Even though Catholics and Orthodox claim that Sola Scriptura is a 16th century invention, one would be hard pressed to find any mention in the early Church of an infallible teaching authority being found in the judgments of the Church, in the Magesterium, in oral tradition, or anywhere other than Scripture for that matter. The early church fathers appeared to be completely ignorant of there being an inerrant authority outside of the Scripture. Augustine voiced doubts over the authority of ecumenical councils and the written opinions of all the Bishops, the Council of Ephesus was held in defiance of a Papal edict, Athanasius asserted the Scripture was sufficient above all else, and no one made the claim that God spoke infallibly through anything other than the Scripture.
Ed: This article was made when I was a Protestant and upon greater learning and reflection my thoughts may have evolved.
Now, let’s note the limits of the preceding statements of fact. From them we cannot infer that a man alone with his Bible can arrive at correct doctrines. This does not make it theoretically impossible for someone to arrive at the truth divorced from the community of believers, but even still we cannot read into the statements of the Fathers pertaining to the Scripture’s authority as an endorsement of the preceding.
Rather, I posit, the only firm conclusion we can draw from their statements is that the early Church explicitly believed that the Scripture had the authority of God speaking and they ascribed this inerrancy and infallibility to nothing else. To say that the Church ascribed inerrancy to an oral tradition, liturgy, creeds, or Canons of councils is to state a claim that no one explicitly believed. So, while Catholics and Orthodox draw inferences from the Early Church Fathers pertaining to their view of authority, Protestantism’s credo of sola scriptura is the only view of authority that explicitly has merit historically.
Inferences and Presuppositions. The danger of drawing inferences based upon preconceived notions is profound. For example, many Catholics horribly misread Irenaeus’ Against Heresies Book III Chapters 2 and 3 as “proof” of the existence of both an infallible extrabiblical tradition and Papal Infallibility. As I have shown, Irenaeus was explicitly speaking nothing of the sort.
As we can see, inferences set aside, Irenaeus’ explicit words endorses the sola scriptura view. This should not surprise us, because as we have already shown this would have been true of nearly all the Early Church Fathers when they speak of the subject.
However, you clicked on this article to read about this guy named Caius. So, why the whole long introduction?
It is my contention that Caius’ view, formulated around one generation after Irenaeus’, merely reiterates the same sort of reasoning that we have seen from the same.
Caius and Sola Scriptura. All of Caius’ writings have been lost and we know little more than the fact that he was an “ecclesiastic” (probably a preacher/priest) in Rome between the years 199 to 217 AD. What we know about him are from long block quotes coming almost entirely from Eusebius’ history of the church, and therefore there is the slight possibility he has been misquoted. Nonetheless, here’s what we know about Caius’ (and ultimately his view of Scripture)–
Against the views of “Cerinthus” (who espoused a millennial kingdom where there would be literal marriages:)
[B]eing an enemy to the Scriptures of God, wishing to deceive men, he says that there is to be a space of a thousand years for marriage festivals.
While Gnostics like Cerinthus are often portrayed as hedonists, the preceding more likely is not so much a description of an orgy as much as a portrayal of the millennial kingdom (such as Irenaeus and Papias held) with the literal description of the said kingdom in Is 65:20-23. Eusebius viewed Papias as an adherent to a similar belief. Nonetheless, while Papias did not draw any hedonistic conclusions from such a belief, followers of Cerinthius might have.
Nonetheless, it is interesting how Caius attacks this false doctrine–not as an attack on oral tradition or the authority of the Church, but rather as an attack on the Scriptures themselves. The only authority explicitly attacked by the doctrine, even though it has certain Scriptural merits, is the Scriptures themselves.
Concerning Apostolic Succession in Rome:
[T]he apostles themselves, both received and taught those things which these men [followers of Theodotus the tanner] now maintain; and that the truth of Gospel preaching was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop in Rome from Peter, and that from his successor Zephyrinus the truth was falsified. And perhaps what they allege might be credible, did not the Holy Scriptures, in the first place, contradict them.
Caius’ view of authority is remarkably similar to Irenaeus’, and is explicitly sola scriptura. As we can see, he speaks of adoptionist heretics claiming that the correct Christological doctrine (supposedly adoptionism) was preserved for 12 generations of Bishops in Rome. These Bishops, all parties agreed, “preserved” what the Apostles “received and taught.” The idea that the Popes taught adoptionism “might be credible” if it were not for the fact that “the Holy Scripture, in the first place, contradict[s] them.”
If it was well known and accepted that Bishops of Rome are infallible, then Caius would have not failed to say that Pope Zephyrinus preserves Christological orthodoxy by the grace of God. However, it is obvious that he knew nothing of Papal Infallibility. In fact, he actually entertains that it is possible and credible for a Pope to err, but that he pays no mind to Theodotus’ claims as the Scriptures clearly contradict adoptionism. As we can see, Scripture is held up as the preeminent authority and the authority of the Bishop of Rome is openly called into question.
The support of ecclesiastical tradition:
And then, besides, there are writings of certain brethren older than the times of Victor, which they wrote against the heathen in defence of the truth, and against the heresies of their time: I mean Justin and Miltiades, and Tatian and Clement, and many others, in all which divinity is ascribed to Christ. For who is ignorant of the books of Irenaeus and Melito, and the rest, which declare Christ to be God and man? All the psalms, too, and hymns of brethren, which have been written from the beginning by the faithful, celebrate Christ the Word of God, ascribing divinity to Him. Since the doctrine of the Church, then, has been proclaimed so many years ago, how is it possible that men have preached, up to the time of Victor, in the manner asserted by these? And how are they not ashamed to utter these calumnies against Victor, knowing well that Victor excommunicated Theodotus the tanner…?
As we can see, the writings of earlier churchmen (and hymns, liturgies, and local excommunications) are not portrayed as absolute authorities in addition to the Scripture. Rather, they are cited as historical verification of what the Scripture teaches. This is why someone who adheres to sola scriptura uses the historic interpretative community to assist in the interpretation of Scripture without applying to those within the community infallibility like that of the Scriptures.
Now Natalius was persuaded by them to let himself be chosen bishop of this heresy, on the understanding that he should receive from them a salary of a hundred and fifty denarii a month. Connecting himself, therefore, with them, he was on many occasions admonished by the Lord in visions…as he gave little heed to the visions, being ensnared by the dignity of presiding among them, and by that sordid lust of gain which ruins very many, he was at last scourged by holy angels, and severely beaten through a whole night, so that he rose early in the morning, and threw himself, clothed with sackcloth and covered with ashes, before Zephyrinus the bishop, with great haste and many tears, rolling beneath the feet not only of the clergy, but even of the laity, and moving the pity of the compassionate Church of the merciful Christ by his weeping. And after trying many a prayer, and showing the weals left by the blows which he had received, he was at length with difficulty admitted to communion.
While in the modern day it is believed that acts of penance in effect satisfy God’s need for justice, this was not the universal view of the early Church. Jerome wrote:
In Leviticus we read of the leprous that they are commanded to show themselves to the priests, and if they have leprosy then the priests reckon them unclean, not that the priests make them leprous and unclean, but that they have knowledge of what is leprous and what is not, and discern who is clean, who unclean…[W]hen he [the priest] has heard the various natures of the sins, he knows who is to be bound [i.e. told to perform penance in order to be in Communion] and who is to be loosed (Jerome, Comments on Matt 16, quoted in Tertullian 1842, p. 388).
As we can see, Caius is describing exactly such an event. Natalius’ public confession of sin and outward penance, sackcloth and all, merely served as outward proof of an interior repentance in his heart. Having heard his cries and seen the bruises allegedly left by angels, the Bishop of Rome was convinced of the earnestness of his repentance and readmitted him to communion. Being that the bruises did not yet heal, it appears that “at length with difficulty” was more likely a matter of hours instead of days/months. Nonetheless, it was the acknowledgement of true contriteness, and not the belief that the act moved God to forgive, which served as the basis for penance.
The purporseful perversion of Scriptures:
And should any one lay before them [the adoptionists] a word of divine Scripture, they examine whether it will make a connected or disjoined form of syllogism; and leaving the Holy Scriptures of God, they study geometry, as men who are of the earth, and speak of the earth, and are ignorant of Him who comes from above. Euclid, indeed, is laboriously measured by some of them. and Aristotle and Theophrastus are admired; and Galen, forsooth, is perhaps even worshipped by some of them. But as to those men who abuse the arts of the unbelievers to establish their own heretical doctrine, and by the craft of the impious adulterate the simple faith of the divine Scriptures, what need is there to say that these are not near the faith? For this reason is it they have boldly laid their hands upon the divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them.
We can see two things. For one, Caius accuses the adoptionists of having many authorities (Greek philosophers, the sciences, and the Scriptures that they falsify to fit their doctrines.) This is obviously a criticism and not an acceptance of authorities alongside the Scripture. Second, he classifies Christianity as “the simple faith of the divine Scriptures.” The faith is not so profound, and difficult to understand, that philosophers, sciences, or infallible Bishops are authorities needed to practice that faith. Rather, the faith is of the Scripture and not explicitly of oral tradition, liturgy, or whatever else.
Conclusion. It is the very height of irony that those who make the claim “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant” hold to doctrines entirely lacking a historical basis. Forget about the assumption of Mary, purgatory, and the “necessity” of valid orders to confer grace through sacraments. Their whole view of religious authority is not found in the annals of early Church history. As we have seen in the examples of Caius, Irenaeus, and others, the church fathers explicitly endorsed the doctrine of sola scriptura. In Caius, for example, he explicitly concedes it is possible for a Bishop of Rome to contradict the doctrines of a previous Bishop.
In all honesty, to be deep in inferences drawn from Roman Catholic presuppositions is to cease to be Protestant.
The burden of proof is on those who deny that the primary sources of the early Church themselves, when speaking of religious authorities such as the Scripture, coincide much more closely with historical Protestantism.
Now, let’s get this straight. None of this means that the view of the church fathers and the study of history as a whole justify the Protestant view of religious authority in an absolute sense. My claim is much more limited. Rather, they merely verify that the Protestant view was the popular understanding of the early Church.
It may be worth noting that the infallibility of the Pope does not seem to be of the same character as that of the sacred authors, even if they are both to be regarded as infallible in teaching the truth. Sacred Scripture contains (it seems) all the words that are to be regarded as inspired. And yet the Pope is to be regarded as infallible as a judge of sacred matters, when exercising the office handed on to him. (Mt 16:19, and even all the bishop after a certain matter as Mt 18:17-18.) This doesn’t come near answering everything in your post, but it may explain why Sacred Scripture could be spoken of as the only infallible authority, in some sense, without excluding the Catholic teaching on the Magisterium.
So also, it may be helpful to understand the way in which sacred tradition differs from Sacred Scripture. If one considers it as simply a set of propositions to be received along side Sacred Scripture, it seems one will find little basis for this in the early centuries of the Church. I quote Dei Verbum 8 on the sacred tradition:
“And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3) (4) Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes.
This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.
The words of the holy fathers witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church. Through the same tradition the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her; and thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (see Col. 3:16).”
This account of sacred tradition gives it characteristics that certainly go beyond a set of propositions: it all the Church is and believes, it is living, it deepens understanding and practice of Scripture, and so on. Again this isn’t anything close to a refutation, but only pointing out that a misunderstanding of tradition (as something that should be of the same nature as Scripture) may obscure the whole question.
To bolster the point slightly: Even when all of the Church Fathers are discussing doctrine and even of Holy Scripture as a the prime authority, they are doing so within the context of a Church with bishops and presbyters all standing in the line of those who have received their offices from the Apostles and from Christ. No teacher of the faith who stands out of such a succession seems to bear any weight in the early Church. In this way, whatever the Fathers may say about authority that sounds Protestant, has to be seen in light of what they are which appears far more Catholic or Orthodox (or even Anglican, if you like, since the point here is that something is handed on from before).
Although I disagree with your conclusions, I thank you for always bringing attention to the words of the Fathers.
I think in your block quote there are certain inaccuracies. For one, it quotes 2 Thes 2:15 that there is an extra-biblical oral tradition preserved infallibly. The problem is that both Caius and Irenaeus defined this tradition as explictly the Scripture. For those that did not, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria wrote on traditons that are 1. not crucially important and 2. are rejected by the modern RCC (see https://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/03/04/milk-honey-baptism-and-the-death-of-tradition/).
There is also the claim thar ” growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down.” This is ridiculous. There has also been a decline in understanding from the apostles, not an increase.The promise that the Spirit will lead them into all truth was made specifically to the Apostles, and not to anyone else. As I have said here, tear away the Catholic inferences and there remains no explicit basis for their claims.
So, this “living, evolving tradition” is like those lawyers who call the constitution a “living document.” It’s a flim flam assertion made only to defend things that have no basis historically with the Apostles. I can just as easily call Luther a prophet and say the tradition grew and developed with him. It is not an intellectually compelling argument.
As always I appreciate your thoughtful response and interaction with the content here. I have been praying for you, and I hope you know that I do appreciate your concern for me. And I do not mean this in an empty way. Let me know if you are ever in NY–I’ll let you know if I am ever in Italy, because my wife is begging me but I don’t see if I can ever go because I need to go to Cambodia.
Regardless of what early Christians wrote, the core problem of sola scriptura is you need external authority to determine which and how many books belong to the Bible. If Scripture requires external authority to determine which and how many books belong to it then there is no such thing as sola scriptura.
“, the core problem of sola scriptura is you need external authority to determine which and how many books belong to the Bible”
No you don’t, the early church did not believe that and neither do I.
If you do not accept external authority, how do you know that the Bible has, in your case, only 66 books?
You don’t, just like the ECFs 🙂
If you don’t know it means you are not sure whether the Bible has only 66 books – it may have more or it may have less. How do you apply sola scriptura if you do not know what comprises the Bible? BTW what is ECF?
Early Church Fathers. To quote Caius, for one, “We receive also the Apocalypse of John and that of Peter, though some among us will not have this latter read in the Church.”
So, Caius taught that Scripture was the sole authority without a precise Canon. I am merely making the same claim that he and nearly all the ECFs made.
My question is not statement made by Church Fathers. I restate my question: how do you know that (your) Bible has only 66 books? Who declares that?
I already answered that, no one knows if the 66 book number is 100% right. If you like, I would happily debate you on the topic on youtube or something.
If you admit that you are not sure your Bible has the correct number and even whether it has correct (i.e. inspired) books then how can you believe it is the only and final authority? Does it make any sense?
Again, this is the historical position of the CHurch, so why the incredulous tone?
I have said before, so much of the Bible is universally regarded as Scripture and not under contention, that the books that have been under debate don’t add enough from their inclusion or subtract enough from their removal in which to have any critical effect on matters of doctrine.
Who decided that the books that have been under debate don’t add enough from their inclusion or subtract enough from their removal in which to have any critical effect on matters of doctrine? Isn’t that external authority?
“Who decided that the books that have been under debate don’t add enough from their inclusion or subtract enough from their removal in which to have any critical effect on matters of doctrine?”
No one decides that. We have 80% of the books universally agreed upon for all time. When we get into those which were under debate (Esther, the Deuterocanon, Revelation, Hebrews, and 2 John/3 John/James/2 Peter) what are we missing that is critical that is not found elsewhere in the Scriptures that no one is debating?
” Isn’t that external authority?”
No, it’s a historical question. It would be like finding a pile of letters with hand-writing that appears to be Abe Lincoln’s and try to discern whether they are really Lincoln’s.
It is historical fact, not question – yes – but it is still an external authority because it is based on different opinions of past Christians and based on this you (or your church) made decision which books are part of Scripoture.
Again, no. It is an authority which we discern its fullness historically. It’s the same thing when you rely on Bible translators and linguists to tell you what the magesterium and Bible says. An authority somehow does not become something other than an authority just because some sort of expert or process is needed to understand what the authority is and what it is saying.
You wrote “It is an authority which we discern its fullness historically.” Isn’t that still an authority outside Scripture?
Internally Scripture itself does not define what it constitutes. If it does then you will surely cite it at the very beginning. We must rely on external authority. I understand why you keep on denying it – it will betray sola scriptura, one of two pillars of Reformation – Scripture cannot be our final and only authority if what constitutes Scripture depends externally, regardless whether you call it history etc. Deciding canon of Scripture is NOT the same as relying on Bible translators and linguists as you wrote. You must first define what constitutes the Bible and who has the authority to define it before you can talk about its translation or its linguistic study, its exegesis etc.
I think u r missing crucial stuff. Can i call u?
I don’t think that is necessary. If you don’t like to use the word authority I can put it in this way.
Internally Scripture does not define what books constitutes Scripture. Hence we use external sources to decide it – and that’s why Christian churches have different Bible (though most of them agree on New Testament books). If what constitutes Scripture depends on external sources, then Scripture is not the only and final authority.
Again, this is why I ask for the phone call. You have ignored my point several times now. I have made clear that an authority remians an authority, even if people do not completely recognize its existence.
For example, let’s pretend that the real authority on Earth is a copy of the Quran and a book of the Hadith of Muhammad. Now, let’s also pretend these books are locked in a bunker in Utah. No one has ever seen them. Are they any less of an authority? No. What if some copies have been made of these, but we have no way of knowing for sure how accurate these copies are, and whether they added or negated anything. Do people in this situation know what the authorities are? Yes, though the authorities at hand are not unadulterated and may have large sections added or subtracted.
Being that the RCC does not posit an infallible manuscript tradition, you already concede that the preceding is possible for the Bible anyway. And, being that the Bible is part of what Catholics consider an authority, they would have to admit by default that there is uncertainty as to the entirety of their own authority.
So, your argument is self defeating, and the fact you do not realize this is why I think it should be cleared up with a phonecall. You are metaphorically beating your head against the wall, and I think it could be avoided by simply talking it out.
So, I posit, we have our authority (the Scripture) but we have no guarantee we have an unadulterated version of it, and there are questions over whether we have added too much or take too much out.
I think vivator is saying (or at least implying) that even your view of the canon rests on something extrabiblical. If a fellow Protestant asked, “Why do you think there is somewhere between 60 and 80 books in the Bible?”, you would not merely point to the Bible itself, but to the witness of the early Church Fathers. Even if there is disagreement among us all about the content or character of the tradition, it seems you are appealing to a tradition for your view on the canon.
Again, although we’re not sure if the 66-book canon is right (as you say), it seems you would surely reject any canon that had no precedent in the history of the Church, or any canon that excluded any of the 4 Gospels, or a canon that removed the entire Old Testament, or any canon that attempted to include books that have never been considered canonical. Does that seem right to you? If so, then there is some appeal to a tradition, an extrabiblical witness–even if the witnesses involved don’t completely agree.
This doesn’t mean Scripture itself doesn’t bear witness to a canon to some extent: 2 Peter refers to the letters of Paul, most of the OT is referenced in the New, etc. But it seems you are looking even beyond that.
“even your view of the canon rests on something extrabiblical.”
Yes, my view of Canon is just like your view of manuscript renderings and textual variants–it’s a historical question.
The Fathers themselves treated the issue the same way. Irenaeus for example postulated Apostolic Succession as the evidence for the historicity of the written tradition of the Apostles (the Gospels and Epistles.)
So, again, I am merely reiterating the original teaching of the Church. We have an authority, it is the Scriptures. As for what are the Scriptures, we have an anwser to that–they are the writings of the Apostles and the Jewish works they recognized.
How do we know what were the writings of the Apostles and the works they recognized? That, my friend, is a historical question. It always was and always will be.
Surprise that I cannot reply directly to your last comment.
Your illustration using the Qur’an simply does not make sense. If God wants to give His words in written forms, certainly He would INFALLIBLY guide us to recognize them and to find them – and that is what the Catholic Church believes and that’s why we are sure we have complete Scripture, though we don’t have original manuscripts.
In your concept God ” let us FALLIBLY find them by ourselves. It is like you hide Easter eggs and let your children having fun finding them – and for sure they do. They may miss some because you don’t tell them how many hidden eggs out there. Those unfounded eggs are still eggs – they don’t become round stones. If somebody intentionally left faked eggs (in China they do make fake eggs!) your children may accidentally pick them.
I got your point – I am not bumping my head against the wall. You believe your Bible may not be complete and even may not be accurate (based on what you wrote “we have no way of knowing for sure how accurate these copies are, and whether they added or negated anything”); but it does not matter because what you have now is sufficient to apply sola scriptura. Well you should call it sola incomplete and inaccurate scriptura! Sorry I do not know Latin word for incomplete and inaccurate.
You wrote in response to other comment” As for what are the Scriptures, we have an anwser to that–they are the writings of the Apostles and the Jewish works they recognized. How do we know what were the writings of the Apostles and the works they recognized? That, my friend, is a historical question. It always was and always will be.”
Here you over simplify the problem though I am sure you are aware that early Christians did not agree with each other what were the writings of the Apostles and what Jewish works they recognized. It would be an easy task to recognize what comprises Scripture if they unanimously agree on that. In reality there is no agreements among them; thus even if Caius taught sola scriptura, which I am doubtful (to treat Scripture as authority, which Caius did and to treat it as the only authority are not the same), his Scripture may not be the same as yours.
Out of those disagreements among early (historical) Christians you simply pick one and claim it to be Scripture and then as the only and final authority. For sure you are entitled to do that while others are entitled to disagree with that.
” If God wants to give His words in written forms, certainly He would INFALLIBLY guide us to recognize them”
Does Scripture says that Christ will send the Holy Spirit to guide us in truth? Does the Scripture says the Church is the foundation and pillar of truth? Does this truth include which books belong to the Bible?
You simply pre-decided what you want to believe and what you want not to believe. A good example is you predecided to believe in Trinity even though there is no single verse says that God is one God in three Persons. But things you pre-decided not to believe you quickly use Scripture as shield, i.e. you reject it because Scripture does not say precisely every word by word.
“Does Scripture says that Christ will send the Holy Spirit to guide us in truth?”
No, it says the Apostles will be guided into all truth.
“Does the Scripture says the Church is the foundation and pillar of truth?”
Yes. Where does the Scripture say this is the Roman Church specifically? If it did the issue would be settled.
“Does this truth include which books belong to the Bible?”
If the Apostles specifically weighed in on it, yes, but they appeared not to.
You wrote “No, it says the Apostles will be guided into all truth.” Guided by who?
You may disagree that the church in 1 Tim 3:15 refers to the Catholic Church but the Church is still the foundation and pillar of truth. If it is not the Catholic Church, which church did Paul refer to? Was that church “extinct”? You are right to say that the apostles did not bother to tell us the canon of the Bible, then who decided that? Sola scriptura simply does not make sense as its canon depends from authority outside the Bible.
Vivator, you are going way off topic. Paul is referring to the Church, which is of all Christians. As for your false assertion that the Canon must be known authoritatively in order for Scripture to be an authority, then how did Jesus expect the Pharisees to respond to Him saying, “the Scripture says” if the Catholic Church did not exist at the time to “decide” what is Scripture? Your whole argument is illogical and ahistorical. The Church Fathers, as Jesus did, quoted the Scripture again and again as an authority, and referred to the Scripture as an authority, all while the Canon was in flux (which, according to your dogma, was in flux until the 16th century with Trent.) The Church existed 1500 years without anyone claiming there was an infallible Canon. If it can go that long this way, it can go indefinitely.
When Christ referred to Scripture He meant those known as Scripture in His time and excluded (not yet written) NT books. He did not determine the canon of OT and neither did the Jews in His time (who declared their canon at least one century later). The apostles and early Christians did use Scripture as authority – no problem with that, but they did NOT use Scripture as the ONLY authority and they did NOT know what comprised Scripture (OT and NT). I am not going off the topic – you are the one who keeps on avoiding the fact that canon of Scripture depends on external authority because it does not go inline with your sola scriptura. Before you can apply sola scriptura you need to know what comprises Scripture – otherwise everybody has his/her version of sola scriptura, i.e according to Mr. A, sola scriptura applicable to N number of books, while according to Mr. B it is applicable to M number of books and so on. You are right to say that the Church existed 1500 years before declaring infallible canon – hence nobody practiced sola sciptura though they did consider Scripture s authority. Again, what constitutes as Scripture varied from person to person until 16 century AD.
But, there was no Canon in Jesus’ time, so how would the Jews have known for sure what he was referring to was really Scripture? The plain fact of the matter is both Jesus and the ECFs were able to appeal to Scripture without anyone assuming at the time there was a commonly understood infallible Canon.
Books can be considered as Scripture before their canon was closed, even before other inspired books were written. For example in Dan 9:1, Daniel read book of Jeremiah as words of the Lord (or as Scripture) in the FIRST year of Darius reign. This took place before prophets Haggai and Zechariah received the words of the Lord in the SECOND year of Darius reign (Haggai 1:1, Zech 1:1). The existence of Scripture does not imply a closed canon.