Was Scripture sufficient for Timothy?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Morning all - I'm meeting with a RC who asked me this question, which I'm not sure how to address.

If 2 Tim 3.14-17 teaches the sufficiency of Scripture, was it sufficient for Timothy?

I think what he's getting at is that the NT wasn't written yet, so it's really referring to the OT. So if scripture is sufficient, why were we getting new revelation?

Is there already a thread on this?



Puritan Board Junior
Here's Gill on 2 Timothy 3:16: (basically "Scripture" refers to all of Scripture as we have it now, i.e. all inspired Scripture. Also, when that was written most of the NT was already in existence. An RC might say that we, the church, are therefore deciding what is meant by Scripture. But the important point is that it is all inspired Scripture. We know what is included in that category and it's not Church Tradition, however much import is given to it. So unless the RC is willing to say that Popish Tradition is inspired Scripture then their point doesn't stand.)

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,.... That is, all holy Scripture; for of that only the apostle is speaking; and he means the whole of it; not only the books of the Old Testament, but of the New, the greatest part of which was now written; for this second epistle to Timothy is by some thought to be the last of Paul's epistles; and this also will hold good of what was to be written; for all is inspired by God, or breathed by him: the Scriptures are the breath of God, the word of God and not men; they are "written by the Spirit", as the Syriac version renders it; or "by the Spirit of God", as the Ethiopic version. The Scriptures are here commended, from the divine authority of them; and which is attested and confirmed by various arguments; as the majesty and loftiness of their style, which in many places is inimitable by men; the sublimity of the matter contained in them, which transcends all human understanding and capacity ever to have attained unto and discovered; as the trinity of persons in the Godhead, the incarnation of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, &c. The purity and holiness of them before observed, show them to be the word of him that is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; as also their harmony and agreement, though wrote by different persons, in different places, and ages, and at sundry times, and in divers manners; what seeming inconsistencies are observed in them may, with labour and industry, by divine assistance, be reconciled. The predictions of future events in them, as particularly concerning Josiah and Cyrus, by name, long before they were born, and especially concerning Jesus Christ, and which have had their accomplishment, and many others in the New Testament both by Christ and his apostles, are a proof that they could not be the writings of men, but must have the omniscient God for their author; the impartiality of the writers of them, in not concealing the mean extract of some of them, the sins of others before conversion, and even their sins and failings afterwards, as well as those of their nearest relations and dearest friends, strengthens the proof of their divine authority; to which may be added, the wonderful preservation of them, through all the changes and declensions of the Jewish church and state, to whom the books of the Old Testament were committed; and notwithstanding the violence and malice of Heathen persecutors, particularly Dioclesian, who sought to destroy every copy of the Scriptures, and published an edict for that purpose, and notwithstanding the numbers of heretics, and who have been in power, as also the apostasy of the church of Rome; and yet these writings have been preserved, and kept pure and incorrupt, which is not the case of other writings; nor are there any of such antiquity as the oldest of these: to which may be subjoined the testimony of God himself; his outward testimony by miracles, wrought by Moses and the prophets, concerned in the writings of the Old Testament, and by the apostles in the New; and his internal testimony, which is the efficacy of these Scriptures on the hearts of men; the reading and hearing of which, having been owned for the conversion, comfort and edification of thousands and thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand:"
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JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Scriptures were always sufficient to accomplish salvation throughtout every period of their revelation i.e. the Pentateuch was sufficient for the post-Exodus generation - all they needed for life and salvation were cotained therein. However at any given point up until the revelation of God's will in his Son Jesus Christ that canon could have been, and in fact was added to.

Scripture has been organically revealed, thus saving truth is present at every stage, if only in shadowy or seed form - i.e the truth of salvation through faith in Christ is progressively revealed throughout the ages, but the truth is present at all stages in some form.

The closing of the canon post-apostolic area is related but as far as I can see is not the subject directly of the original post.


Puritan Board Junior
I was taking the question posed by the RC as operating on the basis of the as yet incomplete canon of Scripture, implying that more was still to come before the canon was closed and that the RC church tradition comes under that category. Unless one is willing to include later tradition as inspired Scripture along with, for example, the Epistles then that argument doesn't work. I didn't read the question as having in view salvation itself and therefore more revelation was needed until we fully knew the way of salvation. Maybe that was the intent.

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Alexander I wasn't taking it just as the way of salvation either, though it may have come across that way, and indeed that was the main emphasis of my answer - in the first paragraph I summarised the text referred to "all of life and salvation".

Regardless, I think your answer is good, though from that slightly different perspective. I was starting by taking the original's posts phrase "So if scripture is sufficient, why were we getting new revelation?" as regarding the NT revelation that at the time of writing had not yet "come".

Perhaps Andy could expand on his question?


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
RC lodges inspiration in the institution. Rome also puts a qualitative distinction between OT people/institutions/revelation and NT same. Rome interprets itself as the continuation of the Incarnation. Thus, while individuals might have been loci of inspiration in the OT era, and certain of their (prophetic) writings collected; at present all revelation is Christological, and the Church (identified as RC exclusively) possessing the mind of Christ carries on the task of expressing divine revelation.

It's possible (so I judge) that this concept (in some form) stands behind the question or proposal. In other words: did Timothy have "sufficient" Scripture--conceivably thought of as just the OT collection--to make him competent as a NC minister? Wasn't Timothy dependent on "the Church," in the person of Paul, to be taught the specifics of Christ Jesus? If so, doesn't that show that Scripture even after the NT is compiled/deposited requires "the Church" (i.e. Rome) to admit it?

This is driving toward the "sufficiency of the Church," or more precisely, "the sufficiency of Rome." Theoretically, the Bible isn't technically necessary really for anything that Rome declares or asserts. The Bible is a highly regarded (highest) source, used to "prove" the antiquity and provenance of Rome's current crop of dogma. If you look at Rome's Catechism, you will see Scripture referred to quite a bit; along with considerable reference to church fathers, doctors, popes, and promulgations.

This is fully consistent with their theory of vested inspiration and interpretive authority. They claim that their "stream of historic consciousness" is thereby demonstrably valid. And of course, all the "historic consciousness" (i.e. gleaning of fact and statement, biblical or ecclesiastic) that they ignore or exclude they justify not by argument, but by ipse dixit. If it doesn't suit their narrative, it must not be relevant, or reliable, or rightly understood. The predetermined conclusion decides what evidence is admissible.

It should be obvious (to a Protestant anyway) that if always going back to Scripture to test the claims of Rome or any other church body or individual is denied, or rendered doubtful, the choices are radical skepticism or radical trust in "the Church." What does Paul summon Timothy to? It doesn't sound like doubt in Scripture's ability to guide the reader, or the reader's God-given and Spirit-enabled faculty of discernment. Rome reverses the roles of Scripture and church by locating inspiration and authority in the institution.

Are we supposed to read and interpret Scripture with the church? Yes! Which is why all the literary remains of the past are important, but (unlike the unique Scriptures) have to be sifted for value. Only the Scriptures are inspired; and no, there is no named church or congregation that is guaranteed to be secure from errors--no infallible interpreter of old or dispenser of new revelation, all which is equal in commanding loyalty.

So, my advice is don't get trapped by the question waiting to be sprung: Wasn't Timothy dependent on Paul for necessary knowledge of Jesus as Christ and Savior? The apostles had divine revelation direct from Christ, which they passed prophetic-like on to the NC assemblies. And as that revelation was inscripturated, it became the NT addition--the final chapters--of the full, written revelation which is the Holy Bible. The apostles (not someone or institution alleging to speak for them) still RULE Christ's church under him.

Paul himself ordained that the church should "not go beyond that which is written," 1Cor.4:6. Which is to say, lodging final authority in a man or in men, regardless of presumed sanctity or wisdom or prestige, is abdication of responsibility.

I hope this is helpful.
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