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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Church as the Expounder of the Scriptures.


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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


III. The Holy Spirit, Interpreter Of Scripture


109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 1)


110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 2)


(111 — 114) But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 3)


The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 4)

  1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.

    (cf. Luke 24:25-27,44-46)

    The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.

    (St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in Psalm 21,11; cf. Psalm 22:14)

  2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture.

    (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church." Origen, Homily in Leviticus 5,5:PG 12,454D)

  3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. (cf. Romans 12:6) By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The senses of Scripture


(115 — 117) According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

  1. The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal." (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 1, 10, ad I)

  2. The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

    • The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2)

    • The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction". (1 Corinthians 10:11; cf. Hebrews 3:1-4:11)

    • The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem. (cf. Revelation 21:1-22:5)

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.


(Lettera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria, moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia; Augustine of Dacia, Rotulus pugillaris, I: ed. A. Walz: Angelicum 6 (1929) 256)

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 3)

But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.


(St. Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei, 5,6:PL 42,176)

In Brief


137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully "understood except by the Spirit's action".


(cf. Origen, Hom. in Exodus. 4, 5: PG 12, 320)




  1. St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    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)
    Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Theodotus of Ancyra, (unknown-A.D. 446)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496)
    Andrew of Cæsarea, (A.D. 563 - 637)
    Councils of Toledo, (from the 5th to 7th century)
    Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460)
    Pope St. Felix III, (unknown-492)

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

1. "If any one, therefore, read the Scriptures attentively, he will find in them, discourse concerning Christ, and a prefiguration of a new vocation. For Christ is the treasure hidden in the field, that is, in this world (for the field is the world); but Christ is a treasure hidden in the Scriptures, because He was signified by types and parables. . . .Wherefore, as we have shown, if any one read the Scriptures (for so the Lord discoursed with the disciples after His resurrection from the dead, showing them, from the Scriptures themselves, that it behooved Christ to suffer and to enter into His glory, and that remission of sins should be preached in His name throughout the whole world), he will both be a perfect disciple and like unto a householder who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.

2. "Therefore we ought to be obedient to those presbyters who are in the Church, to those who have the succession from Apostles, as we have shown; who, together with the succession of the episcopacy, have received, according to the good will of the Father, the sure gift of truth: but the others, who depart from the principal succession, and assemble in any place whatever, (we ought) to hold suspected either as heretics, and of evil opinion; or as schismatics, and proud, and as men pleasing themselves; or, again, as hypocrites, doing this for gain's sake and vain-glory. But all these have fallen away from the truth. And heretics indeed, who bring a strange fire to the altar of God, that is, strange doctrines, will be consumed by fire from Heaven, as Nadab and Abiud. Whilst they who rise up against the truth, and give advice to others against God's Church, dwell in Hell, swallowed up by the yawning earth, as they who surrounded Core, Dathan, and Abiron. But they who rend asunder and sever the unity of the Church, receive from God the same punishment as befell Jeroboam.

3. "But they who are indeed by many believed to be presbyters, but are enslaved to their pleasures . . . from all such we ought to keep aloof, but (4) to cling to those who both guard the doctrine of the Apostles, as we have already said, and, together with the order of the priesthood, present sound discourse, and an inoffensive life, for the confirmation and chastening of others. . . ."

5. "Such presbyters the Church nourishes. . . . Where, therefore, the gifts of God are placed, there we ought to learn the truth, (from those) with whom is that succession of the Church which is from the Apostles; and that which is sound and irreprovable in conversation, and unadulterated and incorruptible in discourse, abides. For they both guard that faith of ours in one God, who made all things, and increase our love towards the Son of God, who made such dispositions on our account; and they expound the Scriptures to us without danger, neither uttering blasphemy against God, nor dishonoring the patriarchs, nor contemning the prophets."

Adv. Hæres. l. iv. c. xxvi. n. 1-5, pp. 261-3.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 335-337

"If a man believe in one God, who also by His word made all things, as Moses saith, God said. "Let there be light, and there was light . . ." and likewise the Apostle Paul: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father, who is above all, and in us all, — he will first hold to tlie head . . . " (Colossians 2:19). Then, afterwards, also every discourse will be clear to him, if also he read the Scriptures diligently with (amongst) those who are presbyters in the Church, with whom is the apostolic doctrine, as we have demonstrated."

Adv. Hæres. l. iv. c. xxxii. n. 1,2, pp. 269-70.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 337

"He who preserves within him "that unvarying rule (canon) of faith which he received through" baptism, will indeed recognize the names which are from the Scriptures, and the sayings and the parables, but this their blasphemous argument he will not recognize." (*)

Adv. Hæres. l. i. c. ix. n. 4, pp. 46-7.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 337

(*) "It is evident that he (St. Irenæus) regarded the tradition of the Church to that extent (the Baptismal Creed) as divine and infallible."

— Beaven's Account of Irenæus, Lond. 1841

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

Replying to the objection, that there were differences of opinion, or of faith, amongst Christians, Clement says:

"If a man violate his plighted faith, arid overstep that confession which is amongst us, shall we also abstain from the truth, on account of his having belied the confession? Rather, as it be incumbent upon on every upright man to avoid falsehood, and to violate in no one thing what he has promised, although others may overstep their pledged faith, so does it behoove us in no way whatever to overstep the ecclesiastical rule (canon); and we guard especially, whilst they overstep, the confession which refers to things of the greatest importance. Wherefore, credence is to be given to those who hold firmly to the truth.... As where there is one royal road, and also many other roads, some of which lead to a precipice, and others to an impetuous river, or to the deep sea, one would not be afraid, on account of that diversity, to journey on, but would use the one that is free from danger, and is the king's highway, and the frequented road; so also, when different men assert different things regarding the truth, we are not to withdraw; but the most accurate knowledge respecting the truth is to be the more carefully sought after. As, even with the garden-plants there spring up weeds; do the laborers therefore cease from their horticulture? We have, then, from nature, many incentives to an examination into the things that are spoken, and we ought to search out the coherence of the truth. Therefore also are we deservedly condemned, if we settle not down together with those who ought to be obeyed, and discriminate not what is repugnant and unbecoming and unnatural and false, from what is true and coherent and becoming and natural."

Strom, l. vii. pp. 887-8.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 337-338

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

"Therefore there must be no appeal to the Scriptures, nor must the contest be constituted in these things, in which the victory is either none or doubtful, or too little doubtful. For even though the debate on the Scriptures should not so turn out as to confirm each party, the order of things required that this question should be first proposed, which is now the only one to be discussed, "To whom belongs the very faith; whose are the Scriptures; by whom, and through whom, and when, and to whom, was that rule (discipline) delivered whereby men become Christians;" for wherever both the true Christian rule and faith shall be shown to be, there will be the true Scriptures, and the true expositions, and all the true Christian traditions. If these things be so, so that the truth be adjudged to us, as many as walk according to that rule which the Church has handed down from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, Christ from God, the reasonableness of our proposition is manifest, which determines that heretics are not to be allowed to enter upon an appeal to the Scriptures, whom we prove, without the Scriptures, to have no concern with the Scriptures."

De Praescr. n. 37.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 338-339

"Who shall understand the marrow of Scripture better than the school of Christ itself, whom the Lord hath adopted as His disciples, namely, to be taught all things, and set as masters over us, namely, to teach all things?"

Scorpiace, n.12, p. 497.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 339

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

"After having thus, as it were in passing, spoken on the inspiration of the divine writings, it is necessary to address myself to the manner of reading and of interpreting them; most errors having arisen from the many not having found the way in which it is necessary to proceed with the sacred lecture. ... To those who are convinced that the sacred books are not the composition of men, but that, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, by the will of the Father, they have been written, and have come down to us, we must point out the manifest ways (of interpretation) to those who hold to the rule (canon) of the heavenly Church of Christ, according to the succession from (of) the Apostles. And that, indeed, there are certain mystical dispensations indicated throughout the divine writings, all, even the most simple of those who have made progress in the word, have believed: but what those (dispensations) are, the humble and the upright confess that they know not."

Note: From passages quoting Origen on the Authority of the Church, it is clear that Origen's standard of truth and rule for discriminating between the doctrines of Christ and the false interpretations and the errors of heretics is, that the truth always accords with the teaching and tradition of the Church; whilst that teaching, tradition, and interpretation, can alone be accounted genuine and divine, which has been transmitted by an uninterrupted succession from the Apostles.

T. i. De Princip.pp. 164-6.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 339-340

"Let Basilides, and whosoever agrees with him, be left in their impiety. But for us, let us turn to the meaning of the Apostle, according to the piety of the ecclesiastical doctrine."

T. iv. In Ep. ad Rom. 1. 5, p. 349.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 340

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

Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417) was pope from (A.D. 401 to 417), he lost no opportunity in maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman See as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes.

"Wherefore it is not lawful for any one to interpret the divine Scriptures, otherwise than as right reason permits . . . but those things are to be held, which the series of the divine Scriptures contains, and have been usefully determined by the priests."

Ad Synod, in Tolet. Civil, n. 6, col. 1278, 1. ii. Labb. Concil.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 346

St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"When we read the divine books, amidst such a multitude of true meanings, which are extracted from a few words, and (which meanings) are defended by the soundness of Catholic faith, let us by preference choose that which it shall appear certain that he meant whom we read; but if this escape us, that at all events which the context of Scripture prevents not, and which harmonizes with sound faith; but if the context of the Scripture also admits not of being thoroughly handled and sifted, at least that only which sound faith prescribes. For it is one thing not to distinguish what the writer chiefly meant, and another to err from the rule of piety. If both be avoided, the reader obtains the perfect fruit; but if both cannot be avoided, even though the mind of the writer be doubtful (to us), it is not useless to have extracted a meaning agreeable with the sacred faith."

T. iii. l. i. De Genes, ad Lit. n. 41, col. 222.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 342-343

[Having cited one of the usual evidences of Christianity, he adds:]

"When therefore we see such aid from God, so great progress and fruit, shall we hesitate to fling ourselves into the bosom of that Church which, even by the confession of mankind, has from the apostolic see, through successions of bishops, obtained the loftiest pinnacle of authority, the heretics barking around in vain, and condemned partly by the judgment of the very people, partly by the weight of councils, partly also by the majesty of miracles. To which Church to refuse to grant pre-eminent authority, is assuredly either the height of impiety, or of headlong arrogance. For, if for the minds of men there is no certain road to wisdom and salvation, save when faith teaches them antecedently to reason, what else is it but to be ungrateful to the divine aid and help, to strive so laboriously to resist the aforenamed authority? And if every art, however low and easy, require a teacher or a master, that it may be acquired; what more replete with rash pride than both to refuse to learn the books of the divine mysteries (sacraments) from their proper (own) interpreters, and to seek to condemn them unknown? Wherefore, if either my reasoning or my prayer has in any way moved you, and if, as I believe, you have a true solicitude for yourself, I pray you hear me, and place yourself, with pious faith, lively hope, simple love, under the care of good teachers of Catholic Christianity."

T. viii. De Util. Cred. n. 35, 36 (al. xvii. xviii.), col. 129-30.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 343-344

"I would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Catholic Church moved me,"

T. viii. Contr. Ep. Manichaei, Fundam. n. 5, 6, col. 268-270.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 344

"If he (Manichaeus) say that these (sacred books of ours) are corrupted, he will impugn the faith of his own witnesses; whereas if he bring forward other works, and assert them to be by our Apostles, by what means will he give them an authority, which he has not received through the churches of Christ, founded by those same Apostles, that thence, with an assured commendation, it might now onward to their successors (or to posterity)? . . . Against you is the authority of our books, an authority confirmed by the agreement of so many nations, through successions of Apostles, of bishops, and of councils; whilst that of your books is none, seeing that it is maintained by so few, and by men who worship a mendacious God, and a mendacious Christ."

T. viii. l. xiii. Contr. Faust, n. 4, 5, col. 413-14.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 344

"Thou wilt instantly say that this narrative (of Christ's birth) is not by Matthew, though it is declared to be Matthew's by the universal Church, which has been brought down, by an undoubted succession, from the sees of the Apostles even to the present bishops. Are you about to read to me something to the contrary? Some books per chance by Manichaeus, wherein Jesus is denied to have been born of the Virgin. As, then, I believe that book to be by Manichaeus, because, from the time that Manichaeus lived in the flesh, it has been preserved and brought down, by means of his disciples, by an undoubted succession of your rulers to your days; so, in like manner, do you believe this book to be Matthew's, a book which, from the time that Matthew was living in the flesh, the Church, through an uninterrupted series of ages, by an un doubted and connected succession, has brought down, even to these days. . . . But, perhaps, you will produce some other book, which bears the name of some Apostle, whom Christ undoubtedly chose, and will therein read to me, that Christ was not born of Mary. Now as one of these books must needs be mendacious, to which, do you think, we ought, in preference, to give faith? To that which that Church which was begun by Christ Himself, and propagated by the Apostles, by an undoubted series of successions even to these our days, which Church has been spread throughout the whole world, acknowledges and approves of as having been transmitted and preserved from the very beginning? or, to that which that same Church repudiates as unknown to her even though it be produced by men so truthful, as to make it matter of praise in Christ that he was a deceiver?"

T. l. xxviii. Contr. Faust, n. 2, col. 675-6.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 345

St. Theodotus of Ancyra, (unknown-A.D. 446), bishop and theologian of Ancyra, modern day Ankara, flourished about the year 429, attended the Council of Ephesus in 431, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II. Although he had earlier supported the Nestorian theology of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, Theodotus at the council supported Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria in condemning Nestorius.

"I have thus laid before you a sufficient refutation of the errors of these men, not from my own resources, and from myself, but, both out of the divine Scripture, and from the faith set down by the holy fathers who assembled at Nicaea."

Expos. Symb. in fine, n. 24, t. ix. Galland, p. 439.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 346

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"He (Nestorius) holds even to this day the things which he has taught from the first; and he ceases not to utter his perversities. But let your holiness know this also, that the language of all the bishops here in the East is uniform, and especially that of the most religious bishops throughout Macedonia: and although he knows this, he thinks himself wiser than all; and that he alone understands the scope of the inspired Scripture, and the mystery of Christ. Yet how ought he not much rather be certified that whereas all the orthodox bishops and laymen throughout the world confess both that Christ was God, and that the Virgin that bore Him was the mother of God, he alone is in error who denies this? But he is swollen with pride,"

Ep. ad Caelestin. vol. 344, t. iii. Labb.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 346

St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

"It is not lawful to differ, even by one word, from the evangelic and apostolic doctrine, or to think otherwise concerning the divine Scriptures than as the blessed Apostles, and our fathers learned and taught."

Ep. lxxxii. ad Marcion. Aug. p. 1044.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 350

Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496) was pope from A.D. 492 until his death in A.D. 496; prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. His reign was characterized by a call for strict orthodoxy.

"But let us proceed onwards, and come to the confession of the holy fathers; we, throughout obeying the evangelic and apostolic dogmas, in accordance with the tradition of the holy fathers, believe in the God-Word,"

T. iv. Libell. Contr. Nestor, p. 1046.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 347

"These things (adverse to Nestorius), have we learned both from the holy Scripture, and from the holy fathers who have interpreted it, Alexander and Athanasius, those illustrious heralds of the truth who have adorned that your apostolic throne, and from Basil and Gregory and the other lights of the world."

T. iv. Epist. lxxxiii. Dioscoro, Alex. Archiep. p. 1150.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 347

"Let, therefore, your friendliness vouchsafe, if there be any at all (for I do not believe there are such) who yield not assent to the apostolic dogmas, to close their lips, and to bring them back to a sound way of thinking in an ecclesiastical manner, and to teach to follow in the footsteps of the holy fathers, and to preserve inviolate the faith which was laid down at Nicaea in Bithynia, by the holy and blessed fathers."

T. iv. Ep. lxxxiv. Episcopis Ciliciae, p. 1153.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 347

"These things have been transmitted to us, not only by the Apostles and prophets, but also by those who have interpreted their writings, by Ignatius, Eustathius, Athanasius, etc., and the other lights of the universe, and before these, by the holy fathers who assembled at Nicaea, whose confession of faith we keep as a paternal inheritance, and we call those who dare transgress against the above, adulterate, and enemies of the truth."

T. iv. Epist. lxxxix. Florentio, p. 1160.
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"We adhere to the apostolic decrees and laws, and applying that faith which was laid down at Nicaea, by the holy and blessed fathers, as a kind of canon, and gnomon to our words, we so direct our teaching"

T. iv. Ep. xc. Lupicino. p. 1161.
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Andrew of Cæsarea, (A.D. 563 - 637), Greek; theological writer and bishop of Cæsarea, known for his commentary on the Book of Revelation which is the oldest Greek patristic commentary on that book of the Bible. He succeeded St. Basil.

"But some one may say, If both the devil and his disciples, whereof some are false apostles, and false prophets, and false teachers, and all utterly heretics, do use the divine sayings, sentences, and promises, what shall Catholic men, and sons of our mother the Church, do? In what way shall they, in the holy Scriptures, discern truth from falsehood? They will, to wit, take very great care to do that which, in the beginning of this Commonitory, we have said that holy and learned men had delivered to us that they interpret the divine Scripture (canon) according to the traditions of the universal Church, and according to the rules of Catholic doctrine. Within which very Catholic and Apostolic Church it is necessary for them to follow universality, antiquity, consent. And if at any time a part have rebelled against universality, novelty against antiquity, the dissent of one or of a few fallen into error against the consent of all, or at all events of by far the greater number of Catholics, let them prefer the integrity of universality to the corruption of a part; in which same universality, let them prefer the religion of antiquity before the profaneness of novelty; and likewise, in antiquity itself, let them prefer, before the rashness of one, or of a very few, first of all, the general decrees, if there be any, of a universal council; next, if such a thing be not, let them follow that which is nearest to it, that is, the sentiments of many and great masters agreeing together; which things, with God s help, faithfully, soberly, carefully observed, we shall, without any great difficulty, detect all the mischievous errors of heretics as they arise.

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 348-349

"We have said, in what is gone before, that this always has been, and also at this day is, the custom of Catholics, to approve the true faith in these two ways: first, by the authority of the divine Scripture (canon); secondly, by the tradition of the Catholic Church: not because the canon alone is not sufficient of itself for all things, but because very many interpreting the divine words according to their own pleasure, conceive various opinions and errors; and for this cause it is necessary that the interpretation of the heavenly Scripture be directed according to the one rule of the ecclesiastical sense, in those questions, to wit, especially upon which the foundations of the whole Catholic doctrine do depend."

Adv. Hæres. n. xxix.
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Councils of Toledo (from the 5th to 7th century). about thirty synods or councils were held at Toledo in what would come to be part of Spain. The earliest, directed against Priscilianism, assembled in 400. The "third" synod of 589 marked the epoch-making conversion of King Reccared from Arianism to orthodox Catholicism. The "fourth," in 633, probably under the presidency of St. Isidore of Seville, regulated many matters of discipline, decreed uniformity of liturgy throughout the kingdom.

"Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers set. (Proverbs 23) By the |ancient landmarks he means the landmarks of truth and of faith which the Catholic doctors have set from the beginning. This, therefore, does he enjoin, that no one understand (receive) the truth of sacred faith and of evangelic doctrine otherwise than as it has been transmitted by the holy fathers; or, this does he enjoin, that no one interpret the words of the holy Scriptures otherwise than in accordance with the meaning of each (sacred) writer. What are those riches of which he says, Lift not up thine eyes to riches which thou canst not have, because they shall make to themselves wings, and shall fly towards Heaven. (Proverbs 23)? . . . Those riches are the hidden things of the Godhead, and the secrets of the heavenly mysteries which thou canst not penetrate, nor art able to understand, because these things are patent to the eagles alone, that is, to the heavenly citizens only are they manifested. The Heaven above, and the earth beneath, and the heart of kings is unsearchable. (Proverbs 25) As the height of Heaven and the depth of earth cannot be comprehended by men, so neither is the capacity of our feebleness able to comprehend, or to penetrate the depths of the knowledge and meaning of the prophets and Apostles."

Expl. Myst. in Salom. Prov. p. 406, t. viii. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
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Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460), also known as Arnobius the Younger, Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius.

Applying Pslam 103 to Christ, he says:

"It was then He made His angels spirits. Angels are called in the Latin tongue "nuncii", messengers, and the Gospel is interpreted a good message. He, therefore, then made His angels, that is, the Apostles, spirits, when He said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit, and preach the Gospel to every creature." And He then made them a burning fire, when the Holy Spirit sat, as fire, on each of them. He then founded the earth on its own firmness, recalling, that is, the earthly minds of the Gentiles, which, in the building of the tower, had been divided, unto their own firmness. He strengthens them by that one word, Jesus Christ, and He so founds amongst them His Church upon this rock, as that it shall not be moved for ever and ever. Let philosophers keep to themselves their fruitless inquiries, and with mighty toil declare that they can discover that the earth has a deep beneath it, wherewith it is clothed as with a garment, but let us turn the point of our discourse to this earth which is founded on the firmness of the Church. For the deep encompasses it. For the depth of the riches of wisdom which encompasses it is fathomless, and above its waters shall the mountains stand. Who so have their hearts raised on high are mountains, and above them the waters stand. Above them stands the hallowing of Baptism; they stand in the right faith, they are not driven about by every wind of doctrine. . . . This great sea which stretches wide its arms, etc., — He would have us know that a great and wide sea, is the whole law of the Old and New Testament. There are creeping things without number; in the law the Jews; in the law the Samaritans; and in the law the Heretics; and in the law the Catholics; in the law, kings, etc.; in the law, little and great, there the ships go, the alone churches of all the provinces, (churches) which bear their passengers to the kingdom of Heaven, — from the cities of earth to the city of Jerusalem, our mother. But he that shall be found without a ship in this great sea, shall meet with the dragon which has been formed to make sport of them . . . with those, that is, who repudiate the ships, and deliver themselves up, like animals, to the waves and depths of the law, without a master who is a Catholic, and who derives the tradition of the law from the Apostles. Wherefore, because that they are without the Church, wandering about amongst creatures little and great, they meet with a dragon, that so makes sport of them, as that they fancy that they are wiser than the Catholics; and, according to their own fancies, they meet with the destruction of eternal death, when they have sunk into the depths. Let us, therefore, sing unto the Lord our God. . . . Sweet may our praise be unto Him, sweetened with Catholic doctrines, bringing with it nothing from the disease of the Jews, nothing from the disease of the heretics."

Com. in Ps. ciii. t. viii. Bib. Max. PP. pp. 294, 295.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 115-117

Pope St. Felix III, (unknown-492), elected 48th pope of the Church, reigned from 483-492, born into a Roman senatorial family and was a great-great-grandfather of Pope Gregory I. His repudiation of the Henoticon, an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences between the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon and the miaphysites, is considered the beginning of the Acacian schism.

"This (heretic) has dared to say that we ought not to call Christ the Son of God, though this be agreeable to the divine appointment of the Saviour, and the tradition of the divine Scriptures, and the expositions of the fathers."

Epist. Zenoni,p. 1071, t. ii. Labi.
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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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