2 Thessalonians 2:15 MEANING

2 Thessalonians 2:15
(15) Therefore, brethren, stand fast.--Such an exhortation is, in itself, conclusive against a theory of irreversible predestination. "Because God chose you from eternity, and called you in time, therefore stand your ground." If it were impossible for them to quit their ground, it would be needless to exhort them to maintain it. If it were possible for them to quit their ground, and yet be as well off after all, it would be needless also. At the same time, the "therefore" draws a conclusion, not from 2 Thessalonians 2:14 alone, but sums up the whole disquisition of the chapter: "Now that you are reminded of the true Advent doctrine."

Hold the traditions.--The very same word as in Mark 7:3-4; Mark 7:8, "holding the tradition of the elders;" also in the same metaphorical sense in Colossians 2:19; Revelation 2:13. The action expressed is a vigorous and pertinacious grasp, as (for instance) of the lame man clutching the Apostles in Acts 3:11. St. Chrysostom remarks: "It is plain from hence that they used not to deliver all their tradition by letter, but much without writing besides, and that both are equally worthy of belief. Therefore, let us consider the Church's tradition worthy of belief. It is tradition: ask no further questions." What were these "traditions" which it was so essential to keep? The context shows that the particular traditions which were most consciously in St. Paul's mind at the moment, were his eschatological teachings, given to them while he was among them--the lore of which he has been briefly reminding them in this chapter (2 Thessalonians 2:5-6): for the exhortation is practically a resumption of that given in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3. "Instead of being seduced by the forgers of prophecies or of communications from us, remember the careful instructions we gave you once for all." At the same time, he speaks generally, and we must not limit his words to that particular tradition. Whatever can be traced to apostolic-origin is of the essence of the faith. They are to "hold tenaciously" all his traditions, and these would include instructions doctrinal (as 1 Corinthians 15:3; Jude 1:3), ceremonial (1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Corinthians 11:23), and moral (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Peter 2:21). As a matter of controversy, it is not so remarkable that he should exhort his converts to cling to his own oral teaching ("whether by word") as that he should at so early a period call their special attention to what was gradually to supplant (at least, in doctrinal matters) all independent unwritten tradition--the Holy Scripture ("our Epistle"). St. Paul can speak on occasion as contemptuously of the "traditions of men" as our Lord did (Colossians 2:8). Of course, it depends entirely on the individual character of any tradition whether, and to what extent, it is to be "held" or condemned as "human." In the Church no mutually contradictory traditions can be held together'; and therefore any tradition "by word" which is in disagreement with the written tradition (i.e., Scripture) stands necessarily condemned.

By word, or our epistle.--The "our" belongs to both:" whether by word or epistle of ours." Unless, St. Paul had written them some other letter, now lost, this proves that the "First" Epistle was in reality the earlier written. "Have been taught" should be "were taught"--the historic tense.

Verse 15. - Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions. Traditions generally denote statements orally delivered and reported; here the word denotes the apostle's instructions in Christianity, whether these are given by word of mouth or by letter. Which ye have been taught, whether by word; referring to the apostle's preaching when in Thessalonica. Or our Epistle; referring to the First Epistle to the Thessalonians.

2:13-15 When we hear of the apostacy of many, it is a great comfort and joy, that there is a remnant according to the election of grace, which does and shall persevere; especially we should rejoice, if we have reason to hope that we are of that number. The preservation of the saints, is because God loved them with an everlasting love, from the beginning of the world. The end and the means must not be separated. Faith and holiness must be joined together as well as holiness and happiness. The outward call of God is by the gospel; and this is rendered effectual by the inward working of the Spirit. The belief of the truth brings the sinner to rely on Christ, and so to love and obey him; it is sealed by the Holy Spirit upon his heart. We have no certain proof of any thing having been delivered by the apostles, more than what we find contained in the Holy Scriptures. Let us then stand fast in the doctrines taught by the apostles, and reject all additions, and vain traditions.Therefore, brethren, stand fast,.... In the doctrine of the Gospel in general, and in the article of Christ's second coming in particular, and not in the least waver about the thing itself, nor be shaken in mind, and troubled as if it was just at hand; and the rather it became them to be concerned that they stood fast in the truth, and persevered unto the end, since there was to be a falling away, and the mystery of iniquity was already working, and antichrist would shortly appear, whose coming would be with all deceivableness, of unrighteousness; and they had the greater encouragement to continue firm and unmoved, seeing they were chosen from eternity unto salvation through sanctification and belief of the truth, and were called in time by the Gospel to the enjoyment of the glory of Christ in another world.

And hold the traditions which ye have been taught: meaning the truths of the Gospel, which may be called traditions, because they are delivered from one to another; the Gospel was first delivered by God the Father to Jesus Christ, as Mediator, and by him to his apostles, and by them to the churches of Christ; whence it is called the form of doctrine delivered to them, and the faith once delivered to the saints: and also the ordinances of the Gospel which the apostles received from Christ, and as they received them faithfully delivered them, such as baptism and the Lord's supper; as well as rules of conduct and behaviour, both in the church, and in the world, even all the commandments of Christ, which he ordered his apostles to teach, and which they gave by him; see 2 Thessalonians 3:6. And so the Syriac version here renders it, "the commandments": and these were such as these saints had been taught by the apostles, under the direction of Christ, and through the guidance of his Spirit; and were not the traditions of men or the rudiments of the world, but what they had received from Christ, through the hands of the apostles:

whether by word, or our epistle, that is, by "our" word, as well as by our epistle, and so the Arabic version reads; these doctrines, ordinances, and rules of discipline were communicated to them, both by word of mouth, when the apostles were in person among them, and by writing afterwards to them; for what the apostles delivered in the ministry of the word to the churches, they sent them in writing, that they might be a standing rule of faith and practice; so that this does not in the least countenance the unwritten traditions of the Papists; and since these were what were taught them, "viva voce", and they received them from the mouth of the apostles, or by letters from them, or both, it became them to hold and retain them fast, and not let them go, either with respect to doctrine or practice.

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