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Second Timothy 3:16-17 declares that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped...
Did the writers of the New Testament regard their writings as scripture? Yes I think they did Paul believed it. This is what he said about their writings "we" the Apostles… Gal 1:8-12 let me be blunt: if one of us -even an angel from heaven-were to preach something other than what WE PREACHED ORIGINALLY: let him be cursed. I said it once: I’ll say it again: if anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed. It’s like he is saying that we cannot add or subtract not even Paul. Rev 22: 18-19 All other writings of the apostles “we “should get the same treatment. Shalom
My view is that it is difficult to establish from the Bible if the New Testament writers regarded their writings as inspired. Paul's reference to scriptures in 2Timothy 3:16-17 was definitely not in regard to the New Testament writings but the Old Testament books, perhaps the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. We have however accepted that the principle taught in this passage relates to the collective body of writings that we have today. There is evidence that the apostles had developed some doctrinal guidelines for the Jerusalem church (Acts 4:42-50). Some have identified them with the apostles' creed and other fundamental doctrines that were to guide believers until the compilation of the scriptures in AD 397. It is however difficult to tell with certainty what nature of teachings they were. It is also possible that these teachings were used among the Gentile believers. Paul was probably referring to the same in Cor. 3:1-2. (cf.1Peter 2:2). John also makes reference to some set of teachings in 2 John 1:9-10 which says "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." Paul also charged Timothy saying in 1 Timothy 1:3 "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine." Hebrews 6:1-2 says "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." My view is that there is absolutely no doubt that God foreknew that the New Testament writings would be part of or our holy scriptures. However, as to whether Paul or other writers regarded them as such or that they were aware of this fact is not clear. There are a number of letters written by Paul that were not preserved for us and it is safe to assume that they were not intended to be part of our canon of Scriptures. My concluding view is that the apostles may not have been aware that these letters would be consolidated into one body of Scriptures but God superintended all things to agree with His divine purposes so that these inspired writings were preserved for us.
My view is that most of them apart John in Revelation didn’t aim to have their writings as scripture. Their works were written to particular audiences and not the whole world. Rom 1:7, 1 Cor 1:2, Luke 1:3 and Rev 1:4 refer. We also need to keep in mind that the early church right from the disciples was composed largely of Jewish converts who knew what scripture was. When Paul says all scripture is inspired of God in 2 Tim 3:16 he is referring to the Old Testament because that is what his readers in the 1st century would have understood him to be saying. The largely Jewish church needed to transition from Judaism into Christianity and introducing new scriptures would have complicated issues. I think it was a wise move to leave all references to scripture as referring the Jewish Cannon. Today we have the benefit of so many other works other than the Jewish cannon. We have the 4 gospels and the works of the apostles too. We need to be reminded that according to the Bible that we use it doesn’t contain everything that was ever written. In Luke 1:1 it’s implied that there are other writings that we don’t have in our bible about the works of Jesus. 2 Kings 1:18 and 2 Chronicles 9:29 tell us that there was much more written about Israel and Judah than we have today. However we need not fret over what we don’t have because the Holy Spirit has determined that what we have is sufficient for our salvation. In my view even the Old Jewish cannon was sufficient to reveal Jesus ans eternal salvation for people to be saved. To a Jew scripture was composed of the law, the prophets and writings. That was the complete scripture. We see Jesus reading and quoting from Isaiah in Luke 4:16-21. I have no doubt that Jesus being God had foreknowledge of how scripture was going to evolve in the future, but at this time He was addressing Jews who only knew scriptures to be their fixed cannon. Nothing could be added to it. They were authoritative and binding. In conclusion it must be said that all the writings in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation were inspired by the Holy Spirit who knew that they would one day be included in a book called the Bible even though the authors themselves didn’t know. We ought to be grateful to those men who allowed themselves to be instruments as the cannon was put together for the early church.
It is difficult to say whether they considered their writings to be scripture or not. Furthermore, they were not as dogmatic about what is or is not considered scripture as we are today. Paul freely quoted from or referred to Jubilees, the books of Enoch and the book of Jasher as well as the books of the Apocrypha and referred to them as inspired writings. The Old Testament Canon was not determined until after the Exile when Ezra brought together many of the sacred writings, compiling the histories from multiple sources and bringing them together into a single book, some of which were later divided into two books (Kings, Chronicles, Samuel). This was the first attempt at determining a specific canon of scripture. The next was during the time when the Septuagint was being translated. This included the Apocrypha (post-exile books which were not written yet when Ezra compiled his scriptures; he did include some post-exile prophets which were contemporary to him.) The apostles were aware that there would be writings which would later be considered Canon, but exept for the Gospels I don't think we can point to anything that was specifically intended as scripture. However, since Paul specifically instructed that many of his letters to the various churches be shared and forwarded to all churches, we cannot definitively state that he did not believe his writings would become Canon. On the contrary, In Galatians Paul spent the first chapter defending his claim to apostleship, and because of his training as Gamaliel's heir apparent he understood better than anyone else what that meant. Modern Christians teach that the office of apostle did not exist in the Old Testament, and I get the impression that most of the people of Paul's day shared that opinion. Scripture does not. Numbers 12:6-9 tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an office higher than that of prophet, and tells us something that distinguishes the apostle from the prophet -- speaking with God mouth to mouth instead of in the riddles and symbolism of dreams and visions. The apostle and God speak together in the same language and clear wording. Jesus later gave his disciples a further definition when he told them they were no longer servants but were his friends Jn 15:15, a definition which agrees with God's definition in Num 12. Furthermore James identifies another OT apostle using this definition (James 2:23). So Paul, more than any other, knew that he was speaking for God, and that much of what he had to say would be considered Canon at some later point of time. That does not necessarily he meant it as such, and yet as I read the letters that are still extant I have to question why the third letter to the Corinthians and the letters to Laodicea (Col 4:16) were not included in the canon. Paul considered it very important that the Colossians read that letter. More than any other letter to a church you would expect that to be included in the canon, yet there are no known copies in existence anywhere today. So while we cannot definitively say that that any of the apostles knew their work would be considered to be canon, we can be certain that because of Paul's training and influence that the apostles knew the importance of Jesus words when he said, "Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." In return, just as Moses they were to go up the mountain, hear God's words mouth to mouth, then come down to tell the people what God said. They had to have been aware that much of what they wrote would be considered Canon by their posterity. They also must have been aware that much, even though it was considered by them to be important counsel from God (the Letter to Laodicea, just like the book of Jubilees, the book of Jasher and others) would not be included in the canon by those who would be given that duty many years later.
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