Was the early church "Bible-based"?


The Bible was not put together until the Council of Carthage put it together in 397 A.D. So it’s obvious that the early church was not “Bible-based” simply because there was no Bible!



No, the early Church was based on the oral teaching of the apostles. As time went on and the apostles grew old or feared martyrdom, some of them committed their witness of the life of Jesus to writing (the gospels). These gospels and the letters of Peter, Paul, James, John, etc were copied and read during mass. When the New Testament was assembled, the 3 main criteria for inclusion were:

  1. was the gospel or letter being read as part of the mass?

  2. was the gospel or letter “apostolic” (written by an apostle or close associate of an apostle or under the apostles’ direction)?

  3. did the gospel or letter reflect, and conform to, the doctrines handed down from the apostles and universally accepted by the Church?



Of course the Early Church was “word of mouth” Bible Based…To say the Church was not Bible Based for nearly 400 years makes us look stupid…From the very get-go when original Christians were meeting in each others homes for Mass, this word of mouth Bible gave us Christ’s teaching just like it does now with the written form…Amen to that brother & sister…ErnieG:)


It would be better to say the early Bible was Church-based!



The Greek speaking world had the Septuagint! Along with the oral traditions of the Apostles and their letters.


HI IAsk,

The Church is based on the word of God, both written and unwritten. For a while, it was all unwritten, then some of it was written down. Nothing has changed.



The first Christians were CHURCH BASED and is the correct answer.


By early church i’ll assume you mean from the time it was a sect called the way up until the end of the 1st century…That being the case i’d say yes for example…
James was writing his own book and called it scripture. He says, “Do you think the scripture speak to no purpose” in James 4:5. He calls his own books, book James, scripture.

Paul reading the law of God, the Old Testament, said the law is holy, just and good. He affirms the holiness, the perfection of God’s law, the Old Testament.

Jude quotes Peter as scripture.

Peter quotes Paul as scripture.

And John quotes himself as scripture.

John just finished writing the letters to the churches, he says let the churches hear what the Spirit says. John knew he was writing what the Spirit was saying, not what he was saying.

Lastly Paul writes, “If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual,let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37).


He says, “Do you think the scripture speak to no purpose” in James 4:5. He calls his own books, book James, scripture.

**Where did you get the idea he was talking about his own letter there?

I think you’re reading something into the word itself–called “isogesis”–or by some wags “isocheatsis”.**


Really then be a swell chap and go dig that up out of the OT…


I agree, For him to call his book scripture is laughable.


No. The Church was based from the first day on the authority of the apostles, then later the bishops. When the first letters and gospels circulated, it was the authority behind them that caused them to be eventually canonized, not the fact that the would one day be canonized that gave them authority.


Nobody has mentioned the Old Testament, which the early Christians certainly used.


I did. The Septuagint was used throuought the Greek speaking world.


The phrase “Bible Based Church” is loaded with all kinds of freight. For those who adhere to Sola Scriptura it is the be all and end all. For us Catholics, we can say, “Yes indeed, we are a Bible Based Church and Tradition Based as well”. Its that old either/or trap or should I say claptrap. The writings of Paul and the Four Evangelists were in circulation long before the Canon was decided upon. And even Jesus taught with references to the Old Testament, which had been “Canonized” well before his birth. To deny the existence of Scripture and it’s use before all was gathered into a codex is outright silliness. To make Scripture the only base is just as silly. :slight_smile:


What do you think the OT was? the moment Christ rose from the dead even before, many times these people where asked do you not know scripture? The OT concealed what Christ revealed once Christ revealed it was no longer concealed.


A proof text without a context is a pretext.
James 4:4-5
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

You appear to be saying James is quoting himself…there is no evidence of that.

That’s a point on which we can agree - but if that is your argument, then there is no need for a written NT.

Where do yo usee Jude quoting Peter?
And Jude cites the book of Enoch, which is not Scripture, so quotation and/or citation are not exclusive proofs.

Ahhhh, one of my favorites!
2 Pt 3
15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

If we are to take Peter at his literal word, we must the include in Paul’s letters that are Scripture the following:
Col 4:
16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

1 Cor 5
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;

According to your argument, that’s at least two pieces of Scripture that are missing from the canon.


17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”


Excellent! Jude quotes the Apostles, but does not refer to the quote as Scripture.
Again, if this is your argument, it must hold, too, for Jude’s citation of the Book of Enbch.


It depends on what you mean by bible based and what you mean by early Church. If you mean the first century Christians then no. If you mean the second or third century Christians then maybe. They had an extremely high opinion of the scriptures as the modern Church does. Read Dei Verbum and you will see how integral scripture is. It is absolutely essential to the Church. The early Church fathers had an extremely high view of them as well. They did not do theology apart from the scriptures. But at the same time they were not sola scripturists and they did not have one book called the bible.

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