When Was The Canon Established?

It is written:

“As the Scriptures say, “When a work animal is being used to separate grain, don’t keep it from eating the grain.” And the Scriptures also say, “A worker should be given his pay.” (1 Timothy 5:18)

In defending the right of elders (pastors) to be financially compensated for their ministry, Paul refers to two passages of Scripture.

The first one is from the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 25:4-When an animal is being used to separate grain, you must not cover its mouth to stop it from eating.

The second one is from the New Testament:

Luke 10:7-Stay in the peace-loving house. Eat and drink what the people there give you. A worker should be given his pay. Don’t leave that house to stay in another house. (cf. Matthew 10:10)

Several things should be noticed here.

First, Paul quotes from the New Testament and calls it “Scripture.” Obviously, he understood that the New Testament Books we’re inspired Scripture!

Second, Paul’s reference shows that the early church was familiar with the New Testament Scriptures.

Third, this all flies in the face of the claims of skeptics of the Bible and members of the Roman Catholic church that the New Testament canon was not formed for hundreds of years after the death of the Apostles. As Kruger writes:

“The question we have been asking in this chapter is a simple one. At what point did Christians consider their own books to be “Scripture”? Was this a late- second- century phenomenon largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, as some scholars suggest? The historical evidence surveyed here suggests a very different picture than the one that is typically presented. Not only do others in Irenaeus’s own time period already receive many of the New Testament books as Scripture (for example, Muratorian Fragment, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch), but this trend can be traced even further back into the second century. Justin Martyr appears to know the four canonical Gospels and indicates that they were used as Scripture in worship alongside the Old Testament during his day. In addition, Papias, Barnabas , Ignatius, Polycarp, 1 Clement , 2 Peter, and 1 Timothy also seem to regard a number of Christian writings as Scripture. They often refer to them expressly as “Scripture” (sometimes introducing them with “it is written”) or regard them as possessing apostolic authority— which, functionally, would be on par with the authority of Scripture. While the boundaries of the church’s Scriptures during this early time were still fairly fluid (and would not be resolved for centuries), there seems to be little doubt that the church did, in fact, have Scriptures…One should also not forget that the evidence above is not just from a single church father, but from a variety of sources spread over a number of different regions. While any individual piece of evidence might be contested or questioned, it is the extent of the evidence that proves to be the compelling factor. If we are correct that Christians began to view their books as Scripture much earlier than Irenaeus— perhaps even by the turn of the century— then this provides noteworthy confirmation of the arguments we have been making throughout this volume. We have argued that canon was not a late ecclesiastical development but was something that would have grown naturally and innately out of the earliest Christian movement. Moreover, we argued that even the authors of the New Testament appeared to have some awareness that they were writing Scripture. All of these factors together serve to challenge the “big bang” theory of canon that argues that the canon was forcibly planted within the soil of the church by later ecclesiastical powers (whether Irenaeus or others) who were keen to refute the heresies of their day. Instead, the evidence we have seen here suggests the canon began more like a seed that was present in the soil of the church from the very beginning, growing gradually and consistently over time.” (Michael J. Kruger, The Question Of Canon: Challenging The Status Quo In The New Testament Debate, 202-203 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVaristy Press)

How wise we would be to try and pattern our lives according to God’s proven and true Word!

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