Only

A few thoughts on the usage of this word

One of the most misused words in the bible is the word only. It is also the word that contributes most to the vast differences in beliefs between Christians and other sects. As a Catholic you should be aware of how this word is implied by people trying to use scripture for their own ends. Many times people read a bible verse and the assumption is that the verse contains the word only. Here are a few examples.

I often ask people why they believe the bible is the word of God, but not the Church that gave us the bible. They quickly point to 2 Tim 3:16-17 which reads "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work." What surprises me is that they claim this means "ONLY scripture is inspired by God…." This clever insertion of the word only denies the historical truth that Jesus started a Church with authority. A church St. Paul calls "… the pillar and foundation of truth." (1 Tim 3:15) And a Church that handed down to us the bible.

Another, and maybe more tragic insertion of the word only was done by Martin Luther when he took the phrase "saved by faith" and turned it into "saved by faith ONLY". Most people are familiar with the term Sola Fide (faith alone). It is here that salvation by faith turns into salvation by faith alone. In spite of biblical evidence to the contrary, when scripture says we are saved by faith, people insist on adding the word "only". The only time the phrase "faith only" is used in the bible is in James 2:24 where he writes "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." The exact opposite of what people want the bible to say.

Another misuse is in conjunction with the phrase "if you believe". People insist on making it "if you ONLY believe". This of course means sin has no consequence in spite of numerous biblical teaching to the contrary.

Return to main concordance