The Canon


I’ve been wondering how we know we have the right books in the bible. Whenever I research the different councils where the books of the bible were supposedly recognized, such as the council of Nicaea, it seems to me that different councils recognized different books. How do we know which one is correct? What if we have the wrong one? If we do have the wrong one, can we trust God to show us which is correct? Do any of these books contain anything that would significantly influence important doctrinal beliefs?

Thanks for any insight!


@Washlyn I highly recommend F. F. Bruce’s book The Canon of Scripture. It is a classic that will answer your questions. The short answer is that we do not need to rely on the councils to know which books belong in Scripture. There are a number of tests that were used to determine canonicity and they can be more or less replicated.

1 - written by a prophet or apostle / someone who directly knew such a person
2 - faithfulness to already accepted canonical writings
3 - Jesus affirmed the inspiration of the 39 Books of the Old Testament canon, so Christians can trust His authority on that matter
4 - accepted by the wider Church body as a whole