From the Elders: The Canon

From the Elders: The Canon

FUN FACT: The first fireworks were used as early as 200 BC. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4 of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. Ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies.

“Our English word “canon” (notice one “N”) is a translation of a Greek word that originally referred to a “straight rod” or a “measuring rod.” It was literally used to measure “straightness,” but the term was used figuratively to denote the rules or norms of the Christian faith. By the fourth century A.D. it was used regularly to refer to the collection of books that the church accepts as inspired and authoritative. 

The thirty-nine books that we have in our Old Testament were fairly well set as the authoritative Scriptures of the Jews prior to the coming of Christ. The order of the books was different, and this is reflected in the title used for the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish Scriptures (our Old Testament) is referred to as the Tanak. This is an acronym for the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible: T for Torah, N for Nebi’im (prophets), and K for Ketubim (the Writings). So, the arrangement of the books in the Jewish Tanak differs from that of the Protestant Old Testament, but the actual books are the same. 

The early church accepted the books of the Jewish canon. Indeed, the writers of the New Testament clearly treat the books of the Old Testament as authoritative and as God’s Word for Christians, as seen in the discussion above regarding 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Marcion, a writer in the second century tried to convince the church to abandon it. However, the New Testament writers had clearly embraced the Old Testament books, and the gospel tradition handed down to the church from the apostles had clearly affirmed the Old Testament as the Word of God. Thus, Maricon was not able to sway the church away from its belief that the Old Testament books were inspired, authoritative, and canonical.” (Grasping God’s Word-Second Edition Copyright 2001, 2005 by Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays.)

We can be assured by God’s Word in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV).