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Don Stewart :: Does the New Testament Ever Quote Itself as Authoritative Scripture?

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Don Stewart

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Yes. On two separate occasions we find the New Testament quoting other parts of the New Testament as authoritative Scripture. On the first occasion, we have Peter recognizing Paul, while on the second occasion we find Paul quoting Luke.

Peter Recognizes Paul As Writing Scripture

Peter recognized the writings of the Apostle Paul as Scripture. He cited Paul's letters.

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 people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16).

This statement of Peter tells us several things. They include the following.

First there were a number of Paul's letters that were circulating since Peter speaks of his "letters." While he does not give the exact number of these letters they were circulating as a group.

Second, these writings of Paul were well known by Peter and the other believers. The fact that he could speak of these letters to his audience in this way assumes that they were familiar with them.

Third, Peter placed these writings of Paul on the same level as the Old Testament Scripture. He used the Greek word graphe to refer to Paul's writings. This Greek word is used fifty-one times in the New Testament and it refers to the Old Testament writings in every other occurrence. Consequently Scripture was a technical term that the New Testament used to refer to God's divinely authoritative writings.

Paul Quotes Luke As Scripture

When Paul wrote to Timothy he quoted a passage from Luke as Scripture.

For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads the grain,' and, 'the laborer is worthy of his wages' (1 Timothy 5:18).

The first verse quoted is from Deuteronomy 25:4. However the second is a quotation of one of our Lord's statements recorded by Luke: "The laborer is worthy of his wages" (Luke 10:7). This saying is not found in the Old Testament. Paul uses the exact same Greek words that Luke used. Consequently it seems that Paul knew of Luke's gospel at this time and considered it Scripture. Paul quotes Luke on the same level as Moses. This implied equivalence.

He Uses A Technical Term For Scripture

In addition, this is a second instance of a New Testament writer using the technical term graphe when referring to another New Testament work. This is significant because neither Paul nor Luke were among the Twelve Apostles. Thus, from these two passges, we have the letters of Paul and the writings of Luke (Luke/Acts) considered Scripture.

Some Disagree That Paul Called Luke's Writing As Scripture

There are those who do not believe Paul is calling Luke's writing Scripture. They see the phrase, "the Scripture says" as referring to the first quotation from Deuteronomy. The second statement, they say, is merely an explanation of the first statement and not a citing of Luke's gospel as Scripture.

There Was Early Acceptance Of The Idea Of A New Testament Canon

The evidence, therefore, is that very early in the history of the church the concept of a New Testament canon appeared. New writings were being accepted as Holy Scripture by the believers.

The Early Christians Expected More Scripture Than The Old Testament

Finally it also shows that more Scripture is expected. Additional writings were in the process of being made. Thus the sacred writings of the Old Testament will have additions in a New Testament.

Summary

The New Testament itself is quoted as Scripture twice. Paul quotes a saying of Jesus from Luke's gospel and calls it Scripture. However, there are some who dispute this reference.

In addition, Peter acknowledges the writings of Paul were considered to be Holy Scripture. This shows that the idea of adding new Scripture, apart from the Old Testament, was already occurring in the early years of the church.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.