Traditions of Men

Bible Q&A with John MacArthur from Grace to You 

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  (Colossians 2: 2:8a)

Paul is concerned that those who have been transferred from Satan’s domain to Christ’s kingdom not become enslaved again. He voiced a similar concern in Galatians 5:1: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” He calls the Colossians to constant watchfulness because danger is near, as the present tense imperative form of blepo (see to it) indicates. The church constantly faces the danger of false teachers. Jesus says in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” In Matthew 16:6 he warns, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The apostles also warned the church against false teachers. Paul cautioned the Ephesian elders that “after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert” (Acts 20:29–31). To the Philippians he wrote, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision” (Phil. 3:2). Peter also warns of the danger of false teachers. He writes in 2 Peter 3:1, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness.” Continue reading

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