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The Canonization of the Bible
by: Dalton Gilreath

I.              Introduction

A.   The term “canon” came from the idea of measuring with a reed

                                          i.    The Bible canon is about making sure the books inserted into the Bible “measured up” to the standard of our Lord

                                        ii.    Some debate that books like the book of Thomas should be in the Bible

B.   Can we be sure we need all the books we have in the Bible?

                                          i.    Can we be positive we are not missing any other books?

                                        ii.    Consider the internal evidence of both the Old and New Testament canon

II.            Old Testament

A.   We categorize our Bible books into 5 divisions

                                          i.    We call them the books of law, history, poetry, major prophets and minor prophets

                                        ii.    The Septuagint Bible was divided into very similar categories

1.    The Septuagint was the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament created around 280-250 BC

2.    This first translation is critical because even our Lord viewed it as reliable

                                       iii.    Jesus and the apostles quoted from the Septuagint multiple times

1.    Jesus quoted from it in Luke 4:18-21

2.    Peter quoted from it in Acts 2:26

a.    Notice he quotes from Psa 16:9

b.    Peter says the “tongue” is glad but David used the term “glory”

                                                                                          i.    The Hebrews called their tongue their glory

                                                                                        ii.    The Greeks did not

                                       iv.    If a translation is quoted from by our Lord and His apostles it must be reliable

1.    Therefore it is possible for translations into other languages to be as good as the original

2.    Could it not be that our English translations are reliable then?

B.   The Hebrew Bible was only placed into three categories

                                          i.    They called them the law, prophets, and psalms

1.    Jesus references them as such in Luke 24:44

2.    When speaking to the Jews He knew how they divided their Bible

                                        ii.    Furthermore, these three divisions had only about 24 books as they combined many of them differently than we do

1.    They combined Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, all the minor prophets, and more

2.    They also ordered them a bit differently as well

3.    However, they included all 39 books we have today

                                       iii.    We also see a significant reference to the Old Testament canon in Luke 11:50-51

1.    Jesus references the prophets from Abel to Zacharias

2.    Interestingly, the Hebrew Bible went from Genesis to Chronicles

a.    Abel is found in Genesis and Zacharias in Chronicles

b.    Therefore, Jesus basically quotes the entire Old Testament canon as legitimate

III.           New Testament

A.   Paul describes the writings of the apostles and prophets as the foundation of the Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:19-22, cf. 3:5)

                                          i.    Notice the apostles and some prophets are credited with writing the New Testament scriptures

                                        ii.    The rules for the New Testament canon included being an apostle or having been directly associated with one along with the writing being widely circulated and accepted in the first century church

B.   Let’s consider who wrote the 27 books of the New Testament and whether or not they meet this eligibility

                                          i.    Paul wrote at least 13 of the 27 books and we know he was an apostle

                                        ii.    John, too, was an apostles and wrote 6 of the books which brings us to 18

                                       iii.    The apostle Peter wrote 2 books which would make 20

                                       iv.    The last apostle was Matthew who wrote 1 book as well

1.    What about the other 6 books?

2.    Were these prophets directly associated with an apostle?

                                        v.    Mark makes the cut (Acts 12:25)

1.    We see in the scripture that he was affiliated with Paul

2.    Furthermore, he was also associated with Peter (1 Pet 5:13)

                                       vi.    Luke is simply is he is noted with Paul often throughout the book of Acts and in Colossians 4:14

                                      vii.     The last two prophets are James and Jude

1.    They were not only around apostles but the Lord Himself

2.    We remember that they were His brothers (Matt 13:55)

                                    viii.    This leaves us with one remaining book, Hebrews

1.    We may not know who wrote the book but we still know some things about the author

2.    The author was inspired by God (Heb 1:1-2)

3.    The author was with the other apostles (Heb 2:3-4)

C.   The internal claims of the Bible can leave the faithful Christian with no doubt

                                          i.    We have all we need to be faithful to God (Jude 1:3)

                                        ii.    God has the power to preserve His Word throughout the span of eternity if it was necessary