Canon

Canon

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Can we rest assured that the writings of the New Testament are accurate, and do we know for certain that the canon of the New Testament is complete? The question is profoundly significant, and it bears eternal consequences, because in order to trust and obey God, it’s imperative that we are one-hundred percent certain that we have God’s words.
The Biblical canon can be defined as follows: “The canon is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible” (Grudem, 54). Moreover, the New Testament canon begins with the apostolic writings, because the apostles were given special help by the Holy Spirit to recall and interpret the sayings and teachings of Jesus (John 14:26; 16:13-14). Thus the holders of the apostolic office claimed to possess the authority to speak and write words equivalent to the Old Testament, meaning that there words were the words of God. Peter, for example, claimed that lying to an inspired apostle was equivalent to lying to the Holy Spirit and God (Acts 5:3-4). Peter also stressed committing to memory the words of the Lord and Savior as spoken by the apostles (2nd Peter 3:2). Additionally, the apostle Paul claimed the genesis of his revelations was the Holy Spirit, and that he conveyed them in, “not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1st Cor. 2:13). Similarly, Paul stated that his writings were the Lord’s commandments (1st Cor. 14:37).
Peter also testified that Paul’s writings were divinely relayed, “as also in his letters, speaking in them of these things, which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2nd Peter 3:16). The word translated “scriptures” here is graphe, and it is used 51times in the New Testament, and it refers to the Old Testament every time. Thus, Peter is placing Pauline writings on par with the Old Testament graphe.
Likewise, Paul employs the same logic when advising his young apprentice Timothy about the double honor of elders, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’” (1st Tim.

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5:18). The first quotation is from Deuteronomy 25:4, and the second quote is found in Luke 10:7. So here is an example of Paul calling Luke’s gospel scripture. Therefore, the apostolic word was equal in authority and truth to the Old Testament. The apostles spoke and wrote to explain God’s redemptive purpose in Jesus, the consequences and man’s subsequent response.
Thus, the early church readily accepted the apostolic writings, which included Matthew, John, the Pauline epistles, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, John’s epistles and the Revelation. The early church depended on the testimony of the apostles and prophets for confirmation of the other books of the New Testament. Confirmation of Mark’s gospel, for example, might be offered by Peter, and Paul could confirm Luke’s writings. Also, the writings were self-attesting, meaning that they carried internal witness to divine authorship as Christians read them.
Secondly, can we be satisfied that the canon itself is complete? Ultimately, our confidence would begin and end with God’s faithfulness and stewardship. Jesus reminded the enemy that our spiritual health is dependent on God’s word (Mat. 4:4). God is the ultimate steward of history, and He isn’t an author of confusion (1st Cor. 14:33). Would anyone therefore assume that God hasn’t assured the accuracy of His divine revelation? Would an all loving God allow His house, which is the church, to be deprived of anything it needed for spiritual renewal (Eph. 3:1; Eph. 5:26; 1st Tim. 3:17)? Also, considering that the manifold wisdom of God is now made known through the church, and that this was in accordance with God’s eternal plan, would God dare to withhold any revelations necessary to carry out this plan? Additionally, we are influenced by the work of the Holy Spirit as we read the scriptures. It is the divine testimony of God, that this is indeed His word, as we read the scriptures (Heb. 4:12). Jesus testified, “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus also said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 12:27). The Psalmist wrote, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11), and “The sum of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Considering that the New Testament is also the word of God, would God allow us to treasure lies and falsehoods in our heart?
Additionally, God has spoken to us in these last days in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). The contrast between the words of the prophets and His Son suggests that God’s revelatory activity through Jesus is the culmination of His work. The glory of the Son that is portrayed in Hebrews 1 and 2 emphasize the finality of God’s revelation through Christ. Therefore, the writings of the New Testament reveal the testimony and interpretation of God’s redemptive work in Jesus, and once the apostles and their authorize contemporaries completed their work, the canon was also complete. We can rest assured that the New Testament is accurate, the canon is complete, and that we are indeed adequate and equipped for every good work.

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