X Close Menu


Sufficiency of Scripture

The sufficiency of Scripture is closely related to sola scriptura, but has a different emphasis. The sufficiency of Scripture means, "Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly."121 Several biblical passages attest to the sufficiency of Scripture.

In the Old Testament, both taking away from or adding to the Scriptures were prohibited, implying a doctrine of sufficiency: "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut. 4:2; see also 12:32 and Prov. 30:5-6). Confirming the law's sufficiency, the Psalms attest that God's word tells us everything needed to live a blameless life, "Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!" (Ps. 119:1) The New Testament attests to the sufficiency of Scripture with respect to salvation: "From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). The Scriptures "complete" a person, equipping him or her for every good work: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In Jesus' parable about the rich man and Lazarus, He affirms that nothing outside of the Scriptures is required for salvation: "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29).

The New Testament prohibits the addition of new commandments (Col. 2:20-23) and speaks of a closure to the faith (Jude 1:3). The book of Revelation closes the New Testament canon with a warning similar to that given in Deuteronomy (the close of the Torah): "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18-19).

The implications of the sufficiency of Scripture are manifold. First, the doctrine reinforces sola scriptura, by confirming that our sole infallible authority is also complete. Second, sufficiency speaks against adding to Scripture any extrabiblical requirements or prohibitions. Proper commands or prohibitions must be found in Scripture or be necessary inferences from Scripture. Third, the sufficiency of Scripture should drive us to Scripture for meditation, study, memorization, and prayer, as we seek to be the "complete" people that God wills. Fourth, we should never elevate other documents to the level of Scripture, nominally or practically. Some churches recite creeds, confessions, or disciplines during their gatherings or discuss them so often that they functionally become Scripture. Such distorting practices set the stage for reading Scripture through the lens of other documents, rather than on Scripture's own terms.

Kuruvilla, Finny. King Jesus Claims His Church: A Kingdom Vision for the People of God (Kindle Locations 1462-1486). Anchor-Cross Publishing. Kindle Edition.