There are some things in churches that are assumed. Even though there is no proof these tenets are accepted without questioning. For example, some assume water baptism every time the word baptism is used. Some assume that the 66 books in the protestant bible are the Word of God, complete and entire. That the law and the prophets is the Old Testament is another assumption.
In fact, there are equations that some people have in their minds:
- The law and the prophets = the Word of God
- The law and the prophets = the old testament
- The Old Testament = the Word of God
Does the bible itself teach this? Some use verses like 2Tim 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21 to say it does. But that is circular reasoning. The word “scriptures” is really “writings” Not all writings were given divine status. Maccabees was a scripture in existence in original Christianity times, but not all include this in their interpretation of what “all scripture” is in 1 Tim 3:16, so the word “all” is not all-inclusive. Rather “all scripture” in 1 Tim 3:16 refers only to those writings that were actually considered the word of God.
In ancient times there were numerous books that people read. In the time of original Christianity, for example, the Shepard of Hermas was very popular. Many accepted it as a prophetic book. It was read in churches. But hardly anyone today would even consider it as a “scripture” Nevertheless, to many, it had that status in the early centuries after Christ.
The modern bible with its collection of books bound together as a unit is a modern tool. There were no “bibles” at the time original Christianity was formed. There were individual scrolls, the scroll of Isaiah, the scroll of Jeremiah, and so on. There is no evidence that the old testament as we know was accepted in its entirety as the Word of God.
Since there was no “bible” in original Christianity we can only look at references to see what books had the authority of the “word of God”
Let’s look at some of the references that Jesus and Paul used.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. (Luke 16:31)
And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
But this I confess unto thee, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; (Act 24:14)
The Law and the Prophets are what both Jesus and Paul referred to as the writings that should be believed.
Jesus speaks about which books to consider:
Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; (John 5:39)
There was no bible in Jesus’ time. There were only scrolls of individual books. There are no references to Job, Esther, or Ecclesiastes by Jesus or Paul. The one certain determination about which books had divine status was whether they were part of the Law and the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets is certainly less than what the rabbis in Jesus’ time or the bishops in the fourth century decided were “scripture” One principle of original Christianity is that what was considered scripture was the Law and the Prophets.
© copyright 2009 Mark W Smith All Rights Reserved.