How Do We Know The Bible Contains The Correct Books?

How Do We Know The Bible Contains The Correct Books? By Frank Harber

The question which invariably arises when speaking of the Scriptures is, "How does one know which books in today's Bible are the right ones?" It is important to note at this point that a group of men did not just arbitrarily select a group of books to be used in compiling the Bible. They only officially "recognized" which books had always been upheld as being scriptural.

The processes of formation for the Old Testament and New Testament differed. The Old Testament developed over a period of 1,100 years. When Moses produced the Torah, it was immediately identified as inspired and authoritative. In time, other works were added which were deemed to be authenticated by God. A threefold division arose of Law, Prophets, and Writings. These writings eventually became a completed collection and came to be referred to as "the Scripture(s)." The Christian Church accepted these completed works in their entirety as found in the Hebrew Bible (Matt. 22:29; John 10:35, 19:36; Acts 18:24; Rom. 1:2; 2 Pet. 1:20).

The New Testament developed in a much shorter time span. Because Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, His words were considered as divine and authoritative. The early Christians produced works which recorded the words of Jesus called "the gospels." The letters of the apostles and Paul were reproduced and circulated along with gospels throughout all the churches (Col. 4:16; 2 Pet. 3:16). These writings begin with the Book of James (c. A.D. 45) and conclude with the Revelation. The collection of these works became known as the "Canon." The word canon is a Greek term which meant a "list" or "index."

The process of canonization was not a formal process by which Church leaders all met to decide which books could be included in the canon. Books which were deemed to be inspired by God were immediately treated as authoritative. These works began to be assimilated into a collection of sacred writings.

A crisis in the fourth century caused the Church to give a formal statement on which books were canonical. In A.D. 397, a Church Council was held in Carthage which endorsed the exact 27 books of the New Testament we now regard as canonical. These 27 books were all apostolic in origin, authoritative in spiritual content, and accepted universally among the orthodox churches. These tests were used at the council to eliminate the spurious gospels and epistles written by heretical groups. This process of canonization has ensured that today's Bible contains only the books which were attested as being inspired by God.

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