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The Early Church Fathers on the Church as the Expounder of the Scriptures.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    Council of Carthage, (A.D. 345-419)
St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372), Egyptian; bishop, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. He was present, as an assistant to St. Alexander of Alexandria, at the council of Nicea who he succeeded in A.D. 326. During more than forty years he was the champion of orthodoxy, and suffered much severe persecution from the Arian party.

Vindicating certain texts of Scripture from the misinterpretations of the Arians, he says,

"This then I consider the sense of this passage, and that a very ecclesiastical sense."

Orat. i. Contra Arian. n. 44, t. i. p. 353.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 341

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

Explaining St. Matthew 13:1:

"The reason why the Lord sat in the ship, and the crowds stood without, is derived from the subject-matter. For He was about to speak in parables; and by this kind of action He signifies that they who are placed without the Church, cannot attain to any understanding of the divine word. For the ship exhibits a type of the Church, the word of life placed and preached within which, they who are without, and lie near like barren and useless sands, cannot understand."

Comment. in Matthew. c.xiii. n. i. p. 734
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 341

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

"But take thou and hold as a learner, and in profession, that faith only which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and is fenced round out of all the Scriptures,"

Catech. xviii. n. 22-28,
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 342

St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"Whatsoever God says is true, although in a few declarations His meaning is not attained to by our understanding. To deny, therefore, that man was made to the image of God is not according to the faith, nor the holy Church of God. For undoubtedly every soul is clearly made after that image, and none who have their hopes God-ward will deny this; none but they who framing fables for themselves, are excluded from the Church, and the tradition of the fathers, from the prophets, and the law, the Apostles and the Evangelists. As, then, these men are, in this matter, of too contentious a disposition, they also go out of that tradition which is accordant with ecclesiastical teaching, which tradition holds that every human being is made after that image, but determines not in what that image consists."

Adv. Hæres. (70) p. 813.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 341-342

Having mentioned Origen's asserted errors concerning Christ, and those of the Valentinians, etc., he says:

"The Scripture is in every way true. But there needs wisdom to know God, to believe Him and His words, and what He has vouchsafed unto us. ... For every heresy is a deceiver, not having received the Holy Ghost, according to the tradition of the fathers in the holy Catholic Church of God."

T. ii. Ancor. n. 63, jy. 66.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 342

Council of Carthage, (A.D. 345-419), one of sixteen Catholic councils or synods held at Cathage called in the earliest times of the Church in Africa. These synods past many canon that regulated matters of church doctrine and discipline.

"They (heretics) are cut off from the body of the Church, and affect to meditate and to muse on the law of the Lord. But doing this they withdraw from the Lord who taught them in the Church."

T. vi. l. ii. Comm. in Osee.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 342



If the Church can assuredly tell us what particular books make up the Written Word of God, as it did at the Council of Rome in A.D. 382, so She can, with the like assurance, tell us the true sense and meaning of it, in controverted points of faith. The same Spirit, which directed the writing of the Scriptures, directs the Church to understand them, and teaches all the mysteries and duties that are necessary to salvation.


Though the Church did not have a known Canon of Scriptures for about 350 years after Our Lord's Ascension, we can be sure that the Spirit Jesus promised Peter and his successors will not fail him.



The Church's Scriptures on the Church as the Expounder of the Scriptures:


Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 When Jesus came into the region of Cæsarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" 14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"


16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build MY church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven."


Matthew 16:13-19

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial but prays for his (singular) faith.

31 "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you (second person plural pronoun, meaning "all of you") that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee (singular, Peter) that thy faith fail not: and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren."

Luke 22:31-32

Christ, after His resurrection, commissioned St. Peter to feed His lambs, and to feed His sheep, i.e., to be Shepherd over the whole flock:

15 "When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? He saith to Him: Yes, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again: Simon son of John, do you love me? He saith to Him: Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love you. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 17 He saith to him the third time: Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was grieved, because He had said to him the third time, Do you love me? And he said to Him: Lord, Thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love Thee. He said to him : Feed my sheep."

John 21:15-17

The Catholic Church is the pillar and ground of truth

14 "These things I write to thee, hoping that I shall come to thee shortly. 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth."

1 Timothy 3:14-15


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