Divine Revelation "By Word of Mouth" (2 Thess 2:15): Handing On

Catholic Christians believe the revealed Word of God is handed on as Paul noted "by word of mouth" in the constant faith of the community of believers, the Church.

The Bible repeatedly affirms the process of handing on the revelation--paradosis, or tradition.

The Bible, the written Word of God, does not claim that it is the only source of revelation. It does name those faithful people who are chosen to hand on the Word of God by word of mouth: episcopoi, presbyteroi, diaconoi.

The Bible offers a decision-making model for determining and handling truth and refuting error--the Conciliar Model of Acts 15: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and ours too."

The Catholic Church has faithfully followed that model from Nicaea to Vatican II.

The faithful people entrusted to hand on the Word of God are found among the Apostolic Fathers (1st and 2nd centuries), the Post-Apostolic Fathers (2nd to 8th centuries), and the Doctors of the Church.

The latest expression of the constant faith of the Church, handed on by faithful people in direct succession from the Apostolic Church is found in the documents of Second Vatican Council.

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By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-2000, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Last Updated: July 22, 2000