When Is the First Time We See a New Testament Book Used as Scripture?

by Michael J. Kruger

Few issues in the study of the NT canon have generated more discussion (and disagreement) than that of the canon’s date.  When were Christian writings first regarded as “Scripture”?  When was the first time we can see that happening?

For many modern scholars, the key time is the end of the second century.  Only then, largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, were these books first regarded as Scripture.

But, I think there is evidence that NT books were regarded as Scripture much earlier.  And some of this evidence is routinely overlooked.  A good example is the widely neglected text tucked away in 1 Tim 5:18:

For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and “The laborer deserves his wages.”

The first part of this quote comes from Deut 25:4, but where does the second part come from?  There is one text, and one text only, that matches these words, namely the statement of Jesus in Luke 10:7.

Could 1 Timothy be citing Luke’s Gospel as Scripture?

For some, the mere suggestion that Paul used Luke is unthinkable. Here are the most common objections…
 

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When Is the First Time We See a New Testament Book Used as Scripture?