What Distinguishes a Text as Scripture? Authority Matters

by Lenny Esposito

How do we understand which books to fall into the frame of Scripture? Craig Blomberg, in his book Can We Trust the Bible? offers three broad attributes separating books of Scripture from other inspirational writings. Basically, these are the books of the Bible all claimed an authoritative position over the faithful adherents, they were recognized throughout the church as properly authoritative, and they were consistent in their views on the nature of God, the nature of man, and of theological concepts such as sin, salvation, and sanctification. I’d like to use Blomberg’s attributes as a starting point to see at how these sixty-six books are unique and how they demonstrate that the early church didn’t “pick and choose” books of the Bible on a whim, but simply recognized them for the works they were.

First, each of the Bible’s books positions themselves to be an authoritative voice speaking on behalf of God. Many times the Old Testament prophets use the distinctive phrase “and thus saith the Lord” over and over. It’s fairly easy to see how these are claiming to speak on God’s behalf. Other books, like Ecclesiastes or Proverbs promise God’s blessing on living a certain way. Even historical books such as Esther or Nehemiah, are instructive to show how God protects his people and what faithfulness or unfaithfulness looks like.

The New Testament continues the pattern we find in the Old. Some books have the claim to be directly from God. Paul tells the church in Corinth “the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37b). He cements his message as being divine in Galatians where he writes, “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” In the book of Revelation, John not only claims that it is prophecy, but he warns that to tamper with its message invites God’s wrath. The Gospel accounts are authoritative in that they portent to be the accurate recording of Jesus’s ministry and teaching. Acts fits the historic genre of Esther and Nehemiah, and also acts to instruct the church through its historical accounts of God’s expansion of his mission through his provision and protection for his faithful followers…

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What Distinguishes a Text as Scripture? Authority Matters | Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes