As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.
To understand where our Bible came from is of the upmost importance for Christians.
To understand the importance of the canon, it is important to understand what the word “canon” means..
The early church father Origin used the word canon:
“To denote what we call the ‘rule of faith’ the standard by which we are to measure and evaluate everything that may be offered to us as an article of belief “FF Bruce
The canon should be viewed as the absolute truth that is inspired by God and there is nothing wrong inside of the canon.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament canons are very important.
The Old Testament canon tells the story of God’s relationship with his people and contains the Jewish law.
The New Testament is considered the ending of the unfinished Old Testament Canon. The apostles were considered as the vocal cords of Christ, which gave them the authority to write the scripture that they did.
For a book to be included in the New Testament, it had to have been written by one of the apostles. Early church fathers established a clear difference between their writings and those of the apostles.
Ignatius of Antioch (AD 50-115), an early apostolic father helped make the clear distinction between his writings compared to the apostles, saying that his or any other apostolic fathers writings were not on their level as the apostles.
The New Testament canon that is used today is the same canon that was used in the early church.
There is an authentic manuscript of John (P52) which is dated to the early to mid-second century.
Justin Martyr’s (AD 100-165) First Apology talks about scriptures from the apostles being read at church services. This helps confirm that the gospels were written in the lifespan of the apostles.
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.”Justin Martyr’s First Aplogy, Chapter 67
Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 180) cited almost all books of the New Testament and all of the gospels in some of his letters.
Athanasius (AD 296 – 367) is credited with helping finalize the New Testament canon, the genuine writings of the apostles as he listed out all of the books of the present day New Testament. This does not mean that he added any books, but rather that he organized all of the Apostles teachings into one book.
In 331 AD, Constantine asked for the copy of 50 new bibles for the Church of Constantinople, so the New Testament canon must have finalized by this point.
Contrary to popular belief, the Christian Canon was finalized before the Council of Nicea (325 AD), and there is no evidence to support the contrary. It is mere speculation.
The idea that the Council of Nicea was the finalization of the canon is based on the secular belief that the Christian canon needed to be corrected.
The Chrisitan Canon was determined not by a vote, but by the consensus of church leaders who would agree that a book would have the authorship of an apostle.
The Chrisitan canon has been finalized, because after the apostles had all died.
After there deaths, there was no one who could write a book that could be part of the canon and, there is strong evidence for the reliability of the New Testament canon.
The books that Christians read from today are the same books that were used by the apostolic fathers. Apostolic fathers also set up strong standards for what would be considered part of the canon, as it must have come from an apostle or it could not be part of the canon.
The canon is closed and there are no more books that could be part of the canon.