The Canon of Scripture

By Norman Manzon

I. What Books Constitute Scripture, and Why?


"Canonicity" may be defined as the worthiness of a book to be included in the Scriptures. As claims of canonicity arose, church leaders tested each book in question by seeking evidence of inspiration, whether or not it bore the authority of a prophet or godly leader, whether it declared itself to be the Word of God, and other such tests. In this manner, by the end of the fourth century, the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven of the New were recognized as the extent and limit of Holy Scripture.


II. All Scripture Is Fully Inspired

A. The Nature of Inspiration

We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God. The Greek word translated 'inspired' is Theopneustos, which means "God-breathed," and emphasizes the exhalation of God. Inspiration, then, is really "outspiration." God "outbreathed" the Scriptures through human writers.


Peter adds clarification in 2 Peter 1:20-21: No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.


Prophecy is the ability to receive revelation directly from God. Revelation is "a divine act by which God communicates to man those things... which otherwise man could never know."(1) God inspired some of His prophets to write down their revelations as Scripture. He also inspired some of His compilers of records and researchers to write down the results of their labors as Scripture (cf. Luke 1:1-4).


But what does men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God mean? The Greek word for moved is the same word used in Acts 27:15 and 17 to refer to a ship being "borne along" the water by powerful winds. Now, no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will reveals that God superintended the inspiration process so everything that God wanted written down was written, and that no human addition, deletion, or error crept in. A prophet, then, was one whom God moved upon in such a way that His Word was both heard and delivered by that prophet infallibly and inerrantly, that is, with unfailing accuracy and without error. We can therefore conclude that all who wrote the Scriptures - whether prophets, compilers or researchers - were "borne along" by the Holy Spirit of God as they wrote their revelations, compilations, and research results. God inspired - "outbreathed" - the powerful Word-bearing wind of His Spirit into the sails of His chosen vessels to bear them along in the writing of His Word. Yet, God allowed the flavor of each writer's personality and style to be richly evident.

B. Evidences for Inspiration

The evidences for inspiration are overwhelming. (Please see the Evidence study for a much fuller treatment of these points.) 

  1. Although the sixty-six books of Scripture were written in three languages over a period of 1600 years in at least six different countries spanning three continents by about forty men in at least eleven different occupations, the sixty-six books constitute a fully integrated Book that contains no contradiction and is consistent in the development of its central theme: the movement of history toward the unchallenged reign of Messiah unto the glory of God.
  2. No other holy book declares how the universe came into existence, identifies sin as a condition of the human spirit, proclaims that deliverance from sin is a work of God, or that one's favor with God is predicated solely on faith in God and not on good or penitential deeds.
  3. Scripture agrees with, and never contradicts, any proven scientific fact on which it touches.
  4. On matters of science that are unobserved or unobservable, such as the origin of the universe and living things, Scripture offers the most plausible explanation based on scientific evidence.
  5. Scripture has profoundly changed multitudes of individual lives for the good.
  6. Scripture has influenced nations and the world for the good.
  7. Scripture is a literary masterpiece in a class of its own.
  8. Scripture has inspired (so to speak) a multitude of the world's great works of art.
  9. Scripture has declared numerous prophecies which have been fulfilled in history to the minutest detail, including blueprints of history, the fates of nations and cities, the preservation of the Jew against all odds and Yeshua's life, crucifixion and resurrection.

III. Scripture Is God's Complete and Final Revelation to Man
     Until the Messiah Returns

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away from his part in the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

~ Revelation 22:18-19 ~


These verses appear just three and four verses before the end of Revelation. The dire warnings that John issues against tampering with the book clearly indicates that it is the Word of God; but inasmuch as Revelation alludes to hundreds of Old Testament prophecies from Genesis to Malachi, and to the core teachings and prophecies of the New Testament from Matthew to Jude, it is clear that the entire Bible is the Word of God and that John's warnings against tampering refer to it, as well. John's warnings, therefore, seal up Scripture as the final revelation of God to man until the epochal revelation of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself upon His return.

IV. The 66 Books of the Bible Are Inerrant in the Original Autographs


'Inerrancy' means "without error." Inerrancy may be attributed only to the original autographs of Scripture because it was only the original autographs that were inspired. The Bible contains no error on any matter despite the protests of some. In matters of history on which the Bible touches, archaeological and historical discoveries have put scoffers to shame hundreds of times. In scientific matters, the Bible has always proven to be accurate. For example, in the matter of origins, evidence for evolution is exceedingly feeble despite claims to the contrary, whereas evidence for biblical creation is overwhelming. (See Section II E of Evidence.)

V. The Scriptures Are True and Authoritative in Every Category of Knowledge to Which They Speak


This derives from the fact that the Scriptures are God-breathed, that God is true ( John 3:33; 2 Cor. 1:18) and that it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). For evidences for biblical infallibility in matters of science: visit The Creation Research Institute at For matters of history: go to and type in the keyword "archaeology."


For a much fuller treatment of the Scriptures as the Word of God, please see the author's study, Evidence Upon Evidence: The Bible Is the Word of God.


* If you were blessed by this study, please consider linking to it. Thank you. * 


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                              Scriptures used by the author are generally in the New King James or New American Standard translations.
                             Scriptures in quotations by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum are in the American Standard Version.
                                 Scriptures quoted by others may be in other translations.


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© Norman Manzon 2011 - 2023
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