Second Timothy 3:16—17 reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
If the inspired Scriptures are profitable for every good work, as Paul tells Timothy, then there is no longer any need for God to speak outside of them. Since we now have the scriptures, in their entirety, they and they alone are all that is needed to make one wise for salvation and righteous living.
This objection only appears to have force if one ignores the anachronism involved. Verses 14 and 15 will make this plain. “You [Timothy], however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:14—15 NAS). With context in mind, one simply needs to ask, “To what holy writings was Paul referring?” or, more directly, “To what scriptures did Timothy have access, as a child?” Whatever scriptures Timothy might have had, it certainly would not have included anything from the New Testament — which, ironically enough, was being written, in part, directly to him through Paul in this epistle. What scriptures, then, were they? The Hebrew scriptures, of course. And which scriptures did Paul tell Timothy were profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work? The Old Testament. Therefore, if the Old Testament was sufficient to accomplish all these things in the first century church, and it did not render extra-biblical prophecy unnecessary, then neither can it render prophecy unnecessary for the church today.
In short, Paul was not writing to Timothy about a canon that did not yet exist. He was writing about the sufficiency of the scriptures which did. And if prophecy existed at the time when Paul was writing the New Testament, it does not necessarily follow that prophecy would cease once the New Testament was complete. At least, not on the basis of 2 Timothy 3:16—17, it wouldn't.
Return to first article in this series: Confronting Common Arguments and Objections to the Continuation of the Charismatic Gifts
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