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2995.  All Scripture is Gospel; But the Gospels are Distinguished Above Other Scriptures.

Here, however, some one may object, appealing to the notion just put forward of the unfolding of the first fruits last, and may say that the Acts and the letters of the Apostles came after the Gospels, and that this destroys our argument to the effect that the Gospel is the first fruits of all Scripture.  To this we must reply that it is the conviction of men who are wise in Christ, who have profited by those epistles which are current, and who see them to be vouched for by the testimonies deposited in the law and the prophets,44654465    This passage is difficult and disputed. that the apostolic writings are to be pronounced wise and worthy of belief, and that they have great authority, but that they are not on the same level with that “Thus sayeth the Lord Almighty.”44664466    2 Cor. vi. 18.  Consider on this point the language of St. Paul.  When he declares that44674467    2 Tim. iii. 16. “Every Scripture is inspired of God and profitable,” does he include his own writings?  Or does he not include his dictum,44684468    1 Cor. vii. 12. “I say, and not the Lord,” and44694469    1 Cor. vii. 17. “So I ordain in all the churches,” and44704470    2 Tim. iii. 11. “What things I suffered at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra,” and similar things which he writes in virtue of his own authority, and which do not quite possess the character of words flowing from divine inspiration.  Must we also show that the old Scripture is not Gospel, since it does not point out the Coming One, but only foretells Him and heralds His coming at a future time; but that all the new Scripture is the Gospel.  It not only says as in the beginning of the Gospel,44714471    John i. 29. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world;” it also contains many praises of Him, and many of His teachings, on whose account the Gospel is a Gospel.  Again, if God set in the Church44724472    Ephes. iv. 11. apostles and prophets and evangelists (gospellers), pastors and teachers, we must first enquire what was the office of the evangelist, and mark that it is not only to narrate how the Saviour cured a man who was blind from his birth,44734473    John ix. 1. or raised up a dead man who was already stinking,44744474    John xi. 39. or to state what extraordinary works he wrought; and the office of the evangelist being thus defined, we shall not hesitate to find Gospel in such discourse also as is not narrative but hortatory and intended to strengthen belief in the mission of Jesus; and thus we shall arrive at the position that whatever was written by the Apostles is Gospel.  As to this second definition, it might be objected that the Epistles are not entitled “Gospel,” and that we are wrong in applying the name of Gospel to the whole of the New Testament.  But to this we answer that it happens not unfrequently in Scripture when two or more persons or things are named by the same name, the name attaches itself most significantly to one of those things or persons.  Thus the Saviour says,44754475    Matt. xxiii. 8, 9. “Call no man Master upon the earth;” while the Apostle says that Masters44764476    διδάσκαλοι, Ephes. iv. 11. have been appointed in the Church.  These latter accordingly will not be Masters in the strict sense of the dictum of the Gospel.  In the same way the Gospel in the Epistles will not extend to every word of them, when it is compared with the narrative of Jesus’ actions and sufferings and discourses.  No:  the Gospel is the first fruits of all Scripture, and to these first fruits of the Scriptures we devote the first fruits of all those actions of ours which we trust to see turn out as we desire.

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