Is all scripture the word of god?
Updated: Aug 25
The god of contradictions 001
In this post, we briefly look at the first four biblical contradictions in our long list published in the 'References' category (References, number 004, parts one to three). The second letter to Timothy is still classified as a letter by the Autostle Paul and thus grouped with the Pauline epistles in the New Testament, even though most bible scholars consider it authored by an identity thief. If however we were to accept that this letter was written by the divinely inspired Autostle Paul, then the contradictory statements given by “Paul” on the title question become quite curious, and even more mysterious if we do accept that the words of “Paul” are indeed the words of the omniscient bible god as well. The positive answer is taken from fore mentioned Pauline letter, while the opposing negative is from the two considered-to-be-genuine letters of Paul to the Corinthians.
001. Is all scripture the word of god? 01
a. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3: 16) b. “But to the rest say I, not the Lord: If any brother hath an unbelieving wife, and…” (1 Corinthians 7: 12)
002. Is all scripture the word of god? 02
a. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) b. “What I am saying in regard to this boastful undertaking, I am saying not with the Lord’s authority but as a fool;” (2 Corinthians 11: 17)
Compared to many others, these first two occasions where “Paul” contradicts himself may not be the most spectacular, blatant or well known, but they do create and illustrate the humongous conundrum regarding the parts of the bible that are to be considered god’s words and the parts that are not, and indeed what needs to be considered part of the bible or not. Paul (along with many Christians) claims that all scripture is god breathed, but in the same breath tells us that it is not. Maybe "Paul" was an expert bagpipe player and inhaling and exhaling at the same time?
As confusing the words of god (who is not the author of confusion) already are, Jews, Christians and Muslims make matters even worse by removing from and adding to god’s words as they deem fit. All of them take quite some liberty with god’s commandment in Deuteronomy 4 “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Considering this command was given "in conclusion" of the Torah / Pentateuch, Jews have been adding to god’s word with a differing number of books (depending on the consideration to regard different books as one or vice versa), like Joshua, Judges, Chronicles, Kings, the twelve “minor” prophets etc. Christians piled even more books on top of that, although Catholic Christians have more words of god than Protestant Christians, who rejected whole books of god’s words again in the 16th century AD. Both had already rejected other early Christian books or letters such as the Didache (or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), the Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas and many more. Other Christian denominations don’t consider the Christian canon concluded and (rightly?) postulate that there is no reason why god would stop or have stopped speaking through his written words. This leaves the door open for many more sequel words of god to god's word.
On top of that, we have two contradictory statements – numbers 003 and 004 in our reference list – that urge us not to read parts of god’s words. In the first letter to Timothy, same “Paul” asks us to refrain from reading and discussing genealogies. In “his” letter to Titus, he goes even further and calls the genealogical parts of god’s words unprofitable and vain. 003. Is all of scripture profitable for doctrine or instruction in righteousness? 01
Yes: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3: 16) No: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.” (1 Timothy 1: 4)
004. Is all of scripture profitable for doctrine or instruction in righteousness? 02
Yes: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) No: “…but shun foolish questionings, and genealogies, and strifes, and fightings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (Titus 3: 9)
Let’s assume for a minute that we can answer the question whether all scripture is the word of god with a resounding 'yes'. A reasonable follow up question would then be what constitutes 'scripture'. Even if we totally disregard that 'scripture' simply means 'something written' and narrow its meaning to authoritative, religious writings, there is absolutely no agreement on that. Who gets to decide what scripture is? Evidently, the Jews say they have that authority, Catholics say the same, as do Protestant Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and so on and so on. More than a few dozen people have been killed / murdered over this question by believers that god's word is god's word - even though god clearly said in his word "thou shalt not kill / murder [with the caveat that thou shalt in the 20 + cases where god said to kill / murder [see our References 001: Thou shalt not kill but the killer].
Throughout human history, millions of differing humans promoted many thousands of different versions of their respective gods’ words. No matter who at whatever point in time deciding what god is supposed to have said or still to say, the one commonality they share is that it has always been humans deciding what god says or not… and the only one who never has gotten any vote or voice in that decision… is god.
Darryl P. Arnaiz, 09 August 2023