The Authority of Scripture
- Published: Sunday, 15 July 2018 19:59
- Written by Timothy Chapman
Scripture is often used to refer to all 66 books of the Bible, but at the time of Jesus and the 1st century church, only a specific portion of what is called the "Old Testament" would have been referred to as scripture. The Scriptures, according to what would be called Scripture in Jesus's day, is divided into three sections: Torah, Prophets, and Psalms. It is these writings which Paul refers to as being given by inspiration of God in 2nd Timothy 3:16. These sections of Scripture are ordered by how much authority each section has. Writings that are outside of these sections would not be classified as Scripture by those living at the time of Jesus. This is the definition of Scripture that will be used here, which means only a small portion of our Bibles count as "Scripture".
Torah consists of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It has the highest authority of all Scripture and everything is to be tested first against Torah. The Torah contains the true account of the origin of the world and everything on it and around it. It also defines what is right and wrong. Torah is inerrant in all that it says. Anyone who teaches against Torah in any way is a false teacher. All of God's commandments are in Torah and are not to be added to or taken away from.
The Prophets consist of Joshua, Judges, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, in that order. The first 6 books are a historical account of Israel from the time they entered into the Promised Land up until the exile. The rest of the books were written by God's prophets and are inerrant when quoting from God. Anyone claiming to be a prophet is tested first against Torah and second against their own prophecy. If anyone claims to be a prophet of God, but fails either of those tests, that person is a false prophet.
The Psalms are a collection of 150 songs, most of which are written by men of God, but some of them contain prophecies. These songs are typically of praise or petition to God, but some are songs of repentance. Some of these songs are instructions to live according to the ways of God. These songs were not written at God's command, otherwise they would have no value. Rather, they were written out of one's own free will to praise or petition God. All of the Psalms, however, are inspired by God.
The Gospels and Acts are very accurate historical accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus and what happened after immediately afterwards. They are the evidence of the validity of the Christian faith. The Epistles, which are letters to various congregations or individuals, are instructions on how to live according to the ways of God. These writings do not make null the Torah, but instruct believers in Jesus to obey it. These writings do not refer to themselves as Scripture, nor do they count as Scripture as what is typically understood today as Scripture. They instead teach from Scripture (according to what would be understood in their time as Scriptures) and correct those who misconstrue Scripture or are in violation of Torah. These writings were not written at the command of God (with the exception of Revelation) and the writers were not protected from error, but were well-versed in Scripture, and had the gift of discernment so they could distinguish between the pagan practices and teachings of their day from the teachings of Scripture.