2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares that “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.” It is clear that the early church regarded the Old Testament as inspired Scripture. As 2 Peter 1:20-21 explains, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The question when analyzing the New Testament, is whether or not is can be classified as scripture too. In 2 Peter 3:15-16; Peter writes, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable men distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Clearly, Peter regarded the writings of Paul as inspired Scripture.
A further indicator that the New Testament can be considered as Scripture is in 1 Timothy 5:18; where it says, “For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘the worker deserves his wages.’” While the first reference is taken from the book of Deuteronomy (25:4), the second is derived from the Gospel of Luke (10:7). Clearly, Luke’s writings are being viewed as similar in authoritative value to the Pentateuch. Luke’s writings are also here referred to as “Scripture.”
While it can not be proved emphatically that the New Testament can be called “scripture,” we must proceed further and ascertain what is the real question of the one asking whether it is scripture or not. If the point of the question is to call into question the truth of the New Testament, then we must come at this from a different angle. My personal favorite query when one calls into question the truth of the New Testament is: “Which verses in the New Testament aren’t true in your opinion?”
This should be the basis of any discussion regarding the veracity of the New testament. It’s actually a great place to begin. Of course, in order for there to be any common ground, both parties must at least presuppose that the Bible contains truth. If both parties can agree on this, then it’s back to deciding which portions are true and which are not. Again there is a good basis for discussion. If both parties can not agree that the bible contains truth, then there is no common ground for a discussion and it will be fruitless.
For the believer, if we say that some parts of scripture (the Bible) are true and other are not. Then we must make a case as to the criteria in identifying the difference. I for one, believe that the entirety of the Bible is scripture and that with the exception of a few minor passages that have historical questionability, it is also all true. But, that’s just my opinion. If your opinion differs, I welcome any discussion to the contrary.
So, and as always, a few questions:
1. Do you believe the whole Bible may be referred to as scripture?
2. If you believe some is scripture and some is not, then how do you distinguish the two?
3. Regardless of whether you agree that the New Testament may be called “scripture,” do you hold it to be true?