The Canonicity of the Scriptures

The term canon, which comes from the Hebrew term qāneh and the Greek term kanin, refers to a measuring stick or standard (cf. Ezekiel 40:3). 1  Canon is the standard used to determine which books God inspired and are therefore authoritative and orthodox.  Canon does not make the Scriptures inspired.  As well, at no time has a church council ever made a book inspired.  At best they could only acknowledge which books were inspired.

The Scriptures were inspired by God, the moment they were written and were immediately recognized as inspired by the original recipients.  For example, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi were the last Old Testament books to be penned (460-425 BC).  According to Josephus, “the boundary of the accepted books [of the  Old Testament] is marked by the time of Artaxerxes (465–425 BC), after which no authorized books were issued.” 2  The dating of Malachi and the testimony of Josephus demonstrate that the Scriptures were immediately recognized as inspired by the original recipients.

The first five book of the Bible known as the Torah were penned by Moses.  The Torah is the standard by which all other Biblical writings are tested.  There are three reasons why the Torah formed the standard.  First, God, the divine author, spoke His revelation directly to Moses, the human author, as witnessed by 600,000 men (Exodus 33:11a; Deuteronomy 5:4; 34:10b).  Second, Moses was a prophet equal only to Jesus (Deuteronomy 18:18; 34:10a).  Third, God specifically stated that nothing could be added to or taken away from the Torah (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32).  The term add (yāsap) means to increase the size or scope. The term diminish (gāraʿ) means to take away or reduce. Thus every book that came after the Torah, had to be in agreement with God’s truths as revealed in the Torah (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

Jesus, Himself, acknowledged that the Torah, as penned by Moses, was the standard by which His own words should be tested (John 5:39, 46-47).  In other words, Moses’ words (i.e. the Torah) was the standard by which everything which Jesus said could be tested.  The implication of this is that Jesus could not speak anything contrary to the Torah (cf. Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; 18:21-22).  Jesus, Himself, testified to this fact (Matthew 5:17-19).


  1. Randall Price, Searching for the Original Bible (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007), 139
  2. D. Guthrie, “Bible” in Merrill C. Tenney, ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 1:560.

© Rev. Gregory G. Capel, Jr. – 2016