#11-The Canonicity of the Books of the Bible

We have looked at various issues concerning the Bible--Its revelatory nature, Its authority, Its inspiration, etc. But how did the Bible become the Bible? Why were Isaiah, Nahum, and Revelation included in the Bible but the Gospel of Thomas Book of Jasper omitted? In answering these questions, we are discussing the canonicity of the Bible.

The canonicity of the Bible refers to the authoritative books inspired by God for inclusion in Holy Scripture. C. The antiquity or authenticity of a book [nor the prestige of a religious community] could make a book canonical or authoritative. A book is valuable because it is canonical and not canonical because it is or was considered venerable. Its authority is established by God and merely discovered by God's people. [Dr. Norman Geisler, 2005. https://jashow.org/articles/the-canonicity-of-the-bible/]. In other words, the Holy Spirit revealed which books were to be made part of the Canon and included within the modern Bible. 

Ultimately, one's attitude toward the canonicity of the Bible must be based upon one's perspective and understanding of God. Suppose God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, and forever-present God of the universe. In that case, He can have the books that He desires to be gathered into the Biblical Canon, with all other manuscripts being rejected. However, if God is not omnipotent, then the Canon of the Bible is merely men's work and is based upon human whims and prejudices. 

The Bible, however, boldly declares that all Scripture comes from God (2 Ti, 3:16), was given by God (2 Pe. 1:21), and is a complete work (Rev. 22:18-19). The Council of Rome (382) and the Third Council of Carthage (397) did not create the Canon. The Council merely confirmed the books the Holy Spirit had inspired (2 Ti. 3:16).and directed the Church to receive as God's truth (John 16:13). Thus, the determination of the Canon was guided by the Father. Jesus had promised that the Spirit would teach and guide the Church (Jn. 16:13-14, 15:26); the formation of the Canon was part of that spiritual guidance. 

The Canon itself demonstrates the reality of the truth of God's providential care. "The Word of God stands as a whole and complete Word." (CI, Bibliology, p. 18). The Bible reveals God's purpose and plans for humankind. Although God does not unveil all knowledge in His Word (Deuteronomy. 29:29), the Bible does explain: 

  • how God created man
  • why God created humanity
  • how evil came into the world 
  • God's plan to send Jesus
  • and the ultimate destiny of every human being. 

The purpose of life and the plan of salvation are also contained in God's Word. Thus, God's revelation in His Word is sufficient to meet the basic need of each individual.

This truth is clearly stated in the Bible. God's Word, and the Canon, are settled (Ps. 119:89). Man is not to add or subtract from the Canon (Rev. 22:18-19), for God, not men, created the Canon. The Canon exists in the form that God planned and approved. There is no vital revelation from God that exists outside of the Canon. Reading, studying, and applying the truths of the Canon will bring wholeness and satisfaction to the individual.


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