Hold Fast the Word

Open Bible

Hold fast the word.” This statement, or one similar to it, is found several times in the New Testament. The “word” to which we are to “hold fast” is the word of God. But why are we to hold fast to it? We can answer that question by examining the passages that contain this admonition. There are several reasons why we must continue to “hold fast the word.” Let us notice the reasons presented to us in the Scriptures.

It Is the Gospel

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Paul told the brethren in Corinth that the message he preached to them was “the gospel” (1 Corinthians 15:1). Holding fast to the gospel is vital because it is “by [the gospel] you are saved” (1 Corinthians 15:2). Paul said elsewhere that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). Without Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, we would have no hope (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:17). We must “hold fast the word” so that we can be saved.

It Gives Us Life

Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Philippians 2:16).

Even though the brethren Philippi lived “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15), they were to “[hold] fast the word of life” (Philippians 2:16). The word translated “holding fast” in this verse suggests more than just retaining the word for oneself, but also “holding forth” (KJV) or presenting the word to others. Like the brethren in Philippi, we live in “a crooked and perverse generation”; but we must continue to hold to the word and teach it to others because it is “the word of life.” In other words, the Scriptures show us the way to eternal life. Peter recognized that Jesus had “words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Paul told Timothy that “life and immortality [were brought] to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). We must “hold fast the word” so that we (and others) can obtain eternal life.

It Is Inspired

Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

In this context, “that which is good” refers to the word of God that has been revealed by the Spirit (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16; John 16:13). Paul spoke of the importance of examining the messages that were taught to determine if they were “good” or “evil.” The reason why this was necessary was because “many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). In the same way, there “will…be false teachers” today (2 Peter 2:1). Paul told the brethren in Corinth that they needed to accept his teaching – not because of who he was, but because he taught “the Lord’s commandment” (1 Corinthians 14:37). The Christians in Thessalonica recognized this. Paul said that when they heard the word preached, they “accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). We must “hold fast the word” because it is from God.

It Contains Divinely-Given Traditions

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Traditions have a negative connotation for many people in religion. We must certainly guard against human tradition (cf. Matthew 15:3-6), but some traditions have been handed down from God. These divinely-given traditions must be kept. Jesus expects that His disciples be taught to “observe all that [He] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the apostles taught these instructions through word and letter. We have these instructions preserved for us today in the Scriptures (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Jude 3). We must “hold fast the word” because it contains the traditions that God wants His people to observe.

It Contains Our Standard

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13, NKJV).

The “pattern” or “standard” (NASB) that we are to follow is found in the word that was preached by the Lord’s apostles. Paul said that Christians are not to be “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Instead, we are to stand upon the firm foundation of Christ and His apostles and prophets (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20). That foundation consists of the words of truth that they spoke. The psalmist wrote, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). We must “hold fast the word” so that we can stand firm in the face of all the changes and challenges that exist in the world around us.

It Is Faithful

Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

When Paul wrote to Titus about the qualifications of elders, he said they must be able to “[hold] fast the faithful word” (Titus 1:9). In describing the word of God as faithful, Paul was emphasizing the fact that it is trustworthy. The word produces faith (Romans 10:17); however, this is not a “leap of faith,” but faith that is based upon reasonable evidence. The Hebrew writer provided a definition of faith: “Now faith is the assurance (substance, KJV) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence, KJV) of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Through miracles (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4), fulfilled prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:22; John 2:19-22), and perfect harmony (John 10:35), God has proven that His revealed word is reliable. We must “hold fast the word” because it is trustworthy.

Conclusion

Through the word of God, we can know what His will is for us. By following His word, we can be saved and look forward to eternal life. Therefore, let us continue to “hold fast the word.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Unity, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Thankful.