Stand Fast, Hold Firm

Paul seeks God's grace for the Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 2 (6)

Pray Psalm 12.1, 2.
Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

Read 2 Thessalonians 2.15-17.

1. What traditions does Paul have in mind here? How does one stand fast in such traditions?

2. What is needed for us to persevere in every good word and work

False teachers will always be present within the Christian movement. The only way to recognize false teaching and to resist its allure is by standing fast and holding to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by our epistle. 

Wait. Didn’t Jesus condemn the Pharisees for standing fast and holding firm to their traditions (Matt. 15.2)? It’s not tradition we want, but God’s Word, right?

Actually, we want both, just as Paul explained. The idea of tradition (Greek: παράδοσις, the content of traditional instruction – teaching, tradition) merely indicates a body of teaching. Traditions can be true or false, useful or an obstacle to faith. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for standing fast and holding firm to their traditions, it was because they had set the traditions of man over the Word of God, thus nullifying the Word by their traditions.

Valid traditions serve the Word and provide means for us to stand fast in it and hold firm to it. The Apostles’ Creed enshrines a tradition of essential Gospel teaching from the first centuries of the Christian movement. It provides a valid and useful summary of Christian doctrine, which is why we still confess it today. The ancient writers from whom we quote in these studies also convey the true tradition of Christian teaching. We use them precisely for that point, to show that our understanding of Scripture today has long-standing support. 

Paul urged the Thessalonians to stand fast and hold firm to those traditions which agreed with him and the other apostles. This is always the benchmark for determining the validity and usefulness of any tradition, whether of teaching or practice: Does it derive from and comport with the teaching of Scripture, especially as understood by the apostles?

In his benediction (“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself…” v. 16), Paul again alludes to the two crucial ingredients for sanctification: God’s grace coupled with our efforts (Phil. 2.12, 13). He prays the Lord’s grace to be with them, and he urges them to continue in every good word and work. For the wordsconsolation and comfort, substitute encouragement and encourage.These include the ideas of comfort and consolation, but extend beyond them to embolden believers for right action. God’s grace is always unto sanctification and action.

1. Hymns are another means of preserving valid and Biblical traditions. Can you give an example?

2. What is required for us to stand fast and hold the true traditions of our faith? How could you incorporate some of this into your daily time with the Lord?

3. God’s grace is never given merely for us to soak in it; it is always intended to bring forth good words and good works (Eph. 2.8-10). Why do we needencouragement for such works? 

In learning and professing the faith, embrace and guard that only which is now delivered to you by the church and confirmed by all the Scriptures. For since not everyone has the education and the leisure required to read and know the Scriptures, to prevent the soul perishing from ignorance, we sum up the whole doctrine of the faith in a few lines. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 AD),Catechetical Lectures 5.12

Thank You, Lord, for those faithful saints in the past who have preserved the teaching of Your Word so that I…

Pray Psalm 12.

Thank the Lord for His Word, our sheltering place against the lies and deceptions of an age in flight from God. Thank Him for those faithful saints who, down through the ages, have taught and kept and expounded the Word in faithful traditions of orthodox Christian faith. Commit yourself to renewed faithfulness in reading and obeying the Word of God.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 12 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be; they who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.

Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies, all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise, while their own praises they have sung.

Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined.
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.

Proudly the wicked strut and stand; Your indignation builds on high.
Men may exalt their wicked plans, but You will judge them by and by.

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you understand the setting of all the books of the Bible, and how they fit into God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Watch the brief video introducing this course at The Ailbe Seminary (click here), then plan to register in our Certificate in Kingdom Studies program, featuring Introduction to Biblical Theology.

Forward today’s study to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link to the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Paul’s ministry and prepare for your own.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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