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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Are the Right Books in the New Testament?

Don Stewart :: What Minimal Factors Should Be Expected of a Book That Is to Be Included in the New Testament Canon?

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What Minimal Factors Should Be Expected of a Book That Is to Be Included in the New Testament Canon?

Are the Right Books in the New Testament? – Question 10

There are a certain number of minimal factors that we should expect from a book if it is to be part of the New Testament canon of Scripture. They include, at least, these six things:

  1. The book must come from an authoritative source.
  2. The work did not contradict truth that God had previously revealed.
  3. The work must be historically accurate.
  4. The message centered on the Person of Jesus Christ and His program for humanity.
  5. Believers must hear the voice of God through this work.
  6. The book was continually used in the church from the time of the Apostles.

We can make a number of observations about these minimal factors.

1. The Book Must Come from an Authoritative Source

The book must have an author who was granted unique authority by Jesus. They were the only ones whom Jesus specifically called and commissioned. No one else could qualify as an authoritative source of the teachings of Jesus, or as an interpreter of His teachings. The people in this category would include the apostles, their immediate associates, and even the relatives of Jesus such as James and Jude.

2. It Must Be Orthodox in Teaching

Any writing that would come from the living God must be orthodox in doctrine. God would certainly not contradict something that He previously revealed. Therefore, any work that contradicted previous Scripture is to be rejected. On the other hand, the divinely inspired writings would be used to teach Christian doctrine.

3. It Would Be Historically Accurate in All That It Says

Another important aspect is historical accuracy. For a book to come from a perfect God, we should, at the very least, expect it to be accurate in all that it says. If God is the God of truth, then whatever originates from Him must be true. We would not expect to find any statement that would be contrary to known historical facts.

4. It Must Further Our Knowledge of Christ and His Commands

Jesus Christ must be at the center of any book that would be part of the New Testament. This does not mean that each of the writings must unveil new doctrines about Him. What it does mean is that His Person and program must be furthered by the contents of each book.

5. Believers Must Hear the Voice of God Through the Book

Any writing that would ultimately come from the living God would, of necessity, have His power and authority behind it. There were many books rejected by believers because this criterion could not be met.

6. The Church Must Continually Have Used the Writing

If God divinely inspired a particular writing, then we would expect that work to be received by the people of God, and be continuously used in the church.

These criteria are the minimum that we should expect from any book that is to be placed into the New Testament canon of Scripture.

Summary – Question 10
What Minimal Factors Should Be Expected of a Book That Is to Be Included into the New Testament Canon?

For a book to be considered to be Holy Scripture, there is a certain minimum standard that we should expect from it. To begin with, the document must come from an authoritative source.

Next, the teaching must be orthodox—it cannot contradict what was previously revealed. In addition, the writing must be historically accurate.

Furthermore, the work itself must center upon the Person of Jesus Christ and His plan for humanity. Also, the believer must hear the voice of God through this work.

Finally, the church must continually use the work from its beginning. All of the New Testament documents meet these criteria.

What Important Factors Caused the Early Church to Recognize the Present New Testament Canon? ← Prior Section
What Do Early Bible Translations Tell Us about the Extent of the New Testament Canon? Next Section →
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