Bible Alone and what does it really mean?


Ok if you read the book, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, then you would know that original reformers, accepted the first eight ecumenical councils as authoritive. That reformers like Luther and Calvin were Christian Humanists who studied the church fathers, history, culture and biblical languages. If you study a movement called the “Chrisitan Connection” in american history. You will see that “sola scriptura” was redefined as the Bible Alone is the sole source of authority for the believer. This thread is about the modern american definition of Bible Alone that is being discussed in this thread.

Is that definition biblical?

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

In context, all scripture only refers to the OT which Timothy learned as a child.

1 Timothy 3:15
if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

It was the church as the “pillar and foundation of the truth” that determined the NT cannon which was done in council around 399 AD, about 75 years after Nicea.

For the first 40 years or so, the church had NO written NT, all was oral until the letters, were written, and then the gospels. The appostles taught doctrine to those that replaced them. This doctrine is recored in the church fathers.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

2 Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.


In context you are right about the Scripture referred to in Timothy being the Old Testament. But if Paul was able to make that statement about the Old Testament, how much more can it be said when you include the New Testament?


Twenty One Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura
By Joel Peters

  1. The Doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not taught anywhere in the Bible

This link represents the catholic arguments up front.


Nobody denies the teaching was originally oral. The question is whether that teaching was then put into the form of Scripture. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. He also wrote to many other churches. There is nothing to say that the oral teaching referred to in Thessalonians is not that recorded in other writings. A person still does not need a copy of the Bible, although it is greatly desirable. I can tell someone the Gospel truth orally without ever deviating from what the Bible says. As to whether the teachings of the Apostles were written:

We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith…(Irenaeus, Against Heresies)

“‘That the man of God may be perfect.’ For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If thou wouldest learn anything, thou mayest learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us!” (John CrysostomHomilies on Second Timothy, 9, 3:16-17)

I know I am referring to Church fathers here, but it is only for the purpose of showing that the idea of the tradition being put into Scripture is not new.


Did the NT even exist when Paul wrote that?

Was there even a cannon of the NT in existence then?

If “all scripture” is taken to mean the NT too, then why stop there?

Why not include their “oral” teachings as part of scripture?


I think that you mistake my meaning. Paul tells Timothy that the Old Testament is sufficient. If the Old Testament is sufficient, then the Old Testament plus New Testament must also be sufficient since one part is sufficient by itself.


Hi SyCarl, as you know Irenaeus was writing aganist the gnostics and in doing so, he argued for apolostolic succession.

Could you kindly provide the link from where your quote from Irenaeus comes from so, all can read the passage in context?

You can find the Fathers online at



Where is the word sufficient used in what Paul wrote there? I think you are reading that word into the text.


***Sufficient?! ***It doesn’t say that in any Bible I’ve ever seen. Talk about adding the traditions of men to the Word of God! :smiley:


If the OT was sufficent, then there would not be a NT would there?


As long as Catholics constantly keep hearing from Protestants that they encounter: “I only go from the Bible” or “My pastor only preaches from the Bible” or “Where is that in the Bible?”, it is a logical deduction that this is what the rank and file Protestant believes. And in truth, the average Protestant does not make the distinctions that many Protestant apologists have made in these forums.

In fact, until very recently (the last 20 years or so), it would not have occurred to the average “Bible believing” Protestant to make any distinction at all in this area. Except for a few relatively obscure Protestant theologians, no one ever spoke of “Prima Scriptura” or “Solo Scriptura.” It is only with the advent of the new Catholic apologists who have totally exposed the total unworkability, unhistoricity, unbiblicalness (if that’s a word) of this doctrine, that Protestant apologists have come up with these distinctions.

In actual point of practice, however, for the average Protestant (those that Catholics run into every day), it’s much what this statement from a Protestant website says:

Christianity is all and only what the Bible alone teaches. Christ is all and nothing contrary to what the Bible alone says he is. And the personal relationship with God is and can only be had in terms of what the Bible alone says it is or can be had.Christianity is not what any individual who calls himself a Christian says it is. It is not what the churches that call themselves Christian have practiced. Christianity is not an experience of any individual or the collective experience of a group. It is not a Papal edict. It is not trite sayings.Christianity is the whole counsel of God revealed in the whole Bible

If Protestants think that Sola Scriptura is misunderstood, they better start with their fellow Protestants. There are, however, two major obstacles to this:

  1. With several thousand Protestant denominations, where do you start?

  2. With several thousand Protestant denominations, who’s to say what is the correct interpretation? Who has the authority? Who’s to say?



You should not have to travel far to find your answer.

2 Thess 2:13But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to my Jerusalem Bible, the Gospels were written between 40 to 50 ad. 2 Thessalonians was written about 54 ad. So the gospel was in place already. The traditions and the epistles pertained to the teachings of the gospel. So the Bible alone still holds true.


You are assuming that just because the Scriptures were written (and that isn’t true either…it’s my understanding that several books of teh NT were written many years after 54 AD) that they were compiled into a single collection of books that all Christians agreed were inspired by God and readily available for all. That is just not a sound presupposition in light of the historical evidence available to us.

The books that compose the New Testament were written as separate compositions, separated throughout the various Churches in existence. There were other writings that were being used by those same churches for the same purposes as the writings we now accept as inspired, that never achieved the status of “Scripture”, but were used as such none the less. All churches had access to different writings. Most had access to a FEW of the same writings. Many had writings that no other church had been exposed to. No church that I am aware of had in their posession ALL of the writings in circulation at the time.

I have seen absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the notion that there was a central collection of writings that were deemed to be inspired by God and agreed upon in any substantial way throughout Christianity prior to the Synod of Bishops at Hippo.


Sorry for not replying earlier. The quote actually came from a download of the works of the Church Fathers that I have., but I do have a link now.

With respect to sufficiency of Scripture in 2 Timothy 3, it is conveyed by looking at the verses preceeding and follow verse 16 which you quoted.

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:14-17)

If they are able to give you the wisdom leading to salvation, and make you adequate and equipped for every good work, I believe that indicates they are sufficient.


There is also a quote from John Chrysostom from his homilies where he looks at this very passage that he shows my statement is not new.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All what Scripture? all that sacred writing, he means, of which I was speaking. This is said of what he was discoursing of; about which he said, “From a child you have known the holy Scriptures.” All such, then, “is given by inspiration of God”; therefore, he means, do not doubt; and it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

“For doctrine.” For thence we shall know, whether we ought to learn or to be ignorant of anything. And thence we may disprove what is false, thence we may be corrected and brought to a right mind, may be comforted and consoled, and if anything is deficient, we may have it added to us.

“That the man of God may be perfect.” For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. You have the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If you would learn anything, you may learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us!

“Thoroughly furnished unto all good works”; not merely taking part in them, he means, but “thoroughly furnished.” (Homilies on Second Timothy, 9, 3:16-17)

I should note that I do not quote the Church Fathers as to the truth of a statement, but merely to show the idea is not novel. The Fathers do appear to contradict themselves in a number of places.


I’m not assuming, but basing it on a Catholic Bible. At the time that the gospels were written, they were the inspired Word of God whether or not the Church accepted it at that time. Did the Church accepting the word of God as inspired make it any less inspired? Of course not! It would also be reasonable to think that Paul heard of a lot of the teachings of Christ that were recorded in the Bible. Scripture alone may very well be all that we need. Now certain other writings help us understand and put things in proper context, but all we need is the scriptures.

The word tradition (Greek paradosis) in the ecclesiastical sense, which is the only one in which it is used here, refers sometimes to the thing (doctrine, account, or custom) transmitted from one generation to another; sometimes to the organ or mode of the transmission.

Now that being the case and Paul having lived during most of the ministry of Jesus, how could Jesus’ teachings be tradition unless they were rooted in the OT, such as Passover and the Sabbath. Christianity gets its roots from Judaism. The more you read the OT, the more you understand the parallel and linkage between the OT and NT.


Colossians 1:25-27 (New International Version)

25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Ok, we know that Paul preached the fulness of God’s word, but can you demonstrate that Paul Wrote down the fulness of God’s word? We know for example that Paul wrote about that of first importance in I cor 15:3-4, but that is not the fulness of the word of God is it?



Frankly, it was my experience and exposure to protestants outside the US that made me aware of the weaknesses of modern Bible Alone theology. It was my exposure to catholics decades later that reinforced that.


They do? Where?


Well what exactly did Paul Preach? The gospel!

1 Corinthians 15:1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Same thing in Colossians but was initially preached to them by Epaphras.

Paul uses the word to refer to knowledge that had been “hidden from the ages and generations” , but now is being revealed by God. The Lord revealed this mystery to Paul. The mystery is that Christ now lives within Gentile believers (Eph 3:6).

Eph 3:4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

Paul carried on the suffering that Jesus would have endured had He lived in the world. Paul believed that the persecution that he was suffering was what God wanted him to endure.

John 15:19If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
2 Cor 1:5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.
4:11For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

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