“I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another” (1 Corinthians 4:6, ESV).
In 1996, Catholic translators in the U.S. submitted their work on the rites of ordination of priests to the Vatican. It was refused in a biting letter, and the cardinal told the American bishop to get rid of them and start all over. Why?
Because, he wrote, “any variant upon the text … that goes beyond what is specified” in the Catholic orders was not within their right to change. “They are the sphere of action of the Bishops of a local Conference, not of translators,” wrote the cardinal./1
Who says the world doesn’t understand the principle of specification (often wrongly called the argument from silence)? When it suits their purpose, Catholics, evangelicals, everybody uses it, because it is a basic way the human mind works.
And God works that way, too. When he specifies something, he wants no variants on his Text.
Paul applied this principle in 1 Corinthians 4 to over-valuing one of God’s servants above others.
The Hebrew writer said Jesus couldn’t have been a priest under the Jewish system because God had specified that men from the tribe of Levi would be his priests. Since he said nothing about the other tribes like Judah (Hebrews 7:14), Jesus was disqualified! So it was necessary to remove the old system for him to be our high priest, after the order of Melchizadek.
All throughout Scripture, this principle of not going beyond what is written is observed.
We might do we to observe it, also, and not only when it suits us.
Throughout Scripture, the principle of not going beyond what is written is observed.