Distinct Scripture of the New Testament Church
In the New Testament the English word “Scripture” is translated from the Greek graphe (graf-ay'). It means “holy writings”.
The New Testament refers to both Old and New Testaments as “Scripture”. It acknowledges the Old Testament as “Scripture” 52 times. According to the apostles Paul and Peter, the New Testament also consists of “holy writings”. In writing to Timothy, Paul acknowledged the writing of Luke as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18). In addition, the Apostle Peter referred to the writing of Paul as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).
While the Scriptures were written for the benefit of all mankind, they were addressed to two specific audiences. About one-fifth of the Bible was written to the New Testament church. The other four-fifths were written to the nation of Israel.
The Jewish Scriptures are not prescriptive for New Testament church practice. Therefore, any attempt to prescribe conduct from them for the ecclesia constitutes a serious hermeneutical error that will lead to deviation in church practice. Fundamentally, it obligates the grace-based New Testament church to try and fulfill the constitutional law of the ancient nation of Israel. It is an endeavor that even Israel could not adequately satisfy.
While not all Scripture applies directly to the church, all Scripture is beneficial for the church. For example, the Old Testament provides general revelation about God and His eternal plan that is not specific to ancient Israel. It transcends audience and time.
In contrast, the Gospels, the Book of Acts and the Epistles were written directly for the benefit of the New Testament church. Generally speaking, the Gospels are foundational for church practice, the Book of Acts is descriptive of church practice and the Epistles are prescriptive for church practice.