1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, 2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:1–2, NKJV)
Does it get your attention when an apostle of Jesus Christ speaks? It should. They spoke and wrote with the authority of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37). People of faith listen to and follow their teachings, for by doing so, they follow Jesus (John 13:20). You see, Paul was made an apostle by God’s commandment (Acts 26:15-17; Galatians 1:15-16). He did not appoint himself an apostle. Neither was Paul ordained by men to be worthy to preach the gospel (only after completing the educational requirements they stipulate, cf. Galatians 1:11-12). True children in the faith, like Timothy, respect and submit to apostolic authority. It is by doing so that Christians have a living hope in Christ, and stand in the grace, mercy and peace of God. Listen carefully to the writings of the apostles of Christ. They lead you to Christ and keep you in Christ – when you trust and obey (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17).
For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— (2 Corinthians 10:8, NKJV)
Are you ashamed of Bible authority? Have you grown tired of establishing Bible authority for all you say and do by the commandments, apostolic examples and necessary inferences of the New Testament (Colossians 3:17; Acts 15:7-19)? If so, please accept this gentle reminder that without heaven’s authority for our words and deeds, we do not have heaven’s approval (see Matthew 21:23-27). Jesus Christ possesses all authority (right to rule) in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He reveals and exercises His authority over us through His word (John 12:48-50). Only when we live according to His truth are we truly His disciples (John 8:31-32; 14:6; 17:17). The apostles of Jesus spoke and wrote His authoritative word for our benefit (1 Corinthians 14:37). Paul was not ashamed of the authority he had as an apostle of Christ. Nor did Paul abuse his authority. Apostolic authority edifies all who submit to it. Spiritual growth in Christ (edification) occurs by following the apostles’ doctrine, not the doctrines of men (Acts 2:42). Who is authorizing what you say and do: heaven, or men?
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NKJV)
Far too many who declare the Bible to be the word of God, say the apostolic letters are just their opinions. This was not at all the attitude and reaction given the words of the apostle Paul when he preached in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4). The apostle Paul was thankful the Thessalonians had received his preaching as the true word of God. The word preached by the apostles are in fact, “the word of God,” the truth of the Almighty. It is that very word that works powerfully in believers to save and to transform lives (Romans 12:1-2). The New Testament is not a record of human opinions, it is the very word of God. We must believe, respect and obey the teachings of Christ’s apostles, or God’s word will not work in our lives. To minimize the apostolic writings as merely their opinions belies a failure to distinguish between the uninspired words of men, and the inspired, authoritative, powerful word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NKJV)
A tradition is an instruction, narrative, precept, etc. that is given over or handed down from one to another (see Thayer, 481). Traditions serve important roles in our lives. They connect us to former times, places and people. They reassure our hearts with dependability instead of confusion and chaos. In the case of today’s verse, the teachings given to Christians by the apostles of Christ formed the traditions they were to “stand fast and hold.” The apostolic traditions were first spoken, then written. By their words and letters, the apostles transmitted heavenly traditions from one generation to the next. The inspired Scriptures form the traditions in which we must stand fast and to which we must hold. Far from suggesting the Bible is outdated and irrelevant today, the apostles of Christ knew their teachings set enduring traditions by which every generation must live in order to please God.
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
In contrast to perverted gospels that trouble souls by turning them away from the grace of Christ, the gospel preached by the apostle Paul was “not according to men” (Gal. 1:6, 11). Divine miracles certified the gospel he preached was from God (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4). The true gospel is not from a human source (“I neither received it from man”) nor did it come to him as the result of religious training (“nor was I taught it”). The apostolic gospel is the result of “revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 12). Elsewhere Paul wrote that by reading what he wrote we can understand his knowledge of the gospel (Eph. 3:3-5). Therefore, let us learn, trust and follow the gospel taught by the apostles. It has the power to turn sinners away from sin and to God’s gracious salvation in His Son. Every gospel that is different from the New Testament is from men and powerless to save.