This is Part 2 of 9 parts answering the basic and very important question, “What does Canonicity mean and why is it important?” Parts 3-9 will be posted on succeeding days.
How do we know what is Scripture?
There are two main ways we know what Scripture is. The first way is through “self authentication.” This means Scripture authenticates itself and that is because the entire Bible is inspired by God. This inspiration is described in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16 NKJ) Scripture is inspired, because it is God-breathed. The original writings (written by men carried along by the Holy Spirit , 2 Pet. 1:21), were inspired by God. Therefore, because of inspiration, the books of the Bible were Canon the moment they were written. No book became canonical by an action of a man or a church council. The church council recognized the canonicity of a particular book and included it into the Bible.
However, the second way we know what is Scripture is by the decisions of men and church councils. Men had to consider which books should be recognized. Some books were considered not inspired, like “the gospel according to Peter.” God guided groups of men to make correct choices (with guidelines) of the Old Testament and New Testament. The final certification was completed in 397 A.D. at a council of churches called the Council of Carthage.
Remember that the arguments in the first four centuries as to which books were canonical in no way detracted from the canonicity of the book. Let’s look at the Old Testament and then the New Testament. How did the church establish which books of the Old Testament were Canon?
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.