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Scripture and the Early Church
DID THE EARLY CHURCH HAVE THE SCRIPTURES?
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed .” (Acts 17:10-12 KJV)
May I ask you how the people in the book of Acts were able to “Search the scriptures daily” if there were NO scriptures until 400 AD as today's Catholic apologetics argue?
“And that from a child thou hast known the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15 KJV)
Once again, how could Paul tell Timothy that he had known the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are able to save him, from childhood, if there were NO scriptures until 400 AD?
Now lets see the rest of the verse: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:16-17 KJV)
You might ask "If Paul was writing this letter to Timothy, which later became part of the New Testament scriptures, then WHAT scriptures was he talking about since he was in the process of writing it?" This is a fair question! From Genesis to Malachi (the Old Testament), you will find the ENTIRE New testament Gospel message! It declares what is sin, the fall of man, repentance, the need of a saviour, the prophecies of the coming of the Christ (Jesus), and the message of salvation by trusting and believing in the Christ (Messiah). The New Testament, if you will do a study of it, has many thousands of Old Testament verses quoted by the writers, as they explained how these prophecies are fulfilled in Christ and how God now writes his laws on the heart of man by the Holy Spirit, instead of a written law on stone tablets. Rejecting the Old Testament scriptures, nullifies the gospel message of the New Testament since the N.T. is flooded with Old Testament scriptures. So then, as Paul wrote to Timothy, and to the church's, he may not have known that his writings would one day be part of scripture, but he certainly DID know that he was quoting Old Testament scriptures and explaining their intent and meaning and clarification as revealed by the Holy Spirit.
The same Old testament that condemns idolatry, the exaltation of man, prayer to the dead saints, the penalty for unrepented sin and many other rebellious acts of the Roman Catholic church against God's word, are the very same scriptures that Paul said "are able to make thee wise unto salvation...” "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"
When fundamentalists search the Old and New Testament Scriptures which are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, and then they attempt to bring correct doctrine by reproving the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church then attempts to do damage to God's Word saying that the early church didn't have the Scriptures.
The New Testament, which are the writings of the apostles as they wrote to the early church Christians explaining the Old Testament, which was being read in all the synagogues every week, and how the Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled in Christ, were quickly copied and sent from one church to the other. Within the life span of these apostles, over 24,000 copies had been made and sent to other church's. They were immediately considered to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and were considered "scripture" by the earliest of the church fathers.
In my review of reading the earliest of the church fathers, over 1,000 pages from Ignatius who lived in (A.D. 30-107), to Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165), and to Irenaus (120-202 AD), long before St. Jerome translated the apostles writings from Greek to Latin, I found them to speak of the New Testament writings as you and I know it today, TO BE SCRIPTURES! They quoted from them OFTEN and used these writings of the apostles to argue the truth and lead people to Christ. Furthermore, they also clearly taught the “Born Again” message which many in todays' Roman Catholic church deny is neccessary to enter the kingdom of God.
These men quoted from the SCRIPTURES often in their writings , and their own writings bring great damage to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church as we know it today.
Irenaus, holding to pure Biblical doctrine as you will see in a moment, brings the MOST damaging charges against today's backslidden Catholic Church who reject the scriptures by inventing NEW Revelation and other heretical doctrines which rebel against God's Holy Word, instituting the veneration of statues, the saints, prayers to the dead, the exaltation and veneration of Mary, the rosary (considered "vain repetitious prayers" by Jesus), indulgences (paying money for the forgiveness of sins which they later dropped), the creation of a mythical place called Purgatory (for the purpose of raising money for masses that will one day bring the soul to heaven), the exaltation of the Pope, the sacramental priesthood (which is Biblically held by Christ Jesus Himself, as our High Priest, alone) and the ONE and ONLY sacrifice at Calvary, (which the church usurps by claiming every mass is a repeat sacrifice).
If you would like to read the early Fathers writings, go to “Goshen
” on the internet.
The New Testament was written between A.D. 40-100. The earliest copies are dated 125 A.D. by which time there were 24,000 copies of the New Testament. (A Ready Defense, pg 45, by Josh McDowell, Here's Life Publishers, Inc., San Bernardo, CA)
Within the first 25 years, there were 24,000 copies of the New Testament!
The Vulgate Bible translated by Jerome in 405 A.D. was NOT the first Bible, it was ONLY a Latin translation of the already existing Greek and Hebrew scriptures!
“Jerome's greatest work was a Latin TRANSLATION of the Bible known as the Vulgate” (pg 144, Christianity through the Centuries, a History of the Christian Church, by Earle E. Cairns, Zondervan Publishing House.)
EARLY CHURCH FATHERS WRITINGS
pg 642 Chapter 8 Scriptures. Heretics use other sources.
1. Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures;
they endeavor to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the APOSTLES, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support.
In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions.
Irenaus 120-202 AD
Book 2 preface
pg 791 Chapter 27 - Interpretation of the SCRIPTURES are clearly and unambiguously understood:
These things are such as fall [plainly] under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures. And therefore the parables ought not to be adapted to ambiguous expressions. For, if this be not done, both he who explains them will do so without danger, and the parables will receive a like interpretation from all, and the body of truth remains entire, with a harmonious adaptation of its members, and without any collision [of its several parts].
But to apply expressions which are not clear or evident to interpretations of the parables, such as every one discovers for himself as inclination leads him, [is absurd.] For in this way no one will possess the rule of truth; but in accordance with the number of persons who explain the parables will be found the various systems of truth, in mutual opposition to each other, and setting forth antagonistic doctrines, like the questions current among the Gentile philosophers.
Webster's Dictionary “Ambiguous” -
1. having two or more possible meanings 2. Not clear; indefinite; uncertain; vague
Since, therefore, the entire Scriptures, the prophets, and the Gospels, can be clearly, unambiguously, and harmoniously understood by all, although all do not believe them; and since they proclaim that one only God, to the exclusion of all others, formed all things by His word, whether visible or invisible, heavenly or earthly, in the water or under the earth, as I have shown from the very words of Scripture; and since the very system of creation to which we belong testifies, by what falls under our notice, that one Being made and governs it, - those persons will seem truly foolish who blind their eyes to such a clear demonstration, and will not behold the light of the announcement [made to them]; but they put fetters upon themselves, and every one of them imagines, by means of their obscure interpretations of the parables, that he has found out a God of his own.
For that there is nothing whatever openly, expressly, and without controversy said in any part of Scripture respecting the Father conceived of by those who hold a contrary opinion, they themselves testify, when they maintain that the Savior privately taught these same things not to all, but to certain only of His disciples who could comprehend them, and who understood what was intended by Him through means of arguments, enigmas, and parables.
Pg 793 Chapter 28 SCRIPTURES are perfect
We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit;
Pg 794 Scripture perfectly consistent, plain, clear
“…and all Scripture, which has been given to us by God, shall be found by us perfectly consistent; and the parables shall harmonize with those passages which are perfectly plain; and those statements the meaning of which is clear, shall serve to explain the parables; and through the many diversified utterances [of Scripture] there shall be heard one harmonious melody in us, “
pg 795 EXTRA-BIBLICAL teachings are foolish, rash and blasphemous suppositions.
If, for instance, any one asks, “What was God doing before He made the world?” we reply that the answer to such a question lies with God Himself. For that this world was formed perfect by God, receiving a beginning in time, the Scriptures teach us; but no Scripture reveals to us what God was employed about before this event. The answer therefore to that question remains with God, and it is not proper for us to aim at bringing forward foolish, rash, and blasphemous suppositions [in reply to it]; so, as by one's imagining that he has discovered the origin of matter, he should in reality set aside God Himself who made all things.
Irenaus 120-202 AD
pg 823 Scriptures are the PILLAR of our faith and gives us the ONLY plan of salvation. Chapter 1
1. We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.
Pg 823 All four Gospels referred to by Irenaus
MATTHEW also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, MARK, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. LUKE also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, JOHN, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.
Pg 824 The Heretics refuse the authority of Scripture and claim that TRADITION by voice is more truthful. Chapter 2
1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.” And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing,
pg 851 The 4 gospels are the “PILLAR AND GROUND” of the church. All 4 gospels were recognized by the early church. Chapter 11
8. It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh.
So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavors to establish his own peculiar doctrine.
For the Ebionites, who use MATTHEW'S GOSPEL only, are confuted out of this very same, making false suppositions with regard to the Lord.
But Marcion, mutilating that according to LUKE, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains. Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the GOSPEL BY MARK, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified. Those, moreover, who follow Valentinus, making copious use of that according to JOHN, to illustrate their conjunctions, shall be proved to be totally in error by means of this very Gospel, as I have shown in the first book.
Pg 864 Irenaus classifies the Gospels and Paul's writings as “Scripture.” Chapter 12 #12
Wherefore also Marcion and his followers have betaken themselves to mutilating the Scriptures, not acknowledging some books at all; and, curtailing the Gospel according to Luke and the Epistles of Paul, they assert that these are alone authentic, which they have themselves thus shortened.
The following are only a few of the many New Testament scriptures referenced by Irenaus:
Pg 868 Irenaus refers to the epistle to the Corinthians
Chapter 13 #1
And again, in the Epistle to the Corinthians, when he had recounted all those who had seen God after the resurrection, he says in continuation, “But whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed, “
pg 868 Irenaus refers to the letters to the Galatians and the book of Acts
…he does himself say, in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Then, fourteen years after, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking also Titus. But I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that Gospel which I preached among the Gentiles.”
And again he says, “For an hour we did give place to subjection, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” If, then, any one shall, from the Acts of the Apostles, carefully scrutinize the time concerning which it is written that he went up to Jerusalem
pg 870 Irenaus refers to the letter to the Colossians
And again he says, in the Epistle to the Colossians: “Luke, the beloved physician, greets you.”
Pg 876 Irenaus refers to the Epistle to the Romans
Paul, when writing to the Romans, has explained this very point: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
pg 879 Irenaus quotes from 1 John
again, as John, the disciple of the Lord, verifies, saying: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have eternal life in His name,” -
pg 929 Irenaus again illustrates that the 4 gospels were used in his day.
“No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son has willed to reveal [Him].” Thus hath MATTHEW set it down, and LUKE in like manner, and MARK the very same; for JOHN omits this passage.
Pg 952 Irenaus quotes from the book of Revelation
On this account also does John declare in the Apocalypse, “And His voice as the sound of many waters.”
Pg 1010 Chapter 33 Irenaus speaks of the succession of the church, without forging the Scriptures. He is saying that the Scriptures can be trusted to be unchanged, guarded, and preserved.
8. True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor [suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God].
Clement of Alexandria
TITUS FLAVIUS CLEMENS,
Pg 420 Flesh and Blood is the Word of God, the Gospel (SCRIPTURE)
For the very same WORD is fluid and mild as milk, or solid and compact as meat. And entertaining this view, we may regard the proclamation of the GOSPEL, which is universally diffused, as milk; and as meat, faith, which from instruction is compacted into a foundation, which, being more substantial than hearing, is likened to meat, and assimilates to the soul itself nourishment of this kind. Elsewhere the Lord, in the GOSPEL according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood;” describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which theChurch, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both, - of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope,
The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor [paedagogus], Book 1, Chapter 6,
Pg 423 Flesh and Blood is the WORD OF GOD!
The flesh figuratively represents to us the Holy Spirit; for the flesh was created by Him. The blood points out to us the WORD, for as rich blood the WORD has been infused into life; and the union of both is the Lord, the food of the babes - the Lord who is Spirit and Word. The food - that is, the Lord Jesus - that is, the WORD of God, the Spirit made flesh, the heavenly flesh sanctified. The nutriment is the milk of the Father, by which alone we infants are nourished.
The WORD Himself, then, the beloved One, and our nourisher, hath shed His own blood for us, to save humanity; and by Him, we, believing on God, flee to the WORD, “the care-soothing breast” of the Father. And He alone, as is befitting, supplies us children with the milk of love, and those only are truly blessed who suck this breast. Wherefore also Peter says: “Laying therefore aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envy, and evil speaking, as new-born babes, desire the milk of the WORD, that ye may grow by it to salvation; if ye have tasted that the Lord is Christ.”
The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor [paedagogus], Book 1, Chapter 6,
424 Flesh and Blood (Quoting John chapter 6)
Further, the WORD declares Himself to be the bread of heaven. “For Moses,” He says, “gave you not that bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. And the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Here is to be noted the mystery of the bread, inasmuch as He speaks of it as flesh, and as flesh, consequently, that has risen through fire, as the wheat springs up from decay and germination; and, in truth, it has risen through fire for the joy of the Church, as bread baked. But this will be shown by and by more clearly in the chapter on the resurrection.
But since He said, “And the bread which I will give is My flesh,” and since flesh is moistened with blood, and blood is figuratively termed wine, we are bidden to know that, as bread, crumbled into a mixture of wine and water, seizes on the wine and leaves the watery portion, so also the flesh of Christ, the bread of heaven absorbs the blood; that is, those among men who are heavenly, nourishing them up to immortality, and leaving only to destruction the lusts of the flesh.
Thus in many ways the WORD is figuratively described, as meat, and FLESH, and food, and bread, and BLOOD, and milk. The Lord is all these, to give enjoyment to us who have believed on Him. Let no one then think it strange, when we say that the Lord's blood is figuratively represented as milk. For is it not figuratively represented as wine? “Who washes,” it is said, “His garment in wine, His robe in the blood of the grape.” In His Own Spirit He says He will deck the body of the WORD; as certainly by His own Spirit He will nourish those who hunger for the WORD.
The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor [paedagogus], Book 1, Chapter 6
428 The Word leads us to Salvation
The WORD, then, who leads the children to salvation, is appropriately called the Instructor (Paedagogue).
Now the instruction which is of God is the right direction of truth to the contemplation of God, and the exhibition of holy deeds in everlasting perseverance.
The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor [paedagogus], Book 1, Chapter 7
430 Jesus - The LORD God - The WORD
Now that the WORD was at once Jacob's trainer and the Instructor of humanity [appears from this] - “He asked,” it is said, “His name, and said to him, Tell me what is Thy name.” And he said, “Why is it that thou askest My name?” For He reserved the new name for the new people - the babe; and was as yet unnamed, the Lord God not having yet become man. Yet Jacob called the name of the place, “Face of God.” “For I have seen,” he says, “God face to face; and my life is preserved.” The face of God is the WORD by whom God is manifested and made known. Then also was he named Israel, because he saw God the Lord. It was God, the WORD, the Instructor, who said to him again afterwards, “Fear not to go down into Egypt.”
The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor [paedagogus], Book 1, Chapter 7,
pg 651 Confession of Faith written by Irenaus. No Catholic Church mentioned here. No Purgatory mentioned here. No Mary worship, immaculate conception, ascension to heaven found here.
1. The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from
heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race,
in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickedness,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.