“Some things are often dismissed as traditions of the day (head coverings for women & in some places, women’s role of leadership in the church or lack thereof, ect.), but is this a permissible course of action considering 2nd Thessalonians 2.15?”
The word paradosis ( para-doe-sis) most literally means a precept or an ordinance. The word translated “tradition” is the same exact word translated “tradition” in Matthew 15.2. “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” What are we supposed to do? Hold or transgress? Which verse is correct? Is either verse correct? Is either one is incorrect or wrong, which others are wrong? Let’s explore a little further.
Have you ever heard the common phrase, “Consider the Source”? The fact of the matter is that in everything we read and study in the Bible, we need to consider the source. Notice some of these ideas: “Ye shall not surely die”, “Sarah is my sister”, “Who is God that I should obey Him” and “A person must be circumcised to be saved of God”. Here are those sources: Lying Satan, Lying Moses, Ignorant Pharaoh and Lying False Teachers. The statements as they were made are 100% true that they were made but the content of the statements are completely wrong. You and I must consider the source.
Not only should you and I consider the source, we need to consider the content. Words like compass and level have very different meanings depending on how that word is used in a sentence. Those types of words are called homonyms. The homonym is not unique to the English language. Note the following: “Which way is east? ,he asked while looking at the compass.” The word compass, does that mean to surround or an instrument for determining direction? “Where is my four bubble level?” The word level, does that word mean completely flat of a device to determine the flatness of an object? You might say, Billy, why are you being silly? You and I know that which is the correct definition. And so we must consider the content.
We also should consider God. This is 180 degrees different from considering the source. We need to consider God and His intent while writing these words. God has no desire to tell a man how to serve Him and pull that preverbal rug out from under his feet. God has no desire to tell man one thing and hold him to something else entirely. THAT IS NOT GOD! We need to consider God.
So then why does God tell us to hold to and to transgress traditions? Simply put, it is because it is discussing 2 different types of precepts. Let’s start in Matthew 15.2. The phrase we will focus on is: “tradition of the Elders”. These traditions are given by and approved by the elders of the society. Most directly, the tradition in Matthew 15.2 was washing hands. However, at no time by God nor His spokesmen has God ever declared that man MUST wash his hands to be pleasing unto God. This was a good practice, and still is, for man to wash the dirt off his hands to eat. But that practice has nothing to do with salvation. It is noteworthy to understand this: Everything done under the Old Law in regards to satisfying God to sin was 100% pointing toward the Cross on Calvary and the Sacrifice on that Cross. The tradition mentioned in Matthew 15 was sanctioned by MAN.
However, 2nd Thessalonians 2.15 is different based on content and authority. Look first for the content. The words: taught by word or epistle deal with the idea of the inspiration of the messenger of God. “Taught” deals with the idea god used more than 900 times in the Old Testament and more than 25 times with regards to Christ Himself as both groups instructed others how to follow God CORRECTLY AND PROPERLY. These folks were taught by the inspired spoken word; found in the whole book of Acts. These people were also taught, as you and I were, by the inspired writings of God. The life giving word of God is mentioned several times in the Bible- breath of Life (Genesis 2), breathe came into them (Ezekiel 37), God breathed word ( 2nd Timothy 3.15-16). The content tells me that this tradition is a precept from God not man.
Notice that we need to look at authority. The inspiration is not only the idea here. It is imperative we see the authority by which they were inspired. After all, without the authority of God the traditions mentioned in 2nd Thessalonians really do not mean too much. The Apostle Paul wrote by the inspiration and authority of God. God, writing through the vehicle of the pen of the inspired, has the right to expect the lost AND saved to hear the truth AND TO OBEY IT.
Simply, if a precept is from God then we must follow to the saving of our souls.