Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Best and Oldest: Canon was complete in the First Century

Is it really radical to suggest that canon was finished in the first century, during the lifetime of the apostles? No, not at all. In the last blog we saw that even the first few sentences in the book of Luke, the gospel according to Luke, show that the Gospels were collated and written down, by eyewitnesses as they happened, and the accounts given to the premiere eyewitnesses, the Apostles to write so that all reported events of the Life of our Messiah were recounted for believers yet to come. Yet these few verses, (repeated here as a reminder) tell us that they were delivered by those who saw and believed, and at the point Luke wrote to Theophilus in the first century, they were complete.

Luk 1:1-3 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus

There is far more evidence though that all of the New Testament , the complete canon was collated and agreed upon by the early church in Jerusalem, Antioch and the reaches beyond where Paul visited, and where the early disciples went in the Great commission: as far as the British Isles, India/Persia, and into Africa.
We really must believe that there was a complete canon in the first century. Why? Because of the Logic of John the Apostle (sometimes referred to as John the Divine )in the following passage:

Rev 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Now, while some may argue that statement is only for Revelation, the book of Revelation was given in Holy Spirit utterance and vision to the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos with the instruction for its writing and distribution to the churches. John was the last apostle to die, and the churches already had copies of the other gospels and epistles. In sovereignty, the Revelation of John is given lastly, beyond which no book could have been written by anyone to include in canon: it is a matter of simple logic: since even later 'councils' like Trent and Nicea demanded an eyewitness account by someone who had seen Jesus and was anointed for the purpose, the accounts by self-attestation, were dried ink and a fixed work before anyone else encountered them, and long before any council of a seditioned and dissensioned church met for discussion.

There is far more evidence though, that there were substantial complete 'bibles' before the last apostle died. Even the word derives from the Greek 'biblion' or 'biblios' referring to the scroll or collation of scrolls. When it is said "in the volume of the book it is written..." it is an expression referring to the totally and completion of what is written.

Modern scholars love to talk of 'oral traditions' and how story was passed from person to person until they were eventually written down, replete with errors and folklore. Common 'agreement' of scholars today refer to 'text families', such as the Byzantine, Syriac, Western and Alexandrian, that refer to where the scroll fragments were found as though they were versions of a bible or even 'different' bibles. Modern sophistry dismisses 'inerrancy' of the Word of God by carefully stating in their doctrinal positions that the 'original autographs' were inerrant and inspired, but they leave unstated their true feelings that everything after that can't be trusted. For years there has been a popular assumption that there was some sort of 'Q' document, a sort of central group that everyone did a version of, or that perhaps there was the gospel of Mark, written by 'God knows who', that everyone else elaborated on because Mark was short in length and the others were extended. If we went only on manuscript evidence, this would not bear out, because the very oldest piece of a gospel (although another is in the offing), is from the gospel of John which scholars argue was later than the others. Papyrii 66 , closely matching the modern KJV reading (textus receptus) supports the authenticity of the KJV line.

The fundamental error in logic though, is that what is reported in the scriptures is in error, so it becomes a cat chasing its tail. If what is reported is erroneous, then anything can be invented, including lengthy oral traditions and later syntheses, all arguing a form of errancy and unbelief. The truth is, their arguments start with unbelief,with a belief that the scriptures are not inerrant and are not the Word of God.

However, men died for that Word, and for Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus Christ, seeing what they had seen, they abandoned all that is safe, comfortable and respectable in this world, to lay down their lives for the telling of a truth so great they would rather be 'crucified upside down' or boiled in oil or sawn asunder rather than turn on that truth. While a martyr here or there might die for a fable or a lie, it is unlikely that even thousands, and then millions more over the centuries would in love lay down their lives if they had not truly seen something! These believers, dedicated to the truth, dying for the truth, sacrificing themselves and all they loved for the truth, were far more accurate under the scrutiny of men who had lived with Jesus and healed in his name, than the cynical theologians of questionable lifestyles who would snicker at a first century complete Bible.

To go a little farther, though, consider the times in the New Testament that such words as 'write', 'wrote' or writing(s)' are used: you will find that as the events in the life of Messiah occurred, they are very frequently reported as having been written down! More than that, Paul notes at the end of each epistle (meaning 'letter') that either he or one who scribed for him, basically taking dictation, WROTE down the letters: they were 'fixed' (as in a copyright) or complete and inerrant when they were finished.

Prophecy and Writing

Consider then, that the real first 'autographs' were often spoken, and then written, or written as events occurred. I used to wonder when I was an unbeliever or a new believer, how all those roughly 1100+ pages , especially the lengthy prophecies, could have possibly been remembered later to write down. I used to argue than since it was Holy Spirit Utterance in the power of God, that God must have given an anointing and more complete memory for whoever wrote down what the prophets said. As I went back though, into the Old Testament, I was surprised to find that the scribes were often either present at the time of the spoken utterance, or that prophesyings were often WRITTEN. We just assume that prophetic utterances are all spoken, but in some cases, they are letters, and in some cases God tells the prophet to write:
- Exd 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon [these] tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
- Exd 34:27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.Jer 36:17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

God wrote, Moses wrote, Jeremiah wrote, Baruch wrote, John wrote, Luke wrote etc, etc. The events were conveyed even when oral, immediately by scribe, by word, by the prophet or one present, set for the task.

Until the next blog, consider a different idea about our Word of God and its 'original autographs'. Included below are some scriptures to review:
Jhn 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Luk 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

Act 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.

Act 25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.

1Cr 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn [you].

1Cr 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

2Cr 1:13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;

2Cr 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

2Cr 9:1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2Cr 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare

2Cr 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

Gal 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Phl 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it is] safe.

1Th 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

1Ti 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
2Th 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle:

so I write.:

2Pe 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

1Jo 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

1Jo 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1Jo 2:7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

1Jo 2:8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

1Jo 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.

1Jo 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him [that is] from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

2Jo 1:12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not [write] with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

3Jo 1:13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:

Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Rev 1:11
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send [it] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Rev 1:19
write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Rev 2:1
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Rev 2:8
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 2:12
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
Rev 2:18
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [are] like fine brass;
Rev 3:1
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Rev 3:7
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Rev 19:9 And he saith unto me, write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, write: for these words are true and faithful.


Jhn 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

Act 15:23 And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

Rom 16:22 I Tertius, who wrote [this] epistle, salute you in the Lord

. 1Cr 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
1Cr 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.
2Cr 2:3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is [the joy] of you all
. 2Cr 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
2Cr 7:12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, [I did it] not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you

. Eph 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Phm 1:21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
2Jo 1:5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

3Jo 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
about 150 times for write , wrote: Not all included above. Most references are the apostles writing or God writing, e.g. Jesus writng in the sand, or write it on their hearts.

More on ‘written' later: ekbest