Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 16, 1956
NUMBER 40, PAGE 8-9a

A Brief History Of The Bible - (III.)

Luther W. Martin, Rolla, Missouri

The Canon Of The New Testament

The word 'canon' was first applied to the complete collection of the books of the New Testament in the fourth century. The word comes from the Greek language and means literally, a cane or reed. Thus used to denote a measuring reed .... a rule, a standard.

The Apostle Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 3:14, used the expression 'Old Testament.' Similarly, as the books of the Christian Scripture were collected, they became known before the close of the second century, as the 'New Testament.' Also, there are several expressions found in the New Testament writings which may be properly translated "New Testament."

Athanasius of Alexandria drew up a list or canon of the New Testament books, in the middle of the 4th century. Cyril of Jerusalem and Gregory Nazianzen also compiled lists in their respective regions. By this time, the only difference of opinion as to canonical books, involved the Apocalypse or Revelation of John. This seeming opposition toward accepting this one book materialized primarily in the Eastern Church, but was short-lived. Within another century, all the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were accepted as divinely written by any and all factions.

New Testament Apocryphal Books

Although the Roman Church saw fit to add her apocryphal writings to the Old Testament in the form of some seven extra books, the New Testament apocrypha was never accorded such a privilege. However, numerous dogmas and traditions of the Papal system rest upon a shaky foundation of some ancient spurious writings that failed to merit inclusion within the New Testament. Some of the titles of N. T. Apocrypha still remaining include: "The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary," "The Gospel of Psuedo-Matthew, or Book of the Origin of the Blessed Mary and the Infancy of the Saviour," "John's Account of the Departure of Mary," and many others.

Through merely a brief perusal of some of these spurious writings, it can be readily determined why 'Tradition' has become such a foundation stone of the Roman Church.

Part Three: Complete List Of New Testament Books The Twenty-Seven Books Of The New Testament, Are Given As Follows:

Gospel According to Matthew, a biographical book, written by Matthew, an Apostle of Christ. Matthew had been a publican, or collector of taxes under the Roman Government, until he accepted the invitation to follow Christ. He wrote for the benefit of Jewish readers, primarily.

Gospel According to Mark, a biographical book, written by Mark, whom Peter called son, probably also 'John surnamed Mark' mentioned by Luke in Acts of the Apostles. Mark was closely associated with Paul, Barnabas and Peter. He wrote primarily for the benefit of the Romans.

Gospel According to Luke, a biographical book, written by Luke, a Greek medical doctor. He was a missionary companion to Paul, and wrote primarily for Greek or Gentile readers.

Gospel According to John, a biographical book, written by John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee. He was termed the 'beloved disciple.' John wrote his biography of Christ subsequent to the preceding three books. In fact, it is thought that John probably had access to the works of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and thus avoided some repetition. John's is sometimes called the 'Spiritual Gospel' due to the emphasis upon Christ's sonship. This may have been the result of some of the false doctrines of the Gnostics, and John put them to silence in this manner.

Acts of the Apostles, an historical book, written by Luke the Greek physician. It was probably written at Rome immediately after Paul's imprisonment. (Approx. 63. AD.) Acts of the Apostles covers historical events beginning with the ascension of Christ into Heaven, the first preaching of the Gospel of Christ, the establishment of the church of Christ on Pentecost, and the activities of various Apostles and teachers for some three decades.

Paul's Letter to the Romans, written by the Apostle Paul to the congregation at Rome. It was written at Corinth, and at the time of its composition, no Apostle had been to Rome. (See Rom. 1:110 It was written about 58 A.D.

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. It was written at Ephesus about three years after Paul had left Corinth, or approximately 56 A.D.

Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians, written from Macedonia about one year after the first letter. Titus had served as bearer of the preceding letter to Corinth and had probably reported back to Paul as to the manner in which it had been received and accepted. As a consequence, the second one was then written.

Paul's Letter to the Churches of Galatia, a province in Asia Minor was probably written from Ephesus about A.D. 52.

Paul's Letter to the Ephesian Congregation was written about 61 A.D., from Rome. It was brought to Asia Minor by Tychicus, who also delivered another letter from Paul to the church at Colosse, and who was thought to have been accompanied by Onesimus, bearing Paul's letter to Philemon. In some ages, the Ephesian letter was thought to be the 'letter to the Laodiceans' to which Paul referred in Colossians 4:16.

Paul's Letter to the Church at Philippi was written about 61 A.D., from Rome. It bears a striking resemblance in many passages, both in language and sentiment to the Ephesian Letter.

Paul's First Letter to the Church at Thessalonica was written about 51 A.D., and is thought to be possibly the first, chronologically, of Paul's writings. It is thought that this letter was written at Corinth.

Paul's Second Letter to Thessalonica was written probably within a few months of the first letter. Both letters were seemingly designed to allay and quiet the fears of the Thessalonians that the second coming of Christ was immediately at hand.

Paul's First Letter to Timothy, a disciple and companion of Paul. Timothy was a young preacher to whom Paul gave two specific instructions: (1) Combat false doctrine, and, (2) Be thou an example of the believers, in word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith, and purity. This letter was written from Laodicea about A.D. 64.

Paul's Second Letter to Timothy was written from Rome about A.D. 65.

Paul's Letter to Titus also a young preacher. It is thought that it was written from Greece about A.D. 64.

Paul's Letter to Philemon was written from Rome about 61 A.D. Philemon was a wealthy Christian of the city of Colosse. One of his slaves, Onesimus by name, had deserted his master. This slave was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul while at Rome. So Paul sends the Christian slave back to his Christian master along with this letter.

Letter to the Hebrews, is thought to have been written by Paul, although its authorship has been in times past attributed to Luke or to Barnabas. However, it is generally thought that Paul is its author. Paul may have penned it after his release from his first imprisonment at. Rome, about 63 A.D. In any event, it is directed to Hebrew Christians.

Letter of James the Apostle, a universal epistle, in that it was obviously written for general consumption, not having been directed or addressed to any specific recipient, other than the "twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." He was called the 'Lord's brother' by Paul. (Gal. 1:19.) (Matt. 13:55-56.) (Mark 6:3.) According to Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, he was put to death about A.D. 62 by some unbelieving Jews. It is thought that James wrote this letter just prior to his death.

First Letter of Peter, a universal epistle, addressed "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." Some think the 'strangers' were dispersed Jewish converts, while others think the term refers to Gentile-Christians, thinly spread among surrounding idolators. This letter was written from Babylon, (See 1 Peter 5:13), about A.D. 63.

Second Letter of Peter, also a general epistle, was addressed to the same readers as was the first letter. It was written probably between 66 and 68 A.D.

First Letter of John, a general epistle, was probably directed to some church with whom John was closely associated. It was probably written about 95 A.D., either from Ephesus or while John was banished to the Island of Patmos.

Second Letter of John, a general epistle, was addressed to "the elect lady." Although her identity is unknown, she may have been a Christian lady of some influence. This letter was probably written very near the close of John's life.

Third Letter of John, was written to Gaius. What or which Gaius is not known. This letter is thought to have been written about the same time as John's Second Epistle.

Letter of Jude, written probably before A.D. 65 or 70. Jude was the brother of James, the writer of the Epistle of James, and was termed a brother of the Lord in Matthew 13:55. Some of the material in the Letter of Jude is quite similar to the Second Letter of Peter. Compare 2 Peter 2:1-19, with Jude 4-16. Compare also, Jude 17-18, with 2 Peter 2:2-3.

The Apocalypse or Revelation of John, was written by John the Apostle. It is the only prophetical book of the New Testament. It is thought to have been written about 96 A.D., while John was exiled on the Island of Patmos. It is generally written in signs and symbolic language.