Monday, June 13, 2005

2 Peter 1:3 and the Sufficiency of Scripture

I believe that Scripture is sufficient as the sum of God's revelation for us today. I've often used 2 Peter 1:3 to defend this doctrine. But lately I've wondered if doing so isn't some warmed-over proof-texting.

Where, exactly, is the Word of God in the context? To say that Jesus Christ has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of the Father does not prove that all those things are contained in the Word of God.

It is clear in the NT that the Word of God is not all that God has "given us":

". . . who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." (2 Cor. 1:22)

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, . . ." (2 Thess. 2:16)

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." (2 Tim. 1:7)

"Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, . . ." (2 Tim. 1:9)

"The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." (1 John 3:24)

"By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." (1 John 4:13)

"And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)

My purpose is not to argue that Scripture is insufficient for our life and godliness, but to demonstrate that we're on shaky exegetical ground to insist that this passages teaches that truth exclusively. I simply don't think the sufficiency of Scripture is the primary point of this passage. It seems to me to be about the sufficiency of the power of Christ.

7 comments:

G-Knee said...

That's VERY thought provoking. I often hear 2 Peter 1:3 as THE Sufficiency of Scripture verse. Without getting into details, I appreciate the additional references and hope to do some searching on my own.

G-Harmony said...

Thinking out loud...

How else would we have "knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue," by which means we would know of the "exceeding great and precious promises..."?

Ben said...

g-harmony,

Theologically, I don't necessarily disagree with you. Rationalist that I tend to be, I really want to agree with you. I just resist reading that likely true statement into the text when it's not there.

In other words, does this text exclude the possiblity that the Spirit could be involved in imparting this knowledge? After all, some of these other texts that describe what God has given us also teach that He imparts other knowledge.

G-Harmony said...

again, thinking out loud...

Admittedly, the Holy Spirit is not detatched from the proceedings. We would obviously include 1 Corinthians 2 as we argue that the Holy Spirit is necessary in understanding the Word- "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." While the Spirit imparts knowledge, would we argue that He will do so in contradiction or addition to the revealed Word?

Paul said...

I have often thought the same about that verse but had never gone so far as to put other Scripture with it as you have, thinking thru it further. Good muse.

Ben said...

G-Harmony,

Again, in no way do I disagree with the theological point you are making. I'm simply unconvinced that 2 Peter 1:3 is a magic bullet that exegetically proves this theological point.

I am a vehement opponent of the traditional/mystical view of God's will, integrationist counseling, etc.—as vehement as anyone I know. But I think we're laying a dangerous trap for ourselves if we aren't as careful as we ought to be in framing our biblical argumentation.

g-harmony said...

How does the concluding paragraph of chapter one (vs 12-21, esp. 19-21) fit in this? The emphasis is on the power of Christ available through the knowledge of Christ, but the knowledge of Christ is gained through the "more sure word of prophecy,"(1:19) is it not?