Someone wrote a friend of mine asserting that 2 Timothy 3:16 proved that Scripture alone was all we needed. The famous passage reads, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
My friend responded:
No Catholic, of course, disagrees with these verses, or with any verses of Sacred Scripture. Of course Scripture is profitable! We Catholics see it as one of the three pillars of authority for the Christian (the other two being Sacred Tradition and the Magisterim — the teaching authority of the Church).
But Protestants unhappily, sometimes, reading into this text what they want to see, and more than it asserts.
Imagine you are a soldier and on your first day you are told: “The Army Teaching Manual is given by inspiration of the experts, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in the life of a soldier: That the soldier may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all a soldier needs to do.”
Would you understand that to mean that the soldier no longer needs ranked officers, a drill sergeant for training him, weaponry, ammunition, armour, communications equipment, etc.? Saying that X is profitable or necessary and that X helps one become thoroughly furnished for something doesn’t say at all that Y is therefore not profitable or necessary and that Y helps one become thoroughly furnished for something.
And how can Protestants square their reading of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 with Ephesians 4:11-12, which reads:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
According to these verses, what is needed for the perfecting of the saints are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers! How could this possibly be if all we need is the “Bible alone”?
Furthermore we are informed by James … But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.. Would you suggest that patience is sufficient! (1:4).
Game, set, match …. I think. The Bible was never meant to stand alone. It was given by God, through the pens of men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and it took hundreds of years before the Church discerned and determined which books belonged in the New Testament.
And it was not Scripture alone which was the principle of the early Christians as we can see from the Bible itself, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15).
Notice also 2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first,no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
1 Timothy 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 Truth.
Robert from Wales