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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. This is the first use.

“according to the tradition of men”

This is the first system of war used by the Devil to defeat Christians.

The word “according” means according to the standard or norm of something. Some Christians try to live by the standard of tradition.

The word “tradition” means something handed down. Many people do not evaluate what they believe for themselves. They believe 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 it be substantiated by the Bible?”

“Tradition” was used 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. It was used of apostolic teaching in 1 Corinthians+11:2,23, 15:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:15x(doctrine in general). In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, it is used of instructions for everyday conduct.

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


Tradition is anything we pick up that is not biblical in the life of our soul.


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. The culture firms up as we reach adulthood. We all have viewpoints on what is right and wrong. That, however, may be a tradition. If we add religion to the mix, our culture becomes yet 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 is a tradition handed down from people. Anything contrary to the Bible is an error.

We say, “Well, my father and mother and grandfather and mother all believed this. This has been our custom. This is our religion.” The main question is, “Is it true?” People answer this with, “I never question my tradition.” The true question is, “can it be substantiated by the Bible?”