and written tradition that they received (2 Thessalonians 2:2) that claims to be from the Apostles, and teaches a counterfeit message that the Second Coming has already happened.
- It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul refutes them and telling them that the Second Coming hasn’t come yet. The Antichrist will have to be revealed before Jesus will come. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
- Because of this, the Apostle Paul gives the Thessalonians a token of the genuineness of his letter by writing the epistle with his own hand with his signature on it (2 Thessalonians 3:17)
- Encourages the Thessalonians to hold fast and firm the traditions (Apostolic teachings) which they already received from the Apostle Paul.
Meanwhile, the Valentinian Gnostic heresies also have their own oral tradition. Ireneous of Lyons confronted and refuted the teachings of the Valentinians by exposing it and utilizing the Scriptures as the pillar and ground of the Christian faith.
“They tell us, however, that this knowledge has not been openly divulged, because all ARE NOT CAPABLE of receiving it, but has been mystically revealed by the Saviour through means of parables to those qualified for understanding it.” ~ Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, Book 1:3:1
“. . .according to their idea, THE TRUTH PROPERLY RESIDES at one time in VALENTINUS, at another in MARCION, at another in CERINTHUS, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.” ~ Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, Book 3:2:1
""When, however, they are CONFUTED from the SCRIPTURES, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, AS IF they were not CORRECT, nor of authority, and [ASSERT] that they are AMBIGUOUS, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are IGNORANT of TRADITION. For [THEY ALLEGE] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce. " ~ Irenaeus, ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, Book 3:2:1
“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.” — Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book III p.1
Important Points to Consider
- This verse does teach that there is a tradition ALREADY TAUGHT and DELIVERED by the Apostle Paul. The Greek word εδιδαχθητε edidachthēte is in aorist passive indicative. And we know that it is a simple past tense. So this tradition is not something that they are yet to know, but it already exists and they knew it. Paul did not leave them guessing what it is since verse 14 tells us that it is the gospel. So this is the basic teachings of the gospel. The Apostle does not teach to pass it on under the hands of bishops or infallible Popes down the church ages.
- The Roman Catholic argument on Oral Tradition resembles the Valentenian Gnostics idea on Tradition.
- The immediate context talks about the Second Coming of Christ and has nothing to do with Immaculate Concepcion, Papacy, Purgatory and other heretical teachings.
- The text does not teach that there are two separate set of truths that are handed down differently—i.e. one to Written Tradition, the other is oral. INSTEAD those traditions that had been there in oral tradition was univocally present in the written tradition.
Acts 15:1-32 and the arbitrariness of claim to peter’s supremacy
It is argued that the deliberation in the Council of Jerusalem isn’t done in the authority of Scripture, but by the Church magisterium. And they further assert that the scriptural passage being quoted has not settled the issue of circumcision since it has nothing to do with it. In other words, for them the text in the book of Amos is merely tacked on by James. But before anything else, let us examine what happened here,
- There was a controvery or dispute between the camp of Paul and Barnabas contra the men from Judea (Acts 15:1); The fundamental doctrine under attacked was Sola Fide.
- Paul and Barnabas responded by bringing the matter to the Council of Jerusalem with the elders and Apostles (Acts 15:2-4)
- The men from Judea put forward their rejoinder (Acts 15:5). Like Roman Catholic, these men argued for the inclusion of other requisites (circumcision and good works) before one could become a Christian
- The Judean people argued that one has to be circumcised first to be a Christian. This implies that you have to keep the whole Law as prerequisite of being in Christ (Galatians 5:3; Acts 15:5)
- The Apostle Peter as the first reformer stood there in the Jerusalem Council and offer his case of Sola Fide (Acts 15:9) Sola gratia and Solus Christus argument (Acts 15:6-11) (Acts 15:11).
- Notice that even though Peter was present, he only spoke his opinion after “much questioning” (v.7). According to Loraine Boettner, he did not attempt to make an infallible pronouncements although the subject under discussion was a vital matter of a faith.2 We can see with clarity that the unity of the early church was maintained not by the voice of Peter but by the council which was presided by James, the leader of the Jerusalem church. Furthermore, we never heard of Peter after the council in the book of Acts.
- Peter recounts a bit of history arguing from his experience how the Gentiles got converted (Acts 10:28). Important to point out that before has been completely written, God confirms the witness of the Gospel through signs and miracles Acts 15:8 (Hebrews 2:4).
- Peter argues that they have a CREED (Five Solas) and the Judaistic argument doesn’t cohere nor correspond to it.
“These verses refer to the 'heathen which are called by my name.' These are heathen people, not Jews, yet they are called by the name of the Lord. What distinguishes heathen from Jews? Chiefly, the visible (though obviously not prominent) mark is circumcision. That they are referred to as heathen even while being called by the name of the Lord, demonstrates that they do not require circumcision in order to be the followers of God.” — Turretinfan Aomin
James was citing Scripture as authority on this question of the circumcision. But Amos 9:11-12 is not the only passage dealing with the future in gathering of the Gentiles. You also have the following: Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:9; Jeremiah 16:19; Psalms 72:17; Isaiah 65:1; Jeremiah 3:17; Romans 9:26
- The issue was not settled under any ex-cathedra pronouncement by a Pope since Peter was not the one who made the definitive judgment during the deliberation. It was more of James who stood there as the chairman.
- The issue came to be settled only after James quoted the text in Amos 9:11-12. Therefore it was the AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES THAT played a CRUCIAL role during the deliberation.
- The Council of Jerusalem is not an ecumenical council. It settles an issue that abounds in certain province— namely, Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia (provincial issues) ( Acts 15:23 ). It is not therefore universal, hence following their view, the pronouncement was not qualified to be of ex-cathedra in nature.
“Ecumenical Councils are those to which the bishops, and others entitled to vote, are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) under the presidency of the pope or his legates, and the decrees of which, having received papal confirmation, bind all Christians.” — Catholic Encyclopedia ….only the decisions of ecumenical councils and the ex cathedra teaching of the pope have been treated as strictly definitive in the canonical sense, and the function of the magisterium ordinarium has been concerned with the effective promulgation and maintenance of what has been formally defined by the magisterium solemne or may be legitimately deduced from its definitions.” — Catholic Encyclopedia
Based on the discussions above we can rightly conclude that the RCR invented their own doctrines and added truths not contained in the Scriptures. It is something that we can expect once we give up the SOLE INFALLIBLE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES. We pray that readers from that church will submit to the infallible Word of God, and to the True Gospel of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST that truly saves.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
1The podcast initially was about the Top Five Common Bible verses used to support Roman Catholicism, but for lack time only two were discussed.
2Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism
5 thoughts on “The Christian Worldview Project with Jezreel Madsa on 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and Acts 15”
Thanks for the excellent insight.
I join with you in prayer: “We pray that readers from that church will submit to the infallible Word of God, and to the True Gospel of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST that truly saves.”
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Long read but good look and the passages handled with care
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