The term ‘canon’ basically refers to the list of books that make up scripture. In other words, these are the books that are seen as worthy of being included in the sacred writings we know as the scriptures. In earlier times of church history the word ‘canon’ also referred to a ‘rule of faith.’ These were various writings that were believed to have reproduced what the apostles taught themselves. However, since the limit of what the holy scriptures are was agreed upon; these scriptures themselves became known as the rule of faith or the ‘canon.’
In the study of Biblical canon one must deal with the question of how we got the canon of scripture we have today and what made a particular writing worthy of being included in the canon. To consider these questions, a careful examination of what we have as the canon today should be considered. The Christian Bible is made up of two testaments. The term ‘testament’ in reference to the Bible is basically a covenant. The term is usually used in reference to an agreement between God and man. The first covenant or ‘testament’ is what we refer to as the Old Testament. In these scriptures we find God’s covenant with Noah and also with Abraham. The covenant with Noah is the agreement that God would never again destroy the earth with a flood. In the case of the covenant with Abraham we see God’s promise of redemption through His chosen people. It is this covenant with Abraham that ultimately brings about deliverance from the bondage of sin through Jesus Christ. In this old covenant, we are given the law. The law is designed as a means to show the exceeding sinfulness of man and their need of a Savior. The law gave man the desire to know and do the will of God. The new covenant or the New Testament does not just give man the desire to know God, but also the power to know God and to do His will. The new covenant is ratified by the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross paid the ultimate price of sin and established a new covenant between God and man that whosever will may come to Jesus and have eternal life.
It is believed that what we have today as the Bible is a closed canon. In other words, all the books that are supposed to be in the Bible are there. There is no other book that has yet to be discovered that should be added to the Bible. One of the major reasons that we have a closed canon is the fact that there are no true apostles today. An apostle is one who saw the resurrected Jesus. Once those men died off, there was no possibility of another book being written that could be included in the scriptures.
In his book, The canon of Scripture, F.F. Bruce continues to give credence to the complete canon that we have today by examining the Old Testament canon. The author careful looks at church history and the order of the books of the Old Testament. Testimony from the New Testament also is used to prove the canonicity of the Old Testament books.