When Did We Receive the Books of the Bible?
Many people claim that centuries passed between when the New Testament was written and when it was recognized as God’s Word. But when we examine the books themselves, we discover a very different picture. In this brief clip, Michael Kruger explains that the New Testament authors knew they were writing Scripture from the very beginning. Learn more in his new teaching series, The New Testament Canon, available now from the Ligonier store.
We were arguing very plainly that we think the New Testament writers did know what they were doing when they wrote, that they wrote consciously as people delivering authoritative apostolic content. And therefore, their books would have had the highest possible authority right from the start. Why does all this matter for canon? Because if that’s true, then that affects our understanding of how early the canon emerged, right? Now we can recalibrate our sense of dating. Do we have to wait until the fourth century for some church council to think these books were received early? No, we would expect these books to be received almost as soon as Paul wrote them, right from the get-go, that there would have been a sense that they had that authority right from the start, and that changes our perception of canon in a grand fashion.
It really swims against the tide of modern scholarship that continually wants to push the date of canon further and further back, but also has a second important factor to it, and that is it reminds us these books were Scripture from the outset. They didn’t have to wait for the church to get authority. They didn’t have to wait for a vote to get authority, that they were infused with authority from the very beginning because God gave apostles to speak to His people. In other words, they held divine authority from the start. And that’s another important thing about the canon to take away. The church did not make the canon. The church did not create the canon. The church did not cause the canon. The church simply recognized what was already there. And what was already there? A divinely inspired book that God had given to His church.