Before I begin, I’d like to thank those who are participating in the comments on the article, “Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church as described in the New Testament”. This subject was brought up in those comments and let me explain something to you, the epistle known as the 2nd Letter of St. Paul to St. Timothy (2 Tim for short), has nothing to do with Sola Scriptura. Read more
Before we look at 2 Tim 3:16, lets review a few verses throughout the entire letter of 2 Tim to see what St. Paul is really talking about:
Chapter 1: 7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
It sounds to me as though St. Paul is exhorting St. Timothy to give oral testimony, i.e. to preach and teach the Gospel. Not to pass out Bibles.
Chapter 2: 2And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Again, that is an exhortation to pass down information by word. And to make certain that those whom he, Timothy, teaches will be prepared to do the same. That is the essence of oral Tradition.
Let’s skip over chapter 3 for now:
Chapter 4: 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Another exhortation to preach.
Do you really want me to believe, that throughout the epistle of 2 Timothy, St. Paul is telling Tim to preach and teach, but in Chapter 3 verse 15-16 he changes and tells him to pass out Bibles? That seems far fetched to me.
But lets study the verse in its immediate context. What is the immediate context of the verse? It remains, oral teaching. Listen:
10But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
I have taught you and you have learned.
14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
So practice what you have learned considering from whom you have learned them.
15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Now, think about this carefully. Does a child have to know how to read in order to know the Scriptures? In my house, my children and I meditated on the Scriptures since before they knew how to read. So I know that the answer is, “No.”
16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Remember what St. Peter said:
2 Pet 1:20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
And remember that the Bible says that the Church is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth.
1 Tim 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Now read 2 Tim 3:16 again:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect throughly furnished unto all good works.
The Bible is useful, not necessary, for a Preacher to use “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” So that the Preacher may bring up the man of God and make him perfect for all good works.
This verse is speaking to instruction. This verse is describing the Magisterium, the Teaching Church.
It is very simple. The Bible does not contradict Itself. Sola Scriptura contradicts the Bible.
Ivan Latham, on the “Road to Damascus”, oh, wait! that was St. Paul. I mean, on the “Notes from Damascus”, points out the irony of casting out the Word of God in Sacred Tradition and replacing it with private interpretation. He says:
The One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church came before the Bible as we know it. So this actually shows up the fallacy of a sola scripture approach, where everything has to be validated according to whether it is mentioned in the sacred text. Jesus did not say, ‘Go and write a book about everything I have said.’ No, rather He commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Good News to all nations. Initially this instruction was fulfilled via the Jewish scriptures, and the oral tradition. The Biblical canon was only approved much later. And yes, of course the sacred text is vital to the life of faith. It is far too neglected, and prayerful study of the Bible yields much spiritual fruit in the life of the faithful Catholic. However, parallel to Sacred Scripture runs the stream of Sacred Tradition which preceded it (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
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