The Catholic Church bases her teaching upon one source: The word of God. This divine revelation is transmitted in two ways: through Scripture and apostolic tradition. Many assume that only the writings of the apostles are the word of God. However, their oral transmission of the Faith is also considered the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).
Few Protestant groups today accept the validity, let alone the authority, of tradition. In fact, many believe that Scripture is the only definitive source of divine truth. For this reason, they are critical of certain doctrines of the Catholic Church that, according to them, have no basis in Scripture, such as the Real Presence and the existence of purgatory. However, these teachings are reflected in Scripture, as the passages we will look at illustrate.
Under each Catholic doctrine in the list that follows are passages from Scripture that witness to the doctrine’s divine origin. For the Catholic, what follows will make clear the harmony of Scripture and tradition: truth cannot contradict truth.
Please note that all scriptural citations are taken from the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible.
Scripture and Tradition
“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2).
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thess. 2:15)
“You, then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:1-2).
“First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Faith and Works
“‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’” (Matt. 7:21).
“For he will render every man according to his works . . .” (Rom. 2:6-8).
“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom. 2:13).
“What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Jas. 2:14).
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).
“But some one will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. . . . Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? (Jas. 2:18-20).
“You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jas. 2:24).
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’” (Acts 5:3-4)
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’” (Isa. 9:6).
“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’” (Matt. 16:16-17).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
“‘I and the Father are one’” (John 10:30).
“For in him [Christ] the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power . . .” (Heb. 1:1-3).
“But of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom.’ . . . And, ‘Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands’” (Heb. 1:8, 10).
Real Presence in the Eucharist
“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed’” (John 6:47-55).
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant of my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27).
“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter . . .” (Matt. 10:1-2).
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’” (Matt. 16:18-19).
“‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’” (Luke 22:31-32).
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’” (John 21:15-17).
“For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Macc. 12:44-45).
“Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:25-26).
“Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey . . .” (1 Peter 3:18-20).
“But nothing unclean shall enter it [heaven] . . .” (Rev. 21:27).
Honor Due to the Virgin Mary
“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Luke 1:41-43).
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name’” (Luke 1:46-49).
Praying to the Saints
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely . . .” (Heb. 12:1).
“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8).
NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004
IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004