Before and After the New Testament Scriptures (Part I)
The apostle Paul says: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 2:17 NKJV). To do something in “the name of the Lord” means to do it by His authority, and there is none greater than His (Matt 28:18). What this means is that we must have divine authority in all that we say and do (“word or deed”) when it comes to religious matters (i.e., Scriptural authority).
The authority of the Bible comes from the fact that it is the Word of God. God and His Word cannot be separated (2 Tim 3:16). If the Lord appeared to us and gave us a commandment, it would have no more authority than what He has commanded in the Bible. Does this mean that we should go to the Scriptures and study them in order to determine exactly what we should or should not be doing in religious mattes? Absolutely!
Jesus is our supreme example and He was constantly going back to the Old Testament Scriptures (there was no New Testament yet) for authority. What was right or wrong was established by what the Bible said. When He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He answered him each time with: “it is written . . .” and quoting Scripture: “‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”’” (Matt 4:4); “‘It is written again, “you shall not tempt the LORD your God”’” (vv. 5–7); “‘Away with you Satan! For it is written, “you shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve”’” (v. 10). On another occasion, when the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, He said, “‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female,”’” and then He quoted Scripture (Matt 19:4f.). When the Sadducees tested Him with a question they didn’t think He would be able to answer, His response was, “‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God’” (Matt 22:29). If they had known the Scriptures they would not have believed as they did.
Jesus was always going back to the Scriptures or pointing others to them to establish what was right. If Jesus did this, then surely, we cannot go wrong if we do the same thing today. But, what did Christians do in the first century before the New Testament was completed? (To be continued)