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2 Timothy 3:15-17: Proof for Sola Scriptura?

By Matt1618

Sola Scriptura is the formal principle of the "Reformation.” Although there are a variety of ways in which this principle is enunciated, and some pour a meaning into Sola Scriptura that is different from others, this principle teaches that Scriptures is the exclusively infallible rule of faith. Although some Protestants will grant that the Church and Tradition has some authority to guide believers, when push comes to shove and one disagrees with the interpretation given by Church and Tradition, the ultimate guide of the individual is one‟s own interpretation of Scripture. If one studies Scripture and comes to the conclusion that is opposite of his Church, that person is free to disregard that interpretation. Scripture (or actually one‟s interpretation of Scripture) is the final authority and no other authority is at the same level of Scripture. Now, when asked to prove Sola Scriptura from Scripture itself, 2 Tim. 3:15-17 is the Scripture that is most often cited as the most powerful proof text for Sola Scriptura. In this study we will examine this Scripture. Before we dig into this Scripture however, let us briefly dig into what proponents say that Sola Scriptura teaches. Although some who profess this teaching agree that the concept of Sola Scriptura is not explicitly taught in Scripture, these same people will argue that the teaching is at least implicitly taught in Scripture. Both Norman Geisler and Ron Rhodes for example, both admit that the Bible does not explicitly teach Sola Scriptura. However, they both argue that an explicit statement in Scripture supporting that doctrine is not necessary to support their view. They also both argue that just as the Trinity is not explicitly but implicitly taught in Scripture, so the same goes for Sola Scriptura. 2nd Timothy 3:15-17, they say, at least implicitly teaches this principle. [1] Ironically, absolutely no Church Fathers used 2 Tim. 3:16 or verses 15-17 as a proof text for Sola Scriptura, at least anywhere near the principle enunciated by Protestants. Those who did hold a materially sufficient view, also held the Church and its tradition were equal authorities to Scripture. One can say that those verses may say that Scripture is materially sufficient (I don‟t believe 2 Tim 3 even teaches the material sufficiency of Scripture, which I will show as the passage is examined), which Catholics can hold (as long as the Church and Tradition are given equal authority). Catholics are allowed (but not forced) to believe that Scripture has everything that we believe in, at least implicitly. One thing to note, as Shawn McElhinney has noted, is that 2 Tim. 3:16 was used by Arians to actually teach that the Bible was the only infallible rule of faith. They used Scripture alone to come to the conclusion that there is indeed no Trinity at all.

Maximus who was an Arian actually had a version of Sola Scriptura that many Protestants would agree with. Here is what he writes in the first paragraph his commentary on 2 Tim. 3 and the following paragraph is Shawn‟s commentary on that statement: "If you produce from the divine scriptures something that we all share, we shall have to listen. But those words which are not found in the scriptures are under no circumstance accepted by us, especially since the Lord warns us, saying, In vain they worship me, teaching human commandments and precepts'(Mt. 5:19)." [8]Maximinus, Debate with Maximinus, 1 (A.D. 428), from the book „Arianism and Other Heresies‟ (AOH), 188 Now before any Protestant reads that passage and adds a hearty "Amen" to it, they had better be clued in on who is being quoting here. The quote is from a late 4th early 5th century personality named Maximinus and he was an extremist Arian heretic who denied the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did he deny the Divinity of Our Lord (and the Trinity) but he used the Scriptures to do it (Matt 4:5-6; Luke 4:9-11). He cited 2 Timothy 3:16 as a "proof-text" to support an early form of "Sola Scriptura" in Trinitarian disputes. To the knowledge of this author the heretic Maximinus is the ONLY early witness to use this verse to support a form of „Scripture sans Tradition‟. [2] Thus, those who hold that the Trinity is a perfect example of Scripture implicitly teaching something at the same level of the Sola Scriptura, use the same principle, Sola Scriptura, that at least one Arian heretic held who used a Sola Scriptura principle to deny the Trinity. Those who are Oneness Pentecostals who hold to Sola Scriptura, for example, also use Scripture as their authority to deny the Trinity. Thus, it is not as clear cut as MacKenzie and Rhodes might like. Now, before we look at 2nd Timothy 3:15-17, let us see look at what the Westminster Confession of Faith says what Sola Scriptura is (This will be the “Reformed” version of Sola Scriptura). We need to give this background in order to see if 2 Tim. 3:15-17 accomplishes this goal: VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them...

Armstrong goes on to argue that the Bible is the sole testimony to God's words and redemptive actions: The Bible is. (which is deliberately left vague as what ordinary means is) can understand clearly what the teaching on salvation is. when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold. “perspicuity” (or clarity) means the Bible is self-interpreting as to its essential truths. [4] Mr. After that. Again. John Armstrong. Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible. This counsel would be meaningless unless all readers can know the truth through the Scriptures. Even the unlearned due to a use of ordinary means. [5] Then Mr."[6] This is no doubt a sweeping claim. but also faith and life is taught in the Scripture. Acts 17:11). but one). Further.So Sola Scriptura simply means that Scripture is sufficient. in the same book. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore. everything binding on our consciences. summarizes his version of Sola Scripture by the following: It only means that everything necessary. writes: Basically. the assumption is that in truly searching the Scriptures truth can be clearly discovered. simply put. Another important principle is given is that Scripture interprets Scripture. as a matter of course. the Bereans are commended as the most noble of all early Christians because “They searched the Scriptures daily” to see if the oral teachings of even an apostle were faithful to the text (cf. Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible. This truth seems presupposed. other aspects of what Sola Scriptura is. but also all matters of faith and doctrine.IX. through the Bible. Now. in words that came from the lips of our Lord: “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39). Scripture is actually able to judge not only Scripture.. it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. in Luke 16:29: “They have Moses and the Prophets. Armstrong asserts with confidence that Scripture itself is able to judge all matters of faith and practice. John MacArthur. The fact that Jesus did and taught many things not ..[3] So according to the Westminster Confession of Faith. let them listen to them. our sole testimony to God’s words and great redemptive actions. the whole counsel of God can be found explicitly in Scripture or at least deduced from Scripture. Everything that is necessary for us to know on not only salvation. will be given. everything that is necessary for us to know.” We read. and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture. what do some current Protestant apologists say what Sola Scriptura does? The following apologists help to clarify how the Protestant (at least Sola Scriptura from the socalled “Reformed” position) interprets the meaning of „clarity‟ of Scripture. That which is necessary for salvation is clear in Scripture. Is Scripture able to judge between truth and error in all matters of faith and practice? The doctrine of the sole authority of Scripture answers with an unmistakable "yes. in the book.

simply stated. is that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fidei. does not equal the authority of Scripture). and following that we will see what Protestant apologists will claim that it teaches.  2.. especially on matters of salvation. equipped for every good work. they are not of equal importance or authority as the Bible. for correction. for reproof. 21:25) is wholly irrelevant to the principle of Sola Scriptura.  3. The fact that most of the apostles‟ actual sermons in the early churches were not written down and preserved for us does not diminish the truth of biblical sufficiency one bit.. Let us look at the Scripture and look at the claims made by the apologists for that Scripture and how well that Scripture fits Sola Scriptura: 2 Tim. The doctrine of sola scriptura. and the Church is always subject to the Word. Through Scriptures we can clearly discover its truth. and let us see if it matches what they say Sola Scriptura teaches. and even tradition some may give some credence to.. 4:6). . and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture.. the infallible rule of faith for the Church. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture. 2nd Tim. It makes Scripture itself the judge of all matters of faith and life.. It only means that everything necessary. The Scriptures are self-consistent. We can ignore that which is outside Scripture (at least to the point that whatever authority there is. 17 that the man of God may be complete. their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. White goes on to further clarify this position by writing: The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient infallible rule of faith for the Christian Church. 3:15-17 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.. and self-authenticating.. and is constantly reformed thereby. What is certain is that all that is necessary is in Scripture-and we are forbidden “to exceed what is written” (1 Cor. It is self-interpreting. The Christian Church looks to the Scriptures as the only infallible and sufficient rule of faith.. with no other guide of equal authority to it. and for training in righteousness. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Let us see what Protestant apologists make of this text. We must keep in mind what Sola Scriptura teaches.. although there is no denial that there may be less clarity on other issues. everything binding on our consciences. Scripture is clear in its interpretation. Although they will admit that there are other authorities. such as Church. That which is not found in Scripture-either directly or by necessary implication-is not binding upon the Christian. church or council. as we have seen. Thus..recorded in Scripture (Jn 20:30. Below is the text.. [8] So thus we see many a claim for Sola Scriptura by those advocating this position. self-interpreting. 3:15-17 has a tall order to fill. [7] James White gives us three short summaries of what Sola Scriptura is:  1. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching. and in no other source. their authority is not dependent upon man.

However. which has to do with being fitted for a task. To attack the perspicuity of Scripture is a not-sosubtle attack upon the very authority of Scripture. 15 which shows him admitting that Paul is referring Timothy to the Old Testament. Sometimes they will refer to James 1:4. He starts off in paragraph one below by commenting on v. which has reference to maturity or having reached a desired end. theopneustos) and profitable for our instruction. The second paragraph below has him referring to the inspiration of Scripture (v. James White uses the same passage in attempting to prove more things as well as address a couple of Catholic arguments (that I in fact will use when I respond later on). 3:15) and the Psalmist says that the Word and statues of God are "Making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7). He also focuses especially on v. Godfrey argues that the fact that the other verses use a different Greek word.John MacArthur writes: A brief summary of that passage is perhaps appropriate here as well. . Some have argued that this fact makes this passage irrelevant to any discussion of sola scriptura. 17. which is "God-breathed" (Gk. since it speaks only to the Old Testament. [11] Therefore." So the assertion that the Bible itself does not teach Sola Scriptura is simply wrong. 3:17 uses exartizo. Finally. In the final paragraphs he focuses on the words "Fully equipped for every good work" as showing Scriptural Sufficiency. such . 3:17. or Colossians 1:28 and 4:12 as parallel texts. To counter the argument Godfrey writes: The usual response of Catholic apologists is to repeatedly assert that 2 Timothy 3 does not teach sufficiency. claiming that the word "complete" in 2 Tim. 3:15 shows that Scripture is perspicuous: Paul very specifically says to young Timothy that "from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures" (2 Tim. for it is obvious that Timothy would have had none of the New Testament writings at that time. and no one would wish to say that the Old Testament is wholly adequate and the New Testament in superfluous or unnecessary. Here are a few of his comments as we see what he attempts to prove for Sola Scriptura. militates against the Catholics using those verses and elements used in those verses as a text against the Protestant use of 2 Tim. 3:17 does not mean sufficient.[10] Robert Godfrey noted that Catholic apologists (including me and you will see me do it later on in response) note that there are other passages which say that there are other things that make one complete just as Scripture does in 2 Tim. these other passages use the Greek word teleios. verse 15 affirms that Scripture is sufficient for salvation: "The sacred writings." Verse 16 affirms the absolute authority of Scripture. itself. a completely different Greek word is used. 3:17 to prove sufficiency. In short. 16) and how that shows that Scripture is superior in authority to the Church. are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Paul's words refer primarily to the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Mt. Where 2 Tim. . 19:21. But such passages are not parallel.[9] Armstrong argues that 2 Tim. And verse 17 states that Scripture is able to equip the man of God "for every good work.

The fact that it equips man for every good work means that although there may be other authorities." That is. Is there a doctrine we need to impress upon our congregation? We will find the Scriptures sufficient to provide the basis of this exhortation. not the extent of Scriptures (i. The fact that parallel texts exist which speak of equipping for good works. is derived from Scripture itself. capable.. .. Gingrich. Because of the origin of Scripture in God himself. The teaching applies to Scripture as a whole. complete. .[12] Thus.. You don't have different authorities in the Church: Scriptural authority over here. but here I am only noting those apologists who in the material that I have.e. Louw and Nida's Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains uses the term "qualified" as well. If another source of authority was necessary surely Paul would have directed us to it in order that we might be complete. I note down below a short summary with the apologists who cite 2 Tim.) That which is God-breathed is able by its very nature. (Armstrong. because God's inspired Scriptures are always available to him. "able to meet all demands. none of those authorities are of equal authority as Scripture. Arndt..an objection misses the point. Paul's point should not be missed. we see this passage supposedly fulfilling all or at least most of the main points that the Sola Scriptura doctrines teaches as that would be consistent with the Westminster Confession of Faith. Scripture equips the man of God for every good work. as they say. but he does not!. according to Vine. the authority of Scripture is God's authority. The term.. proficient. to give us the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus ("all things necessary for man's salvation") and to fully equip the "man of God" for the work of the ministry ("all things necessary for . as the thrust of the passage is the origin and resultant nature of Scripture and its abilities. have commented on 2 Tim. The fact that Timothy is referred to the Old Testament is of little relevance. Rhodes)  4.(Godfrey.. The Scriptures are able to fully equip the man of God so that he is able to do every good work. and God‟s authority over there. capable. 15). (White)  2." Bauer.. The divine authority of the Church. and Danker tell us the term means "complete. then. despite Roman Catholic claims to the contrary. means "fitted. No one serving God has to search about for other sources. 3 in support of that position. The passage teaches the perspicuity of the Bible's teaching on salvation (v.faith and life").. Geisler. and is thus sufficient. in teaching and rebuking and instruction." giving the specific citation of 2 Timothy 3:17 as the reference.(White) . It also means that the Bible is self-interpreting as to its essential truths. (Godfrey.. I pause only long enough to note that Paul asserts that the man of God can be complete.. The Church gets its authority from Scripture. I am sure the other apologists would agree with the other apologists. proficient and qualified. The authority of Church is one: God's authority . does not denigrate the sole authority of Scripture. White)  5. The inspired Scriptures are the sufficient source for a person's needs in ministry. 3:15-17:  1. MacArthur)  3.. to the canon.. And when God speaks in Scripture His words carry His authority. The first term to examine is the adjective translated "complete". White.

(White) There are several problems with this attempt by White to render this point invalid. 2nd Macc 7). 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching.  1. 3:15-17 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. In fact it is very relevant that at the time Paul is only speaking of the Old Testament. we must understand the passage in the way that the passage was meant to be understood at the time it was written to give a proper context. if Scripture was the sole infallible authority on the teaching on salvation. Rhodes) A Catholic Response Below is the passage again. Thus. this shows that all necessary doctrine is found in Scripture. ultimately the teaching on this passage does apply to Scripture as a whole. Yes. This brings Protestants problems on the canon that this passage does not address which we will shortly look at. 15 of the Scriptures that Timothy has known since infancy. the Scriptures that Timothy was brought up on would have reflected such things as Prayers for the dead (2nd Macc. and we will address each of the six points made by the varying Protestant apologists. That is because Sola Scriptura proponents say that the Scripture that Paul speaks of. . The teaching applies to Scripture as a whole. equipped for every good work. The canon that Timothy was brought up on would have reflected that canon that contain the Deuterocanonicals that Protestantism rejects as not on an equal par with the rest of the Old Testament. the teaching on salvation as it was on that occasion must be sufficient. makes Timothy wise unto salvation. if it is sufficient on salvation. 2 Tim. However. Timothy was half Greek. half Jew (Acts 16:1-4).(White. 12:44-46). By this passage not mentioning other authorities. 11:35. and for training in righteousness. We know that Paul knows of the contents and unmistakably refers to these contents elsewhere in his writing (Heb. As he was Greek. Of course. for correction. for reproof. 6. what was the Old Testament that he was brought up in from infancy? Those such as Timothy would have been brought up reading the Septuagint. there must be at least some basis for that in the Old Testament as well. 17 that the man of God may be complete. Thus. Now. The fact that Paul is referring Timothy to the Old Testament is of little relevance. as spoken of by MacArthur. Catholicism accepts the contents of the Scriptures that Timothy was brought up in while Protestantism rejects their canonicity. as he is speaking in v. and in Timothy's possession was only the Old Testament. nowhere is that view of salvation even hinted at in Old Testament (as we will see as we address point #2). for those who say that justification is a once and for all occasion where Christ's righteousness must be imputed and applied to one's account.

Of course. where it says the Scriptures that Timothy has known since infancy would make him wise unto salvation. The passage teaches the perspicuity of the Bible's teaching on salvation (v. but absolutely nowhere in this epistle does Paul tell Timothy that what he is writing is Scripture. 4:16). It is in fact after the fact extrapolation if one tries to apply from this passage an idea that the Scriptures that Paul is speaking about to include the New Testament. Now it is true that the Old Testament does teach on salvation. in order to properly interpret this text we must interpret the way that this was meant to have been interpreted for the reader at that time. Thus. that the view of salvation presented there. perspicuously teaches faith alone through the means of an alien righteousness applied to one's account. Nonetheless. I realize that the Westminster confession of Faith argues that the Bible is perspicuous on salvation and those who hold to Sola Scriptura must hold to the perspicuity of Scripture on the doctrine of salvation. When Peter mentions Paul's writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). if we look at the way that one is justified before God in the Old Testament. So on what basis is 2nd Timothy Scripture. 15). that they were not the letter from Laodicea (Col. but it definitely does not teach that one is justified by faith alone.  2. For example. the quotation of 2nd Timothy only proves the absolute reliability of the Church and her tradition. nor even implied. To quote this Scripture in an attempt to undermine the authority of the Church or her Tradition actually undermines the authority that one can have in calling this Scripture. but it does not deal with the canonicity of this very epistle. the context of this passage again would undermine the understanding of salvation that these same Protestant apologists hold to. Of course. However. It also means that Bible is self-interpreting as to its essential truths. How do we not know that when Peter refers to the Scriptures that Paul had written. we see justification is not a one time imputation of righteousness based on faith alone. as it included only the Old Testament. for the Protestant faith alone idea to hold. that is nowhere found in the Old Testament. but on what basis do we know are Paul‟s canonical letters from the noncanonical ones? The church is the one that infallibly decided what the contents of Scripture are. Armstrong and MacArthur matter of factly argue that v. nor do we see the letter that he had written to the Corinthians that was before 1st Corinthians (1 Cor. 3. 5:9)? Neither of those letters are part of the canon. theoretically. Obviously. 15 shows that Scripture teaches the perspicuity of salvation. There is no contents of the New Testament in the New Testament itself. Thus. MacArthur) Yes. we must be able to read in the Old Testament. if one tries to interpret the passage the way that Paul wrote it. (Armstrong. and on what basis do you use it to teach Scriptural sufficiency when Paul nowhere makes the claim that what he is writing is Scripture? How do we know that what Timothy is writing is Scripture? Paul certainly nowhere in this epistle writes that it is. it is the Church that declares this as Scripture. We have seen these apologist cite v. he does not mention any specific letter that Paul had written. 15. Paul tells Timothy that Scripture is profitable. the only way that we know 2nd Timothy (and the rest of the Pauline letters) is inspired is because of the authority of the Church and her tradition. So. and it is only the Tradition of the Church that declares 2nd Timothy Scripture. but by those within God's grace who perform .Another even more important problem with this interpretation is that it not only ignores the problem with the Old Testament canon. Yes. Surely it is not given in 2 Tim. what is taught here does apply to the New Testament as a whole.

30 Then Phinehas stood up and interposed. Although obviously one would not expect the full explication of this Sola Fide doctrine. The writer of Psalms refers us to Numbers 25.. if Timothy . His work is meritorious.righteous actions being declared righteous based on those actions. not merely a fruit of it. and a plague broke out among them. This is the same words as used of Abraham in Genesis 15. let us look at Psalm 106:29-31. and the plague was stayed. and that as a result of his act Phinehas turned God's wrath away. and is what justifies him. but the Catholic position that works are indeed a cause of salvation. Nothing about an alien righteousness. Psalm 106:31 so much destroys the Protestant position on Rom. Prov. The Lord ordered Moses to kill them. when this is a discussion of authority? I am checking to see. and whether this matches what Timothy has been brought up in. 4 that Protestant John Murray writes: If Paul had appealed to Psalm 106:31 in the matter of justification. and since the passage in 2 Tim. Psalm 106:29-31 29 they provoked the LORD to anger with their doings. Psalm 106:31 is dealing with the good works which were the fruit of faith. Phinehas is not merely considered righteous. (also used of Abraham in Genesis 15:6). why are you digressing to examining the view of justification. Murray is forced to call this passage in inherent contradiction to his view of salvation. whether that matches the faith alone view of salvation. This is not the Protestant. the exact language that Paul would use in Romans 4:3. 17:15. that since the Protestant view of Sola Scriptura includes a 'perspicuous' view of salvation. 31 And that has been reckoned to him as righteousness from generation to generation for ever. This would be where the righteousness of another is imputed to ones' account by the instrument of faith alone. 24:12. Reckoned to him as righteousness. The Psalmist calls this action by Phinehas a reckoning of righteousness. Psalm 62:12. For example.[13] Psalm 106:30-31 refers to the incident recorded in Numbers 25 in which the men of Israel had sex with Moabite women. the justification of the ungodly. Faith alone position. then the case of Phinehas would have provided an inherent contradiction and would have demonstrated justification by a righteous and zealous act. God tells Moses that Phinehas was zealous for God's honor. Phinehas grabbed a spear and killed a man and woman who were engaging in this sexual sin. as Paul shows . but this righteousness is inherent.. that Protestants will try to use to justify the faith alone theory. One may ask. but in fact labels Psalm 106:31 in contradiction to his faith alone theory. where Phinehas had done a righteous act of killing idolaters who were committing sexual sins. Other passages that show the view of salvation that is not faith alone include Prov. and no Protestant calls that action only a fruit of good works. This is the act that Phinehas is accounted for righteousness. 3:15 has been cited to show that the Scripture that Timothy has known since infancy teaches a perspicuous view of salvation. Note the language used.Genesis 15:6 is dealing with justification. For Murray to call this passage only a fruit of salvation is a repudiation of the Psalmist's words. and Psalm 7:8.

„well. wrote that Jesus is and was God.) Of course when the New Testament gives us its teachings on salvation.was perspicuously taught this. Peter tells us that Paul's writings on salvation are not easy to understand and are easy to distort (2 Pet. “What are the essential things?” As Phillip Blosser notes: . it has been since his infancy and as a child that he has become acquainted with in its teachings. did Jesus become the Son of God. we may have many differences on minor issues. one of the contributors to the Sola Scriptura book. and having no Biblical basis for that rationale. misses on who Jesus was before his incarnation is not essential. John MacArthur. but that is another issue). In fact. the teaching on salvation is not perspicuous (cf. if as MacArthur and Armstrong teach. Well. Only after the incarnation. but he had advocated this heretical position all the while going by "The Bible Alone". what is essential truth that Scripture would guide us to? The identity of Jesus as the Eternal Son of God as fully God would seen to be an essential. we saw earlier that the Arian Sola Scripturist of his time. On the idea given by Armstrong that "the Bible is self-interpreting as to its essential truths". but we agree on the essential doctrines‟. recently. there must at a minimum some foundation for that belief in the Old Testament. besides sounding nice. MacArthur has changed his mind and agrees that Christ's sonship is eternal. Maximus argue from Scripture that Jesus was not fully God. Mothers. How does any child or young adult become acquainted with Scripture? Fathers. 2:6-13. v. one could grasp the Old Testament teaching on salvation. is essential? Fortunately.. 3:15-16). especially that of Paul. etc. It is obvious that when Paul is speaking on how the Old Testament teaches on salvation. Jesus said he would send the Spirit to guide his Church into “all” truth (Jn 16:13). Paul likewise writes that he wants the Church to be united in one mind and judgment (1 Cor. and one of the top Evangelical Ministers in the United States today. Now as an aside. is a point that is belied by the context. Remember. One of the main arguments that Protestants use to explain away the differing positions on doctrine due to the use of Sola Scriptura is the fact that supposedly. what. He did not put into categories of "This is essential truth that Scripture will guide you in" and "These other categories are 'non-essential' so it is Ok to disagree on. The word 'essential' is nowhere noted. the sacred writings do not teach that at all in the Old Testament (I would argue that neither does the New Testament.” Jesus did seem to say that all truth is essential. Rom. the attempt to say that this passage teaches us the perspicuity of the Scripture on salvation."? Nowhere at all. No one would argue that as a child. Where is the idea anywhere in Scripture that there are some things called "Essential Truths" and other things called "truths where it is Ok to disagree on. where is that written anywhere in Scripture? The Scriptures he cites has absolutely nothing to do with that idea. and teachers instruct the child on the meaning of the Scriptures. pray tell. Rom. 15 teaches that Scripture is perspicuous on salvation. 1:10). Thus. he takes for granted that as a child he was instructed by others on exactly the meaning of salvation as understood in the Old Covenant. BTW. but before the incarnation was not the Son of God. If one of the main contributors of a book that „proves‟ Sola Scriptura. if we go to the New Testament writings. 3:28. As evidence. The other thing that shows that Scripture is not the sole authority just based on this verse is that for Timothy. the issue at hand is. supposedly.

God-breathed. I say this argument done by Sola Scripturists in analyzing these verses is a perfect fulfillment of the following verse: . will argue that Scripture is inspired. A plain reading of the text shows that Scripture here is not even close to achieving what Sola Scriptura proponents say it does. based on the three pillars of Church. Presbyterians regard the belief in the “total depravity” of man essential. and is thus sufficient. has helped to give a solid guidance on what is true doctrine and what is not true doctrine. 1) The reading of the Protestant apologists (such as Robert Godfrey. Tradition and Scripture. vv. (Godfrey. Calvinists consider the “irresistability of grace” an essential belief. 1617 again: 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching. Nazarenes consider personal holiness an essential prerequisite for salvation. in and of themselves destroy the interpretation given by Sola Scriptura advocates. That is an argument from silence. and for training in righteousness. Baptists consider an “adult” profession of faith to be an essential prerequisite for baptism. while Lutherans do not. The word exartizo means that Scripture equips fully. and since it is so important that no such other authorities exist. I will give the texts. while Presbyterians do not. 17 that the man of God may be complete. none of those authorities are of equal authority as Scripture. Episcopalians consider sacraments essential. White.  3. The fact that it equips man for every good work means that although there may be other authorities. Rhodes) There are two points in analysis of this Scripture passage that prevents Sola Scripture from being implied from this passage. A look at the Catholic Catechism. at least. and we must obey Scripture. James White. Geisler. but the Salvation Army does not. The Catholic Church agrees that Scripture is inspired. for correction. here or anywhere else. Each of these points. but Methodists do not. equipped for every good work. the idea that we saw earlier that was given by Sola Scriptura proponents that “Scripture decides what is true doctrine” has proved to be a colossal failure as there is no agreement among the sects on what the true doctrines are. Ron Rhodes) who emphasize that this text speaks of Scripture fully equipping for every good work means that there are no other authorities that serve the same end is I say a horrible misreading of the text. The same can not be said of Sola Scriptura. since Scripture does not say so. while Lutherans do not. Baptists consider “altar calls” essential but Presbyterians do not. Presbyterians consider the predestination of the elect to be an essential doctrine but Free Methodists do not. But this passage does not exclude other authorities and in fact as we examine the context a little further down. [14] Thus.Nor will it do to fall back on the assertion that Protestant conservatives. Many proponents. The Dutch Reformed consider creeds and confessions essential. are united on “essentials”. Lutherans consider baptism essential. we will see other authorities and things that also guide Timothy that are of equal value. but Baptists do not. for the question as to what is “essential” and what is not. for reproof. while Quakers do not. is itself part of what is at issue. Scripture equips the man of God for every good work. The Catholic position on such doctrines are united.

is speaking of verse 17. However. It fully ignores the description of Scripture itself. de facto. Why do I say that? Why do I consider the misusing of this passage to prove Sola Scriptura a knowing twisting of Scriptures? Well. if I have all the food in the world but I don‟t have water I can die of dehydration. is absolutely a fraud. The word profitable is nowhere near the meaning of the word sufficient. The going on to emphasize how the Greek word means that it fully equips us is totally irrelevant to whether the Bible is sufficient. correction. Water is indeed profitable to my body. reproof. training in righteousness) which are the grounds for fully equipping. doctrine. In fact.2nd Peter 3:16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. Thus. Scripture is termed profitable for doctrine. and the word exartizo meaning that Scripture fully equips us. is not described as speaking of Scripture as being sufficient to do so. eventually I will still die. The reason is. this passage does not demonstrate the Sufficiency of Scripture in any way shape or form. as they do the other scriptures. Therefore. Scripture is only profitable in training us in righteousness. correction. as this I say near fraudulent use of the word for fully equipping since there is a vast difference between sufficient to fully equip and only being profitable for the four ends that do equip. as being directly linked to the fully equipping of man for every good work in v. Thus. which is in that prior verse? What fully equips? Doctrine. This passage in and of itself does not even teach the material sufficiency of Scripture. for correction. Geisler & MacKenzie. which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction. including White. I also need food which is profitable to my body. all knowingly ignore the fact that Scripture is never termed as sufficient to fully equip. Godfrey. this is a horrible twisting because fully equipping for every good work. Where is Scripture in the mix? V. that when Scripture is directly spoken of. It is a twisting of Scripture and God‟s word when the emphasis on the word exartizo and equipping ignores the fact that Scripture is only termed profitable for the four ends so noted. Later when it talks about being fully equipped for every good work we must remember that scripture is only termed profitable for those ends. Now. reproof. we see all the emphasis on the Scripture that is noted in verse 16. correction. . If I do not have food. and Scripture is only profitable in getting people ready to do that. Neither one of them are sufficient to fully nourish. What is the twisting of that? Well. The authors who emphasize it. no matter the meaning of exartizo. By it only being termed profitable. Note again that this fully equipping for every good work . and instruction in righteousness are the four items that fully equip. MacArthur. Then it is those four ends (not Scripture) that fully equips. but are only profitable to the four ends (doctrine. reproof. 17. Reproof. Those four ends are the things that fully equip. not sufficient but profitable to those four ends. what does it specifically say of Scripture to serve that end. and training in righteousness. it is profitable but not sufficient to keep me alive. all the emphasis on fully equipping for every good work. There are some things in them hard to understand. If I drink water. but they are both profitable. It is termed in the immediate context of only being profitable. it is only termed 'profitable' in doing so. Likewise. 16 speaks of Scripture only being. The church likewise asserts that scripture is profitable for these four ends. However Sola Scriptura teaches that it is sufficient for those four ends. and Rhodes. Then those four ends are those that equip.

. for reproof. in the context of salvation that he brought up we have already been over that so there is no need to retread my earlier comments on that. Sola Scriptura says that the contents of all of Scripture sufficiently complete a person to be fully equipped for every good work. we have the rest of Scripture to look at (We saw this in the Westminster Confession of Faith Section on Scripture. and is profitable for doctrine. 17 which begins with the word “that” In Greek “hina” (Strong‟s # 2443) literally means “in order that. Paul‟s argument is "Scripture is able to make thee wise unto salvation because all scripture is inspired by God in order that the man of God be thoroughly equipped for every good work. First. for correction. which is a slightly different approach than the Protestant apologists already noted. 2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God.-asv In context Paul is giving Timothy reasons why Scripture is “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. for instruction in righteousness:-kjv Paul is obviously saying God‟s purpose when inspiring Scripture was to render all men of God perfect and thoroughly equipped.”-2 Tim 3:15 kjv His premise is indicated by “hina” in Vs. etc. Thus. 17 That the man of God may be complete. each verse becomes our full guide! Each individual Scriptural verse becomes a sufficient guide for us? Thus." or literally "every Scripture (holy writing) is inspired of God. "every Scripture" it means that if we pour the Sola Scriptura interpretation into the text and look at the meaning of the word." LOC (short for the moniker “Let‟s Obey Christ”) proves that Paul can't even remotely be speaking of Sola Scriptura. Next.” This premises his conclusion that "all Scripture is inspired of God. furnished completely unto every good work. with the translation of "every Scripture is inspired. not even the most avid Sola Scriptura advocate would say that one verse of Scripture is a sufficient guide for us. 3:15-17 don't forget to treat my exegesis of this passage: 2 Tim 3:16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching. Section VI & VII). thoroughly furnished unto all good works." In abstract we could rearrange this portion to read thusly: 2 Tim 3:17 [In order] That the man of God may be perfect. all of Scripture must be our guide. for instruction which is in righteousness. However. If a subject that is necessary for us to know is not in one book of the Bible. for correction.I let some people on the Catholic Converts Message Board know that I was going to do this article and a person going by the name of "Let's Obey Christ" asked me to engage him on the following points: While your researching 2 Tim." In other words. for reproof. [15] How do we respond to this approach to this supposed 'proving' Sola Scriptura? The principles that I have already established would easily respond to these points. with the correct translation of Paul actually meaning.

or each Scripture (Not All Scriptures). It is not ready to get linked yet. the word sufficient is not used or by any stretch or imagination. Paul does not use that term here. it can never be a full guide for the life and faith of believers. even implied. In actuality. This is what the aim of each Scripture verse is for.17. Now. However. each verse of Scripture is inspired. It is useful to an end. 17 says that a man is complete and equips the man of God mentioned in v. And again. The first thing that it says about Scripture is that it is profitable. the beginning of v.16. (or in order that) makes the meaning of v. 3:16 is a proof text against Sola Scriptura. Then. hina. Thus. no matter how great one Scriptural verse is. 17 is fulfilled. up to this point in time. that is not the conclusion of v. is profitable for doctrine. 15:3. LOC writes that his conclusion is that Scripture is inspired and he links that to v. Mt. Again. Then in his conclusion he again links the verses but his conclusion ignores the bulk of v. is that which is qualified by hina. 3:15-17) to other authorities. Whenever the Bible refers us to the whole corpus of Scripture. 16 that links to v. we see that 2 Tim. 16 important so v. 17 to imply that Scripture is sufficient. it always uses the term "Scriptures" (1 Cor. with this correct translation. not sufficient. Those are the ends that do the equipping. 22:29. with the correct translation of every. Paul only quoted Scripture one time. In fact. He makes an important link of 16 to 17 by stressing that. 16 which is that which is linked to v. every Scripture). Lk 24:27). . We know that if Paul wanted to speak of the full Scriptures he would have mentioned the term Scriptures in plural. 17. not Scripture that so equip the man of God. 2 Tim. V. but is only the beginning of the verse. 3 can not in any way be used to support Sola Scriptura. 16 is written so that v. this is what the verse would have to say!! The Westminster Confession of Faith does not say that. Next. However. for which each Scripture is profitable. and each Scripture is profitable for that. correction and instruction in righteousness. those four ends. Paul is not writing of Scripture in its totality). 2:19). When Paul writes about each Scripture being inspired. and other means of being equipped for Christian service. LOC‟s premise is that v. on that basis alone. I have no problem with that at all. it says that the study of each verse (remember. 16 does say that Scripture is given by the inspiration of God. Romans 1:2. (Remember. nor does any Sola Scriptura advocate. where again.However. 2) The other point that destroys the idea that this passage speaks of Scripture to the exclusion of other authorities as spoken of by the Sola Scriptura apologists I quoted is the fact that Paul has referred Timothy up to this point in his letter (2 Tim. 16 to serve a doctrine that is not even hinted at in this passage. as Paul writes. I have emphasized this before but that in itself renders Scripture as insufficient. 16 he actually ignores the content of v. it is those four things. 16 and thus links the two verses incorrectly. and each Scripture is only termed 'profitable' for those ends. So LOC‟s conclusion. to those four things which fully equip. Profitable is a weak term even describing those four ends. And yes. as being 'profitable' is not sufficient. Yes. in his bit by bit analysis of v. and that was only used to refer to encourage those to stand firm in the faith (2 Tim. The hina link is thus. reproof. where he says "in other words" are in fact putting into Paul‟s mouth LOC‟s words “Scripture is able to make thee wise unto salvation because all scripture is inspired by God in order that the man of God be thoroughly equipped for every good work" which practically ignores all of v. Thus.17 is fulfilled.

is something that Timothy has experienced with Paul as a witness most of which obviously is not reduced to writing. the Dead Sea Scrolls. Legend has a connotation of it not being true.. 3:8 apparently draws not on the Old Testament but on a fairly widespread Jewish legend about two of Pharaoh‟s magicians who competed against Moses and lost (Exodus 7:11. to term what Paul refers to as a „legend‟ puts a bad face on what Paul refers to. Everything that he has told Timothy of. love. in. This is the immediate background to vv. This legend appears in Pseudo-Philo. Let us be clear: The inclusion in a biblical book of a true fact from a tradition does not thus mean that the tradition itself is inspired. so these men also oppose the truth. 15-17. So when we get to vv. He was not thereby saying that tradition in itself is authoritative or on an equal par with written revelation. Next. but disregards that point in the following way: Evangelical Christians agree that the reference to Jannes and Jambres in 2 Tim.. actually drawing from oral tradition in 2 Tim. and then look at the larger context of the epistle. also by his way of life and oral teaching. Where did Moses draw this information from on who Moses‟ opponents were? A proponent of Sola Scriptura even admits that Paul drew this information from tradition . Targums. In fact. manner of life.. 15-17. perseverance. In the immediate context he writes in v. the conclusion that talks about being fully equipped for every good work in v. Does he say in v. this doctrine that he must carefully follow is not Scripture in this instance. 14. continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.. 14 Paul writes: 14 But as for you. If Paul was referring to tradition in this verse. including especially oral tradition. men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith. v. If one looks in the Old Testament.".First. Evangelicals deny that the mere drawing of this fact from tradition necessarily means that tradition is inspired or authoritative. [16] First. we see Paul in the beginning of chapter three where he speaks of Scripture as inspirational. 10 "But you have carefully followed my doctrine. knowing from whom you learned it. 9:11). Rhodes tries to color his . we need to look at the immediate background of Chapter 3.. 10 and v. the Talmud. 17 includes this oral tradition explicated in v.. In the context of the whole epistle we see several things that equip. It simply means that the tradition includes a true fact. 3:8 when he writes: 2 Tim. Paul tells Timothy to continue in the things that Paul has assured him. where there are definitely other authorities of importance. faith long-suffering. one will find that there is absolutely no mention of Jannes and Jambres as the names of the magicians who opposed Moses. Thus. purpose. Even the immediate background of those verses thus shows Paul referring Timothy to oral tradition as an authority. as a fable. 3:8 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. 10 that the only source of doctrine is scripture? No! It is obvious that the way that Timothy primarily received Paul's doctrine was orally. he did so only because the tradition in this case contained a true statement that bore mentioning. and various rabbinical writings. Thus.

we see absolutely no comparison that Rhodes points to. 1:13-14 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me. For many things he delivered to . we see no mention of Scripture as being of a superior authority than tradition. who will be able to teach others also. but before by words also. He does no such thing. not say: “Even though I am drawing upon tradition.” In fact. 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. these entrust to faithful men. In fact. then it is no longer binding”. not merely a legend. Paul in fact assumes that what he is speaking of is true. He doesn‟t say. if he thinks that tradition is not authoritative. A good commentary on this verse (2 Tim 1:13) is by St. If he wanted to prove Sola Scriptura. 2 Tim. 2 Tim 2:1-2 1 You then. Paul tells Timothy to hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me. 3:15-17. when he quotes from another tradition that is not Scripture. both in many other passages as where he says. since he admittedly draws upon tradition in this very chapter. The context of these statements affirms that it is oral tradition that is passed on. and the latter two texts we will examine next). but a tradition that is true. "whether by word or epistle" (2 Thess. 2:2) that people must heed (we have already looked at vv. in his commentary on Timothy: Not by letters alone did Paul instruct his disciple in his duty. In fact. that oral tradition is binding and must be passed down. why is there no hint of this in Paul‟s writing in his letter to Timothy? Next. We have already seen Paul‟s oral tradition as a source for Timothy to draw from.. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses. a look at 2nd Tim. when in fact. 2 Tim. it is a strange way to prove that oral tradition is not of equal authority as Scripture. 1:13-14. he later admits that Paul is drawing upon not a legend. “After I die. In fact. in the midst of Paul‟s affirming tradition. this would have been the perfect opportunity to say that oral tradition is inferior. Paul write to Timothy. in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. if we look at 2nd Tim. This is an authority that Timothy is bound to hold to. Let us not therefore suppose that anything relating to doctrine was spoken imperfectly. 10-14. my son. in 2 Tim. 14. if Paul wanted to say that tradition is of lesser authority than Scripture. That which Timothy is to hold are the words that Paul has spoken to Timothy. Rhodes‟ attempt to downgrade this fact is in the midst of Paul referring to the New Covenant traditions as being of equal authority (2 Tim. Let us look at a couple of passages that show this: 2 Tim. which he shows.attack on tradition by calling it a legend. it is of less authority then Scripture. and especially here. in the larger context of the epistle we see in the prior chapters. why. be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. First. If he thinks that oral tradition is „less reliable‟ than written tradition of Scripture. That is the unfounded supposition that Sola Scriptura advocates hold to. 2:15). 3:10. 3:15-17. John Chrysostom. 1:13-14.

if St.. This is in perfect keeping with the church teaching on the authoritativeness of and surety of this teaching. John Chrysostom believed in Sola Scriptura in the sense that Scriptures teaches clearly on salvation as Sola Scriptura advocates say that he should. 2:15 he unambiguously affirms the equal authority of oral tradition. and those Sola Scriptura advocates reject his view of salvation. this shows at a minimum that Scripture is not clear on salvation. baptismal regeneration. This authority that Timothy holds is told to hold fast to. Of these therefore he reminds him. when he says. For instance John MacArthur attempts to make 3 points when he speaks of this passage. 2 Tim 1:6) to hold fast to this tradition by the Holy Spirit. to train other faithful men for the task of leadership in the church. In fact no Father taught Sola Fide anywhere near approaching the Protestant view. Paul shows no fear of this at all. I will examine each of his points: 1)Here the apostle Paul instructs Timothy. If St. Thus.. There is no hint of apostolic succession in this verse. We must remember that Sola Scriptura not only states that Scripture is the only authority that is infallibly authoritative. which thou has heard of me. or infallible. will outrageously take one or two quotes from St. 11:2 and 2 Thes. The whole Protestant charge on the unreliability of tradition is not true. 2) Paul commanded Timothy to preach. It must clearly teach the concept of Faith Alone. are spoken of." (2 Tim 1:13). prayers for the dead. 2:2 to establish authoritative oral teaching. the sacrament of penance. and do not relate doctrines imperfectly. etc. 1:14 shows us that Paul expects the bishop Timothy (1 Tim 4:14. [17] The words Paul tells Timothy to hold to..him without writing. 1:13.[18] 3) Word of mouth tradition is never said to be theopneustos. as noted by Paul and St. 1 Cor. but that the teaching of Scripture on salvation is perspicuous. Eucharistic sacrifice. a young pastor. And this is how Paul lays down the foundation for 2 Tim 2:2. both the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the fact that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. and it is the same message that is preserved in Scripture and sufficient to equip every man of God (2 Tim. John Chrysostom‟s view of salvation is so far from the teaching on salvation of Sola Scriptura advocates.[19] . 3:16-4:2). "Hold fast the form of sound words. John Chrysostom notes. He also agrees with the Catholic Church on the succession of bishops. since they all have to deal with salvation in some sense. as Sola Fide advocates hold) 2 Tim. etc. God breathed.. some Protestant Sola Scriptura proponents. (although some Fathers may have used the words „Faith Alone‟ the fact that they held to such teachings as purgatory. he would have rejected all of the above teachings. John Chrysostom where he asserts the absolute authority of Scripture (which no Catholic would disagree with) but ignores the fact that on passages such as 2 Tim. just as St. There are various Protestant objections to the use of 2 Tim. is an authoritative guide. John Chrysostom. shows that they did not have faith alone as merely an instrument to get an alien righteousness imputed to one‟s account. (BTW. nor is there any suggestion that in training these men Timothy would be passing on to them an infallible tradition with authority equal to the Word of God. praying for the dead based on tradition.

and in fact. 2 Tim 2:2 speaks of passing on what is entrusted to Timothy of what he has heard from Paul. Paul assumes that those who follow him. There is no mention in 2 Tim." Another passage in 2 Tim. In fact. the absolute binding apostolic authority was lost. except that which was written in Scripture. but it is not merely speaking of that. This passage indeed shows that there is another authority besides Scripture. The other authorities are subservient to that of Scripture and no authority equals that. there is absolutely no hint of a loss of such authority to the succeeding generations. However when these verses are combined. To say that this has nothing to do with apostolic succession ignores the very words of Paul. What is relevant is that right in the middle of passing on authoritative teaching there is no mention of Scripture at all. What he has heard from Paul is his oral teaching. When the background to this verse is shown to be (2 Tim 1:13-14) Timothy holding on to Paul's oral teaching it is clear that this oral tradition is binding on not only Timothy. However. MacArthur's conclusion on 2 Tim 2 that Timothy is told that the only reliable method of passing on teaching is scripture is absolutely nowhere in the text or context. 2:2 would make Paul and Timothy forget what Paul had written in the first two chapters of this very letter. it is teaching. or 2 Tim. will have the same binding authority. 3:15-17 as a proof text against 2 Tim. The attempt to corral 2 Tim.1) MacArthur attempts to limit the extent of the authority given here in this passage as only discipleship. MacArthur attempts to quote 2 Tim. what is Timothy being entrusted with? Nothing but the deposit of faith. There is absolutely no hint in this passage that authority is downgraded. in Paul‟s writing in 2 Tim. 2:1-2) these verses assert oral tradition in the Catholic way. or 2 Tim. Scripture is not even mentioned in the first two chapters. Also. Many try to use this passage to say that this is in agreement with Sola Scriptura. When we get to the passage (just after telling Timothy to hold to Paul's words) we notice that three generations of Christians are told to pass on truth orally. But let us take a quick look at it: 2 Tim. 2:2. 1&2 of Scripture being a superior authority. 3:15-17 as a refutation of 2 Tim. Then he tells the second generation leader Timothy to entrust this same oral teaching to the third generation (Timothy's spiritual sons) which is to pass this authority to the fourth generation. The Protestant asserts that after the first generation of apostles passed. which would obviously consist of doctrine. 2. the only thing binding on future generations is Scripture. 1:13-14. This is not mere discipleship. Paul is the first generation apostle who is to pass on his authoritative teaching orally to Timothy. In 2 Tim 2:1 Paul calls Timothy his son. 2:15 . 3:15-17. any honest reader will see that Sola Scriptura is the farthest thing from Paul's mind. Paul has already shown us in 2 Tim 1:13-14 that oral tradition is in the background of this very verse. 1:13-14 and 2 Tim. In fact 2 Tim 3:15-17 said nothing about passing his letter on to future generations whereas in 2 Tim 2:2 oral teaching is specifically said to be entrusted to Timothy to pass on that which would include doctrines. 2 shows even further the reliability of this oral word of God. the second generation. after Paul passes on. Paul specifically says that this is to be passed on when he never mentions to pass on this very letter! Nowhere does either 2 Tim. This oral teaching which is Pauline tradition is exactly what Timothy is explaining in 2 Tim 2:2. Individually (2 Tim. but his successors. "well. In fact the oral teaching that was passed on from Paul to Timothy serves at the basis of this training of leaders. 2:1-2 say.

1:13-14. not Scripture. but it very well could give more elaboration on things that he wrote. that when you received the word of God which you heard from us. Scripture is termed by Paul as useful or profitable in correcting. Paul‟s oral word is the word of God. Robert Sungenis gives a response to these specific MacArthur comments and I will let his response to that argument serve as my response to that self-same argument: . 3:16-17 is compounded by the assumption that he makes that oral tradition spoken of in 2 Tim. 2) MacArthur's argument that when Paul is speaking in 2 Tim. In neither 2 Tim. what is the word that Paul is speaking of? Up to this point he has not even quoted or alluded to Scripture. Now of course the oral tradition is consistent with the written tradition. and his oral teaching as not being infallibly binding upon future generations. or could teach about things not even written in Scripture. and therefore only Scripture is authoritative is making a mountain out of a molehill. Paul has written elsewhere that the words that he speaks. His error in misusing again of 2 Tim. it is obvious that the word that Paul is speaking of here is the Oral Word of God. which is the authority of oral tradition. Now. where it says word of truth to refer us to Scripture. can rightly divide the word of truth. 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this. 3:16-4:2) again only builds on the distortion of using 2 Tim. 2:2). not Scripture. 1:13-14 did Paul write. This is the word that Paul refers us to in the first two chapters of 2nd Timothy (1:13-14. Thus. and with absolutely no even allusion to Scripture at this point. reproofing and training in righteousness. However. 2:2 as the exact same thing as what Paul had written. 1:6)? He is speaking to Timothy who as Bishop has authority over others. Paul nowhere limits his oral teaching to being less authoritative to only Scripture. one who was a bishop with authority who was ordained by Paul (1 Tim. In any case. a workman who has no need to be ashamed. we know that Paul sees his spoken word to other people as the word of God. 2. 2:1-2. or theopneustos is never used of tradition. 2 Tim. Twice as we have seen he has referred Timothy to his own oral words (2 Tim. Thus. the word of God. 2:1-2). 4:14. here is another point where this word of truth is oral tradition. Timothy who now has authority over other people. 3) The idea that because the word inspired. are God‟s word: 1 Thess. Remember." That is a fallacious assumption nowhere hinted at in the text. With this background. 3:16 to say that Scripture is sufficient to equip the man of God for every good work.Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved. many try to use this passage. you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is. Scripture has not even been mentioned. "Well. and in any case it is those four things that equip the man of God. Who is Paul writing to except Timothy. or 2 Tim. for future generations the only thing binding on the believers as infallible are those written things that will become Scripture. it is the same message that is preserved in Scripture and sufficient to equip every man of God (2 Tim. not merely writes. doctrine. rightly handling the word of truth. not Scripture which is only profitable for those ends. which is at work in you believers. per se.

Second. the fact that Catholic apologists respond to these charges in both oral debates that I have heard. that means the Protestant proves Sola Scriptura. Well. is only termed profitable for the four ends which actually are the means to fully equip the man of God for every good work With that said. lacking in nothing. For example. here are some other passages and sources of things that also equip the man of God: James 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect. both must be infallible. e. the Protestant side has not proved anything. though written by men. Scripture uses various term to describe divinely originated revelation.[20]  4. let us go on to compare some Scriptures that show the use of words very similar to the word exartizo. is that the modifier of Scripture in this passage. The fact that parallel texts exist which speak of equipping for good works. . 3:16-17 only shows that Scripture is profitable for the four ingredients (doctrine. None of these descriptions is of less divine origin and authority than theopneustos. 22:43). reproof. White) This argument is not necessarily an argument that has to be dealt with because what we have shown in our prior section. and begging the question. which is at work in you believers. correction. and that is why I am pounding this point in until the reader gets it. Scripture is only profitable for those ends. In fact. however. "in spirit" (Mt. hence.) assures us that Paul's oral teaching is God's word as much as Scripture is God's word. To claim. and is not termed as sufficient for this. That is because. even if the Sola Scriptura advocate is correct on the point that exartizo means to fully equip and the Catholic comparing of passages make no point at all. the efforts to emphasis the word exartizo as fully perfecting through the study of Scripture as sufficient is totally irrelevant to the issue as Scripture is only termed profitable to those four ends which are the items that equip. Thus. the word of God. If the Protestant proves the point on exartizo means to fully equip. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (My insertion of the text: And we also thank God constantly for this. blows away all the emphasis on Scripture being sufficient to fully equip the man of God for every good work. "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:8)." (1 Thess. yet again. which are used in speaking of other things that equip the man of God as well. 17.g. is in actuality a unique combination of the words of God and the words of men . 2:13) "the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matt. unprovable. and the point can not be emphasized too much. theopneustos is a term used to describe Scripture not as a technical term which seeks to distinguish the infallible nature of Scripture from the purported fallible nature of Tradition. The fact that 2 Tim. and training in righteousness) which are the items that actually fully equip. and many others. does not denigrate the sole authority of Scripture. that you may be perfect and complete. you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is. or fully equipping in v. "the word of God.Scripture is "God -breathed" in the analogous sense that God breathed life into man at the creation. Theopneustos means that Scripture. 10:20).First. and even in books gives credence to the Protestant idea that. In my opinion.(Godfrey. that when you received the word of God which you heard from us. that "word-of-mouth" tradition is not equal to Scripture simply because the word theopneustos is not used to describe inspired oral teaching and its subsequent tradition is short-sighted.

or complete‟ are directly paralleled to the 2nd Tim. Nonetheless. 9:8. 15-17 15 So then. but that is not the purpose of this essay. In the first passage James tells us that perseverance makes us complete. In fact. what is modified in this instance is not only the grace that comforts us. both oral and written (a key passage that proves the necessity of oral as well as written tradition. However. 2:21 If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble. stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us. The purpose of this essay is to establish that 2 Tim. Listening to the preaching. 2 Cor. either by word of mouth or by letter. 9:8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance. that in agreement with the Protestant authors the use of the word exartizo. even lacking nothing. Paul tells the readers that one is told to hold to traditions. then he will be a vessel for noble use. 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. Do we say that listening to preaching is all that is necessary? Getting the manifold blessing of God prepares us for every good work. based on holding fast to the traditions. 2 Thess. are comparable. consecrated and useful to the master of the house. that we may present every man mature in Christ. the words that do prepare to equip the person. 3:15-17 does not teach what Sola Scriptura advocates say it teaches). So these are equal and real parallels. and established in grace. However. One thing to note.Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim. so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 2 Tim. In the context of one getting steeped in tradition. This is a fairly close parallel to 2 Tim. one is established for every good work. perseverance is put here instead. ready for any good work. in each of those passages the phrase „every good work. as Scripture is so qualified in 2nd Timothy 3:16. Also. and God our Father. who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace. they would have to say that. I would assume that if James had written this of Scripture. perseverance is not qualified by only being termed profitable. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself. Of course they do not do so. but also holding fast to the oral and written traditions . However. Is getting the blessing of God mean that other things are not necessary? 2nd Thessalonians 2:15-17. look at what it does. this would have been the passage that Sola Scriptura advocates would have used to prove that doctrine. is not used in these other passages. 3:15-17. brethren. per 2 Cor. in Colossians 1. to fully equip. 3:17 passage. warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom. matures the man. Can one say Sola Perseverance? That only perseverance is necessary? That Scripture is not necessary? If Sola Scriptura advocates are consistent.

2:21 and the profitableness of Scripture for the four ends which equips the man of God for every good work. in the immediate context of 2nd Timothy 2:21. even in attempting to rationalize his attack on the real parallel of 2 Tim. 2:15-17). this is another source. 3:16-17 as excluding other authorities or things that perfect the man of God. Thus. They all help to perfect." In any case. Therefore any attempt to use 2 Tim. Scripture is one thing (2 Tim. However. we see in very similar language many things that help to perfect the man of God. 2:21. So the premise he uses is wrong to begin with." White conveniently confines "source" to revelatory dimensions and thereby misses the whole point of Paul's contextual argument-an argument designed not to single out or make exclusive revelatory sources but to direct Timothy to whatever will help him become the man of God he desires to be and to teach others to do the same. 2:21 uses the very phrase. I restate that this is a fraudulent misuse of Scripture as nowhere is Scripture termed as sufficient. but profitable. but is spoken of as the means of preparing for every good work without any lessening of its extent. and authority for perfecting the man of God to equip for every good work. These passages are not meant to exclude these other things that prepare a man of God for every good work. Again. he misstates his comparison to chapter 3 as Scripture as being sufficient. we see that purification. 9:8). Therefore we see that in the very epistle where Paul writes of Scripture being profitable for the four ends that do equip the man of God for every good work. 1:28). [21] Again. but of the perfection of the source from which the man of God draws: the God-breathed Scriptures. Finally. 3 passage is so qualified. 2:21). In Chapter 2.[22] Thus. This is just what hetoimazo refers to." By forcing this dichotomy into the discussion. Sungenis makes a further response to the comparison of White of sanctification to prepare for any good work of 2 Tim. because the word that is used to describe Scripture by Paul is not sufficient. 3:16-17). these are complementary things that are not meant to exclude these other things as perfecting the man of God. Sanctification is one thing (2 Tim. White makes it appear as if "sanctification" cannot be considered a "source" from which the man of God can drawn in order to do "every good work. White attempts to dismiss using 2 Tim.from which that grace works. Listening to wisdom is one thing (Col. But in chapter 3 he speaks of sufficiency and capability because he is not talking about something the man himself does. which is nowhere used in chapter 3. And this passage is not qualified by merely „profitable‟ as the 2 Tim. the purification of oneself to make the man able for every good work is not qualified by profitable. Paul writes in the preceding chapter of sanctification doing the same very thing as Scripture. God's blessing and grace is one thing (2 Cor. sanctification makes us ready for every good work. Perseverance is one thing (James 1:4). James White is aware of the fact that 2 Tim. must ignore the way that Paul and . Holding fast to oral and oral traditions and resting in God's grace is one thing (2 Thes. (even though exartizo is not used) and tries to get around that fact by writing: Paul is talking about a man purifying himself. as Scripture is qualified by the use of "profitable. denying godlessness and walking in a godly fashion. 2:21 because it is not speaking about the "source of the man of God ability to engage in the work" but "of sanctification in the person's life.

” To White's denial that the Church and Tradition was in any way independent of Scripture. 3:15). when there was not a New Testament canon for about 3 1/2 centuries. Of course. as shown in Scripture." The Church had authority that preceded Scripture. the witness to this authority is given in Scripture. Revelation. The Church. it is absolutely amazing that one who knows history. It was not merely based on Scripture.(White) It is hard to respond to this one. but the Bible is not the sole basis for that authority. Scripture does show that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. the authority that the Church has came from Jesus himself. 28:19-20). say that the Church is dependent upon Scripture. There was no certainty for centuries on the canonical status of 2nd Peter. that Jesus gave his commission to the Church and he would be with his Church unto the end of the world (Mt. and some writings such as Clement's letter to the Corinthians. This Church acted on its authority that was given to it by Jesus. as that is not binding. because where in the world White or any Protestant apologist can extract this idea from 2 Tim. long before New Testament Scripture was thought of. let alone written and canonized. and read them as your only infallible guide.23). The Church gets its authority from Scripture. to say that the Church‟s authority came from Scripture is ludicrous. and he commissioned his apostles to forgive sins (Jn 20. is the establishment of many apostolic Churches which were not in any way dependent on the New Testament writings. Jude. Nevertheless. which did not exist for centuries.  5. and later on through James and the elders of the Church on the secondary issue of what to eat. “Well.other apostles (including James) speak of these other things that also perfect the man of God. The Church already had its authority from Jesus and did not wait for the Scripture to be written to say "Oh. which said absolutely nothing about the issue of circumcision which was the core of the issue. James. now we have authority. Didache. 2:15). etc. the very first writings of New Testament Scripture was some 20 years or so after Jesus' death and resurrection. as we saw earlier. etc. For example. although Church and Tradition will help. wow. through Peter's leadership had the authority to decide on whether people had to be circumcised. were in some quarters held as canonical Scripture. The Church was aware of its authority and exercised it well before the canon was finished. The idea that Tradition and the Church is totally dependent upon Scripture is false. forget all that I taught you. gave rules on the practices that were to be followed (Acts 15:1-29) with only one passing mention of a Scripture. One of those other things include oral tradition. Very few of the apostles actually wrote a thing. Since most of the apostles wrote nary a sentence of Scripture. There is nothing in context which limits Church authority to that which is derived from Scripture. after I die. Yes. as does White. that one must hold fast to the traditions both oral and limited (2 Thes. Thus. and also well before there was any fixed canon. . 3:16-17 is beyond my comprehension. The tradition that established those Churches was dependent upon the successors of the Apostles having binding authority on the followers in Christ. as spelled out in this very letter. Hebrews. This was real authority well before the witness of that authority was given in Scripture. Nowhere in the text does it say anything of the sort. but instead go to the apostle Paul‟s and the other epistles and the gospels. There is no record of one apostle saying.

2:1-2) that he had entrusted to him all of the truth and authority and was to be passed on to Timothy‟s successors. but the only way that we can know which writings are Scripture. 3:15-17 does Paul write. when as far as I know they did not have NT Scriptures? However. it is nowhere derived from the text at all. As we noted earlier. This word of truth that he passed on to Timothy we know elsewhere is termed the Word of God (1 Thes. Paul's very life and conduct (v. here would be the perfect place to put it. as we saw earlier. 14). 2:2) and . Indeed. Now. Even though I said to entrust to others the oral deposit of faith I taught you. ignore all this stuff about holding to my oral words (2 Tim. even submitted to Rome. White did not refer to any specific thing in the passage itself which brought him to this conclusion. because even this tradition passed on its authority. Paul had written in this very letter that Timothy must hold to the words that Paul had spoken (2 Tim. They somehow believed in baptismal regeneration. “Well.How was the apostolic community founded by Thomas the apostle in India dependent upon Scripture. of it excluding other authorities. the ministerial priesthood. per se. in this very chapter also serves as a basis for doctrine that Timothy must abide by. he had also just cited in 2 Tim. thus. This is based on what Timothy heard. the true presence and sacrifice of the Mass. In any case.  6. with all this emphasis on oral teaching. these Indian believers had all the beliefs that Catholics had. 3:10. to rightly divide the word of truth. is if we accept the authority and reliability of the Church. absolute authority. 1:13-14). including me write. or oral tradition. etc. in this letter Scripture is not mentioned until the Third chapter. Of course. when discovered in the 1500s or so. As noted earlier. about having what I told you being the basis for succession being passed on based on this oral word of truth (2 Tim. and the only binding authority that generations after you have will be what the few apostles. this shows that all necessary doctrine is found in Scripture. In fact. This was authoritative enough for Timothy to hold to those words. but in all honesty. after he writes of Scripture being only profitable. he wrote to Timothy his son (2 Tim. but that is no longer binding. Then Paul tells Timothy. if Paul wanted to write that Scripture's authority outweighs that of the Church or that of oral tradition. Their tradition. infant baptism. we are being asked to believe that Paul says. Scripture derived its authority from God. the bishop with authority. Nowhere in 2 Tim. Nowhere in the text is there a comparison between Scriptural authority as opposed to Church authority. I had to leave 2 Tim. Rhodes) This is an argument from silence. 1:13-14) which was Oral tradition. Not a word of Scripture at all. ultimately that which I write is the only . As up to this point the only word of truth that he is speaking of is that which Paul told Timothy. all of which Protestant apologists deny (although Lutherans and Anglicans would accept Baptismal regeneration). The word of God. and not from the Church. 3:8 an oral tradition that was authoritative and reliable. because even though White used this passage as a springboard for this novel theory. is not reduced to writing.(White. 3:15-17 to deal with this assertion. seven sacraments. this responds to the point attempted to be made by White. even though cut off from the other Churches. Even when making this assertion. about my life and doctrine that I have taught you (2 Tim. 14). By this passage not mentioning other authorities. Then. 10. Now yes. Oral tradition again. he does not. 2:13). and teaching to Timothy.

Scripture itself. as admitted by Alistair McGrath. he only uses the term 'profitable' to describe the efficacy of . and reproof. through the Magisterium of the Church. and life. when we read the passage that there is no hint of uniting on “essentials” as through the private interpretation of Scripture. teaches that all that is necessary for salvation. and what is not the canon. Next. The fact is that when Paul writes in that passage. whatever type of Protestant there is. Now of course I do know that Protestants will try to use many more Scriptures than 2 Tim. according to this Westminster Confession of Faith. nowhere approaches the Protestant view of an imputation of righteousness based on the instrument of faith alone. Scripture is supposed to be sufficient to equip the man of God in doctrine. 3:15-17 itself. training. and I have examined those passages elsewhere in other writings. Scripture is supposed to be perspicuous. Those who attack the tradition of the Church. approached the Protestant view of salvation. as through the lens of Christians. Now. it boomerangs on them. Sola Scriptura. since I wanted to address one main strain of Sola Scriptura.” This is quite a stretch. it was only the Old Testament. There also is no clarity on salvation. or clear. instruction. Other authorities such as Church and tradition do not have the same authority as Scripture. Those authorities are not binding upon the believers. and whatever brand of Sola Scriptura one has. We saw that when Paul wrote of the canon that Timothy knew. especially when seen by the fact that not one Church Father. is the final court of arbitration and is supposed to clearly judge right from wrong doctrines. especially including salvation. as Protestant theory on Sola Scriptura has produced important differences in doctrine that the Catholic Church has been united on in the interpretation of those same doctrines. but serves as the basis for the Sola Scriptura argument that 2 Tim. We also saw. Scripture interprets Scripture. in this essay I focused on the “Reformed” view of Sola Scriptura through the Westminster Confession of Faith. Now. faith. most of these points were supposedly proven by Protestant apologists on their examination of this passage. it is by far the biggest passage used in support of this doctrine. The Church and Tradition are the authorities that make it possible for us to know what. 3 proves that there is no other infallible authority besides Scripture. since the view of salvation as given in the Old Testament. is found in Scripture.infallible authority. The infallibility of the Church makes our surety of the canon secure. Nevertheless. Most importantly. 3 taught the Scriptural clarity on salvation. this passage is the one that is most used to support this doctrine. We saw that there were problems for Protestants in dealing with the canon. and since Protestant apologists argue that 2 Tim. we examined 2 Tim. Although I do not say that this passage is the only one used in support of these parts of Sola Scriptura. We also looked at the passage when we saw a twisting of Scripture by Protestant apologists to call Scriptures as sufficient to fully equip for every good work. Church and Tradition is to have its authority derived from Scripture. even though steeped in Scripture. and correction. at least on the „essential‟ things. 3:15-17. thus undermine the authority of the very Bible that they quote against the Church. Conclusion There are many different views of Sola Scriptura.

we saw that there were other authorities. Chapter 1. and the necessity of successors to pass on my apostolic authority is not binding”. Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics. It is useful in studying. As Paul only uses the word 'profitable'. whereas Scripture is not brought up (with the exception of one passing reference in 2 Tim. as Paul says. 2. these oral words I spoke to you. .html [3] Westminster Confession of Faith. after I die. 3:15-17. (or our own personal interpretation of Scripture). 1999. 186-187. and it is a help in equipping us for good works.Scripture.. it is insufficient by itself to fully equip for every good work. In v. 132. Paul nowhere says that this Scriptural authority was superior to oral tradition when he had a perfect opportunity to do so. reproof. It was Scriptures in plural. oral tradition is referred to in chapter 1. Harvest House Publishers. 3. 3:15-17 does prove the usefulness of Scripture. Don Kistler. 16. Oregon. ed. but only it‟s profitability. Paul does not write in 2 Tim. Soli Deo Gloria. at least. 2000. he is only speaking of individual Scriptural verses. Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible.freeyellow.. Grand Rapids. when the modification of Scripture was only profitable. In sum. p. according to 2 Tim. 136. p. as the context does not show that it modified the sufficiency of Scripture. p. we can say that 2 Tim. Baker Books. It is those four ends. In fact. [5] ibid. which no Catholic would dispute. On that ground alone. and 3 as a source of doctrine.com/unity. This attempt to misuse that word to serve the four ends of doctrine. as noted. Endnotes [1] Ron Rhodes. 15 he had used the word 'scriptures' in totality. available at http://matt1618. nor does it do away with the equal binding authority of the Church and its tradition. no less) that helped to perfect the man of God. and his successors. when Paul writes in v. We also saw that there were many parallel passages throughout the New Testament that used parallel language (including oral tradition. is a twisting of Scripture. “well. PA. 267. Eugene. We saw the misplaced emphasis on the Greek word exartizo. This is available at: http://opc. But it does not prove that all doctrine must be derived from Scripture. p. However. 1995. Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences.org/documents/WCF_frames. including oral tradition that served as a basis for imparting doctrine to Timothy. [2] Taken from the article on Christian Unity by Shawn McElhinney.html [4] John Armstrong. and Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie. Section 7. Also. p. just as Scripture did. 2:19) until the passage in question. correction and training in righteousness. 106. [6] ibid. it is impossible that each Scriptural verse is sufficient to fully equip the man of God. not Scripture itself that fully equip the man of God. MI. Morgan.

[11] Robert Godfrey.. ©2001.. written by Matt1618. pp. Santa Barbara. Queenship Press. op. p. [15] Let‟s Obey Christ. 2001.. op. Not By Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Not By Scripture Alone.. [13] John Murray. 240. pp. p. 97-98 . pp. Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible. taken from Robert Sungenis. Not by Scripture Alone. Santa Barbara. pp. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading. 1997. op. cit. For more commentary on Psalm 106:31 and Sungenis‟ comments on Murray‟s comments.. Commentary on Romans. op. CA. 1997. ibid. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. op. footnote 9. [21] White. 1. The Roman Catholic Controversy. on Feb. without express written permission from the author. John Chrysostom.. ed. 61. pp. 246. 63-66. 1996.. "2 Timothy 3:15-17: Proof for Sola Scriptura?". p. Homilies on Timothy. 117. op. [18] This exact same argument is also used by Norman Geisler.. 7. 59-60. [19] MacArthur. cit. 131. 14. [10] Armstrong. see pp. cit. [14] Phillip Blosser. 245-248. 248. op. electronically or otherwise. cit.[7] John MaCarthur. op. CA. cit. [22] Sungenis. 484). p. 184-185 & Ron Rhodes. [8] James White. 169-172.. 81-82. ibid. cit. Not By Faith Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Doctrine of Justification. p. Queenship Publishing Company. cit. Vol. 166-167. 13. p. op. from a post on the Catholic Converts Message board . First Series vol. .cit. op. pp. cit. p. Robert Sungenis. [17] St. cit. [20] Sungenis. p.. footnote 21. but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published. [9] John MacArthur. 137. Bethany House Publishers.. p. p. pp. 168. [16] Rhodes. [12] White.

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