There is a strange doctrine that began in the Second Century that is still taught in some areas. It is the teaching of Marcion of Sinope who believed the Old Testament God, Yahweh, was a tyrant and is different from the good God of the New Testament God, Jesus. Marcion rejected Yahweh, the Old Testament, and much of the New Testament and instead based his teaching on the writings of the Apostle Paul and his own re-written version of the Gospel of Luke.
Marcion claimed that the New Covenant between Christ and the Church did not begin until the Apostle Paul presented it in his letters. Therefore, disciples and the rest of the New Testament were for the Jews and not the Church. His views were totally rejected by the early Church fathers and they responded by writing the Apostles Creed as a clarification of true doctrine, and later the more expanded Nicene Creed.
I want to address Marcion’s doctrine so you and I will have an answer if we have a conversation with someone who follows his teaching. The first Scripture I want examine was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy:
2 Tim 3:14-17 New American Standard Bible
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 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.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
In this passage Paul is reminding Timothy of his Scriptural foundation which he had learned from childhood, and encouraging him to stay true to the “sacred writings.” Timothy had been taught by his mother and his grandmother in the Jewish tradition, reading the Old Testament and memorizing the Commandments before he met Paul. To this conversation the Apostle Paul adds: “All Scripture is inspired by God …”
In addition, the early church in Paul’s day had not compiled any of the New Testament or Paul’s letters as yet so they used the Old Testament as their “bible.” Paul’s writings may not have been considered Scripture as yet so Paul used the Old Testament as: “All Scripture is inspired by God …”
It is evident that the Apostle Paul quoted the Old Testament as “proof text” when he taught doctrine. For example, in Romans Paul quotes extensively from the Old Testament in order to prove what he said was authentic and that it agreed with God’s instruction in the Old Testament. It seems to be evident that Paul’s faith in “Scripture” was a faith based in the Old Testament.
Here are several examples of Paul using the Old Testament as a basis for his doctrine:
4 … Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED." (Psalm 51:4)
10 as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; (Ps 14:1)
Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Gen 15:6)
it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM." (Deut 27:26)
1 Cor 1:19
19 For it is written, "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE." (Isa 29:14)
it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." (Psa 68:18)
The Apostle Paul would not have used these as text to teach from if he had not considered them valid as truth for instruction. He doesn’t present a disclaimer that “some of the Torah” is true and some of it is not! He quoted it as being truth that applied to the Christians to whom he was writing.
Another question that arises for some is from some of the awful stories that are included in the Old Testament as it tells the history of Israel. The good, the bad, and the ugly are displayed in vivid colors! To come to some understand, it is presented like a painting with contrasting colors in order to show the glory of the central part of the picture: the grace of God. If it was written by men it would “whitewash” the difficult parts.
With everyone’s story being told truthfully the reader is able to see the contrast of man’s depravity and God’s holiness. And in that picture you begin to understand the contrast of God’s judgment and God’s mercy and the need of all mankind for a Savior. It is a dramatic story that first presents a horrible problem and then in the New Testament the wonderful solution is found in Jesus! Without the dark of the Old it dims the light of the New!
The New Testament canon was not made by decree from the Church fathers, but was agreed upon by usage in the early church … the body of Christ. As the church used the writings they included the ones that “spoke” to their spirits as being ordained of God and in agreement with Sacred Scripture in both the Old and New Covenant. The total compilation was not complete until sometime during the second or third century. All efforts to disassemble them from that time until now have not been successful.
Paul did not consider his ministry to be the only inspired words to be heard. If Paul is the only one with revelation to write or speak Truth, then Paul is found to be in contradiction with his own teachings. A dispute arose in the church of Corinth and Paul corrected their doctrine:
1 Cor 1:11-15
11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.
12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."
13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.
Paul was very direct in disassociating himself from those who wanted to follow him and exclude others! His comments which follow indicate his humble realization that he is only one of the many who preach the Gospel. He quotes from Jeremiah 9:23 …
1 Cor 1:31
… just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
The conclusion of this thoughts place him as one of a larger group of ministers and apostles who are preaching Christ. He is adamant that those who set one apostle above another or apart from another, is doing harm to the body of Christ
1 Cor 3:3-6
3 … since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
Paul is an apostle but he includes others in the list of apostles who have an anointing to preach, teach, and write the wonderful words of God!
Another issue to be examined is the “bad God” of the Old Testament and the “good God” of the New Testament. Paul speaks about “the Father” who gave us His “Son” in terms which reminds of us of Yahweh:
12 … giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13 For He (the Father, Yahweh) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Jesus),
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.
If Yahweh is the Old Testament God of power that created the heavens and the earth; how can Jesus also be the Old Testament God of creation unless they are one and the same? Jesus and Yahweh are One God according the Paul’s teaching. There isn’t a “good god – bad god” story! The doctrine of the Church describes “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” as being a Trinity: One God in Three Persons.
It seems good to me that we would continue to hold to the doctrine of the Trinity and that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God …” Sacred Scripture includes the Old and New Testament teachings we currently have in our Bible. While we give honor to Paul, we also give that same honor to John, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews. I find no contradiction in their teachings although they all present a different part of the picture. It is a picture that completes the story that began in Genesis which God our Father is painting of His Son, Jesus!
The Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy universal church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.