Final Cut: How Were the Books of the New Testament Chosen?
- Thursday, July 12, 2012
2. The books considered as Holy Scripture were consistent with both the Old Testament and with the teachings of the Apostles. Even a cursory reading of the books not included in the canon reveals that most were written with a Gnostic bias. Gnosticism was an early Christian heresy that took root in the second century. The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek term “gnosis”, meaning “knowledge.” Gnosticism sought salvation through secret knowledge. However, the Bible declares that the gospel is given openly and for all to see. According to Gnosticism not all people have a divine spark, only the intellectuals who had the real “gnosis.” Everyone else was doomed. Under Gnosticism, there was no hope of salvation for most of the human race. This theology stands in stark contrast to Jesus declaration in John 3:16: “…and whoever believes in Him shall not perish…”
3. The books included in the Bible were the ones which experienced widespread use in the churches. Some books just stood head and shoulders above the rest. To put it another way, the cream rose to the top. These particular books stood out as “God-breathed” while others did not.
4. Persecution quickly determined which books were more likely God-breathed than others. Some books were more easily surrendered to persecuting soldiers—others were worth dying for.
By the way, E, no group ever officially voted on which should be considered as Holy Scripture. However, by the early fourth century the 27 books now included in the New Testament were first mentioned in a list by the Council of Nicaea as being God-breathed. Those 27 New Testament books along with the 39 books of the Old Testament make up the 66 books in the Holy Bible of today.
The divine nature of the Old Testament Books was set in place by the Jews beginning about 1200 B.C. As far as the canon was concerned, the Old Testament was finalized by 400 B.C. with the Book of Malachi.
Numerous books were written during the intertestamental period from 400 B.C. to the time of Christ. These are called the Apocrypha (from the words meaning “false” or “spurious”). Both Protestant Christians and Jews reject the Apocryphal Books. The Roman Catholics include them as Biblical truth.
I hope you find this helpful.
P.S. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable, by F.F. Bruce is one of the most finely detailed books on why the New Testament Books are divinely inspired—and why others are not.
Dr. Roger Barrier recently retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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