Holy Tradition and the Holy Bible

Venerable Simeon Stylites the Younger of Wonderful Mountain

Beloved brothers and sisters,



+In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to You, our God, glory to You. Come, let us bow down and worship God our King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ our God and King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ Himself, our King and our God.

Receive, O Lord, the doxologies and praises, The blessings, thanksgiving and petitions Of Your sinful and unworthy servants, Such as we are able to make at this time. And grant to us the remission of our transgressions. Overshadow us with the protection of Your wings. Expel from us every enemy and adversary. Bring peace to our life. Deliver us from the darkness of the destructive passions. Dispel from us the gloomy desire of mortal pleasures. You Who know the content of our heart, Heal the latent wounds of our souls, which You alone observe, And strengthen the resolve of our mind To do Your Holy Will. Have mercy on us, help and protect us, O God, by Your grace, And make us worthy of Your Heavenly Kingdom, Through the intercessions of our All-Pure Lady, the Theotokos, And of all Your Saints. For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.


by Elder [Geronda] Sophrony and Saint Silouan the Athonite
Holy Tradition and the Holy Bible by Elder Sophrony and Saint Silouan the Athonite. Source: Saint Silouan the Athonite, Chapter 5: The Staretz' Doctrinal Teaching.

Sacred Tradition, as the eternal and immutable dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church, lies at the very root of her being, and so encompasses her life that even the very Scriptures come to be but one of its forms. Thus, were the Church to be deprived of Tradition she would cease to be what she is, for the ministry of the Holy Spirit of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit "written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God: not in tables of stones, but in the fleshly tables of the heart" (Corinthians 3:18-19). Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her books, of the Old and New Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers, of all service books-what would happen? Sacred or Holy Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps-the verbal form might be different-but in essence the New Scriptures would be the expression of that "same faith which was once delivered unto the Saints" (St. Jude 3). They would be the expression of the One and Only Holy Spirit continuously active in the Church, her foundation and her very substance. The Holy Scriptures are not profound, not more important than Holy Tradition but, as said above, they are one of its forms-the most precious form, both because they are preserved and convenient to make use of . But removed from the stream of Sacred Tradition, the Holy Scriptures cannot be rightly understood through scientific research. If the Apostle Paul had the "mind of the Church", how much more does this apply to the whole body of the Church of which Saint Paul is one member! And if the writings of Saint Paul and the other Apostles are Holy Scripture, then new Scriptures of the Church, written supposedly after the loss of the old books, would in their turn become Holy Scripture for according to the Lord's promise God, the Holy Trinity, will be in the Church even unto the end of the world. Men are wrong when they set aside Sacred Tradition and go, as they think, to its source-to the Holy Scriptures. The Church has her origins, not in the Scriptures, but in Sacred Tradition. The Church did not possess the New Testament during the first decades of her history. She lived then by Tradition only-the Tradition Saint Paul calls upon the faithful to hold. (cf. 2 Thess. 2:15). It is a well known fact that all heresiarchs have always based themselves on the Holy Scriptures, only their interpretations differing. The Apostle Peter spoke of this perversion of the meaning of the Scriptures when they are construed personally, by the individual reader (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). Individual members of the Church-not excluding her finest sons and teachers-do not achieve the whole fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and so their teachings and writings are marred by one or another imperfection-sometimes even error-whereas as a whole the Church's schooling, possessed fo the gifts and knowledge, remains true for all time.


"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord…" (2 Peter 19-21; 2 Peter 2:1)

Orthodox Commentary: The testimony of the Apostles both (1) confirms "prophetic word" (v. 19) concerning the Second Coming and (2) shows us how to interpret prophecy. Just as Scripture (v. 20) was not written by the mere volition of men but by the inspiration of the "Holy Spirit" (v. 21), so Scripture is to be interpreted by holy men guided by the Holy Spirit. Heretics (chapter 2) and unstable Christians (3:16) interpret incorrectly. The Apostles (the "we" of v. 19) are guided by the Holy Spirit (v. 21), trusting in the promise of true interpretation (St. John 16:13). The Church, founded by the Apostles, likewise receives the Holy Spirit. "For the Apostles, like a rich man in a bank, deposited with her [the Church] most copiously everything which pertains to the truth. And everyone who wishes, draws from her the drink of life. For she is the entrance to life, while all the rest are thieves and robbers. That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them, while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth" (Saint Irenaeus of Lyions, 2nd century).

[source: Orthodox Study Bible, page 563]

With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George