Select Page
Read Introduction to Colossians


“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”


There are three uses of the phrase “according to” in this verse. The first use is “according to the tradition of men.”

“according to the tradition of men”

Tradition is the first system of deception used by the devil to defeat Christians.

The word “according to” means according to the standard or norm of something. Some people approach truth by the standard of tradition.

The word “tradition” means something handed down. Many people do not evaluate what they believe for themselves. They accept it simply because their family believed it, “My mom told me so.” How do you know it is true? “I never question it.” A person without healthy skepticism is vulnerable to seduction. The test question is, “Can the revelation substantiate it?” Or, “Do I believe what men say or what God says?” 

The New Testament used “tradition” in the negative sense for the teaching of the Rabbis, which they made void by their life-styles in Matthew 15:2,3,6; Mark 7:3,5,8,9,13; Galatians 1:14; Colossians 2:8. Other passages used “tradition” in the good sense of apostolic teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:2,23, 15:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (doctrine in general). 2 Thessalonians 3:6 use it of instructions for everyday conduct.

Traditional religion in Jesus’ day was a routine of superstitious rituals. The emphasis of “tradition” is on the transmission of scruples. These people were precise about which cup to use while worshipping but careless about an unclean heart. By a series of postures and vain repetitions, they observed their ceremonies.


Tradition is anything we pick up from custom that is not consistent with biblical truth.


The child picks up many values in the home. The school and social life add more evaluation of life. Everyone develops a culture of thinking; everyone has a presupposition about what they deem true, whether it is or not. Our assumptions firm as we reach adulthood. We all have assumed viewpoints on what is right and wrong. We may imbibe those assumptions from tradition or societal custom. If we add religion to the mix, our cultural assumptions become more complicated. A church may have its taboos. This person will not chew bubble gum, and he won’t go with the girls who do!! All of this has nothing to do with God’s viewpoint on life. This belief is a tradition handed down from people. Anything contrary to and inconsistent with divine revelation is false.

We say, “Well, my father, mother, grandfather, and mother all believed this. This assumption has been our custom. This is our religion.” The essential question, however, “Is it true?” Some answer this with, “I never question my tradition.” The valid question is, “Are we beginning at the most ultimate viewpoint possible, an eternal viewpoint?” The Bible is the only source whereby we can obtain an eternal, infinite viewpoint because God revealed it by a supernatural intervention into time and space.