The law pointed to Christ, the prophets predicted Christ and the apostles explained and expounded Christ. Christ is the centre of the written scriptures.
Evangelicalism has increasingly become church without Christ. Sadly others want Christ without Church. Most strangely of all is that some want Christ without the Scriptures.
Who can doubt that the New Testament Scriptures are filled with Christ. He is at their very centre He is without doubt the theme and subject. When Paul wrote his epistles (letters) it is evident that he overflowed with truths concerning Christ. every promise, every blessing, every truth, every doctrine, every practice, every method is in Christ, it has Christ as its source, Christ as its focus and Christ as its goal.
The expression “in Christ” occurs 174 times in the New Testament. Paul speaks 21 times in the first two chapters of Ephesians concerning what is “in Christ.” We find in these written Scriptures that in Christ we are blessed, chosen, predestinated, called, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven and have obtained an inheritance, as well as much more. The truth of who Christ is, what He has accomplished, and what He is to us, in us and through us is revealed in the written Scriptures. Also what we are to be towards Him and for Him.
He is known by and revealed in the written Scriptures. To stand in doubt of the reliability, trustworthiness, inspiration and perfection of the written Word is to undermine confidence in the person of Christ. If Scripture is not to be taken simply, literally and factually in its promises, miracles and narration how can the Christ of Scripture be accepted, trusted, relied on and received, believed on and held to with confidence? To damage, undermine or obscure the Scriptures is to do the same to Christ.
An attack upon understanding the use of the Scriptures in the first church, in the first century, by the first leaders, believers and churches is actually an attack upon Christ. To separate the person of Christ in the early Church from the use of the written Scriptures in and by the early Church is dangerous. Yet some profess to emphasis that the early Church knew Christ apart from the use of the written Scriptures. However from what we have already written it should be evident that this was not so.
When Paul writes his second letter to Timothy just before his death he says: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (II Tim.3:16). All Scripture in God-breathed. The written Scriptures were inspired and written under the direct, perfect impulse of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did not and does not make mistakes. The person of Christ is held forth in a pure written testimony.
Just before that Paul says: "from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (3:15). Young Timothy had been nurtured in the Scriptures from a child by his mother and grandmother which had produced an "unfeigned faith" in this godly family. The Lord had used the knowledge of the Scriptures to bring Timothy to salvation in Christ. His mother Eunice was a Jewess married to a Gentile in the Greek world of Lystra yet they had good full access to the Scriptures which profoundly affected their lives and home (1:5).
During Paul's apostolic travels he came to Berea where those who gathered in the synagogue "searched the scriptures daily" to see if what Paul was saying and preaching was in line with the written Scriptures. For this they were highly commended. As a result of being convinced by the written Scriptures "many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few" (Acts 17:11-12). These men and woman with Scriptures in hand made up the first church in this community.
The early Churches that were birthed across the Gentile world frequently and normally had good access to the written Scriptures. No where are we told they had to manage without such as a normal thing. When Paul wrote to the early churches within a few years of their initial establishment he could freely use comments and terminology from the Old Testament Scriptures because by that time they were well versed in them (Rom.4:3; I Cor.15:3-4; Gal.4:30). The public reading of these Scriptures in the gathered assemblies was also normal (Acts 13:15, 27; 15:21; Eph.3:3-4; Col.4:16; I Thess.5:27; II Thess.3:14; I Tim.4:13).
The preaching and teaching ministries of some of those first leaders who ministered in the early Gentile Churches was solidly grounded upon the knowledge of the written Scriptures. "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus (Act 18:24, 27-28). This word "mighty" means to be powerful or capable. Eloquence to speak and ability in opening the written Scriptures is no where condemned or made light of in the New Testament. It is rather commended and used.
Lastly we read in II Peter: "...even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (3:15-16).
This reveals that sometime during AD 60-65 before Paul's death his letter's were being read and used in in the churches across the Roman Empire. They are placed on equal footing with "the other scriptures" by Peter and Peter calls him "our beloved brother Paul." By this we know that Paul and Peter were in agreement in their proclamation of the person and work of Christ. They proclaimed the same Christ. They promoted the same written Scriptures. They were used of God to raise up Christ-centred churches which were Biblically based and Spirit-led.
Pentecost came to Jerusalem around AD 30 and we know that the first churches in Jerusalem and Judea used the Old Testament Scriptures widely. By AD 60 just before the death of the apostles much of the New Testament was already doing the rounds of the churches. From the beginning the true Church in love with Christ has also loved the written Word of God.