“Canon” is a word that comes from Greek and Hebrew words that literally means a measuring rod. So canonicity describes the standard that books had to meet to be recognized as scripture.
This study discusses the tests of canonicity that were used, the history of canonization and a brief explanation of why certain disputed books are not scripture.
The early church councils applied several basic standards in recognizing whether a book was inspired.
B. Is it prophetic (“a man of God” 2 Peter 1:20)?
C. Is it authentic (consistent with other revelation of truth)?
E. Is it received (accepted and used by believers –1 Thessalonians 2:13)?
IV. The History of Canonization
1. Christ refers to Old Testament books as “scripture” (Matthew 21:42, etc.).
3. Josephus, the Jewish historian (A.D. 95), indicated that the 39 books were recognized as authoritative.
1. The apostles claimed authority for their writings (Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 3:14).
3. The Council of Athenasius (A.D. 367) and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) recognized the 27 books in our New Testament today as inspired.
A. The Apocrypha is not scripture.
Below are listed several additional reasons for rejecting the Apocrypha as inspired:
2. The Apocrypha never claims to be inspired (“Thus saith the Lord” etc.) – In fact, 1 Maccabees 9:27 denies it.
4. Matthew 23:35 – Jesus implied that the close of Old Testament historical scripture was the death of Zechariah (400 B.C.). This excludes any books written after Malachi and before the New Testament.
1. There were other books that some people claimed to be scripture. Some of them were written in the intertestamental period and called Old Testament psuedopigrapha (or “false writings”). Others were written after the apostolic age (2nd century A.D. and following). These are called New Testament psuedopigrapha.
2. There were some other more sincerely written books that had devotional value and reveal some of the insights of Christian leaders after the 1st century (Shepherd of Hermas, Didache, etc.). Although they are valuable historically, and even spiritually helpful, they also do not measure up to the standards of canonicity and were not recognized as scripture.