"Sola Scriptura", Does This Really Work?

To begin let us look at two verses from the Gospels concerning the father of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus and the husband of the Virgin Mary.

“And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." Matthew 1:15-16

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, 24Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,” Luke 3:23

In these verses, we see what appears to be a distinct confliction. According to Matthew, Jacob was the father of Joseph, as opposed to Luke who claims Joseph’s father was Heli.

From there we see a distinctive difference in the family line until we reach David where we find the family line mentioned in Matthew came down from David’s son Solomon the King, as opposed to Luke’s family line, which came down from one of David’s other sons being Nathan.

Another interesting fact is that Matthew’s genealogy extends only as far back as Abraham, whereas Luke’s extends all the way back to Adam. The main reason I have heard to explain this is it is representing that through Matthew’s gospel, the family line descending from Solomon shows Jesus as the true heir as King, whereas in Luke’s we see Jesus as a descendent of Adam, proving His human nature that He inherited from His mother the Virgin Mary.

Yet both of these speak of Joseph, who was Christ’s step-father, not His biological father and thereby speaking of no blood connection to Jesus, whatsoever, other than that between the Lord and His mother, the virgin Mary of whom no genealogy is mentioned.

The most obvious possibility is that Mary was also of the tribe of Judah and a descendent of David. The problem then is, how did Jesus offer Himself as our sacrificial Lamb on the cross as it was solely of the sons of Aaron of the tribe of Levi who were permitted to make sacrifices.

Simply put, if Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah, as is suggested in both Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies and as the Levitical priesthood and the Law of Moses was still in practice at the time, then for Christ to make such a sacrifice, He would have been in sin, and as such, no longer eligible to be our sacrificial lamb.

The most obvious answer to this is that Abraham had made offerings to Mechizedek, priest of God and King of Salem, prior to the Levitical priesthood or the Mosaic Law ever being established and as such, the priesthood of Melchizedek of which Christ is High Priest held a higher position to the Jewish priesthood that came later.

However, although this seems quite a logical conclusion, it still conflicts with the scriptures that state it is for the sons of Aaron to offer sacrifices as the Levitical priesthood and Mosaic Law were still active until after Christ died on the cross. Yet in the Word of God, we have no direct information to suggest Jesus was in fact a descendent of Aaron.

We do however read of something that gives us a hint to the answer to this quandary,

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.” Luke 1:5

“And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.” Luke 1:36

In these verses, we read that Elisabeth was a daughter of Aaron, but also a cousin of Mary, suggesting Mary must also be of the same tribe as Elisabeth, being the tribe of Levi and not Judah as was earlier suggested.

Now we have a number of problems, firstly the scriptures appear to conflict as to who was Joseph’s father. Then the scriptures appear to conflict as to what tribe Mary was actually a member of.

If it is Levi, then Jesus was a son of Aaron, rather than a descendent of David through any blood relationship, and therefore not eligible as the heir of the throne of Israel.

Alternatively, if it is Judah, then Christ was the heir to the throne of David, but not eligible to offer Himself as a sacrifice.

One possible solution seems to be that Joseph was in fact a member of the tribe of Judah and Mary was of Levi, but through her betrothal to Joseph, she also became a member of Judah. Thus, Jesus was child of both the tribes of Judah and Levi through the bloodline of His mother

However, both Joseph and Mary were bound under the Mosaic Law at that time, which meant they were not permitted to marry outside of their own tribe. If then they had done this thing they would both have been guilty of a great sin before they Lord and such a marriage would be of no effect until after the union was consummated, which if it had been, then Mary could not have been a virgin when Christ was conceived.

The Old Testament however testified to the fact that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin so for Jesus to be recognized as the Christ, we must acknowledge Mary’s virginity even after she fell pregnant, thus she could not have consummated her marriage to her betrothed husband Joseph.

Let us now consider the following scriptures,

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” Acts 17:10-12

From this, we know that from the scriptures, the Berians were able to confirm the testimonies of Paul and Silas concerning Jesus Christ, however at that time they Berians were dependent solely on the Old Testament.

Bearing this in mind, the claims of Jesus performing miracles such as healing of the sick, casting out of demons, raising the dead and numerous others confirmed that God worked through Jesus as He did with the prophets, but they did not prove by themselves that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for.

There were also other facts that suggest that Jesus was the Messiah, such as He was born in Bethlehem, He was also called a Nazarene and he spent time in Egypt and returned which could be considered fulfilling the following prophetic words spoken of by Matthew,

“And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Matthew 2:15

However, none of these conclusively proved that Jesus had been born of a virgin, which was one sign the Jews knew was the absolute evidence of the identity of the Christ. So we are left with the question as to how did the Berians establish Mary was a Virgin after she fell pregnant.

The scriptures as we know them verify that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin and that she would be of the family of David, but they do not disclose the identity of the mother. So where did the Berians find conclusive evidence to “find out whether these things were so” in specific reference personally to Mary’s virginity.

This of cause can go on and on and we will still be left with more questions for every theory we speculate. So if we are to follow the “Sola Scriptura” principle that scripture alone is authoritative and requires no aid from apostolic tradition and the corporative faith and teachings of the Church, then we must find within the Word of God conclusive scriptural evidence to answer these and any other questions that may arise.

This may seem that I am trying to create doubts concerning the authenticity of the Word of God, however this could not be further from the truth. The fact is that the “Sola Scriptura” principle simply doesn’t work.

It leaves unanswered questions, creates contradictions in scripture and opens the way for each to interpret the Word according to their personal opinions creating disunity between believers. It has been indirectly responsible for the introduction of so many false teachings that it would be nearly impossible to count them along with as many denominations, sects, cults or whatever name we wish to call the multitude of gatherings all preaching their own version of Christianity.

No doubt many will disagree and say the examples I have given have no specific bearing on salvation and we must rely on faith alone which is true, however if that faith is based on scriptural interpretations founded on an inefficient system such as “Sola Scriptura”, then the faith is potentially as incomplete as the system itself.

To those that disagree and claim “Sola Scriptura” is a dependable method of interpreting scripture I ask would you please correct me by pointing out the Old Testament scriptural evidence the Berians might have used to confirm the following,

What scriptures conclusively prove that Mary, and as such Jesus, was a descendent of David and the tribe of Judah?

What scriptures conclusively identify Mary as the specific Virgin prophetically foretold as the mother of the Messiah and how did they prove she was still a virgin?

What scriptures conclusively prove that someone other than the sons of Aaron were permitted to offer sacrifices after the implementation of the Mosaic law?

As there are too many possible questions to ask here, I will limit my request to only 2 more as I would also greatly appreciate if those who support the “Sola Scriptura” doctrine could also point out which scriptures explain the following,

Who was the biological Father of Joseph and why do the gospels of Matthew and Luke conflict?

If no scriptures can verify Mary was of the tribe of Judah, then by whose bloodline was Jesus a descendent of David?

Of cause, the early Church was fully aware of the answers to these questions and in fact, these things and many others were quite common knowledge amongst the early Christians.

However if the “Sola Scriptura” principle is credible, then the modern gatherings should also have no problem discovering the same using nothing but the Word alone.

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