‘What chapter or verse of the Bible says there will be 27 books of the New Testament? Of course, none. Where does it say what the 27 books will be? Again, of course, none. How then do we know what are the 27 books of the New Testament?
When we read the New Testament, we open about two-thirds of the way through the Bible to that title page that says “New Testament” on it. The churches that received scripture were not sent such a copy. The New Testament did not come to churches with a cover page, stating, “New Testament,” and behind it 27 books.
Churches acknowledged and copied inspired books. They treated them as though they were inspired. They passed them from church to church and read then in churches. Before copies wore out, they were copied again to preserve them for the future.
The scriptural doctrine of which I speak concerning canonicity proceeds from the Bible itself. Through the inward testimony of the Spirit, regenerate, immersed church members distinguish between words which man’s wisdom teaches and those of and from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13-25). God gave His inspired Words to the apostles or the inspired human authors according to the plan of the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, 15:26, 17:8, 14; Gal 1:11-12). True believers led by the Spirit would know the things written were the words of God (1 Corinthians 14:37). The same Holy Spirit who had regenerated, indwelt, and filled them would testify to the words.
The testimony or witness of books of the New Testament arises from the promise of words. They knew Paul’s epistles were scripture like the Old Testament (2 Peter 3:16), but they were guided to inspired words. The epistles or books were an implication of received words. The Lord gave unto them “words” and they “received them” (John 17:8; cf. 12:48, Acts 2:41, 1 Thess 2:13).
Revelation 22:18-19 read:
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
The Apostle John testifies to a completed book of Revelation. He speaks of “the words of the prophecy of this book.” He confirms a settled, completed, perfect text of words. One could only add or take away words from a book with a settled text. His instruction assumes the precision of the text and continued knowledge of it. No one could obey this command without standardized words.
God’s people will know what His Words are and receive them. That is how they knew and know the twenty-seven books. God intervenes through His Spirit in His churches to receive His Words and, therefore, His Books. History confirms this teaching. The nature of God’s Word is that when God says He will do something, He does it. His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. They believe what He says. They have.
Through the history of the Lord’s churches, they believed the biblical doctrine of canonicity or the preservation of the text and books of the New Testament. Errors were made in copies, what are most often called variants today. God did not promise to preserve copies. Believers do not receive copies. They receive “words.” They identify words. True churches assume a settled text. They have.
The Lord’s churches now call the text, the words and books, received and passed down from one generation to the next by the work of the Holy Spirit, the received, traditional, ecclesiastical, or standardized text. By “traditional,” they mean it like Paul used it in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” It is an ecclesiastical text, because churches received it. Some today call this a “confessional bibliology,” because it reflects the historical belief of churches and so written down in confessions.
Scripture is scientific. If God says it, it is true and it is knowledge. It is the pure mother’s milk without variableness or shadow of turning (1 Peter 2:2, James 1:17). Everything God says is true and is the standard for truth (John 17:17). God repudiates rejection of what He said for so-called science or for experience. We have a more sure word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19-21).
The Lord’s churches received the text still received by His churches before the invention of the printing press. With the invention of the printing press in 1440, they printed that text in the 16th century. They continued to receive it for centuries. These people translated from it into other languages. They preached sermons from it in churches and wrote commentaries and other books from it or based upon it. We have all of this record.
No one should add to or take away from the settled text of the New Testament. This contradicts the teaching of the New Testament about itself. No one should assume and then believe God’s Words were lost and in need of restoration. This violates scripture. This hurts the faith.
Professing believers today do not know the New Testament by science. They do not know it by probability. God’s people do not know it by rules of textual criticism. They do not know it by intelligibility. The people of God know it by the testimony of the Holy Spirit through history or through the preceding centuries through the Lord’s churches. They should reject any other teaching or way. These are heretical ways that distort or veer from the already received and established scriptural bibliology.https://kentbrandenburg.com/2022/06/22/how-do-we-know-what-the-new-testament-is/