Thinking Out Loud - Ms. Green

Commentaries from a female, conservative Christian worldview. Intermittent observations on human behavior and current events. Occasional bursts of personal tirades,confessions, and discoveries. Frequent discussions about my "Narrow-Minded Faith".

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Friday, February 29, 2008

How did we get the 66 books of the Bible?

I made this post on another blog recently:

"Theonuestos" is Greek for "God-breathed". It is used in II Timothy 3:16 and translated as "inspiration".

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

I would say that "God-breathed" is Scriptural evidence of the supernatural nature of the Bible. Unless, of course, one doesn't think that God is supernatural - then His God-breathed Word would be no different than anyone elses.

In response, a person who claims he is a Christian said:

"All Scripture" ? And where in the pages of the 66 books of the Bible does it tell us that those 66 books are "all scripture"? Does it indicate that it means Genesis - Revelation somewhere?


This is an example of the logical fallacy of making an unproven assumption (The Bible = All Scripture) and thereafter, everything you see only validates that (the bible SAYS "all scripture is God-breathed" therefore the 66 books of the Bible are supernatural and the only source of God's revelation).

God will and God DOES reveal God's Self however and whenever God chooses to. That would be my point.

You all are choosing verses as "proofs" that don't address the claims you're making.

In response, I have put this together to explain why I believe we have the 66 books of the Bible that God intended us to have, and that we can trust that we have God's full written revelation to us.


How did we get the 66 books of the Bible we have today, and how do we know for sure that they are inspired by God?

The Old Testament canon that was accepted by the Jews was official before the New Testament books were written (by around 300 BC). Ezra, Haggai and Zechariah all participated in and led the council that determined the books of the Old Testament – all 3 of these men were Prophets of God. When Jesus and His apostles debated the Jewish theologians, they appealed to “the Scriptures”, implying the authority that the Jews acknowledged about the books of the Old Testament

In essence, Jews are in agreement on the first 39 books of the Bible. The so called Apocryphal books were rejected by the Jews and were never quoted from by the Jews or by Jesus Himself. That eliminates those books. Only the Catholic Church includes them as Scripture.

So what about the 27 New Testament books?

First of all, there were questions to be asked.

1. Was the book written by an Apostle or close associate writing under the authority of an apostle? The Apostles were given the authority to speak on behalf of Jesus – by Jesus Himself.

2. Did the first local churches accept the book? Had it been read by numerous and various New Testament Churches? Did they believe it to be inspired?

3. Did the early church fathers accept the books as Scripture? Did these disciples of the original Apostles quote from the book and consider it inspired? For example, a man by the name of Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle. If he knew that a book had been written by John, or knew that John has stated that Peter or Paul had written a book, that would point toward its inspiration. Don’t forget – many of these writings were being circulated while many of the Apostles were still alive – and those that knew them easily confirmed or rejected them as being inspired.

4. Did the content of the book agree with other accepted books of Scripture?

I have heard people say that we didn’t determine what books belonged in the Bible until hundreds of years after Jesus died on the cross, but that just isn’t true. Although the FINAL confirmation of the 27 books took place at the Third Council of Carthage in 397 AD, there was only minor debate before that time and the books were basically agreed upon in the first and second centuries. This council was mostly an “official” confirmation of the already accepted books of Scripture for the New Testament. They simply endorsed the general consensus of the churches of the west and of the greater part of the east.

Polycarp(AD 110) (the disciple of John mentioned above) included in his list all of the books from Matthew through I Timothy and also included 1 Peter and 1 & 2 John. These books are all cited in his writings – we don’t know for sure that he rejected the other books – they just weren’t cited in his writings.

Several years before, Clement of Rome (AD 90), who knew Peter personally, had also listed Titus, Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter.

Ignatius (AD 110), who was a follower of John, cited Philemon as Scriptural in his writings

Irenaeus (AD 130??), who was a disciple of Polycarp, included 2 Timothy, Jude and Revelation

The Mutorian Canon, which gives us the earliest (AD 170) existing list of New Testament books included the one remaining book from the above – 3rd John.

In addition, the writings of personal disciples of Peter and John verified all but one of the 27 books – that one that was not included was 3rd John. However, 3rd John was often grouped together with 1st and 2nd John and may not have been cited because of that.

The New Testament books that were originally at one point doubted, but later fully accepted as Scripture were Hebrews, James, 2nd & 3rd John, Jude, and Revelation.

The very fact that the early church fathers were so cautious because of their concern that no uninspired book be brought into the cannon should affirm the authenticity and God-breathed inspiration of the 66 books of the Bible we have today.


Volume 1, Theology 201, The Doctrine of the Bible, Faith Bible Institute, John Thomas Yates

The Cannon of Scripture - F. F. Bruce

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At 5:59 PM, Blogger Neil said...

Hi Ms. Green - thanks for the nice summary on a sometimes controversial topic.

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Neil, other than when dealing with Catholics, I never realized that it WAS controversial. As I grow spiritually, I continue to be suprised (and sadened) at the differences in beliefs within the "so called" Christian community.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Timothy said...

Ms. Green
Very good synopsis. DTS has a dialog with Darrell Bock, Dan Wallace and Ben Witherington on this very topic at their site. I plan on posting it either tomorrow or next week. I'm posting the lecture series by Al Mohler done at DTS right now that is fantastic. They have some really good videos to choose from there here lately. Imagine that... this Reformed Calvinist finding some good stuff at DTS. :)

Anyway, good work.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Ms.Green said...


Maybe I'm glitching here, but I don't know what you are referring to with "DTS"??

Thanks for stopping by.


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