“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – NASV)
Today, we will address another common objection to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”):
ARGUMENT #4 – IF 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17 PROVES THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE, IT WOULD PROVE TOO MUCH, BECAUSE WHEN PAUL MENTIONS SCRIPTURE, HE WAS SPEAKING OF THE ONLY SCRIPTURE THAT WAS AVAILABLE AT THAT TIME: THE OLD TESTAMENT. SO, IF SOLA SCRIPTURA APPLIES HERE, WOULDN’T WE HAVE TO SAY THAT THE *OLD TESTAMENT* IS ALL WE NEED AS A RULE OF FAITH? AND WOULDN’T THAT MEAN THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT IS *UNNECESSARY*?
The premise in this argument is that Paul could only have been talking about the Old Testament. While it is true that only part of the New Testament was available when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, this argument is using very poor logic. In the context of this passage, Paul is describing the nature and purpose of “ALL Scripture,” not “all-Scripture-given-to-us-up-until-this-point-in-time.”
This is like someone saying, “All birds have wings.” But this would not mean that only birds existing UP TO THIS POINT have wings, and it is not saying that birds that hatch in the future will not have wings. It’s simply saying that it is characteristic of ALL birds to have wings.
For an example that’s closer to home, it is like a Catholic saying, “All infallible / ‘ex-cathedra’ statements of the Catholic Church are true.” Would any Catholic think that this means that ONLY the ones proclaimed UP TO THIS POINT are true, and that future ones may be FALSE? No, he would argue that “all” means all.
So when the Apostle Paul said “All Scripture…”, he meant All Scripture, past, present and future (from his perspective). Is not the New Testament also considered Scripture? Isn’t it part of the whole? Absolutely. No true Christian would deny the inspiration of the New Testament.
There is nothing in the context to indicate that Paul had only the Old Testament in mind, since he was also addressing the needs of the church of the future, as well (3:1, 13). When Paul said, “All Scripture,” there is no reason to think he meant otherwise, or to limit his description of the sacred writings to only what was available at that time.
Since the Bible equips us for EVERY GOOD WORK, the problem is not “…IF it would be sufficient, it would prove too much…” No, the point is that the whole of Scripture IS INDEED SUFFICIENT as the only infallible Rule of Faith for the church today, but Catholic teaching doesn’t line up with this … that’s the problem. They are using a faulty premise in verse 16 which distorts the conclusion and true meaning of verse 17.
So, this is an illogical and absurd objection that falls flat, since it is just another in a long line of weak attempts to deny the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.