Following on with the previous posts on Sola Scriptura, and having established the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture, I would like to continue on with the authority of Scripture.
The doctrine of the authority of Scripture states that Scripture has authority in the lives of believers and whatever it says are to be heeded and obeyed. Taken together with the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture, Scripture is said to be the supreme authority in our lives. Now, given merely the doctrine of the necessity of Scripture and the sufficiency of Scripture, the only thing we can say is that the only way to know more about Christianity; to know more about Christ, is through the Scriptures, either primarily or secondarily. However, they do not in and of themselves furnish any reason for anyone, not even Christians, to follow what it says and obey its injunctions and commands. Hence, the doctrine of the authority of Scripture is thus important for us, as it is the catalyst which is needed for the translation of sound doctrine (facts) in Scripture into practical obedience (oughts - impetus) in godliness towards God. Therefore, anytime a Bible verse is applied by a person into his/her life, that person has de facto practice the doctrine of the authority of Scripture, or at least that part of Scripture which he/she has applied.
I would now set to prove the authority of Scripture. Given the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture, I would use the Bible to prove the authority of Scripture. Later on, I would then look at the extent of the authority of Scripture, as subsumed in the extent of the inspiration of Scripture.
The proof text for the authority of Scripture will be the same one used in proving the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture — 2 Tim. 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out (Gr. θεοπνευστος, transliterated: theopneustos) by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 —ESV)
For the purpose of proving the authority of Scripture, I would like to concentrate on the front part of this short passage. Whereas the middle part mainly helps in proving the necessity of Scripture, and the latter part in verse 17 mainly helps in proving the sufficiency of Scripture, the fron part of this passage speaks about the authority of Scripture. It states that "All Scripture is breathed out by God" and because of that, it THUS is profitable for all these godly works. This could be seen as all these activities (teaching, reproving, correcting, training) must of necessity presuppose the authority of Scripture to begin with. Only when a person or rule have authority over another can teaching be done by the one in authority to the one under authority. This is the same for reproving, for correcting and for training, all of which require a person to submit to another person or a rule so as to progress further. Therefore, for Scripture to be used to do such activities must of necessity presuppose the authority of Scripture over the one who is being taught, being reproved, being corrected or being trained.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God ...". The term 'breathed out (by God)' in the Greek is θεοπνευστος (transliterated theopneustos) which literally means God-breathed (theo = God & pneusto = breath) and is translated as such in the NIV. In the NASB and KJV, it is translated as "inspired by God" and "inspiration of God" respectively, from which we get the term the inspiration of Scripture. So, what does it mean for Scripture to be God-breathed or breathed out by God?
The Greek term theopneustos occur only once in the Greek New Testament text where it is used to describe all Scripture in 2 Tim. 3:16, and nothing else. First of all, this is a strong internal consistency validation (not proof) for the sufficiency of Scripture, as assuming the sufficiency of Scripture would give rise to the fact that only Scripture is described as God-breathed and nothing else (neither traditions nor emotions nor revelations obtained through prophecies) is described as such, thus validating the sufficiency of Scripture. This one-time usage of the word theopneustos as descriptive of Scripture also elevates the status of Scripture. Since theopneustos is literally translated as God-breathed, this shows firstly that Scripture has its origin in God and not man. Secondly, as breathed out by God, it reflects and shows the attributes of God. It is this property of Scripture which give Scripture its authority, for it has God's authority due to its nature as being breathed out by God. Since God is God Almighty, the Creator of the world (Gen. 1-2; Rom 1:20; Col. 1:16) and upholder of the universe (Col. 1:17b), He has ownership and thus authority over every single creature that has ever existed and will exist, including even us. Since that is the case, Scripture has authority over believers. In fact, since God creates all and owns all, Scripture has authority over all mankind, whether they believe in Him or not.
In the next post, I would continue on to look at the extent of that authority, as subsumed in the extent of the inspiration of Scripture.
[To be continued]
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