Original Research

The authority of God takes precedence over Scripture and tradition

Phaswane S. Makuwa
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3012 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3012 | © 2024 Phaswane S. Makuwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2023 | Published: 07 March 2024

About the author(s)

Phaswane S. Makuwa, Department of Old Testament, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The divinely derived authority of the Bible to teach and guide, is somewhat mixed with the authority of traditions to interpret Scripture and document such interpretations outside Scripture. Tradition-based Bible translations pose a threat of elevating the authority of tradition over that of Scripture. All concerned traditions should not occupy or tame the authority of Scripture by producing Bibles attuned to tradition. The Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit who inspires Bible readers to understand them. Tradition should not shape or formulate Scripture in accordance with its interpretive convictions. The Bible translations, produced under the auspices of specific traditions, should be exposed to guard the authority of Scripture not to be subdued by any tradition. The endless production of Bible translations has been considered to determine what could necessitate them. Among other findings, traditions have been found to be active in producing Bible translations, when their purview should be doing biblical interpretations and publish them within their traditions, and not to release them to the public as alternative Bibles or versions. The authority of God through the Holy Spirit, who inspired the prophets and apostles to write Scripture, is not transferable to any tradition. Regardless of the proliferation of tradition-based Bible translations, the authority to guide and teach believers, remains with God and the outlook of believers should be based on the supreme authority of God. The principle of Sola Scriptura is somewhat unsafe in the light of the production of tradition-orient Bible versions. The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit predates canonisation, redaction and restructuring of Scriptures. The production and publication of tradition-based Bibles with synthetic translation rules, poses a threat of diluting Scripture to align with specific traditions. Tradition is fallible and cannot be as authoritative as God. All authority to teach and guide continues to rest with the infallible God.

Contribution: Continuous Reformation could regress to the outgrown pre-Reformation teachings that were subject to the authority of tradition, if the proliferation of tradition-based Bible translations is not noticed with a threat that they pose on the divinely derived authority of the Scriptures to teach and guide believing people. The gains of Reformers and Reformation should be guarded by being aware of Bible translation trends.


authority of God; tradition-based Bible translations; authority of tradition; inspiration of the Bible; fluidity of Scripture

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