Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Doctrine Of Scripture Series: Introducing The Old Testament Canon - Some Opening Thoughts


    I want to draw your attention to three New Testament texts that speak about the Old Testament. The first records the words of Jesus in Luke 24:37 

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” 

    The second passage records the Apostle Paul’s words about the value of the Old Testament Scriptures, Romans 15:4, 

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

    The third, 2 Peter 3:14-18, shows the Old Testament, designated “The rest of the Scriptures”, alongside the letters of the Apostle Paul, with both understood together as “Scripture”,

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

    All three New Testament texts speak on the Old Testament and the specific collection of books that comprise it, known as the “Old Testament Canon”. We could summarize these three as representing certain benefits that come with a better acquaintance with the Old Covenant or Old Testament Scriptures. Those three benefits are: knowing Jesus, having hope, and spiritual growth. Keep these three benefits in mind as we explore over the next couple of posts “The Old Testament Canon, its message, and why it matters”.

    Theologian Wayne Grudem in his “Systematic Theology – 2nd Edition”, page 39, offers this crisp definition of the term “canon”, “The canon of Scripture is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible.” As we just read, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and Apostle Peter indicate the authority and message of the Old Testament. So, let us take each of those two headings (“authority” and “message”) and consider how we got our Old Testament and why it matters to you. Here is how we will develop this next .set of posts in our overall series we are calling "The Doctrine of Scripture". 

1. The Old Testament Canon (or, how we got 
   our Old Testament – recognizing its 

2. The Old Testament Canon’s Message.

3. The Old Testament Canon’s application, 
    (or, why it matters to you).

More next time....