Help with 2 Timothy 3:16 and Sola Scriptura


I need some help creating a response for a friend. Not sure how to tackle it.

A short back story:

A friend of mine has been talking about sola scriptura and he said that the scripture that were talked about in that verse were from the OT. For example “Paul was teaching Timothy concerning Christ could be found in the OT” then I commented that a lot of the NT hasn’t been written yet nor Canon defined. This “OT argument says that the NT were not necessary for a rule of faith”

He then says this is what the Lord Jesus says, then quotes John 14: 26 and says So then we know the Apostles spoke and wrote all that the Lord Jesus had told them. Peter speaks about Scripture being written even as the Apostles were living… Then quotes 2 Peter 3:16 and then 2 Timothy 3:16 is talking about ALL Scripture In it context, we see it was primarily the OT.

So, the question would be, what teachings do you have that cannot be found in Scripture? What way do you validate sound doctrine? How do we know the “instructions of the Lord Jesus (Mat 28:20)”? Is there a source outside of Scripture?

2 Timothy 3:16 says we will find doctrine and instruction in righteousness in the Scriptures

Also,Paul says to Timothy to preach the Word–the written Scriptures

2 Timothy 4:2-3 He tells Timothy to preach the Word in order to reprove, rebuke, exhort.

So, it would only make sense to take the Apostolic teachings of Christ, found in the Scriptures, and place ourselves under its Authority–as the Word of God. God’s Word represents and Reveals Him–so as we place ourselves under the Authority of the Word of God, we are directly placed under the Authority of God himself.


Please correct me if I’m wrong, but your friend seems to think that Jesus’ promise to the Twelve in John 14:26 means that, when all the books of the NT come to be written, they will contain everything that he ever said and taught. Is that what you’re telling us here? If so, your friend holds a very unusual opinion about the meaning of this verse. It is not what Jesus’ words mean in the understanding of the Catholic Church, and it not taught either, as far as I know, by any of the main Protestant churches.


It sounds like your friend is not actually trusting in his quote from John 14:26 that states -

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.

It sounds like he wants to limit God to his written word only and disregard the living word. That would be sad.



I had two thoughts. The first being one can simply not paste the words of Jesus in which he promised the Holy Spirit’s help to the teaching of Paul on the value of Scripture. They do not match. The first does not mention anything about writing or Scripture.

My second thought is - I am sure Protestants all still believe the Holy Spirit to be active today. Right? If the verse is about writing Scripture, then the Holy Spirit is not still having us write Scripture. Therefore, the “leading” of the Holy Spirit would be something else.


Sola Scriptura at its core simply teaches that Scripture is alone infallible. “Alone” is the key word here, since that’s what separates Protestant belief from Catholic or Orthodox belief. None of those Scripture passages even imply that Scripture is alone infallible, just that it is authoritative, which we already accept. Some Protestants do latch onto 2 Timothy 3:16-17 describing Scripture as sufficient, but I think St. Vincent of Lerins, who lived about 1000 years before Protestantism, gave an excellent response to that potential objection:

In other words, Scripture is indeed sufficient, but it can also be easily twisted, just as Satan did. Certainly Jesus understood this, and it would stand to reason that He, based on His love for us and desire for us to follow Him perfectly, would want us to have an infallible interpreter, and He in fact did promise this (John 16:13). While some Protestants do sort of claim having this interpreter in the Holy Spirit, it is abundantly clear from the numerous ways different Protestants profess doctrine that their system is not at all what Jesus intended.

So those passages haven’t proven anything beyond what Catholics already accept. They haven’t actually proven that Scripture is alone infallible, which is of course the major issue with Sola Scriptura: It is a doctrine that demands that it must prove itself, but it doesn’t, because Scripture never claims Scripture is alone infallible nor claims that all other sources, particularly Tradition and Church, are fallible. In other words, Sola Scriptura is self defeating.


The canon of Scripture cannot be found in Scripture. Beyond that, I’m not aware of any that is, though some teachings are more obscure than others, so that Tradition helps a lot in making it clear. As already noted in my last response, though, that isn’t a problem for us.

Scripture is obviously part of the process, though in the case of its canon, we obviously couldn’t use it for validation, since the Scripture does not give us a canon. However, we also have Tradition, which is based on the lived experiences of the Church and the oral teachings passed down from the Apostles, and the Magisterium, who we believe is guided by the Holy Spirit to correctly understand the Scripture and Tradition and disseminate their truths.

On a more personal level, we can read the Scripture and writings of various saints throughout history, and we can check our own findings against those of the Magisterium, which is best contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Of course, we can just go to the CCC itself or use another valid catechism, like the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.

Paul was speaking as an Apostle to Timothy, a bishop, on how to correctly lead a church. This was not Paul telling lay people to go off and interpret for themselves even if that meant creating their own doctrine separate from what Timothy gave them. This was for Timothy, who himself had been instructed by Paul, to instruct others using Scripture. The bishops and priests of the modern-day Church continue to do that for us. Consider how, at Mass, we read an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a New Testament passage, and a Gospel, all followed by a homily by the priest or bishop. Catholic teaching, as given to us by the bishops, is also dripping with Scripture.

As far as I’m aware, that does not contradict Catholic belief.


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