The people of God, the Israelites had their ancient writings. For them the writings of the prophets were set-apart or holy. As the years went by several books where added and got to be known as the Hebrew Scriptures or the Tanakh or Tenakh.
From the time after Jeshua’s death (later on in the first century of the common era) those Hebrew and Aramaic writings also got to be known as the Ketuvim aleph or First writings within Scriptures after the Prophets or Nevi’im and Torah or written Law, and got as second writings the gospels and letters from the apostles.
Throughout history the different works of literature from those men of God became considered as one unit and assembled in a book of books, the Bible.
How do we know that the 66 books in our Bibles were all inspired?
The word canon means a standard or measuring rod. Today we take it also to be a group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field or as an ecclesiastical law or code of laws established by a church council.
The canon of Scripture means those writings that are inspired.
Some Bible writers stated explicitly:
“This is the word of the LORD”
“This is what the LORD says …” (for example: Jeremiah 2:1; Joel 1:1).
Other books do not claim to be inspired, but they quickly became recognized as inspired because the person who wrote them was accepted as a prophet of God (for example: Genesis, Song of Solomon).
The Bible provides two tests for deciding whether a prophet is inspired:
1. he should predict the future accurately (Deuteronomy 18: 21-22); and
2. he should not teach people to turn away from God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
The Old Testament was well established by the time of Jesus. The books had been accepted for centuries for being recorded by prophets of God like Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel. These men had visions from God and made prophecies that came true. Therefore what they said and what they wrote were accepted as the work of God. The Hebrew people looked on the Old Testament books as sacred Scriptures from the very time they were written. It did not take long for the New Testament writings to be considered scripture also. For example, the letters of Paul were considered Scripture by the time Peter wrote his second letter (2 Peter 3:15-16).
“To whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)” (John 10:35).
After his resurrection, he appeared to his disciples to tell them how everything written about him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44. His direct reference to the three sections of the Hebrew Old Testament
canon that were in existence at that time is authoritative evidence that Christ himself knew, respected and used the Old Testament.
Apostolic authority was the chief test to determine genuine New Testament Scripture.
Men who had lived with Christ and who had seen him and talked with him following his resurrection had unique authority and power.
Members of the early ecclesiae could recognise which books were genuinely apostolic. The books were either written by an apostle or by someone (such as Mark or Luke) who were companions of the apostles.
We trust in Christ’s promise to his apostles,
“The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
When Christ promised the apostles that they would be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth, he indirectly put his stamp of approval on the writings of the New Testament that the apostles would go on to produce.
(Get to know more in our publication: Getting to know the Bible better)
Next: Video How the Biblical Canon Was Formed
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