SCRIPTURE ALONE ("SOLA SCRIPTURA")

Scripture

  1. Scripture Alone Disproves "Scripture Alone"
  2. "All Scripture is Inspired" - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  3. Other Passages Used to Support "Sola Scriptura"

Tradition / Church Fathers

  1. Scripture Must be Interpreted in Light of Church Tradition
  2. Scripture is not Subject to Private Interpretation
  3. The Catholic Church Determined the Canon of Scripture

Back · Home · Next
 


Scripture

I. Scripture Alone Disproves "Scripture Alone"

Gen. to Rev. - Scripture never says that Scripture is the sole infallible authority for God's Word. Scripture also mandates the use of tradition. This fact alone disproves sola Scriptura.

Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15 - those that preached the Gospel to all creation but did not write the Gospel were not less obedient to Jesus, or their teachings less important.

Matt. 28:20 - "observe ALL I have commanded," but, as we see in John 20:30; 21:25, not ALL Jesus taught is in Scripture. So there must be things outside of Scripture that we must observe. This disproves "Bible alone" theology.

Mark 16:15 - Jesus commands the apostles to "preach," not write, and only three apostles wrote. The others who did not write were not less faithful to Jesus, because Jesus gave them no directive to write. There is no evidence in the Bible or elsewhere that Jesus intended the Bible to be sole authority of the Christian faith.

Luke 1:1-4 - Luke acknowledges that the faithful have already received the teachings of Christ, and is writing his Gospel only so that they "realize the certainty of the teachings you have received." Luke writes to verify the oral tradition they already received.

John 20:30; 21:25 - Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are equally a part of the Deposit of Faith.

Acts 8:30-31; Heb. 5:12 - these verses show that we need help in interpreting the Scriptures. We cannot interpret them infallibly on our own. We need divinely appointed leadership within the Church to teach us.

Acts 15:1-14 – Peter resolves the Church’s first doctrinal issue regarding circumcision without referring to Scriptures.

Acts 17:28 – Paul quotes the writings of the pagan poets when he taught at the Aeropagus. Thus, Paul appeals to sources outside of Scripture to teach about God.

1 Cor. 5:9-11 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Corinth is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul is again appealing to a source outside of Scripture to teach the Corinthians. This disproves Scripture alone.

1 Cor. 11:2 - Paul commends the faithful to obey apostolic tradition, and not Scripture alone.

Phil. 4:9 - Paul says that what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. There is nothing ever about obeying Scripture alone.

Col. 4:16 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Laodicea is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul once again appeals to a source outside of the Bible to teach about the Word of God.

1 Thess. 2:13 – Paul says, “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us..” How can the Bible be teaching first century Christians that only the Bible is their infallible source of teaching if, at the same time, oral revelation was being given to them as well? Protestants can’t claim that there is one authority (Bible) while allowing two sources of authority (Bible and oral revelation).

1 Thess. 3:10 - Paul wants to see the Thessalonians face to face and supply what is lacking. His letter is not enough.

2 Thess. 2:14 - Paul says that God has called us "through our Gospel." What is the fullness of the Gospel?

2 Thess. 2:15 - the fullness of the Gospel is the apostolic tradition which includes either teaching by word of mouth or by letter. Scripture does not say "letter alone." The Catholic Church has the fullness of the Christian faith through its rich traditions of Scripture, oral tradition and teaching authority (or Magisterium).

2 Thess 3:6 - Paul instructs us to obey apostolic tradition. There is no instruction in the Scriptures about obeying the Bible alone (the word "Bible" is not even in the Bible).

1 Tim. 3:14-15 - Paul prefers to speak and not write, and is writing only in the event that he is delayed and cannot be with Timothy.

2 Tim. 2:2 - Paul says apostolic tradition is passed on to future generations, but he says nothing about all apostolic traditions being eventually committed to the Bible.

2 Tim. 3:14 - continue in what you have learned and believed knowing from whom you learned it. Again, this refers to tradition which is found outside of the Bible.

James 4:5 - James even appeals to Scripture outside of the Old Testament canon ("He yearns jealously over the spirit which He has made...")

2 Peter 1:20 - interpreting Scripture is not a matter of one's own private interpretation. Therefore, it must be a matter of "public" interpretation of the Church. The Divine Word needs a Divine Interpreter. Private judgment leads to divisions, and this is why there are 30,000 different Protestant denominations.

2 Peter 3:15-16 - Peter says Paul's letters are inspired, but not all his letters are in the New Testament canon. See, for example, 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Col. 4:16. Also, Peter's use of the word "ignorant" means unschooled, which presupposes the requirement of oral apostolic instruction that comes from the Church.

2 Peter 3:16 - the Scriptures are difficult to understand and can be distorted by the ignorant to their destruction. God did not guarantee the Holy Spirit would lead each of us to infallibly interpret the Scriptures. But this is what Protestants must argue in order to support their doctrine of sola Scriptura. History and countless divisions in Protestantism disprove it.

1 John 4:1 - again, God instructs us to test all things, test all spirits. Notwithstanding what many Protestants argue, God's Word is not always obvious.

1 Sam. 3:1-9 - for example, the Lord speaks to Samuel, but Samuel doesn't recognize it is God. The Word of God is not self-attesting.

1 Kings 13:1-32 - in this story, we see that a man can't discern between God's word (the commandment "don't eat") and a prophet's erroneous word (that God had rescinded his commandment "don't eat"). The words of the Bible, in spite of what many Protestants must argue, are not always clear and understandable. This is why there are 30,000 different Protestant churches and one Holy Catholic Church.

Gen. to Rev. - Protestants must admit that knowing what books belong in the Bible is necessary for our salvation. However, because the Bible has no "inspired contents page," you must look outside the Bible to see how its books were selected. This destroys the sola Scriptura theory. The canon of Scripture is a Revelation from God which is necessary for our salvation, and which comes from outside the Bible. Instead, this Revelation was given by God to the Catholic Church, the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

Top

 


II. "All Scripture is Inspired"- 2 Tim. 3:16-17

2 Tim. 3:14 - Protestants usually use 2 Tim. 3:16-17 to prove that the Bible is the sole authority of God's word. But examining these texts disproves their claim. Here, Paul appeals to apostolic tradition right before the Protestants' often quoted verse 2 Tim. 3:16-17. Thus, there is an appeal to tradition before there is an appeal to the Scriptures, and Protestants generally ignore this fact.

2 Tim. 3:15 - Paul then appeals to the sacred writings of Scripture referring to the Old Testament Scriptures with which Timothy was raised (not the New Testament which was not even compiled at the time of Paul's teaching). This verse also proves that one can come to faith in Jesus Christ without the New Testament.

2 Tim. 3:16 - this verse says that Scripture is "profitable" for every good work, but not exclusive. The word "profitable" is "ophelimos" in Greek. "Ophelimos" only means useful, which underscores that Scripture is not mandatory or exclusive. Protestants unbiblically argue that profitable means exclusive.

2 Tim. 3:16 - further, the verse "all Scripture" uses the words "pasa graphe" which actually means every (not all) Scripture. This means every passage of Scripture is useful. Thus, the erroneous Protestant reading of "pasa graphe" would mean every single passage of Scripture is exclusive. This would mean Christians could not only use "sola Matthew," or "sola Mark," but could rely on one single verse from a Gospel as the exclusive authority of God's word. This, of course, is not true and even Protestants would agree. Also, "pasa graphe" cannot mean "all of Scripture" because there was no New Testament canon to which Paul could have been referring, unless Protestants argue that the New Testament is not being included by Paul.

2 Tim. 3:16 - also, these inspired Old Testament Scriptures Paul is referring to included the deuterocanonical books which the Protestants removed from the Bible 1,500 years later.

2 Tim. 3:17 - Paul's reference to the "man of God" who may be complete refers to a clergyman, not a layman. It is an instruction to a bishop of the Church. So, although Protestants use it to prove their case, the passage is not even relevant to most of the faithful.

2 Tim. 3:17 - further, Paul's use of the word "complete" for every good work is "artios" which simply means the clergy is "suitable" or "fit." Also, artios does not describe the Scriptures, it describes the clergyman. So, Protestants cannot use this verse to argue the Scriptures are complete.

James 1:4 - steadfastness also makes a man "perfect (teleioi) and complete (holoklepoi), lacking nothing." This verse is important because "teleioi"and "holoklepoi" are much stronger words than "artios," but Protestants do not argue that steadfastness is all one needs to be a Christian.

Titus 3:8 - good deeds are also "profitable" to men. For Protestants especially, profitable cannot mean "exclusive" here.

2 Tim 2:21- purity is also profitable for "any good work" ("pan ergon agathon"). This wording is the same as 2 Tim. 3:17, which shows that the Scriptures are not exclusive, and that other things (good deeds and purity) are also profitable to men.

Col. 4:12 - prayer also makes men "fully assured." No where does Scripture say the Christian faith is based solely on a book.

2 Tim. 3:16-17 - Finally, if these verses really mean that Paul was teaching sola Scriptura to the early Church, then why in 1 Thess. 2:13 does Paul teach that he is giving Revelation from God orally? Either Paul is contradicting his own teaching on sola Scriptura, or Paul was not teaching sola Scriptura in 2 Tim. 3:16-17. This is a critical point which Protestants cannot reconcile with their sola Scriptura position.

Top

 


III. Other Passages used to Support "Sola Scriptura"

John 5:39 - some non-Catholics use this verse to prove sola Scriptura. But when Jesus said "search the Scriptures," He was rebuking the Jews who did not believe that He was the Messiah. Jesus tells them to search the Scriptures to verify the Messianic prophecies and His oral teaching, and does not say "search the Scriptures alone." Moreover, since the New Testament was not yet written, the passage is not relevant to the Protestant claim of sola Scriptura.

John 10:35 - some Protestants also use this verse "Scripture cannot be broken" to somehow prove sola Scriptura. But this statement refers to the Old Testament Scriptures and has nothing to do with the exclusivity of Scripture and the New Testament.

John 20:31 - Protestants also use this verse to prove sola Scriptura. Indeed, Scripture assists in learning to believe in Jesus, but this passage does not say Scripture is exclusive, or even necessary, to be saved by Jesus.

Acts 17:11-12 - here we see the verse "they searched the Scriptures." This refers to the Bereans who used the Old Testament to confirm the oral teachings about the Messiah. The verses do not say the Bereans searched the Scriptures alone (which is what Protestants are attempting to prove when quoting this passage). Moreover, the Bereans accepted the oral teaching from Paul as God's word before searching the Scriptures, which disproves the Berean's use of sola Scriptura.

Acts 17:11-12 - Also, the Bereans, being more "noble" or "fair minded," meant that they were more reasonable and less violent than the Thessalonians in Acts. 17:5-9. Their greater fairmindedness was not because of their use of Scripture, which Paul directed his listeners to do as was his custom (Acts 17:3).

1 Cor. 4:6 - this is one of the most confusing passages in Scripture. Many scholars believe the phrase "don't go above the line" was inserted by a translator as an instruction to someone in the translation process. Others say Paul is quoting a proverb regarding kids learning to write by tracing letters. By saying don't go above line, Paul is probably instructing them not to be arrogant. But even if the phrase is taken literally, to what was Paul referring? The Talmud? The Mosaic law? The Old Testament Scriptures? This proves too much for the Protestant because there was no New Testament canon at the time Paul wrote this, and the text says nothing about the Bible being the sole rule and guide of faith.

Rev. 1:11,19 - Non-Catholics sometimes refer to Jesus' commands to John to write as support for the theory that the Bible is the only source of Christian faith. Yes, Jesus commands John to write because John was in exile in Patmos and could not preach the Word (which was Jesus' usual command). Further, such a commandment would be limited to the book that John wrote, the Book of Revelation, and would have nothing to do with the other Scriptures.

Rev. 22:18-19 - some Protestants argue against Catholic tradition by citing this verse, "don't add to the prophecies in this book." But this commandment only refers to the book of Revelation, not the entire Bible which came 300 years later.

Deut 4:2; 12:32 - moreover, God commands the same thing here but this did not preclude Christians from accepting the Old Testament books after Deuteronomy or the New Testament.

Top

 


Tradition / Church Fathers

I. Scripture Must be Interpreted in Light of Church Tradition

“Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth, so that by following those things already mentioned, proceeding on their way variously, in harmoniously, and foolishly, not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5,20:2 (A.D. 180).

"Since this is the case, in order that the truth may be adjudged to belong to us, "as many as walk according to the rule," which the church has handed down from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God, the reason of our position is clear, when it determines that heretics ought not to be allowed to challenge an appeal to the Scriptures, since we, without the Scriptures, prove that they have nothing to do with the Scriptures. For as they are heretics, they cannot be true Christians, because it is not from Christ that they get that which they pursue of their own mere choice, and from the pursuit incur and admit the name of heretics. Thus, not being Christians, they have acquired no right to the Christian Scriptures; and it may be very fairly said to them, "Who are you? When and whence did you come?" Tertullian, Prescription against the Heretics, 37 (A.D. 200).

"Now the cause, in all the points previously enumerated, of the false opinions, and of the impious statements or ignorant assertions about God, appears to be nothing else than the not understanding the Scripture according to its spiritual meaning, but the interpretation of it agreeably to the mere letter. And therefore, to those who believe that the sacred books are not the compositions of men, but that they were composed by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, agreeably to the will of the Father of all things through Jesus Christ, and that they have come down to us, we must point out the ways (of interpreting them) which appear (correct) to us, who cling to the standard of the heavenly Church of Jesus Christ according to the succession of the apostles." Origen, First Principles, 4,1:9 (A.D. 230).

"The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. If any one could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church. The Lord warns, saying, 'He who is not with me is against me, and he who gathereth not with me scattereth.'" Cyprian, Unity of the Church, 6 (A.D. 256).

"But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures....Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them and the table of your heart." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 5:12 (A.D. 350).

"[T]hey who are placed without the Church, cannot attain to any understanding of the divine word. For the ship exhibits a type of Church, the word of life placed and preached within which, they who are without, and lie near like barren and useless sands, cannot understand." Hilary of Poitiers, On Matthew, Homily 13:1 (A.D. 355).

"But beyond these [Scriptural] sayings, let us look at the very tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers kept." Athanasius, Four Letters to Serapion of Thmuis, 1:28 (A.D. 360).

"This then I consider the sense of this passage, and that, a very ecclesiasitcal sense." Athanasius, Discourse Against the Arians, 1:44 (A.D. 362).

"It is the church which perfect truth perfects. The church of believers is great, and its bosom most ample; it embraces the fullness of the two Testaments." Ephraem, Against Heresies (ante A.D. 373).

"Now I accept no newer creed written for me by other men, nor do I venture to propound the outcome of my own intelligence, lest I make the words of true religion merely human words; but what I have been taught by the holy Fathers, that I announce to all who question me. In my Church the creed written by the holy Fathers in synod at Nicea is in use." Basil, To the Church of Antioch, Epistle 140:2 (A.D. 373).

"For they [heretics] do not teach as the church does; their message does no accord with the truth." Epiphanius, Panarion, 47 (A.D. 377).

"[S]eeing, I say, that the Church teaches this in plain language, that the Only-begotten is essentially God, very God of the essence of the very God, how ought one who opposes her decisions to overthrow the preconceived opinion... And let no one interrupt me, by saying that what we confess should also be confirmed by constructive reasoning: for it is enough for proof of our statement, that the tradition has come down to us from our Fathers, handled on, like some inheritance, by succession from the apostles and the saints who came after them." Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 4:6 (c. A.D. 384).

"Wherefore all other generations are strangers to truth; all the generations of heretics hold not the truth: the church alone, with pious affection, is in possession of the truth." Ambrose, Commentary of Psalm 118,19 (A.D. 388).

"They teach what they themselves have learnt from their predecessors. They have received those rites which they explain from the Church's tradition. They preach only 'the dogmas of the Church'" John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instruction (A.D. 389).

"But when proper words make Scripture ambiguous, we must see in the first place that there is nothing wrong in our punctuation or pronunciation. Accordingly, if, when attention is given to the passage, it shall appear to be uncertain in what way it ought to be punctuated or pronounced, let the reader consult the rule of faith which he has gathered from the plainer passages of Scripture, and from the authority of the Church, and of which I treated at sufficient length when I was speaking in the first book about things." Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 3,2:2 (A.D. 397).

" 'So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by Epistle of ours.' Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by Epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther." John Chrysostom, Homily on 2nd Thessalonians, 4:2 (A.D. 404).

"My resolution is, to read the ancients, to try everything, to hold fast what is good, and not to recede from the faith of the Catholic Church." Jerome, To Minervius & Alexander, Epistle 119 (A.D. 406).

"But those reasons which I have here given, I have either gathered from the authority of the church, according to the tradition of our forefathers, or from the testimony of the divine Scriptures, or from the nature itself of numbers and of similitudes. No sober person will decide against reason, no Christian against the Scriptures, no peaceable person against the church." Augustine, On the Trinity, 4,6:10 (A.D. 416).

"But it will be said, If the words, the sentiments, the promises of Scripture, are appealed to by the Devil and his disciples, of whom some are false apostles, some false prophets and false teachers, and all without exception heretics, what are Catholics and the sons of Mother Church to do? How are they to distinguish truth from falsehood in the sacred Scriptures? They must be very careful to pursue that course which, in the beginning of this Commonitory, we said that holy and learned men had commended to us, that is to say, they must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal Church and in keeping with the rules of Catholic doctrine, in which Catholic and Universal Church, moreover, they must follow universality, antiquity, consent." Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory of the Antinquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 70 (A.D. 434).

"[H]old fast the faith in simplicity of mind; establishing the tradition of the church as a foundation, in the inmost recesses of thy heart, hold the doctrines which are well-pleasing unto God." Cyril of Alexandria, Festal Letters, Homily 8 (A.D. 442).

Top

 


II. Scripture is not Subject to Private Interpretation

“True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor [suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God]." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4,33:8 (inter A.D. 180-199).

"But if there be any (heresies) which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men - a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed. Let the heretics contrive something of the same kind…” Tertullian, On Prescription against the Heretics, 32 (c. A.D. 200).

“To this test, therefore will they be submitted for proof by those churches, who, although they derive not their founder from apostles or apostolic men (as being of much later date, for they are in fact being founded daily), yet, since they agree in the same faith, they are accounted as not less apostolic because they are akin in doctrine. Then let all the heresies, when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic. But in truth they neither are so, nor are they able to prove themselves to be what they are not. Nor are they admitted to peaceful relations and communion by such churches as are in any way connected with apostles, inasmuch as they are in no sense themselves apostolic because of their diversity as to the mysteries of the faith." Tertullian, On Prescription against the Heretics, 32 (c. A.D. 200).

"For those are slothful who, having it in their power to provide themselves with proper proofs for the divine Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, select only what contributes to their own pleasures. And those have a craving for glory who voluntarily evade, by arguments of a diverse sort, the things delivered by the blessed apostles and teachers, which are wedded to inspired words; opposing the divine tradition by human teachings, in order to establish the heresy." Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 7:16 (post A.D. 202).

"When heretics show us the canonical Scriptures, in which every Christian believes and trusts, they seem to be saying: 'Lo, he is in the inner rooms [the word of truth] ' (Matt 24.6). But we must not believe them, nor leave the original tradition of the Church, nor believe otherwise than we have been taught by the succession in the Church of God." Origen, Homilies on Matthew, Homily 46, PG 13:1667 (ante A.D. 254).

"A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines: also there is need of a wakeful soul, since there are many that make spoil through philosophy and vain deceit. The Greeks on the one hand draw men away by their smooth tongue, for honey droppeth from a harlot's lips: whereas they of the Circumcision deceive those who come to them by means of the Divine Scriptures, which they miserably misinterpret though studying them from childhood to all age, and growing old in ignorance. But the children of heretics, by their good words and smooth tongue, deceive the hearts of the innocent, disguising with the name of Christ as it were with honey the poisoned arrows of their impious doctrines: concerning all of whom together the Lord saith, Take heed lest any man mislead you. This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 4:2 (A.D. 350).

"And, O wretched heretic! You turn the weapons granted to the Church against the Synagogue, against belief in the Church's preaching, and distort against the common salvation of all the sure meaning of a saving doctrine." Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 12:36 (inter A.D. 356-359).

"But since they allege the divine oracles and force on them a misinterpretation, according to their private sense, it becomes necessary to meet them just so far as to vindicate these passages, and to show that they bear an orthodox sense, and that our opponents are in error." Athanasius, Discourse Against the Arians, I:37 (A.D. 362).

"To refuse to follow the Fathers, not holding their declaration of more authority than one's own opinion, is conduct worthy of blame, as being brimful of self-sufficiency." Basil, EpistleTo the Canonicae, 52:1 (A.D. 370).

"While (the sects) mutually refute and condemn each other, it has happened to truth as to Gideon; that is, while they fight against each other, and fall under wounds mutually inflicted, they crown her. All the heretics acknowledge that there is a true Scripture. Had they all falsely believed that none existed, some one might reply that such Scripture was unknown to them. But now that have themselves taken away the force of such plea, from the fact that they have mutilated the very Scriptures. For they have corrupted the sacred copies; and words which ought to have but one interpretation, they have wrested to strange significations. Whilst, when one of them attempts this, and cuts off a member of his own body, the rest demand and claim back the severed limb...It is the church which perfect truth perfects. The church of believers is great, and its bosom most ample; it embraces the fulness (or, the whole) of the two Testaments." Ephraem, Adv. Haeres (ante A.D. 373).

"Who knows not that what separates the Church from heresy is this term, 'product of creation, ' applied to the Son? Accordingly, the doctrinal difference being universally acknowledged, what would be the reasonable course for a man to take who endeavors to show that his opinions are more true than ours?" Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 4:6 (inter A.D. 380-384).

"For heresies, and certain tenets of perversity, ensnaring souls and hurling them into the deep, have not sprung up except when good Scriptures are not rightly understood, and when that in them which is not rightly understood is rashly and boldly asserted. And so, dearly beloved, ought we very cautiously to hear those things for the understanding of which we are but little ones, and that, too, with pious heart and with trembling, as it is written, holding this rule of soundness, that we rejoice as in food in that which we have been able to understand, according to the faith with which we are imbued…" Augustine, On the Gospel of John, Homily XVIII:1 (A.D. 416).

"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)" Maximinus (Arch-Arian Heretic), Debate with Maximinus, 1 (c. A.D. 428).

"Therefore, as I said above, if you had been a follower and assertor of Sabellianism or Arianism or any heresy you please, you might shelter yourself under the example of your parents, the teaching of your instructors, the company of those about you, the faith of your creed. I ask, O you heretic, nothing unfair, and nothing hard. As you have been brought up in the Catholic faith, do that which you would do for a wrong belief. Hold fast to the teaching of your parents. Hold fast the faith of the Church: hold fast the truth of the Creed: hold fast the salvation of baptism." John Cassian, Incarnation of the Lord, 6:5 (c. A.D. 429).

"I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church." Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory of the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 2:4 (A.D. 434).

"But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another's, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view, if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practiced negligently should thenceforward be practiced with double solicitude? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils, this, and nothing else, has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name." Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory of the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 23:59 (A.D. 434).

"[A]ll heresies, that they evermore delight in profane novelties, scorn the decisions of antiquity, and ...make shipwreck of the faith. On the other hand, it is the sure characteristic of Catholics to keep that which has been committed to their trust by the holy Fathers..." Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory of the Anitquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 24:63 (A.D. 434).

"His (Nestorius) first attempt at innovation was, that the holy Virgin, who bore the Word of God, who took flesh of her, ought not to be confessed to be the mother of God, but only the mother of Christ; though of old, yea from the first, the preachers of the orthodox faith taught, agreeably to the apostolic tradition, that the mother of God. And now let me produce his blasphemous artifice and observation unknown to any one before him." Theodoret of Cyrus, Compendium of Heretics' Fables, 12 (c.A.D. 453).

Top

 


III. The Catholic Church Determined the Canon of Scripture

"For the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes only by name to seven Churches in the following order--to the Corinthians afirst...there is a second to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians, yet one Church is recognized as being spread over the entire world...Howbeit to Philemon one, to Titus one, and to Timothy two were put in writing...to be in honour however with the Catholic Church for the ordering of ecclesiastical discipline...one to the Laodicenes, another to the Alexandrians, both forged in Paul's name to suit the heresy of Marcion, and several others, which cannot be received into the Catholic Church; for it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey. The Epistle of Jude no doubt, and the couple bearing the name of John, are accepted by the Catholic Church...But of Arsinous, called also Valentinus, or of Militiades we receive nothing at all." The fragment of Muratori (A.D. 177).

"The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage--I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew--whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter's whose interpreter Mark was. For even Luke's form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul." Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4:5 (A.D. 212).

"In his [Origen] first book on Matthew's Gospel, maintaining the Canon of the Church, he testifies that he knows only four Gospels, writing as follows: Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism, and published in the Hebrew language. The second is by Mark, who composed it according to the instructions of Peter, who in his Catholic epistle acknowledges him as a son, saying, 'The church that is at Babylon elected together with you, saluteth you, and so doth Marcus, my son.' And the third by Luke, the Gospel commended by Paul, and composed for Gentile converts. Last of all that by John." Origen, Commentary on Matthew, fragment in Eusebius Church History, 6:25,3 (A.D. 244).

"Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testaments, and what those of the New." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 4:33 (A.D. 350).

"Likewise it has been said: Now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun. The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis one book, Exodus one book, Leviticus one book, Numbers one book, Deuteronomy one book, Josue Nave one book, Judges one book, Ruth one book, Kings four books, Paralipomenon two books, Psalms one book, Solomon three books, Proverbs one book, Ecclesiastes one book, Canticle of Canticles one book, likewise Wisdom one book, Ecclesiasticus one book. Likewise the order of the Prophets. Isaias one book, Jeremias one book,with Ginoth, that is, with his lamentations, Ezechiel one book,Daniel one book, Osee one book, Micheas one book, Joel one book, Abdias one book, Jonas one book, Nahum one book, Habacuc one book, Sophonias one book, Aggeus one book, Zacharias one book, Malachias one book. Likewise the order of the histories. Job one book, Tobias one book, Esdras two books, Esther one book, Judith one book, Machabees two books. Likewise the order of the writings of the New and eternal Testament, which only the holy and Catholic Church supports. Of the Gospels, according to Matthew one book, according to Mark one book, according to Luke one book, according to John one book. The Epistles of Paul [the apostle] in number fourteen. To the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Ephesians one, to the Thessalonians two, to the Galatians one, to the Philippians one, to the Colossians one, to Timothy two, to Titus one, to Philemon one, to the Hebrews one. Likewise the Apocalypse of John, one book. And the Acts of the Apostles one book. Likewise the canonical epistles in number seven. Of Peter the Apostle two epistles, of James the Apostle one epistle, of John the Apostle one epistle, of another John, the presbyter, two epistles, of Jude the Zealut, the Apostle one epistle." Pope Damasus (regn. A.D. 366-384), Decree of the Council of Rome, The Canon of Scripture (A.D. 382).

"Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read, in the church under the title of divine writings.'. The canonical books are:---Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two books of Paraleipomena (Chronicles), Job, the Psalms of David, the five books of Solomon, the twelve books of the (Minor) Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees. The books of the New Testament are:---the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles of S. Paul, one Epistle of S. Paul to the Hebrews, two Epistles of S. Peter, three Epistles of S. John, the Epistle of S. James, the Epistle of S. Jude, the Revelation of S. John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the transmarine Church shall be consulted." Council of Hippo, Canon 36 (A.D. 393).

"I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church. In proceeding to make mention of these things [the canon], I shall adopt, to comment my undertaking, the pattern of Luke...to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon..." Athanasius, Festal Letters, 39 (A.D. 397).

"[It has been decided] that nothing except the Canonical Scriptures should be read in the church under the name of the Divine Scriptures. But the Canonical Scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the Prophets, Isaias, Jeremias, Daniel, Ezechiel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees. Moreover, of the New Testament: Four books of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles one book, thirteen epistles of Paul the Apostle, one of the same to the Hebrews, two of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude, the Apocalypse of John." Council of Carthage III, Canon 47 (A.D. 397).

"The authority of our books [Scriptures], which is confirmed by agreement of so many nations, supported by a succession of apostles, bishops, and councils, is against you." Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichean, 13:5 (c. A.D. 400).

"If any one shall say, or shall believe, that other Scriptures, besides those which the Catholic Church has received, are to be esteemed of authority, or to be venerated, let him be anathema." Council of Toledo, Canon 12 (A.D. 400).

"A brief addition shows what books really are received in the canon. These are the desiderata of which you wished to be informed verbally: of Moses five books, that is, of Genesis, of Exodus, of Leviticus, of Numbers, of Deuteronomy, and Josue, of Judges one book, of Kings four books, also Ruth, of the Prophets sixteen books, of Solomon five books, the Psalms. Likewise of the histories, Job one book, of Tobias one book, Esther one, Judith one, of the Machabees two, of Esdras two, Paralipomenon two books. Likewise of the New Testament: of the Gospels four books, of Paul the Apostle fourteen epistles, of John three, epistles of Peter two, an epistle of Jude, an epistle of James, the Acts of the Apostles, the Apocalypse of John." Pope Innocent (regn. A.D. 401-417), Epistle to Exsuperius Bishop of Toulose, 6:7,13 (A.D. 405).

"Item, that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in the church under the name of divine Scripture. But the Canonical Scriptures are as follows: Genesis...The Revelation of John...for these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in the church." Council of Carthage, African Code, Canon 24 (A.D. 419).

"The book of the Apocalypse which John the wise wrote, and which has been honoured by the approval of the Fathers." Cyril of Alexandria, Worship and Adoration in Spirit and in Truth, 5 (A.D. 425).

"Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books:--Five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one short book called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of Kings; next, four books of Kings, and two of Chronicles --these last not following one another, but running parallel, so to speak, and going over the same ground. The books now mentioned are history, which contains a connected narrative of the times, and follows the order of the events. There are other books which seem to follow no regular order, and are connected neither with the order of the preceding books nor with one another, such as Job, and Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Ezra, which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles. Next are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, viz., Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach. Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative.

The remainder are the books which are strictly called the Prophets: twelve separate books of the prophets which are connected with one another, and having never been disjoined, are reckoned as one book; the names of these prophets are as follows:--Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then there are the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books. That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following:--Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul--one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John." Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 2:8,12 (A.D. 426).

Top

 


Copyright 2001 - 2007 © by John Salza. All Rights Reserved.
johnsalza@scripturecatholic.com