What do protestants say about 2 Thess. 2:15?

I am talking to my friend about Sola Scriptura. She is a Catholic who’s friends are telling her Protestant stuff so I am trying to strengthen her faith. She was impressed with 2 Thess. 2:15, but I am worried that her friends may have some response. I’ve never heard what the typical Protestant responses are to this verse, so I need to know what they are and how to deal with them.

Thanks and blessings.

[quote=Lazerlike42]I am talking to my friend about Sola Scriptura. She is a Catholic who’s friends are telling her Protestant stuff so I am trying to strengthen her faith. She was impressed with 2 Thess. 2:15, but I am worried that her friends may have some response. I’ve never heard what the typical Protestant responses are to this verse, so I need to know what they are and how to deal with them.
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Start with erasing from your mind the very idea that there even is such a thing as a “typical Protestant”. The immediate effect of the sola scriptura doctrine is heterogeneity, as every Protestant believes something different to each other one.

Having said that, I can offer a couple of observations regarding the verse in question. In the preceding chapter, Paul has been talking about false teachers who may mislead the Christians. In v. 15, he enjoins the Thessalonians to avoid this by trusting in the message of the apostles alone, “whether by word of mouth or by letter”. “Only trust a teaching which comes directly from us,” he is saying. The problem with all of this is that it actually supports one of the more common Protestant condemnations of the Catholic Church, which is that the Catholics accept ideas from outside of the Bible. The Protestant argument runs thus: the NT is the words of the apostles; the Catholic Church accepts other writings (i.e., the ecclesiastical Tradition), and so the Catholic Church violates this instruction. This argument is then compounded by the fact that many Protestants believe that the Bible is permanently true, and so the command cannot have been for only that time.

Regarding sola scriptura, I would suggest taking a different tack.
(/cont.)

I know all about protestants, and this is only one piece of evidence, so I’m not relying on it. I just happen to have not heard any Protestant replies to this one. I am well versed in apologetics otherwise.

That being said, I’d say that one problem with what you said is that the Catholic teaching is that only capital T Tradition coming from the Apostles is doctrine. Every other tradition is like the the tradition of giving Christmas presents: it’s just something we’ve started doing there’s no need for it.

I’m just asking specifically about this because I’ve never heard a reply so I want to be prepared. I think the one you gave might be a Protestant reply, but it’s flawed.

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.”

They’ll just say that that is just the NT, but that fails to take it in the context of history and itself even.

Sola scriptura is a neat doctrine, because it provides the believer with absolute surety. “Jesus loves me; this I know, because the Bible tells me so,” as the Sunday School song goes.

The biggest problem with the doctrine is that the text itself argues against an inerrantist reading. How many angels were at the empty tomb: one or two? Who was at the empty tomb? Who was at the Crucifixion? How many times did Jesus visit the temple? The Gospels differ. This happens a lot throughout Scripture, especially in the parallel histories of the OT (Samuel/Kings/Chronicles). Protestants tend to feel a desperate need to explain away these differences, because they want to believe that Scripture is inerrant. Nonetheless, the differences are there, and they are quite obvious to anyone who looks for them.

There are two possible reasons for including these different accounts: either the compilers of the Bible did not notice the differences, or they did not care about them. Considering the fact that we are talking about one of the most literary cultures in the history of the world, the first option is not at all a good one. The most likely reason is that the compilers of the Bible knew about the differences and were utterly unbothered about them. This is most probably because they did not see the texts as literally true, and, therefore, there was no “contradiction”.

Of course, should you tell a Protestant this, you risk shattering his/her faith entirely, which is not a good idea. So, what I would like to suggest is that you could research some of these differences and talk with the Protestants about them. You could also talk about the fact that the Catholic Church uses other texts from the succeeding centuries to develop a better historical understanding of the situation. For example, most Protestants believe that Mary had other children, whereas Catholics take a view which is supported by documents from as early as the C2nd, and which does not contradict the Gospels in any way. For this point, you could see also my posts here, because I disbelieved the Catholic position at the beginning, only to research it and find that, from a historical perspective, it is far more dependable than the Protestant one.

[quote=Lazerlike42]That being said, I’d say that one problem with what you said is that the Catholic teaching is that only capital T Tradition coming from the Apostles is doctrine. Every other tradition is like the the tradition of giving Christmas presents: it’s just something we’ve started doing there’s no need for it.
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How can you demonstrate to a Protestant that a tradition which is not in the Bible comes from the apostles? That is what they will ask.

[quote=Lazerlike42]I am talking to my friend about Sola Scriptura. She is a Catholic who’s friends are telling her Protestant stuff so I am trying to strengthen her faith. She was impressed with 2 Thess. 2:15, but I am worried that her friends may have some response. I’ve never heard what the typical Protestant responses are to this verse, so I need to know what they are and how to deal with them.

Thanks and blessings.
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From what I have heard they say the traditions that came by word were the same as what was finally recorded in the NT. Basically anything they said orally was simply the same words as any passage in the Bible today it just wasnt written down yet.
I dont know if this makes sense, like for example they could hand them Pauls letter to the Thessalonians (by letter) or they could orally recite to them Pauls letter to the Romans or anything else Paul said to them (but was for sure going to be written down and included in the Bible).

Something to keep in mind with the Gospels, or any parts of the Bible, were written as a theological text, not a historical or scientific one, etc. So the author’s focus is what is happening spiritually as opposed to historically.

Also, since we don’t have the texts in the author’s original hands, we don’t know what was originally written, and what may have been changed through years of translation.

I’m protestant, and I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but in the sense that the original texts in the authors original hand were free of any errors. But humans being human, mistakes do happen when being translated.

That all said, the differences everyone has pointed out do not point to any theological differences. One angel or two? Well, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus died and rose again so that we might have eternal life. :thumbsup:

[quote=Lazerlike42]I am talking to my friend about Sola Scriptura. She is a Catholic who’s friends are telling her Protestant stuff so I am trying to strengthen her faith. She was impressed with 2 Thess. 2:15, but I am worried that her friends may have some response. I’ve never heard what the typical Protestant responses are to this verse, so I need to know what they are and how to deal with them.

Thanks and blessings.
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The question I got asked was "well give me a list of these traditions Paul is inferring about???

So I said. “wait a minute, I’m not the one claiming sola scriptura, you are”.

His assumption was that if something is written in scripture, then it is No longer a 'Tradition"- because he believes in Sola Scriptura,! (if you think about this assumption slowly it doesn’t make sense)

Basically, if a tradition is written, then it follows that it no longer becomes a tradition! Because it is now Written! Does this make sense???

But this is a huge HUGE Oxy Moron (sp?),

And added "had Paul enumarated all the traditions in scripture as you are now asking for, then why would he would use the word “traditions” He would just have used the phrase “…hold on the scriptures…”. And not “Traditions”

I can’t explain it right now, but I hope some you get the jist of what I am saying!

God Bless

You may also want to questions about the “Traditions” of their faith!

  1. Sola Scriptura - not in scripture

  2. Sinners Prayer - not in scripture

  3. The Trinity - Implicit but not explicit in the bible??

  4. Tradition of not calling the spiritial leaders “father”. Paul said he became our “father” to us in Christ. If Saint Pual stood right in front of a protestant, would they follow the bible and call him “father”???.

  5. Celebration of East/Christmass - its a tradition

6)Church on Wednesday - Nowhere in the bible - Tradition

  1. Its not wine, it was grapejuice - its a tradition, that is erroneously taught!

  2. Regulate how many children they have through use of contraception - is a tradition. God is in charge of all my life they say; except the amount of how many children I’ll have???

Basically turn the table around! God bless and good luck?

a) It says teachings.
b) It does include tradition but the traditions are secondary and not to be trusted.
c) eventually all the traditions got written down (this seems to me to be the most common). It also carries with it the biggest conundrum. God could not have said that Sola Scriptura was the mode to operate in if he had them operating under scripture + tradition. Most certainly the most used verse to defend SS (2 Tim 3:16) would be contradicting what was going on and 2 Thes 2:15.

I’ve heard three or four other obvuscations of the passage but can’t recall them offhand.

This verse says to ignore to statements that the day of the Lord is at hand; it does not say to ignore verbal teaching.
The verse does not claim that all of God’s word is written, and it does not provide a list of what written works are authoritative.
If this verse proves sola scriptura, it proves too much in saying that one must ignore written teaching as well as oral.

Scripture
I. Scripture Alone Disproves "Scripture Alone"
Gen. to Rev. - Scripture never says that Scripture is the sole infallible authority for God’s Word. Scripture also mandates the use of tradition. This fact alone disproves sola Scriptura.

Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15 - those that preached the Gospel to all creation but did not write the Gospel were not less obedient to Jesus, or their teachings less important.

Matt. 28:20 - “observe ALL I have commanded,” but, as we see in John 20:30; 21:25, not ALL Jesus taught is in Scripture. So there must be things outside of Scripture that we must observe. This disproves “Bible alone” theology.

Mark 16:15 - Jesus commands the apostles to “preach,” not write, and only three apostles wrote. The others who did not write were not less faithful to Jesus, because Jesus gave them no directive to write. There is no evidence in the Bible or elsewhere that Jesus intended the Bible to be sole authority of the Christian faith.

Luke 1:1-4 - Luke acknowledges that the faithful have already received the teachings of Christ, and is writing his Gospel only so that they “realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.” Luke writes to verify the oral tradition they already received.

John 20:30; 21:25 - Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are equally a part of the Deposit of Faith.

Acts 8:30-31; Heb. 5:12 - these verses show that we need help in interpreting the Scriptures. We cannot interpret them infallibly on our own. We need divinely appointed leadership within the Church to teach us.

Acts 15:1-14 – Peter resolves the Church’s first doctrinal issue regarding circumcision without referring to Scriptures.

Acts 17:28 – Paul quotes the writings of the pagan poets when he taught at the Aeropagus. Thus, Paul appeals to sources outside of Scripture to teach about God.

1 Cor. 5:9-11 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Corinth is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul is again appealing to a source outside of Scripture to teach the Corinthians. This disproves Scripture alone.

1 Cor. 11:2 - Paul commends the faithful to obey apostolic tradition, and not Scripture alone.

Phil. 4:9 - Paul says that what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. There is nothing ever about obeying Scripture alone.

Col. 4:16 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Laodicea is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul once again appeals to a source outside of the Bible to teach about the Word of God.

1 Thess. 2:13 – Paul says, “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us…” How can the Bible be teaching first century Christians that only the Bible is their infallible source of teaching if, at the same time, oral revelation was being given to them as well? Protestants can’t claim that there is one authority (Bible) while allowing two sources of authority (Bible and oral revelation).

1 Thess. 3:10 - Paul wants to see the Thessalonians face to face and supply what is lacking. His letter is not enough.

2 Thess. 2:14 - Paul says that God has called us “through our Gospel.” What is the fullness of the Gospel?

2 Thess. 2:15 - the fullness of the Gospel is the apostolic tradition which includes either teaching by word of mouth or by letter. Scripture does not say “letter alone.” The Catholic Church has the fullness of the Christian faith through its rich traditions of Scripture, oral tradition and teaching authority (or Magisterium).

2 Thess 3:6 - Paul instructs us to obey apostolic tradition. There is no instruction in the Scriptures about obeying the Bible alone (the word “Bible” is not even in the Bible).

1 Tim. 3:14-15 - Paul prefers to speak and not write, and is writing only in the event that he is delayed and cannot be with Timothy.

2 Tim. 2:2 - Paul says apostolic tradition is passed on to future generations, but he says nothing about all apostolic traditions being eventually committed to the Bible.

2 Tim. 3:14 - continue in what you have learned and believed knowing from whom you learned it. Again, this refers to tradition which is found outside of the Bible.

James 4:5 - James even appeals to Scripture outside of the Old Testament canon (“He yearns jealously over the spirit which He has made…”)

2 Peter 1:20 - interpreting Scripture is not a matter of one’s own private interpretation. Therefore, it must be a matter of “public” interpretation of the Church. The Divine Word needs a Divine Interpreter. Private judgment leads to divisions, and this is why there are 30,000 different Protestant denominations.

2 Peter 3:15-16 - Peter says Paul’s letters are inspired, but not all his letters are in the New Testament canon. See, for example, 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Col. 4:16. Also, Peter’s use of the word “ignorant” means unschooled, which presupposes the requirement of oral apostolic instruction that comes from the Church.

2 Peter 3:16 - the Scriptures are difficult to understand and can be distorted by the ignorant to their destruction. God did not guarantee the Holy Spirit would lead each of us to infallibly interpret the Scriptures. But this is what Protestants must argue in order to support their doctrine of sola Scriptura. History and countless divisions in Protestantism disprove it.

1 John 4:1 - again, God instructs us to test all things, test all spirits. Notwithstanding what many Protestants argue, God’s Word is not always obvious.

1 Sam. 3:1-9 - for example, the Lord speaks to Samuel, but Samuel doesn’t recognize it is God. The Word of God is not self-attesting.

1 Kings 13:1-32 - in this story, we see that a man can’t discern between God’s word (the commandment “don’t eat”) and a prophet’s erroneous word (that God had rescinded his commandment “don’t eat”). The words of the Bible, in spite of what many Protestants must argue, are not always clear and understandable. This is why there are 30,000 different Protestant churches and one Holy Catholic Church.

Gen. to Rev. - Protestants must admit that knowing what books belong in the Bible is necessary for our salvation. However, because the Bible has no “inspired contents page,” you must look outside the Bible to see how its books were selected. This destroys the sola Scriptura theory. The canon of Scripture is a Revelation from God which is necessary for our salvation, and which comes from outside the Bible. Instead, this Revelation was given by God to the Catholic Church, the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
scripturecatholic.com/scripture_alone.html#scripture-I

:thumbsup:
That is fabulous. I am impressed.

Instead, this Revelation was given by God to the Catholic Church

This, unfortunately, I have to disagree with. First, the early Church which set the original Bible canon subsequently developed into a number of branches, including the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and the many Protestant ones, all of whom are heirs to Jesus’ ministry. Second, a Protestant could disagree with this on the basis that the early Protestants disagreed with the earlier choice and made a new one, and that could be (and usually is) claimed as the “true” Revelation of the canon.

[quote=Catholic Dude]From what I have heard they say the traditions that came by word were the same as what was finally recorded in the NT. Basically anything they said orally was simply the same words as any passage in the Bible today it just wasnt written down yet.
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But even then, doesn’t this reasoning simply show that at one point, the Church did not have a complete Bible? Essentially, Tradition was the means of handing down the apostolic teachings since the beginning. This is something we always hold, but this “refutation” only reinforces that fact.

[quote=porthos11]But even then, doesn’t this reasoning simply show that at one point, the Church did not have a complete Bible? Essentially, Tradition was the means of handing down the apostolic teachings since the beginning. This is something we always hold, but this “refutation” only reinforces that fact.
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Thats not how they see it.

[quote=Church Militant]“Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.”

They’ll just say that that is just the NT, but that fails to take it in the context of history and itself even.
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2 Thess. 2:15 may not “prove” sola scriptura, but it does not open the door for a living Magisterium either.

The Thessalonians have apparently learned a set of traditions. This is necessarily a fixed set of traditions. Nothing about it is “living”. This does not grant anyone authority to rule authoritatively on anything outside of those set of traditions.

In Paul’s travels, did he not teach orally? Well of course he did. Not everything the Apostles taught was written down.

At times Pauls letters include admonishment, to show the errors in the church that was to receive his letter. He also sees that at least some of the recipients of the letters he wrote were immature in their faith.

In addition, to the Corinthians (1 Cor 3:2), Paul writes that he
"gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready."

What is in that “solid food” … perhaps Tradition as the Catholic church teaches is part of that “meat”.

Hebrews 5 offers a similar scenario:
11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

This eludes to the fact that there was more he had yet to teach them. More beyond what is written perhaps?

Paul writes in 1 Thes. 3:10, 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

He wanted to see them to teach more, not just write more.

The reason for writing…
14Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15if 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.
1 Tim. 3:14-15

In Philipians 4:9, we read Paul reminding the readers to put into practice, what they have learned, received, heard, or seen. Certainly, these people saw Paul and company do things beyond what is written.

From these verses, I see that not all that was taught was written.
There is something more. Sola scriptura, does not work.

[quote=Angainor]2 Thess. 2:15 may not “prove” sola scriptura, but it does not open the door for a living Magisterium either.

The Thessalonians have apparently learned a set of traditions. This is necessarily a fixed set of traditions. Nothing about it is “living”. This does not grant anyone authority to rule authoritatively on anything outside of those set of traditions.
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I believe you are reading too much into the term Living Magisterium. The purpose of the Magisterium is to protect and interpret the revelation and truths given to us by Christ and the apostles only. The Magisterium does not introduce new doctrine but develops and interprets the doctrines given to us by Christ and the apostles. It is “living” in the sense that it is growing in understanding of the written and oral teachings from apostolic times. Yes, the traditions are/were fixed but our understanding of them based upon the context, culture and beliefs at the time they were taught (apostolic times) is in a constant/living mode of discovery.

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