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Tradition is every teaching, other than the words of the Holy Bible, that was entrusted to us, by the Apostles and the Fathers. This teaching constitutes subjects that might not be included in the Holy Bible but in no way contradict it.

Our Protestant brethren do not believe in Tradition. They
only abide by the Holy Bible.   In this way they exclude the
heritage  which  the  Church  received  from  the  previous
generations: the writings of the Apostles and Fathers of the
Church, the decisions of the holy councils, the Church Canons
and regulations, the Church rituals and the oral Tradition.


Tradition is older than the Holy Bible.   It goes back to the time of our father Adam.

The earliest written Law that reached us was written by Mosses the Prophet who lived in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries B.C. However, Tradition is much older than that. Thousands of years had elapsed before there was any written Law. Who led the thoughts of human beings? Their conscience (the moral law) on one hand, and Tradition, which is entrusted from one generation to the next, on the other.


We  will  try  to  give  some  examples  of  Tradition  that preceded the written law:




(1) In the Book of Genesis it is written that Abel the
righteous man brought fat portions of his flock (Gen.4: 4). The
Apostle explains this, saying: "By faith Abel offered to God a
more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Heb.11: 4).  Here, we ask:
How did Abel know the idea of offering sacrifices to God?
From where did he get that faith?  There was no written Law at
his time. Undoubtedly, he received this idea through Tradition
from his father Adam who had received it from God Himself.
This took place fourteen centuries before Mosses wrote about
sacrifices and burnt offerings.


(2) The same applies to the burnt offerings which were
offered by our fathers Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.   They
knew about the idea of sacrifices through Tradition entrusted to
them.  The same is said about the idea of building altars.  After
the Flood, our father Noah "built an altar to the Lord" (Gen.8:
20), and our father Abraham built an altar at the great tree of
Moreh (Gen.12: 7).  The idea of building altars continued

thereafter although there was no Holy Bible at the time to command them to do so.


(3) It is written in the Holy Bible that our father Noah took
some of the clean animals and birds and sacrificed a burnt
offering on the altar and the Lord smelt the soothing aroma
(Gen.8: 20,21). How did Noah know the idea of offering
sacrifices of clean animals?  He must have taken it directly from
the Lord and then entrusted it to the generations after him,
before Mosses explained the idea of clean animals in the Torah.





(4) In the event of our father Abraham meeting Melchizedek,
it is written that Melchizedek "was the priest of God Most
High" (Gen.14: 18). How was this priesthood instituted. Who
gave Melchizedek the authority to bless Abram and what law
made Abram offer Melchizedek the tenths of everything he had
(Gen. 14:20)? Thus Melchizedek was considered greater than
Abraham (Heb.7: 6,7).

At that time there was no written Law explaining priesthood, its honour, duties and blessing to others. In the previous chapters of Genesis there is no mention whatsoever of the words 'priest' or 'priesthood'.  From where did the knowledge of priesthood come except through Tradition?


(5)  In  the  same  episode  of  Abram's  meeting  with Melchizedek, we hear that Abram "gave him a tithe of all" (Gen.14: 20). How was it known, at the time of our father Abraham, that the tenth were to be given to priests, except through Tradition?    The Law of tithing had not yet been received in the written Law.

This also applies to our father Jacob: How did he know the
idea of giving the tithe when he said to the Lord:
"... and of all
that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You" (Gen.28:
22)? There is no doubt that he received the Law of tithing
through Tradition, from his grandfather Abraham who offered
the tithe to Melchizedek without receiving it from a written
Law at all.   It is obvious that Tradition was the teacher of all
human  beings  before  the  written  Law  and  remained  so


(6) We read that when Jacob was fleeing his brother Esau
that he saw a ladder extending from earth to heaven, while the
angels of God ascending and descending on it, and the Lord
talked to him and gave him a promise. The Holy Bible says that
Jacob said: "Surely the Lord is in this place... This is none
other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"

And he called that place Bethel, which means 'House of God'. He took the stone he had placed under his head, set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.

How did our father Jacob know the phrase ‘House of God'?
How did he know the idea of consecrating. God’s houses by
pouring oil on them since nothing of this sort had been given in
a written Law?  No explanation can be given except that it was
through Tradition.


(7) When God gave the written Law He willed Tradition to
remain  as  well.  He  commanded  the  fathers,  on  various
occasions, to commend and entrust the teachings to their
children.  The Lord ordered them to inform their children of the
occasion of sacrificing to the Lord the first male offspring of
every womb (Ex. 13: 14-16).  The Lord also said to the people:

"Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren" (Deut.4: 9).


(8) Even in Christianity, we find that some of the writers of
the New Testament wrote information about events in the Old
Testament which they had received through Tradition. For



example, St. Paul the Apostle mentioned the names of the two
witches who resisted Mosses the Prophet.   He said: "Now as
Jannes and Jambres resisted Mosses, so do these also resist the
truth" (2Tim.3: 8). We cannot find the names of these two
witches either in the Books of Mosses or in the rest of the Old
Testament.   The Apostle Paul must have known these names
through Tradition.


(9) The entrustment of Tradition which occurred in the Old
Testament recurred in the New Testament but to a lesser
extent.   A long time elapsed before there was any written
gospel or epistle. For a period of approximately twenty years
people received the entire faith, the entire story of Christ
together  with  His  teachings  and  His  redemption,  through


(10) The Lord Jesus Christ did not write a gospel Himself
nor did He leave a written gospel, yet He was preaching and
teaching, leaving His words as spirit and life (John.6: 63) for the
people who later spread them. When the Lord began His
teaching and preaching, He said to the people: "The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and
believe in the gospel" (Mark.1: 15).   There was no written
gospel (Good News) but there was preaching of the Good
News representing the oral Gospel or the Divine teaching which
was taught through entrustment.  The same meaning applies to
the Lord's words to His disciples: "Go into all the world and
preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark. 16: 15).   That

command was not within the written boundary.





11) Here I shall state an important fact. The Holy Bible does not mention everything:

(a) It does not mention all that the Lord Jesus Christ did or
all that He said.  What happened was that the Evangelists chose
parts of the Lord Jesus Christ's sayings and parts of His works,
recorded them at a certain time for the people and left out the
rest.  This is obvious from the last written Gospel.  St. John the
Apostle says:
"And there are also many other things that Jesus
did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even
the world itself could not contain the books that would be
written" (John.21: 25) and also "...truly Jesus did many other
sign sin the presence of his disciples, which are not written in
this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus
is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have
life in His name"
(John.20: 30,31).

Do not think that the miraculous signs which the Lord Jesus Christ did are only those mentioned in the Bible; thousands of miracles were not recorded. To prove this, it is sufficient to mention the words of St. Luke the Evangelist: "Now when the sun was setting, all those who had anyone sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them" (Lk.4: 40).

How many were those sick?  They were too many.  Not all the
healing  miracles  are  recorded.  Our  teacher  St.  Matthew  the
Evangelist says:
"Now Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in
their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and
healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the
people" (Matt.4: 23).

What are the details of the incidents of healing every disease?
They are not recorded.   What about the Lord's teachings in the


synagogues and His preaching?  They are not recorded either. Our
teacher St. Mark the Evangelist says that when the Lord Jesus went
to Capernaum, He went into the synagogue and "taught. And they
were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one
having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark.1: 21,22). What
was that teaching which astonished them?  It was not recorded.

In the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes, the Lord Jesus
was teaching the people from morning until late in the afternoon.
What did He teach them?   Nothing was recorded in the Gospels.
What were the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ on the shore of
the lake, on the seashore, in the boat and on the roads?  We do not
know; as nothing was detailed about it in the Gospels.

(b) After the Lord's resurrection, we find the same situation.
The Lord met the two disciples of Emmaus, and "beginning at
Mosses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the
Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Lk. 24: 27). All these
teachings, and others, were not recorded in the Gospels. But
undoubtedly they, or some thereof, have reached us through

(c)  What about the forty days which the Lord spent with His disciples after His resurrection, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3)?


What were the Lord's words about the things pertaining to the kingdom of God?

Undoubtedly His words were of such great importance that
they were worth Him having many meetings with His Apostles
after His resurrection. Yet despite their great importance, His
words were not recorded in the Holy Bible.   Most probably
they were matters that concerned the leaders of the Church, for




them to understand and teach, following the Lord's saying: "...
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded

you"     (Matt.28:    20),     without   mentioning   what   His

commandments to them were.

Have the teachings and commandments of the Lord Jesus
Christ been lost or have they reached us?   It is far fetched to
believe that they have been lost since they are so important.
How did they reach us then?  With the exception of the Apostle
Paul who was not one of the eleven Apostles and did not attend
the  meetings  of  the  Lord  with  His  Apostles  after  His
resurrection, the eleven Apostles with whom the Lord spent
forty days after His resurrection, wrote too little and what they
wrote does not comprise all the Christian teachings.   There is
one explanation and it is that the Lord Jesus Christ's teachings
to His Apostles have reached us through Tradition, that is,
through the Apostolic Entrustment.

The Church has been living these teachings according to the Lord's saying: "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John.6: 63). The Apostles understood the spirit of the words and transcribed them into life, and these words have reached us in the life of the Church.

Therefore, we can say that Tradition is the life of the Church
or it is the living Church. The Apostles entrusted this life
together with all that they had learnt and received from the
Lord, to the saints in the Church.  However, they did not write
them in the Gospels or in the Epistles, but they left them as
living practices and teachings in the life of the Church. Among
those  teachings  are  the  Church  discipline,  rituals  and

Do you think that the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5-7) is




the only sermon of the Lord during over three years? This is
unbelievable. The Lord's words have not gone astray; the
disciples kept them in their hearts, ears and minds.   From the
treasure of their good hearts, from their sacred memories, they
brought out the Lord's sayings and entrusted them to the
Church under the heading of 'Tradition or 'The Apostolic
Entrustment. The Holy Spirit taught them everything and
reminded them of everything the Lord had said, according to
His true promise (John.14: 26).


Tradition is taken from the teachings of the Apostles

Many Apostles did not write epistles. Where are their
teachings?   Where is the work of the Divine Inspiration in
them?   Where is the work of the Holy Spirit who speaks
through the prophets?   It is not possible that some of the
Apostles taught only what they wrote. It is not possible that
James the Apostle's teaching was only limited to one Epistle nor
is it possible that Jude the Apostle taught just one chapter.
What about the rest of the eleven Apostles of whose teachings
we have received no word?   What did they preach?   What did
they leave for the Church?   Most probably those teachings, or
some thereof, have reached us through Tradition.

The Apostles used to enter synagogues teaching and disputing
against the opposition, however none of this was written. They
preached in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria until everyone believed,
but only a little of what they preached was recorded in writing. The
Apostle Paul entered a house in Rome where he stayed for two years
preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus
Christ boldly and without hindrance (Acts.28: 30,31). None of that
preaching has reached us in a written form.  Where did it all go?


Undoubtedly the Apostles laid down disciplines for the Church.  What are they?

Is it not reasonable to assume that the Lord's Apostles, after
having received all those teachings from the Lord, left the
Church without any disciplines or laws to direct her affairs.
They did not write these in their epistles either because such
things were not for the public or because they would be known
to all through practice. Undoubtedly, those disciplines have
reached us through Tradition and Entrustment.

St. John the Apostle says in the epilogue of his second
Epistle: "Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to
do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak
face to face"
(2John. 12).   He repeated the same words in the
epilogue of his third Epistle (3John.13, 14). What was the

content of this face to face dialogue? And why was it not written down?  How has it reached us?

From the above quotation in the two Epistles, we notice that
the Apostolic Fathers sometimes preferred speaking to writing
whenever it was convenient for them.   Their verbal teachings
were entrusted from one generation to the next until they have
reached us today.

Probably the Apostles concentrated in their Epistles on the
main principles of faith as much as they could and left the
details of the Church disciplines and rituals to the practical
arrangements in the churches. People were learning them not
from written books but through practising the sacramental life

St.  Paul  the  Apostle  says  in  his  first  Epistle  to  the
"And the rest I will set in order when I come"
(1Cor.11: 34). What were these apostolic instructions? Have


we received them through Tradition?  St. Paul the Apostle said
to his disciple Titus, the Bishop of Crete: "For this reason I left
you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are
lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you"

(Titus 1: 5). He did not spell out in his Epistle how to appoint
priests, with regard to the prayers, rituals and the necessary
conditions thereof. How did St. Titus know about this matter
other than by verbal instruction?   That is why the Apostle said
to him: "...as I commanded you".  The details of this command
were not recorded in the Epistle but the disciple the bishop
learnt them verbally, 'face to face", and they reached us through

The same applies to what St. Paul the Apostle said to his
disciple Timothy, the Bishop of Ephesus: "And the things that
you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these
to faithful men who will be able to teach others also"

2). Here the Apostle refers to the word ‘hear’ and not ‘write'. He did not tell us what his disciple heard from him.   But undoubtedly, that teaching was entrusted from St. Paul to St. Timothy then to faithful and reliable persons who in turn entrusted them to others.   Thus the entrustment continued successively until it reached us.

Those who insist on proving everything by a verse from the
Holy Bible disregard what the Apostle said about 'face to face"
(2John. 12), the Apostles' instructions concerning the churches,
which  they  did  not  record (1Cor.11: 34),  the  Apostles'

commands to their disciples (Titus 1: 5) and the Apostolic teachings which turned into life and practice in the Church


We mention, to illustrate this point, the consecration of Sunday as the Lord's Day

All Christians who only believe in the Holy Bible and oppose
Church Tradition, consecrate Sunday instead of Saturday as the
Lord's Day and do not adhere to the literal meanings of the
verses: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex.20: 8)
and "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Deut.5: 12).
From where do they derive the teaching of consecrating Sunday
instead of Saturday?    Is it from the Holy Bible or from
Tradition?   Undoubtedly, it is from Tradition because there is
not one single verse which says: "Remember Sunday, to keep it
holy" or "Observe Sunday, to keep it holy.  In it you shall do no

The consecration of Sunday has been a Church Tradition, observed by the Apostles who took it from the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is not mentioned plainly in the Gospels but there are references in the Book of Acts that imply this Divine entrustment.   So the matter changed to a professed practice of the Church without the need for a written commandment. A proof  of  acknowledging  Tradition  is  the  unanimity  of  all Churches in keeping Sunday holy.


There is a reference in the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle that he received teachings from the Lord

Regarding the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Apostle says:

"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to
you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was
betrayed took bread" (1Cor.11: 23). Here the Apostle speaks
about the entrustment he received from the Lord and which he
commanded to the church in Corinth.  The Holy Bible does not

tell us how and when the Apostle Paul received it from the Lord.   He is giving us an idea about the Church dogmas and how they entered the Church through entrustment.

We know from the Gospels that the Apostles received the Sacrament of the Eucharist from the Lord.   But the Apostles did not tell us how they entrusted it to the Church.  It was not necessary to write it down but what matters is that the Church lives  and  practises  this  Sacrament.  However,  St.  Paul mentioned this entrustment.


The  Apostles  recorded  in  their  Epistles  things  they received through Tradition

(a)  We have previously mentioned some of them and now
we shall add what Jude the Apostle mentioned in his Epistle
regarding the dispute between Archangel Michael and Satan
about  the  body  of  Mosses.    He  said:  "Yet  Michael  the
archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed
about the body of Mosses, dared not bring against him a
reviling accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke you! " (Jude

9).   None of this was mentioned in the Old Testament, so Jude probably knew it through Tradition.

(b) When the Apostle Paul was describing the fear of the
people on receiving the Law, he said: "And so terrifying was
the sight that Mosses said, 'I am exceedingly afraid and
trembling' "
(Heb.12:21). This phrase attributed to Mosses was
not recorded either in the Book of Exodus or Deuteronomy.
So probably the Apostle Paul knew it through Tradition.

(c)  We  also  add  what  is  mentioned  in  the  Book  of
Revelation about Balaam's perversion, the details of which are






not recorded in the Book of Numbers (Num.24: 25). In the
Book of Revelation, it is written: "...because you have there
those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to
put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat
things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality"

(Rev.2: 14). In the Book of Numbers it is mentioned that the people did that but not that it was Balaam's doctrine.   So probably St. John the Visionary who wrote the Book of Revelation knew it through Tradition.

Also on the subject of Balaam is what the Apostle Peter
mentioned: "They have forsaken the right way and gone astray,
following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the
wages of unrighteousness" (2Pet.2: 15), and also what the

Apostle Jude mentioned: "...they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error o Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah" (Jude 11).

(e) Likewise, St. Jude spoke about Enoch's prophecy which
is not mentioned in the Old Testament. He said: "Now Enoch,
the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also,
saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His
saints, to execute judgement on all, to convict all who are
ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they
have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things
which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him"' (Jude 14,15).
The source of this prophecy must have been Tradition.

(f) We notice that the commandment of circumcision was
entrusted  to  our  father  Abraham  by  God (Gen.17)  and

commanded to people through entrustment before the existence of a written Law commanding it.








Benefits of Tradition



(1) Through Tradition, we came to know the Holy Bible itself.   Through entrustment the Divine Books reached us and we would not have been able to know or distinguish them except through Tradition.  The holy councils defined the books of the New Testament to us.


(2) Through Tradition, the Church heritage, rituals and disciplines have reached us.


(3) Tradition preserved for us the sound faith that was
handed  down  from  one  generation  to  the  next.  If  the
interpretation of the Bible were left to the comprehension of
each  individual,  we  would  have  various  groups  and
denominations fragmented by the one faith, because the Holy
Bible is one thing and the way of interpreting it is another.


(4) Tradition has kept for us certain beliefs and teachings such as the consecration of Sunday, the making of the sign of the cross, the law of monogamy, prayers for the departed and the work of each order of priesthood.







Valid and invalid Tradition

Those who reject Tradition build their objection on the pretext
that the Lord Jesus Christ rejected Tradition when He reproached
the scribes and Pharisees, saying: " Why do you also transgress the
commandment of God because of your tradition?" (Matt.15: 3),
and  when  He  condemned  some  of  the  wrong  traditions
(Matt.15: 4-6).

They also use the pretext of the Apostle's words, "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" (Col.2: 8).

In our discourse about Tradition, we do not mean the vain
traditions laid down by men or do we mean those traditions
which are not in accord with the doctrine and spirit of the Holy
Bible such as the traditions whose voidness the Lord Jesus
revealed.   But we mean the sound Tradition which conforms


(1)  The  teachings  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  which  was transmitted to us through Tradition.


(2)  The Apostolic Tradition, that is, the teachings of the Apostles,  transmitted  to  us  through  entrustment  from  one generation to the next.


(3)  The  Ecclesiastical  Tradition,  decreed  by  the  holy
Ecumenical councils regarding the Church canons and disciplines

and what we received from the fathers, teachers and heroes of faith of the Church.

This leads us to the next point:


Church authority in teaching and legislation

This authority was given to the Apostolic Fathers by the
Lord Himself when He said to them: "... whatever you bind on
earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth
will  be  loosed  in  heaven"
(Matt.18: 18).  The  Church

commenced this duty of hers by holding the first Church Council in Jerusalem in 45 A.D. The Council discussed the acceptance of faith by the Gentiles, and the Apostles decided not to make it difficult for them, saying: "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality" (Acts 15: 28.29).

Therefore, holy councils, local and ecumenical, were held
consecutively through the authority of teaching, legislating and
canonising which the Lord endowed upon priesthood. These
councils have laid down teachings, decisions and disciplines for
the Church which have been included in Church Tradition.


Conditions of sound Tradition

(1) It should not be incompatible with the Holy Bible (Gal. 1:8)

(2) It should not contradict other Church traditions

(3) The Churches should accept it






It is known that in every generation, new matters arise which had not existed in the previous generations.  The point of view of Religion about such matters is sought so as not to perplex people's thoughts or make them confused between right and wrong, because not all people know the rules of Religion or what is written in the Holy Bible.

Hence  the  Church,  through  her  teaching  and  legislative
authority, presents the opinion of Religion in such matters, because
the Holy Bible says that the Law is sought from the mouth of the
priest.  Through the succession of generations the Church teachings
have become Tradition to be inherited by all generations.

The Apostles commanded that Tradition be preserved

St. Paul the Apostle said: "Therefore, brethren, standfast and
hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our
(2Thess.2: 15). He also said: "But we command you,

brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw
from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the
tradition which he received from us" (2Thess.3: 6), He also said to
the Corinthians: "Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember
me in all things and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you"

(1Cor. 11: 2).

We regret to say that our brethren the Protestants, in their
translation  of  the  Holy  Bible (Beirut  Arabic  Translation),

substituted “Traditions” with “Teachings”, in matters which

confirm the teaching of Tradition. But kept 'tradition' for incidents relating to repugnant traditions, obviously rejected by the holy Church.

Anyhow, although our Protestant brethren deny Tradition,
they themselves instituted their own traditions. They maintain
their own rituals although they deny rituals.  They have recited






prayers and fixed readings on ordinations, matrimony, baptism
and funerals although they do not acknowledge recited prayers.
They keep their own tradition but deny any tradition that does
not agree with theirs. It goes without saying that Tradition is a
precious heritage and it would be a great loss for any Church to
be devoid of it, such becomes a Church without history and
without any rules to protect against people interpreting or
teachin things according to their own preferences.


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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

||    Prayer of the First Hour    ||    Third Hour    ||    Sixth Hour    ||    Ninth Hour    ||    Vespers (Eleventh Hour)    ||    Compline (Twelfth Hour)    ||    The First Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Second Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Third Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Prayer of the Veil    ||    Various Prayers from the Agbia    ||    Synaxarium