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Biblical Canon Part 2: The New Testament
by: Dalton Gilreath
Last week we began discussing the Biblical canon. Being certain that we have the Bible in its entirety is of eternal importance. How can we be sure the Bible is complete? Can we be certain it’s not missing any books and not containing any extra books? We focused on the Old Testament in part one of our study. We concluded with full assurance that the thirty nine books of the Old Testament are as God would have them. However, what evidence do we have regarding the twenty seven books of the New Testament?
First of all, Christ promised His apostles that they would have “all truth” revealed to them (John 16:13 KJV). This means that all the inspired books of God would be revealed during their lifetime. That fact alone narrows our canon to only the first century writings. This is also confirmed by the prophet Jude who wrote, “…earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (1:3). The Greek word rendered “once” denotes a single occurrence that would not happen again. Therefore, any additions of the Bible, such as the book of Mormon, which came after the first century must be discarded.
Secondly, during the first century the apostles wrote the books down for man to read (Eph 3:3-5). By reading they would know if this matched the teachings of Christ which had been delivered to the entire world during the first century (Col 1:23). Also, recall that God gave some Christians the gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10). They had the ability to know whether these writings were from God or man. These miracles and many others confirmed the Word in many ways (Mark 16:20). Furthermore, Paul even “signed” many of his writings to be sure to avoid any frauds (2 Thess 3:17, Rom 16:22, Gal 6:11, 1 Cor 16:21). Truly, these first century Christians knew the original canon of God.
Finally, a third reason we can be certain the New Testament canon is perfect is by referencing the early Christian writers. The earliest writings we have are during the first three centuries. These early writers quote from all twenty seven books of the New Testament and no others. In fact, the New Testament is so heavily quoted that scholars believe we could lose the Bible and recreate it with little error using these early writings.
Once again, God is so good to provide such ample evidence of the Bible canon. We can be sure that all sixty six books should be in the Bible and that none are missing. There are even more evidences than just these to consider. Study these things as individuals and be prepared to answer the skeptics who criticize the Word of God. Let’s be grateful to God for the assurance of faith He gives of His Word.