By Bob Sullivan
The Bible can seem a little intimidating to some people due to its age, length, complexity and importance.
Luckily, about 800 years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, divided the books of the Bible into chapters, which made referencing to specific parts of the books a little easier. Then, a little over 400 years ago a Dominican Friar by the name of Santes Pagnini divided the Old Testament into the verses we see today. A few decades after Pagnini, Robert Etienne, a fallen-away Catholic, did the same for the New Testament. This allows us to pinpoint specific sections or even sentences of the Bible, which is something everyone should do.
You do not need to memorize each one of these verses, although you certainly can. However simply knowing these verses exist will help you turn to one when you need it. You should also have each of these (and many others) underlined in your Bible. Nothing evangelizes our separated brothers and sisters, or defends the faith, like a Catholic who knows his or her way around the Bible.
Luke 2:22 on infant baptism: “When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”
Colossians 2:11 builds on Luke 2:22 and reminds us that Christ was circumcised as an infant and raised in the Jewish faith of his parents. Therefore, we are baptized as infants to be raised in the Christian faith of our parents: “In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ.”
John 3:5 - Baptism is necessary for salvation: “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
John 6:53 is just one sentence in the Bread of Life Discourse, which is Christ’s first teaching on the Eucharist: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
1 Corinthians 10:16 is one of several verses in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, in which St. Paul describes the Eucharistic belief of the first Christians: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?”
John 20:21-23 is the verse that most clearly gives priests the authority to forgive sins in the sacrament of reconciliation: “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
John 16:13 is an explicit example of something no other religion can claim; the guidance of the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
Matthew 16:18-19 is the clearest verse to show Peter’s role as the chief apostle and eventually the head of the Church on earth. If you want to see where we get the idea that Peter was the first pope, this is where you should point: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:18 shows the authority of the pope as the one who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven and the bishops who along with the pope, have authority to make rules and decisions which govern the Church: “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 28:18-20 gives us Christ’s last words to the apostles. These words reaffirm that the apostles have Christ’s authority on earth, that baptism and teaching are essential roles of the Church and that Christ will always be with the Church: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
1 Timothy 3:15 shows us that the earliest Christians understood the Church to be established and functioning after Christ’s ascension, and that it, not the Bible, provides the fullness of truth. In fact, when St. Paul was writing this letter to Timothy, very little of the New Testament had been written. Most of the teaching was conducted by word of mouth and example: “… the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
John 17:20-21 tells us that Christ did not want more than one Church, nor did He want followers who held a plurality of beliefs: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.”