|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Any kind of teaching, written or spoken, handed down from generation to generation. In Mark 7:3, 9, 13, Colossians 2:8, this word refers to the arbitrary interpretations of the Jews. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6, it is used in a good sense. Peter (1 Peter 1:18) uses this word with reference to the degenerate Judaism of the "strangers scattered" whom he addresses (Comp. Acts 15:10; Matthew 15:2-6; Galatians 1:14).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) The act of delivering into the hands of another; delivery.
2. (n.) The unwritten or oral delivery of information, opinions, doctrines, practices, rites, and customs, from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity; the transmission of any knowledge, opinions, or practice, from forefathers to descendants by oral communication, without written memorials.
3. (n.) Hence, that which is transmitted orally from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity; knowledge or belief transmitted without the aid of written memorials; custom or practice long observed.
4. (n.) An unwritten code of law represented to have been given by God to Moses on Sinai.
5. (n.) That body of doctrine and discipline, or any article thereof, supposed to have been put forth by Christ or his apostles, and not committed to writing.
6. (v. t.) To transmit by way of tradition; to hand down.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
tra-dish'-un: The Greek word is paradosis, "a giving over," either by word of mouth or in writing; then that which is given over, i.e. tradition, the teaching that is handed down from one to another. The word does not occur in the Hebrew Old Testament (except in Jeremiah 39 (32):4; 41 (34):2, used in another sense), or in the Septuagint or the Apocrypha (except in 2 Esdras 7:26, used in a different sense), but is found 13 times in the New Testament (Matthew 15:2, 3, 6 Mark 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13 1 Corinthians 11:2 Galatians 1:14 Colossians 2:8 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6).
1. Meaning in Jewish Theology:
The term in the New Testament has apparently three meanings. It means, in Jewish theology, the oral teachings of the elders (distinguished ancestors from Moses on) which were reverenced by the late Jews equally with the written teachings of the Old Testament, and were regarded by them as equally authoritative on matters of belief and conduct. There seem to be three classes of these oral teachings:
(a) some oral laws of Moses (as they supposed) given by the great lawgiver in addition to the written laws;
(b) decisions of various judges which became precedents in judicial matters;
(c) interpretations of great teachers (rabbis) which came to be prized with the same reverence as were the Old Testament Scriptures.
It was against the tradition of the elders in this first sense that Jesus spoke so pointedly to the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 15:2 Mark 7:3 f). The Pharisees charged Jesus with transgressing "the tradition of the elders." Jesus turned on them with the question, "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" He then shows how their hollow traditionalism has fruited into mere ceremonialism and externalism (washing of hands, vessels, saying "Corban" to a suffering parent, i.e. "My property is devoted to God, and therefore I cannot use it to help you," etc.), but He taught that this view of uncleanness was essentially false, since the heart, the seat of the soul, is the source of thought, character and conduct (Mark 7:14 f).
2. As Used in 1 Corinthians and 2 Thessalonians:
The word is used by Paul when referring to his personal Christian teachings to the churches at Corinth and Thessalonica (1 Corinthians 11:2 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). In this sense the word in the singular is better translated "instruction," signifying the body of teaching delivered by the apostle to the church at Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 3:6). But Paul in the other two passages uses it in the plural, meaning the separate instructions which he delivered to the churches at Corinth and Thessalonica.
3. As Used in Colossians:
The word is used by Paul in Colossians 2:8 in a sense apparently different from the two senses above. He warns his readers against the teachings of the false teachers in Colosse, which are "after the tradition of men." Olshausen, Lightfoot, Dargan, in their commentaries in the place cited., maintain that the reference is to the Judaistic character of the false teachers. This may be true, and yet we must see that the word "tradition" has a much broader meaning here than in 1 above. Besides, it is not certain that the false teachings at Colosse are essentially Jewish in character. The phrase "tradition of men" seems to emphasize merely the human, not necessarily Jewish, origin of these false teachings.
The verb paradidomi, "to give over," is also used 5 times to express the impartation of Christian instruction: Luke 1:2, where eyewitnesses are said to have handed down the things concerning Jesus; 1 Corinthians 11:2, 23 and 15:3 referring to the apostle's personal teaching; 2 Peter 2:21, to instruction by some Christian teacher (compare 1 Peter 1:18).
Broadus, Allen, Meyer, commentaries on Matthew 15:2; Swete, Gould, commentaries on Mark (7:3); Lightfoot, Meyer, commentaries on Galatians 1:14; Lightfoot, Olshausen, Dargan (American Commentary), commentaries on Colossians 2:8; Milligan, commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6); Weber, Jewish Theology (Ger., Altsyn. Theol.); Pocock, Porta Mosis, 350-402; Schurer, HJP, II, i, section 25; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, chapter xxxi; Josephus, Ant, XIII, x, 6. Charles B. Williams
Tradition (13 Occurrences)
Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don't wash their hands when they eat bread." (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 15:3 He answered them, "Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition? (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 15:6 he shall not honor his father or mother.' You have made the commandment of God void because of your tradition. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 7:3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, don't eat unless they wash their hands and forearms, holding to the tradition of the elders. (WEB KJV WEY DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Mark 7:5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why don't your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?" (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 7:8 "For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men-the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things." (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 7:9 He said to them, "Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 7:13 making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this." (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Colossians 2:8 Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion, and not after the tradition which they received from us. (WEB KJV ASV WBS NAS RSV)
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (KJV WBS)
2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and singing women spoke of Josiah in their lamentations to this day; and they made them an ordinance in Israel: and behold, they are written in the lamentations. (See NIV)
Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said, because this people come near to me with their mouths, and give honour to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and their fear of me is false, a rule given them by the teaching of men; (See NAS)