All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Protestants say this means that Scripture is all we need to be completely equipped to do the will of God. There is no mention of Sacred Tradition, oral teachings, etc. that apply to that second clause in the sentence. Hence, it seems that Paul is saying that all that is needed is Scripture (and OT Scripture, at that).
I can go through and focus on one passage and make the Bible say anything that I want. So to focus only on one passage and ignore other parts of Scripture is a typical reckless and misguiding habit among some Protestants.
While Scripture is vital to equip us to do the will of God, an infallible interpretation of it is just as vital, and that does not come with just the Bible alone, that comes with Apostolic authority which has been given to none other than the Catholic Church by Jesus Christ Himself 2000 years ago.
Since there are thousands of non-catholic groups using the same Bible and “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” in so many different ways that contradict eachother (though they all say that they are led by the Holy Spirit), it goes to show that a Bible alone approach is incomplete and flawed. We as Catholics hold to the God-inspired infallible Bible with the infallible intepretation of it which is called Tradition.
It is indeed true that without scripture, we can’t be completely equipped to do the will of God. But this verse doesn’t say that scripture is the “only” thing we need. Furthermore, the scripture referred to in this verse is, by definition, the Hebrew scriptures (the NT not being written yet and the preceding verses referring to the writings he studied in his youth (e.g., the Hebrew scriptures)). By the logic of your friends, this verse would mean the Hebrew scriptures alone are sufficient (and they certainly don’t mean that).
In addition, not only is there not a single verse in the Bible which says “scripture alone” is sufficient, there are in fact many that suggest we are to rely on teachings “oral and written”.
2 Thes 2:15 (So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.)
2Pe 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
2Pe 3:16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters.** There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. **
2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
2Pe 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
If Scripture was sufficient without the need for clear teaching Peter would not have had to make this warning.
Sacred Scripture is “profitable” (or “useful” as in this translation) towards equipping us for every good work, but not sufficient. But because it is profitable to this end, I hold to the material sufficiency of Scripture and take the “Totum in scriptura, totum in traditione” approach. A great blog article about this can be found here.
Ratzinger/Benedict XVI stated in the same document that ***the “formulations of our Decree” [Dei Verbum]***, “were the product of the attempt to take into account, to the widest possible extent, the points made by the Reformed Churches and ***were intended to keep the field open for a Catholic idea of sola Scriptura.***”
This is good news for us Catholics trying to share our faith with Christians who believe in sola Scriptura.
Let’s see if this makes sense in a different context:
**Exercise **is beneficial and is useful for maintaining one’s health, so that the man may be thoroughly equipped for a long healthy life.
A balanced diet is beneficial and is useful for maintaining one’s health, so that the man may be thoroughly equipped for a long healthy life.
Avoiding smoking and excessive drinking is beneficial and is useful for maintaining one’s health, so that the man may be thoroughly equipped for a long healthy life.
Now, are all three of these statements true? Can you see where I just edited a few parts of the statement, but the structure is exactly the same as 2 Timothy?
But what would you say to the dietician that declares that statement two is the only thing necessary to live a long healthy life? Or to the fitness instructor who claims that statement one is the only thing necessary for a long healthy life? Even the staunchest Sola Scripturist shouldn’t be able to make any of those claims.
I realize I am resurrecting a 2 month old thread, but I did want to mention the context beginning with 2 Tim 3:14-17 (NIV):
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures (i.e. OLD TESTAMENT), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture (i.e. OLD TESTAMENT) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So what was St. Paul referring to? The fact that Old testament scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. After all, the New Testament was not available in it’s canonized form when 2 Timothy was written. In short, if 2 Tim 3:15-17 is a sola scriptura proof text, then it is basically saying, ‘sola Old Testament’. Not a good basis for Sola Scriptura in my opinion.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of (Timothy had learned the Gospel and become convinced that it was true by Paul’s ORAL preaching and teaching. This oral preaching and teaching is known to Catholics as Sacred Tradition.), because you know those from whom you learned it (Timothy had learned the gospel from Paul, an Apostle (and Bishop) of the Church, and possibly from other Church leaders whom Timothy had heard preaching and teaching. The teaching authority of the Church is known to Catholics as the Magisterium.) , 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures (Timothy would have known only the Old Testament scriptures from his infancy since the New Testament had not been written or completed at the time Paul’s letter to Timothy was composed. However, the New Testament is recognized as part of the Bible, the written Word of God. This is known to Catholics as Sacred Scripture.), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (Only after commending the Tradition “handed on” from the Magisterium does Paul go on to discuss the nature of Sacred Scripture in the following verses.)16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Here’s another interesting point to consider: Timothy was a Greek, and the Old Testament that he would have been familiar with from the time of his youth was the Greek Septuagint. Therefore, Paul is specifically telling Timothy to continue in what he had learned from the Septuagint, and of course, the Septuagint contains seven books that Martin Luther did not like because they contain passages that support distinctly Catholic doctrines like praying for the dead and purgatory.
Consequently, while the Greek Septuagint was known to Jesus, Paul and Timothy, modern Protestants insist upon using an Old Testament that was altered by by the removal of seven books (now know collectively as the Deuterocanonicals) because those books supported distinctively Christian doctrines such as the resurrection from the dead.
This leads to a couple of obvious questions: “Why would the Holy Spirit guide a group of rabbis on matters related to the Old Testament canon when there was already a Christian Church in existence that was under His infallible guidance as Jesus had promised? And why should the revised Hebrew canon trump the Church’s common use of the Septuagint that had continued for over fifteen centuries?
Luther picked that truncated canon for the same reason the rabbis did: To reject specific teachings that were in the new Christian faith that was spreading so rapidly, the Catholic faith.