How do we know that the Bible does not omit some books that should have been included? How do we know that all of the books in the Bible should be there? Skeptics and religious writers frequently raise these questions. The truth is that we don’t have to be in doubt about whether the Bible contains all we need to build a faith to live by.
When someone claims that some “lost book” should be included in the Bible, the simple answer is to read it. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to see very quickly that the books of the Apocrypha should not be part of the canon, or accepted Bible books. The apocryphal books either contain material already covered in the Bible or contradict Paul’s writings and the teachings of Christ.
When the Church decided what books to include in the canon of the New Testament, they used four criteria:
1) APOSTOLICITY – Was the book written by an apostle or companion of the apostles?
2) ORTHODOXY – Is the writing in agreement with the teaching of Christ?
3) ANTIQUITY – Did the writing come from the generation of the apostles?
4) USE – Was the writing widely accepted and used by the early Church?
When a manuscript is not included in the biblical canon, it is easy to see why. A good example is the gnostic writings which include elements of Greek mythology, astrology, food taboos, ascetic practices, and intermediary beings. Gnostics liberalized sexual morals, and some even questioned marriage.
The Bible contains all we need to build a faith to live by. Its clarity and completeness stand unique. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that scripture provides all we need to be “completely furnished to all good works.” That excludes attempts by opponents of the Bible to dilute or modify the teachings.
— John N. Clayton ˆ 2021
Reference: “Canon of the New Testament” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press.