The Canonization of the Bible

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The Canonization of the Bible

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When one wholeheartedly begins to seek God and desires to obey His Word, the question that frequently comes to mind is, "Does the Bible contain all of God's revelation to man or are there other books?" Some Bibles have 66 books and others have 7 additional books, so how does a person know exactly which books make up God's Word? This study guide will help you investigate and answer such questions which have to do with the canonization of the Bible.

Old Testament

Romans 3:1-4 "What advantage then has the Jew..."

1. What are the "oracles of God"?

2. Who was to keep and maintain them?

3. Has God promised that those oracles would be faithfully preserved?

4. What have the Jews done to carefully transcribe the scriptures?

5. Did Jesus assert that the words of the law had still been faithfully preserved in His lifetime? Read Matthew 5:18.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 ...from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures....

6. What was considered scripture when Paul wrote to Timothy?

7. Why were the books of the Bible preserved? Could man learn this knowledge on his own?

2 Peter 1:21 "...for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

8. Who authored the scriptures? Could any man claim inspiration?

New Testament

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine ....

1. Jesus' disciples wrote most New Testament books. Why would at least some of their writings be canonized?

2. Luke was not a disciple. Why would his gospel and Acts be accepted as scripture? Did he accompany an apostle?

3. Did James and Jude know Jesus well, and, therefore be able to write authoritatively?

2 Peter 3:15-16 "[Paul] has written to you ...some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures."

4. Were Paul's writings considered Scripture while Peter was still alive?

1 Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture says... "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

5. What is the source for Paul's quote?

6. Were the words of Jesus to be preserved? Read Matthew 24:35.

2 Peter 1:12,15 Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things [regarding entering Christ's Kingdom], though you know them, and are established in the present truth. (15) Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

7. How could Peter ensure that we would "always have a reminder of these things" after his death?

8. Was Revelation to be the last book? Read Revelation 22:18-19 and comment.

"Lost Books" and Other Books

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now, brethren... we ask you, (2) not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter, as if from us...

1. Did Paul predict there would be false writings?

2. Why would Paul deem it necessary to often call readers to note his handwriting?

(1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17)

3. Other books are mentioned in scripture (Numbers 21:14, 2 Samuel 1:18, 1 Kings 11:41, 1 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29). Why would these works not be preserved? Consider the purpose of Scripture when answering.

4. The "lost books of the Bible," or "Pseudepigrapha," claim authorship by well-known Bible characters. Why were these writings not canonized? Was their authorship credible? Do they teach heresy? Why would they not be universally accepted?


1. What does God say about the canonization of the Bible? Has He promised to preserve His Word through the ages? Is God, in the final analysis, the One who determines what works are canonized?

2. What are some of the beliefs in the world concerning which books are inspired?

3. Do you believe the Bible contains exactly the right books? List the criteria you think should be used to determine inspiration.