Here is a past blog regarding how your Bible became The Bible.
Our God Question from this past Sunday dealt with the questions:
How do you know the Bible wasn’t written by men pushing their idea of God? Also, why should we take the Bible literally?
During the discussion we fielded questions regarding how exactly were the books in the Bible determined to be authentic? I mean couldn’t we have gotten a book in the Bible that was just rubbish? In order to consider the questions let’s take a look at the specific tests for a book to be included in the Bible.
Note: This blog relates to information for inclusion in the New Testament part of the Bible. The evidence supports that the Hebrew canon (The Old Testament) was established well before the late first century A.D., more than likely as early as the fourth century B.C. and certainly no later than 150 B.C.
A common term used when it comes to which books would or would not be included in the Bible relates to its “canonicity.”
The word canon comes from the root word reed (English word cane, Hebrew form ganeh, and Greek form kanon). The reed was used as a measuring rod, and the word came to mean “standard.” The third-century church father Origen used the word canon to denote what we call the “rule of faith,” the standard by which we are to measure and evaluate. Later, the term meant a “list” or “index.” As applied to Scripture, canon means “an officially accepted list of books.”
It is important to note that the church did not create the canon; it did not determine which books would be called Scripture, the inspired Word of God. Instead, the church recognized, or discovered, which books had been inspired from their inception. Stated another way by Norman Geisler, “a book is not the Word of God because it is accepted by the people of God. Rather, it was accepted by the people of God because it is the Word of God. That is, God gives the book its divine authority, not the people of God. They merely recognize the divine authority which God gives to it.”
Tests for Inclusion in the Canon
From the writings of biblical and church history, we can discern at least five principles that guided the recognition and collection of the divinely inspired books.
1. Was the book written by a prophet of God?
If it was written by a spokesman for God, then it was the Word of God.
2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?
Frequently miracles separated the true prophets from the false ones. Moses was given miraculous powers to prove his call of God (Ex. 4:1–9). Elijah triumphed over the false prophets of Baal by a supernatural act (1 Kin. 18). Jesus was ‘attested to…by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him’ (Acts 2:22).… [A] miracle is an act of God to confirm the Word of God given through a prophet of God to the people of God. It is the sign to substantiate his sermon; the miracle to confirm his message.
3. Did the message tell the truth about God?
God cannot contradict Himself (2 Cor. 1:17, 18), nor can He utter what is false (Heb. 6:18). Hence, no book with false claims can be the Word of God.” For reasons such as these, the church fathers maintained the idea of “If in doubt, throw it out.” This enhanced the validity of their discernment of the canonical books.
4. Does it come with the power of God?
The Fathers believed the Word of God is ‘living and active’ (Heb. 4:12), and consequently ought to have a transforming force for edification (2 Tim. 3:17) and evangelization (1 Pet. 1:23). If the message of a book did not affect its stated goal, if it did not have the power to change a life, then God was apparently not behind its message. The presence of God’s transforming power was a strong indication that a given book had His stamp of approval.
5. Was it accepted by the people of God?
Paul said of the Thessalonians, “We also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13). For whatever subsequent debate there may have been about a book’s place in the canon, the people in the best position to know its prophetic credentials were those who knew the prophet who wrote it. Hence, despite all later debate about the canonicity of some books, the definitive evidence is that which attests to its original acceptance by the contemporary believers. When a book was received, collected, read, and used by the people of God as the Word of God, it was regarded as canonical. This practice is often seen in the Bible itself. One instance is when the apostle Peter acknowledges Paul’s writings as Scripture on a par with Old Testament Scripture (see 2 Pet. 3:16).
Want to know more? See the book Evidence for Christianity by Josh McDowell, J. (2006). Thomas Nelson Publishers.