(SPLIT) A question for non-Catholics on Sola Scriptura

I have a question for Protestants about the doctrine of sola scripture - Timothy 3:16 is quoted yet when it was written no bible existed - so what scripture is Timothy referring to if the bible had not yet been put together - he would not of known of the bible.

I not trying to insult anyone - I just curious on how this can be explained that Timothy was speaking of the bible which did not exist at that time.

I read this some where else and always wondered how this would be explained.

At that time the early Christian community also thought the end of the world and second coming was imminent so he probably didn’t have some future vision of 2000 years down the road.

The OT existed, obviously, and that’s the most likely explanation.

However, some Protestants argue that 2 Timothy is the last book of the NT written and so by the time it was written the complete NT was in place as well. I think that’s a stretch, at best. Paul was probably talking about the OT.


Hello Hu.

If you’re feeling brave, go to a protestant apologetics site and ask them the same thing there. But please, come back alive!


The Lutheran confessions reference the following:

Ps. 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.


I wonder since on other threads on the subject on SS there have been plenty of thought as to what it is, so to my mind I am thinking that for Catholic’s it means one thing and for example to Lutheran’s quite another. I do not think that there is an all one meaning but several depending on how a person understands it and what denominations one belongs to and the beliefs one holds.

Hi Spina,
I think a good Catholic would say that they have no skin in the* sola scriptura* “game”, that regardless of the definition or the implementation of the practice, its wrong.


Hi Jon: I from reading a good many of your posts on the matter or subject, I do understand that Lutheran’s have a totally different understanding of what SS means. I think you would agree that there are those denominations that teach a different meaning of SS than what Lutheran’s do, if I have understood your posts on the subject. Correct me if I am mistaken.

You are correct. :thumbsup:


Hi Jon: Thanks. It seems to me that some and I know that I have fallen into that trap of thinking that all protestants in general have the same understanding of SS, to which I now know is not correct. I realize that there are those of different denominations have their own understanding of SS. I think that the understanding is more of what is the authority? The Scriptures or the Church that interprets it?

The explanation which I have most often heard is that the True Meaning of γραφη there was the Bible, even though the writer did not know that at the time. On the one hand, I find that unconvincing; on the other, it is hardly beyond God’s capacity.

Hello Hu.

oooops. I know you probably didn’t mean it but Timothy isn’t the author of the text, St. Paul is writing* to *him. When you engage the Protestants, it will help if you realize this.


But when this Psalm was written, it was oral…it was only put into writing later…so the “Word” here could not be referring to the written Word of God.

The easiest way to respond to this is to have your protestant friend read the passage again…this time starting at v14…and it gives a totally new meaning…14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

As you can see from the context…v 14 speaks of oral teaching…so it is not Scripture alone.

Correct…it was not in the Early Church, both east and West Tradition…it was a development of a practice by Lutherans…it was not even defined by Luther himself as to what proper SS is.

In 45 years of Christian school, camp, VBS, Bible Study, college and church attendance, I’d never heard the words Sola Scriptura until I read Patrick Madrid’s Surprised by Truth (a wonderful book instrumental in my conversion, but completely wrong as far as what Protestants believe) and later came to Catholic Answers forums where people seem to be obsessed by it.

As far as I have ever heard, known or been taught, what Catholics and Patrick Madrid call “Sola Scriptura” is not at all what any Protestant I have ever known believes. There may be some wacky fringe groups - I’m not at all familiar with what denominations like Westboro Baptist Church, for example, believe - but your typical mainstream evangelical denominations don’t believe what Catholics call Sola Scriptura.

For Protestants, it means that the Bible is infallible. It doesn’t mean that no other authority exists or no tradition exists. It just means that those authorities, knowledge or tradition are subordinate to scripture. Reason, tradition, church authority, the Holy Spirit, etc are all valid as long as they don’t contradict scripture. Scripture is infallible, but human beings are not, church leaders are not, our ability to reason or understand is not, therefore, we must ensure that the fallible is subordinate to the infallible.

Catholics seem to think it means that scripture is the only thing available or believed, and that it contains all knowledge. I believe that is a perversion of the Protestant belief so you can’t argue your version of Sola Scriptura with a Protestant or use Bible verses to show that your version isn’t true. Protestants already don’t think your version is true and they won’t be using any verses of the Bible to back it up. They won’t have any idea what you are talking about.

Hi pablope: While Luther did come up with SS, It seems from what I have been reading from Lutheran’s that present Lutheran beliefs does not support what many of the denominational Protestant groups interpret SS… I think that is more the matter of those who hold more to the private interpretation on Scripture in defining SS than what seems to me Main-Line Protestants understand SS. I do know that the CC does not hold that Scripture to be above the Church and has not since the beginning.

Hi Spina…i have asked our Lutheran friends here to provide the actual definition of ss in Luther’s own words…no one has provided it.

In the Lutheran definition of SS…there is still interpretation needed…someone still has to do the norming to scripture, as they describe it…only thenone doing the norming is not infallible…but then the question is…when doing the norming…is there guidance by the HS?

If there is…that is describing infallibilty…if not…then it is private judgement?

Hi whatsmyname: I understand where you are coming from. It seems to me that it really depends on which catholic or Protestant one talks to. For Catholic’s we believe that the Church came before the Bible. That being said I do agree that Scripture is infallible, and since man is fallible how does one interpret Scripture? One can say by the Holy Spirit but how does one really know that the Holy Spirit is present when one is interpreting Scripture? It seems to me that one can think it is by the Holy Spirit is guiding one to the truth of Scripture but a one could be wrong about what they think they interpreted is correct. It is very easy to think when reading some verse of Scripture to come up with what one things it is saying and meaning, thinking that they have somehow been enlightened by the Holy Spirit when in fact it was just their own private thinking and not the Holy Spirit leading them to the conclusion they reached. That is MHO.

In 45 years of Christian school, camp, VBS, Bible Study, college and church attendance, I’d never heard the words Sola Scriptura until I read Patrick Madrid’s Surprised by Truth (a wonderful book instrumental in my conversion, but completely wrong as far as what Protestants believe) and later came to Catholic Answers forums where people seem to be obsessed by it.

I too came from the Evangelical camp. The Latin, Sola Scriptura, would never be heard coming from the lips of an Evangelical, simply because Latin is looked down on because of the Roman Catholicism.

However, you must have heard “The Bible Says” or “It is Unbiblical” or “This is Bible Based” or “We are a Bible oriented group just teaching the Word of God” or something similar. When I converted from the Evangelical camp, I had never heard of Sola Scriptura, but the dogma was well known to me. It was so well known it was second nature, an absolutely unquestioned teaching.

So again, just because they don’t call it the same thing doesn’t mean they don’t believe in the doctrine. Just ask a protestant what he thinks about Purgatory and I guarantee you will get one of those responses.

Why can’t the word of God be oral? Do you believe that at Jesus’ times it was still not written?


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