How We Know We Have All the Bible, with No Books Added and No Books Lost
by Willie Ramsey
The Bible is God's plan of salvation for mankind (John 17:17; 8:31-32; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 1:16). Its place in our lives is therefore eternally important. God warns us that no one is ever allowed to "add to" or to "take away" (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19), or in any way to "pervert" (i.e., "change" — Galatians 1:7-9), what the Bible is and says.
It should be obvious therefore that there must be a way for us to know whether someone had added books to the Bible or whether there were books which had been lost, as some people claim have happened. Otherwise we would have no way of knowing that we are doing exactly what the Bible tells us to do to receive God's salvation (Luke 19:10; Romans 10:17; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:9; Mark 16:15-16; I Corinthians 15:58). We would have no basis to even know definitely what God's will for us is (Matthew 7:21).
Being able to prove beyond any doubt that the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament constitute all the books God gave man is a valuable matter to any Bible student. That is what this article in a very limited and abbreviated format is designed to do.
Only 39 Old Testament Books
Following are four basic facts which cause us to know that the 39 books in the Old Testament that we have today in the 21st century A.D. are all that God gave many years ago:
- The Jews, whom the Old Testament was given to, have always
accepted these and no other books to be the Old Testament of God.
The ancient Jews were the people whom God gave the Old Testament to as a
spiritual law to obey until the New Testament (covenant) replaced it
(Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13). In Exodus 24:1-8 the Old
Testament was ratified to them. This is a very significant point to remember.
They to whom the Old Testament was given ought to know their own
In Matthew 15:1-9 and Mark 7:1-8, the Bible points out that there were some of the Jews who had come to bind the "traditions", i.e., the traditional interpretations held by some of their teachers, as the way all Jews ought to live. Christ condemned them for their binding human teachings rather than the actual Old Testament as God's law for the Jews. Even these Jews who sought to bind their teachers' traditions did not presume to call the "traditions" part of the actual Old Testament!
- Christ only endorsed what the Jews called "the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms" to
be the Old Testament law (Luke 24:44). This is also significant for various reasons.
One, since Christ is God (John 1:1-3,14; Hebrews 1:8), this means God only endorsed what was referred to as "the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms" to be the Old Testament.
Two, what the Jews called "the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms" included only the 39 books that we have in our Old Testament today, no more, no less. It is true that the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, in "Against Apion", book 1, sec. 8, refers to there being 22 OT. books. The
reason for this is because there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. "According to this classification, Judges and Ruth make but one book; the two books of Samuel, two of Kings, and two of Chronicles, make but three in all; Ezra and Nehemiah are one, Jeremiah and Lamentations are one, and the twelve Minor prophets are but one." (New American Cyclopedia, Vol. 3, Page 225)
- The 39 books in our Old Testament are the only books found in the ancient Hebrew, the language the Old Testament was revealed into by God. I usually have students to turn in their own Bibles to Psalm 119 for an observation here. It is comprised of 176 verses, divided into 8-verse sections. You will notice that each section is prefaced by a word. These are the names of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the language which God revealed the Old Testament into.
- These same 39 books are found in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament (280 B.C.), which is also the first translation of the Old Testa,emt into another language. When Alexander the Great, a Greek, made his enormous military conquests, this brought many other nations under Greek domination. The Greek language was then widely implemented among these countries as a national and commercial language. It therefore became desired that there be a translation of the Old Testament in the Greek language. By the time the Septuagint was made the Old Testament had been completed. The Septuagint contains the 39 books of our Old Testament.
"As it now stands, it includes [14 other books called] the Apocrypha, but did not at the beginning.
Those books were gradually added" [The Popular And Critical Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 1552].
Thus, some religions today believe them to be part of the Old Testament. But they cannot be part of
the Old Testament based on points 1-3 above. They also cannot be inspired because they contain material errors. For example, in the book of Judith (1:1), Nebuchadnezzar is said to have reigned in "Nineveh" when actually Babylon was his capital (Daniel 4:28-30). Also, the New Testament never refers to any prophetic quotations taken from, or in any way makes reference to, any of the Apocryphal books.
Only 27 New Testament Books
Following are four basic facts which cause us to know that the 27 books in the New Testament that we have today in the 21st century A.D. are all that God gave in the first century A. D.:
- In John 16:13 Christ promised His apostles that the Holy Spirit would reveal unto them "all Truth".
This means that during the lifetime of these men, who all died in the first century A.D., the New Testament
of Christ would be completely revealed to them, thus making the Bible complete also. For to
them was to be revealed "all Truth" from God.
This necessarily concludes that no other books from God were to follow the New Testament of Christ. It is the final revelation of God to man (Jude 3; The Greek word here translated "once" is defined as once for always, or "what is done as to be of perpetual validity...". (Thayer's Lexicon, p.54)
There is simply no Scripture which authorizes the notion of other or later books from God to man after the New Testament. This means no Book of Mormon, no Quran, and no latter day revelations which the charismatic religionists claim to have today. For the Bible ("all Truth") was completely revealed in the first century A. D.
- During the first century A.D., as the New Testament books were revealed, the apostles were to "preach" or make them known to "all the world" (Mark 16:15-16). They did, and this was accomplished by the time of Colossians 1:23. This means that during their lifetime in the first century, "all the world" heard the 27 New Testament Books "preached" and thus distinguished to their ears from all other books.
- The apostles also "wrote down" the books as they were revealed (Ephesians 3:3-4). This means
that "all the world" not only heard the 27 New Testament books distinguished from all others; they were also
able to "read" from them, having been distinguished by the apostles from all other writings.
While apparently utilizing a secretary for writing, Paul constantly wrote his own "salutation" that the people might also know clearly the genuineness of the epistles revealed to him (Romans 16:22; I Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11; II Thessalonians 3:17).
The early Christians who were given the spiritual gift of discernment (I Corinthians 12:10) could also apparently distinguish the genuine epistles and messages from any which were counterfeit (I Corinthians 12: 10; 14:29,37), thereby insuring that the people could know the true New Testament books.
- The religious writers we have record of during the early centuries (about the first 3 centuries), before the later councils of those who "fell away" (II Thessalonians 2:3), only quoted from the 27 New Testament books in their catalogues, quotations of Scripture, and in their public worship. So heavily did they quote from the New Testament, if all copies of the New Testament were lost, It could be totally reproduced from the quotations of any number of early Biblical writers. (see p. 36)
As the New Testament books were being revealed to them, and they went into "all the world" preaching them, they also told the people they were "inspired" of God (II Timothy 3:16-17). They then performed miracles (gave them miraculous evidence, which only God's power can perform, Psalm 136:4); thereby proving their message was from God (Mark 16:15-16,20; Hebrews 2:3-4; John 3:1-2).
This article is a very short study of our subject. But I believe we have shown without any doubt, that we who live in the 21st century A.D. have indisputable evidence that we have God's Bible to hold in our hands, nothing added, and nothing lost. It is the "perfect" (Greek word means "complete") law of God for man today (James 1:25; James 2:12; Galatians 6:2). We therefore have complete confidence that we have everything of God's will so we can obey and be saved from our sins. (Matthew 7:21)
Accordingly, we are "set for the defense of the Gospel" (Philippians 1:17) against anyone who would oppose it. And we also stand ready to give "answer" to anyone who sincerely seeks to know the precious will of God that they might be saved (I Peter 3:15; Matthew 7:21).