[A], [B], [C]
This is part 2 of our rebuttal to Bravo's rabbit trail which can be found here, and here.
After addressing Bravo's obfuscation of the real issues, I next address his "rebuttal" to the significance that 1 and 2 Timothy have on our understanding of the early Church's view of the NT books. Here is Bravo's response to my use of 2 Timothy 3:15-17:
Emphasis in the above paragraph were added by Sam, however he has bolded the wrong sentence of the verse, here is what should have been highlighted by Sam:
"and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:15-17
It is thus clear that the above verse is not talking about the inspiration of the New Testament books and is not labelling the New Testament as "scripture". It is referring to the inspiration of the Jewish Bible, or what the Christians call the Old Testament! Let us say that Paul died in the year 67 CE, and assume that is the latest possible date for an authentic Pauline letter. Take away 20 years as a minimal amount of time to take Timothy back to his childhood. That would bring us to the year 47CE. What body of scriptures was known in the year 47 CE? Or even 67 CE? Only the Old Testament. And in fact, the Greek term used in 2 Timothy for "holy scriptures" explicitly means the Old Testament.
The Catholic scholar, Raymond F. Collins, writes in his Introduction to the New Testament (New York, 1987), concerning this passage:
The Scriptures that enjoyed such authority within the emerging church are what Christians call the Old Testament.
Further, he writes that
...this text specifically refers to the inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures...
Therefore, the argument that uses 2 Timothy 3:15-17 to prove the existence of "inspired Christian Scripture" is false. There was no Christian Scripture which we recognise today as the "New Testament" at the time of Paul. Not once in all of Paul's letters does he mention the existence of any written Christian Scripture.
Raymond F. Collins, this time writing in The New Jerome Bible Commentary under the heading "Inspiration", states:
The immediate context (3:10-17) encourages Timothy, as the man of God and leader of the congregation, to follow the example of Paul and to continue the tradition of Pauline teaching. Timothy is reminded of the "sacred writings" with which he has been acquainted from his youth. These are clearly the Jewish Scriptures (although a definitive Jewish canon had not yet been established when 2 Tim was written;...). Such sacred writings "are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ" (2 Tim 3:15). Their prupose is salvific, but they key to their salvific purpose is Christ Jesus. Apart from this reference to Christ, the author's attitude toward the sacred writings has been formed within the Jewish tradition.
Raymond F. Collins goes on to say that
Verses 16-17 provides an explanatory reflection on v 15 i.e., on the utility of the sacred writings for instructional purposes. The author mentions the reason why the sacred writings are valuable (v16a) and then specifies the use to which they can be put ... The GK text is not altogether clear, as the variety of translations shows. There are three major ambiguities: (1) the meaning of pasa graphe ("all Scripture"), (2) the meaning of theopneustos ("inspired"), and (3) the grammatical function of theopneustos. The ambiguity of pasa graphe is easily grasped from translations raning from "the whole Bible" (Living Bible) to "every inspired scripture" (NEB) and a literally accurate "all Scripture." Of itself, graphe can mean a single written verse, an entire book, or the entire collection of the Scriptures. Pasa can be taken in an inclusive ("the whole") or in a distributive ("every") sense. Since the NT does not use "Scripture" for a single book, that possibility is to be excluded. Since a collection of Christian Christian Scriptures was not yet in existence at the time when 2 Tim was written ... the expression "all Scripture" makes reference to (only) the Jewish Scriptures, as evidenced also by the parallel expression "sacred writings" in v 15. Finally, since pasa graphe lacks the definite article, it most likely means every passage of Scripture. ...Thus 2 Tim would be affirming that every passage in the Jewish Scriptures is inspired; in consequence whereof, these Scriptures are useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Because the Scriptures have come from God, they can be profitably used for purposes both of instruction and of moral exhortation.
Bravo thinks that by emphasizing Paul's reference to the scriptures that Timothy had known since childhood somehow undermines my appeal of 2 Timothy to establish the inspiration of the NT books. It seems to have never dawned on Bravo that Paul was not limiting the inspiration of Scriptures to only those writings known by Timothy while in his infancy but also included all the scriptures that Timothy would have been familiar with at the time of the writing of this epistle. Paul's quotation of Luke 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:18 affirms this point.
Seemingly aware of this, Bravo seeks to undermine Paul's quotation of Luke as Scripture:
Commenting on verse 1 Timothy 5:18, scholar Raymond F. Collins states that
This first citation is of Deuteronomy 25:4, clearly a passage of Scripture. The second citation is a logion of Jesus, otherwise preserved at Luke 10:7. While it may be that the author of 1 Timothy was citing from memory and thus confused an element of the Jesus tradition with the Scriptures, his text nevertheless qualifies a logion of Jesus as Scripture. The tendency to qualify in this fashion the logia of the Jesus tradition would continue to develop during the time of the Apostolic Fathers.
Therefore this verse is not labelling the entire Gospel according to Luke as "scripture." Notice that the author of 1 Timothy nowhere mentions that his "labourer" quote is from Luke. He is likely to be referring to a source-book of quotes and sayings, such as that used for the Synoptics. In any case, he only quotes one sentence, and never mentions Luke. It is quite a leap to conclude from this one mention of a logion of Jesus(P) in a highly doubtful book that all of the New Testament as we now know it, is "inspired scripture"! Similarly, The New Jerome Bible Commentary admits that
The author is scarcely referring to canonical Luke as recognized Scripture; he probably knows the quotation from an oral tradition or from one of the written accounts that preceded canonical Luke (cf Luke 1:1-4). The introductory phrase 'Scripture says' applies properly only to the first quotation.
Alternatively, if the author meant to quote Luke, then the very inclusion of a quote from Luke as "scripture" in a text of purportedly Pauline date, might also be taken as a proof for its late date! It is likely that both Luke and Paul are quoting from some oral tradition or unknown collection of sayings which Luke later incorporated into his gospel. Paul certainly did not have Luke's Gospel in front of him when he was writing to Timothy. Where are the other citations of Luke if he really has this gospel in front of him and has submitted to it as the authentic theopneustos Scripture? In fact, the consensus of the scholars is that Paul is not the author of Timothy! These letters (1 & 2 Tim.) are the pseudonymous creations of a later unknown follower of Paul!
The New Bible Dictionary states that
. . . there were undoubtedly collections of authoritative sayings of the Lord in the apostolic Church . . . , and 1 Tim. v. 18 seems to represent a quotation from such a collection , linked with an Old Testament citation, and two together being described as 'scripture'. Again, Paul in 1 Cor. ii. 9 cites gegraptai as passage which, unless it is an extremely free rendering of Is. Ixiv. 4, is unidentifiable. It occurs in various forms elsewhere in early literature, however, and now as Logion 17 of the Gospel of Thomas...It is perhaps worth considering whether Paul is quoting a saying of the Lord not recorded in our Gospels (as in Acts xx. 35) and citing it as he would 'scripture'.
Since another logion of Jesus quoted by Paul is to be found in the Gospel of Thomas, why does not Sam accept the entire Gospel of Thomas as "God-breathed revelation"? Sam wants us to accept that the entire Gospel according to Luke is "scripture" just because a logion quoted by Paul is to be found in it, well, another logion cited by Paul is to be found in the Gospel of Thomas, therefore Sam should accept the entire Gospel of Thomas as "God-breathed revelation". Paul had the habit of drawing upon the Old Testament in support of his arguments. His habit always seems to be to rely on "what I received", on quotations from liturgical prayers and so forth and, in short, on the "traditions" he urges people like the Corinthians to hold fast to (1 Cor. 11:2).
First, Bravo's appeal to certain scholars who try to explain away Paul's use of Luke proves absolutely nothing except that these scholars' presuppositions forbid them from allowing the evidence to speak for itself. This becomes evident in light of the quotations themselves, i.e. the use of "may be", "probably" etc. The uncertainty of these scholars is itself evidence that they really have nothing substantial to offer by way of refutation. Bravo is therefore going to need to do better than quote the mere opinions of scholars who offer nothing but mere conjecture.
Second, the claim that Paul may have been quoting from an oral tradition is refuted by the verse itself:
For THE SCRIPTURE SAYS, Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain, and The worker deserves his wages."
Paul clearly refers to what is written, i.e. "The Scripture says". He says absolutely nothing about an oral tradition. Additional support that Paul is citing Luke's Gospel, and not simply an oral tradition, can be seen from a comparison of the Greek:
Luke 10:7 - ... axios gar ho ergates tou misthou autou.
1 Timothy 5:18 - ... axios ho ergates tou misthou autou.
A comparison of the Greek of Matthew's version of the same account makes it even more obvious that Paul is quoting Luke's version of Jesus' instructions to the disciples:
Matthew 10:10 - ... axios gar ho ergates tes trophes autou.
Interestingly, the verbal similarities between Luke and 1 Timothy are even noted by the liberal commentary, Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary On The Bible Including The Apocrypha, With General Articles (Abingdon Press, 1971):
... The right of elders to an adequate wage is supported by an appeal to the OT (Deut. 25:4; I Cor. 9:9) and to Christian tradition (f. Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; I Cor. 9:14.) It may be that the author thinks of his source for the 2nd saying as scripture also; since the EXACT WORDS appear in Luke 10:7 SOME INTERPRETERS BELIEVE THAT HE KNEW THAT GOSPEL AS SCRIPTURE. (p. 887; bold capital emphasis mine)
Third, apart from faulty presuppositions that does not allow for a NT author to quote from another NT book and/or which holds to a very low view of the NT writings, how does the New Jerome Biblical Commentary know that 1 Timothy is "scarcely referring to canonical Luke as recognized Scripture"? Why should the Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary statement that other scholars readily recognize that 1 Timothy is in fact quoting Luke as Scripture be ignored and the New Jerome's be accepted? What evidence does the New Jerome present for the claim that Paul and Luke were quoting from a common source as opposed to Luke being the source of Paul's citation? They offer nothing but pure conjecture, which again demonstrates the utter shallowness of Bravo's sources. Claiming something is not the same as proving it. Bravo must provide proof for these assertions, not simply quote sources that hold to Bravo's erroneous presuppositions which only demonstrate a critical bias against the NT documents.
Fourth, Bravo's claim that Paul doesn't say that he is quoting from Luke proves absolutely nothing since Paul also didn't say that he was quoting from Deuteronomy 25:4 either. This exposes the foolishness in Bravo's reasoning. Perhaps the reason why Paul didn't identify his sources is that he may have assumed that Timothy knew the Scriptures well enough to know where these citations were located. Hence, if anything this only reaffirms that Luke's Gospel was circulating quite rapidly, so much so that Paul assumes that Luke was so well known to Christians like Timothy that he didn't need to identify it by name!
Fifth, Bravo attacks a strawman since I never said that 1 Timothy 5:18 proves that the New Testament as we now know it is God's inspired Word. Rather, I used 1 Timothy 5:18 to prove that the early Church accepted Luke's Gospel as God-breathed revelation. Since Luke is part of the New Testament, this refutes Bravo's lie that the early Church did not accept the books of the NT as inspired, or did not consider them to be on the same level of the OT scriptures.
Sixth, Bravo argues that if Paul did quote Luke this would then prove that Luke is a late document. Yet Bravo begs the question since he is assuming that Timothy is a late document. We have already exposed why this claim is erroneous, and hence it is not at all evident that the quote from Luke in 1 Timothy proves that it comes from a later period.
Seventh, to expose the foolishness behind Bravo's assertion that Paul would have quoted more of Luke's Gospel had it been in his possession I simply refer the reader to the passage itself. In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 alongside Luke 10:7. This is the only place in 1 Timothy where Paul quotes from the Pentateuch. Hence, if Bravo's logic is correct we would be forced to conclude that Paul didn't have the books of Moses in his possession, since if he had them we would have expected more citations from them. The reason why Paul didn't quote more of Luke may be due to the subject matter of 1 Timothy. Paul may have felt that it wasn't relevant to cite other verses from Luke since they had no bearing on the issues being raised in this Epistle. Hence, Bravo's argument doesn't prove that Paul didn't view all of Luke as inspired. The burden of proof is on Bravo to prove this erroneous assertion. The very fact that Paul would even quote from Luke and place it on the same level of Moses' writings clearly demonstrates that Luke's Gospel was viewed as having the same authority as the other scriptures.
Eighth, the fallacy in Bravo's logic that I need to accept the Gospel of Thomas since a citation that is found there is also found in Paul should be apparent for all to see. But since Bravo obviously didn't see it, let me highlight it for him. That the Gospel of Thomas quotes a passage found in Paul only shows that Thomas was using a common source. Thomas may even be quoting Paul since we find allusions to the canonical Gospels and John throughout this work. Interestingly, this clearly demonstrates that Thomas was only compiled long after the Synoptic Gospels and is therefore not a first century eyewitness account. Furthermore, Thomas' dependence on the Gospels clearly demonstrates that Luke preceded Thomas and the latter is therefore not on the same level of authority. In fact, that Thomas would appeal to Luke is an indirect admission that both believers and unbelievers viewed Luke's Gospel as authoritative!
Hence, that Thomas quotes a passage found in Paul does not mean that it is inspired since none of the NT writers or the Early Church ever called or even alluded to Thomas as Scripture.
The only way for Bravo's argument to be relevant is to assume that Paul wasn't quoting Luke, but from a different source such as an oral saying of Jesus that later found its way into Luke. But since this is the whole focus of our debate, Bravo cannot simply assume his argument without first proving it. Since Bravo has failed to prove his point, he is therefore guilty of begging the question and of committing the fallacy of false analogy. (For more information on Thomas' clear dependency on the Synoptic Gospels and John, as well as an exposition of its fraudulent nature, please read the following articles - , , , , .
Ninth, even if I were to accept that 1 and 2 Timothy are second century writings, this would still prove my point. This would prove that the early Church did believe in the inspiration of the individual books of the NT such as Luke, contrary to what Bravo would have his readers believe. Hence, my argument is not dependent upon Pauline authorship or a first century dating.
Yet a later dating would only expose the weakness behind Bravo's logic. If these letters are in fact late, or even second century writings, this would then refute Bravo's claim that 1 Timothy 5:18 could not be a quotation from Luke or that 2 Timothy 3:15-17 could not be referring to the inspiration of the individual NT documents. Seeing that certain NT books such as Luke were already in circulation during the latter part of the first century implies that anyone reading 1 and 2 Timothy would have assumed that the author was including Luke and other NT books as part of the God-breathed revelation. Raymond Brown indirectly acknowledges this in his comments on 2 Timothy 3:15-17:
... There is no doubt that "Scripture" designates all or most of the books we call the OT; only by later church teaching can it be applied to the NT, which in its full form (as now accepted in Western Christianity) did not come to general acceptance for another two hundred or more years ... The texts in II Tim and II Pet are very important in the development of a Christian belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures (OT AND NT) ... (Brown, Introduction, pp. 678-679; bold and capital emphasis mine)
The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary states:
... The Sacred Writings certainly mean the OT but may also embrace the letters of Paul. In II Pet. 3:15-16 Paul's letters are considered as scripture, and it is unlikely that so ardent a Paulinist as the author of the Pastorals would consider them less authoritative ... (pp. 890-891; italic emphasis mine)
Bravo tries to "respond" to my citations from Paul where the latter acknowledges inspiration for his writings:
So what if Paul wants his letters to be read to others? That means nothing to the authenticity of the epistles. That does not mean that Paul considered his own writings to be equal with the Jewish Bible. Paul knew of no canon of Christian Scripture, and never alludes to one or part of one (in his authentic letters). Obviously Paul felt he was doing God's work, and thus felt he was "inspired"! Just what he meant by "God's Word" is open to question. Did he mean the very words he was writing? Or did he allude to the overall "message"...the "good news"? It is the latter which is what he meant, and not the very words he was writing down as being directly inspired word-for-word by God. In fact, there are many Christian evangelists and preachers around today who also claim to be "inspired" by God. Does that mean that their words are "scripture"?
It is obvious that Bravo is getting desperate here. Bravo first attacks a strawman since I never said that Paul knew a canon of the Christian Scriptures, but rather Paul knew that he was writing inspired instructions. Second, I have already refuted Bravo's claim that Paul never alluded to an inspired book which eventually formed part of the NT canon, since I have shown that Paul quoted Luke as Scripture. Third, let me quote few of the passages again in order to demonstrate Bravo's obfuscation and his inability to read carefully and/or understand the arguments:
"This is WHAT WE SPEAK, not in words taught us by human wisdom BUT IN WORDS TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." 1 Corinthians 2:13
"If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am WRITING to you IS THE LORD's COMMAND. IF HE IGNORES THIS, he himself will be ignored." 1 Corinthians 14:37-38
"since you are demanding proof THAT CHRIST IS SPEAKING THROUGH ME. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority - THE AUTHORITY THE LOR GAVE ME for building you up, not for tearing you down." 2 Corinthians 13:3, 10
"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, WHICH YOU HEARD FROM US, you accepted it not as the word of men, BUT AS IT ACTUALLY IS, THE WORD OF GOD, which is at work in you who believe." 1 Thessalonians 2:13
"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact
you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
For you know WHAT INSTRUCTIONS WE GAVE YOU BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE LORD JESUS.
Therefore, he who rejects THIS INSTRUCTION does not reject man BUT GOD, who gives you his Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2,8
"But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth OR BY LETTER FROM US." 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 NASB
Paul claims that the things he said and the things HE WROTE were from God. Therefore, Bravo's smokescreen does nothing to refute the fact that Paul personally claimed that he was writing the very commands of God.
Bravo then states:
Sam imagines that since Paul wanted his letters read to some churches, therefore they were to be seen as "scripture". Sam takes isolated thoughts and words: "read", "read in a church", "Word", etc. and tries to string them into a cohesive idea, and it just does not work, although he is sure that it does!
Let us see why Paul's request to have his letters read are essential to our understanding of Paul's view of his writings:
"I CHARGE YOU BEFORE THE LORD to have this letter read to all the brothers." 1 Thessalonians 5:27
"If anyone does not obey our instruction IN THIS LETTER, TAKE SPECIAL NOTE OF HIM. DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH HIM, in order that he may feel ashamed." 2 Thessalonians 3:14
It is clear that Paul held to a very high view of his writings, so much so that he could put Christians under the threat of the Lord if they failed to observe his written instructions, and even have them disfellowshiped! Furthermore, Paul's instruction to have his epistles read is reminiscent of Moses' instructions to Israel to read and observe the Law:
"Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today. See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children. You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess." Deuteronomy 4:1-14
"When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel." Deuteronomy 17:18-20
"all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam. Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. The Levites - Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah - instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read." Nehemiah 8:1-8
"For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath." Acts 15:21
Interestingly, Paul informs Christians to devote themselves to the public reading of the Scriptures:
"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching." 1 Timothy 4:13
Since Paul exhorts the Churches to also read his letters, this indicates that his writings formed part of the Scriptures that were to be read publicly! This would also include Luke's Gospel as well since later in 1 Timothy Paul will quote Luke 10:7, classifying it as Scripture. Hence, it becomes quite evident that Paul believed that his writings were on the same level with that of the rest of Scriptures.
Bravo then claims:
The plural form 'Gospels' (GK. evaungelia) would not have been understood in the apostolic age, nor yet for two generations following; it is of the essence of the apostolic message that there is only one true avangelion; whoever proclaims another, says Paul, is anathema . . . The four records which traditionally stand in the forefront of the New Testament are, properly speaking, four records of the one gospel - 'the gospel of God . . . concerning his Son' . . . . It was not until the middle of the 2nd century AD that the plural form came to be used.
When the New Testament refers to the word of God it means the preaching of the Apostles and of Jesus(P). Whenever the New Testament speaks of the "Word of God" or "of the Lord", it is speaking of an oral tradition and not a written book.
We have already refuted the claim that the Word of God refers solely to the preaching of the Apostles. The NT itself clearly shows that God's Word refers to both the oral and written tradition of the Apostles. But let us now see if whether Paul's reference to passing on something he had received implies that he is referring only to an oral tradition:
"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth OR BY LETTER." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Paul explicitly says that he passed on traditions both orally and in writing.
"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the tradition you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat. We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right." 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Paul refers to the tradition that the Thessalonians had received regarding idleness. That Paul is not simply referring to an oral tradition, but also to a written one, can be seen from his first epistle to the Thessalonians:
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." 1 Thessalonians 5:14
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
The Gospel that Paul passed on was based both on the oral and the written tradition. It wasn't simply oral in nature.
Therefore, Paul may have indeed been referring to a written tradition in 1 Corinthians 11. This becomes more evident in light of Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 regarding the Lord's supper. This is because his version of the story is virtually identical to that found in Luke:
"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:19-20
"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
This implies that either Paul derived this tradition from Luke's Gospel, or Luke preserved Paul's version of the Lord's supper which he had received from the Apostles, or both preserved the same tradition which they both received from the eyewitnesses. If the former, then this would provide support for the early dating of the Gospels. If the latter two, then this affirms that Luke's Gospel is based on very early and authentic eyewitness material on the life of Jesus.
Furthermore, even if Paul was referring to an oral tradition this still would not undermine the early dating of the Gospels. Since it is believed that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in approximately AD 55 this would only imply that the Gospels had not been written during this time. Yet, they could have been written shortly after 55 AD, which would still make them early. In fact, since 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 this affirms that Luke was written in the early 60s at the latest, since we have already presented the evidence that 1 Timothy was compiled between AD 64-68.
Finally, it is quite apparent that Bravo doesn't even read his own sources carefully. Here is Bravo's citation, this time with added emphasis, in order to demonstrate Bravo's inability to understand what he reads:
The plural form 'Gospels' (GK. evaungelia) would not have been understood in the apostolic age, nor yet for two generations following; it is of the essence of the apostolic message THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE AVANGELION [sic]; whoever proclaims another, says Paul, is anathema . . . The four records which traditionally stand in the forefront of the New Testament are, properly speaking, FOUR RECORDS OF THE ONE GOSPEL - 'the gospel of God . . . concerning his Son' . . . . It was not until the middle of the 2nd century AD that the plural form came to be used.
This quotation says absolutely nothing about when the four Gospels were written. Nor does it deny that the Gospels were written during the time of Paul's letters. In fact, it actually affirms that the Gospels are early since it places them in the apostolic age. The citation simply highlights the fact that during the apostolic period the four Gospels were not considered four different Gospels, but four records of the one true Gospel. In what way does this support Bravo's claim is simply beyond me.
The preceding points sufficiently demonstrate that Bravo's arguments failed to refute anything I have written. His points were nothing more than weak and desperate attempts of evading the evidence I presented which thoroughly undermined his attack on the veracity of the NT documents.
In the next part, I will be responding to Bravo's attack on the authenticity of 2 Peter. It will again be quite evident that Bravo had lots to say, but had nothing of substance to offer.
In the service of the resurrected Lord and eternal Savior, Jesus Christ, forever and ever. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We love you always.
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