Bible Study -10th May 2003

New Testament Canonisation

by Jon Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

I am sure most of you have stayed in a guest house, or a bed and breakfast, or a hotel at some time and have seen the Gideon Bibles. In most cases when I have stayed outside somewhere it had both Old and New Testament, but I know sometimes you will only find the New Testament there. I don't know whether there is any particular pattern as to where it is only the New Testament, but it interesting that many Protestants only read the New Testament.

Now in this series of three Bible Studies that I have been giving; I gave one on Old Testament canonisation, in other words, how the Old Testament arrived with us today and last week I talked about Babylon and Simon Magus in particular because a lot of the information that I gave then will apply to what I have to talk about today which is the New Testament Canonisation. How the New Testament actually arrived to us.

This really comprises several months of work within Ambassador College and the teaching that we received. I tried to condense it down, so please forgive me if it's overload in some way, but it is difficult to get all the information and condense it down and also to remember everything that you were taught about thirty years ago - even if you have got notes.

But in this concluding sermon on the Bible canonisation I want to talk about the New Testament. And I want to show you really how it is quite similar to the Old in many ways, in the way it was canonised, and why it was canonised. I have got eight points altogether that I want to go through and they are in a separate group of sub-points:

1. The first overall category I want to deal with are the parallels with the Old Testament canonisation periods; there are four points in that.

2. First of all how laws were needed for the New Testament Church, that was one of the similarities.

3. Secondly how the old Temple system was out of date, how that is going to be replaced.

4. Thirdly how there was an attack on Jerusalem - war prophesied, and had just occurred as well. It was a troubled time.

5. Fourthly the Samaritan problem; Simon Magus which we talked about in greater length last week.

6. The second grouping I want to go into is actually how the New Testament was canonised. There were two people who canonised the New Testament. One was Peter. So Peter was the first canonisation period and secondly was John. So those are the two canonisation periods.

7. The next point I want to go into is the original order of the books, and ninety-five percent of all manuscripts you find are in this particular order. They are not the same order that you have within the King James Version, that's a different order of the books. It is certainly good when we are reading the Bible through that we go to the original order. There are reasons why, just the same as the original order in the Old Testament as well. There are reasons why it is in that order; and yet to the outside mind, it doesn't look as if it is the order it ought to be in. But there are reasons why God put it in that order.

8. And finally I want to talk a little bit about why it was preserved and how we must approach the New Testament canon and basically the Bible in general. Why it is preserved in the way it is and just the importance to each and everyone of us.

Parallels With the Old Testament Canonisation (PLAY FROM 03:52)

Now in that previous sermon a couple of weeks ago that I gave on the Old Testament, I showed how Christ recognised that Jewish order. If you turn over to Luke 24:44 this is really a classic scripture if you are thinking about the canon at all and the way in which the books are supposed to be viewed in the Old Testament; this is the scripture that you would turn to:

"And [Christ] said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in [and then He gives the three basic divisions:] the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." (Luke 24:44)

This is the Tanakh and it is quite clear that this, in fact, is the original order of the Old Testament and it is very clear that it's a God-inspired order. It is the same order that you will find in a Jewish Bible. It is not the same order that you will find in the King James or an English Bible. The orders there are coming from other manuscripts which are not part of the canon; they are unapproved manuscripts even though they have been copied from the canon at certain times.

As I brought out there were five canonisation periods in and for the Old Testament. The first one was by Moses and the reason for that was that Israel needed laws and really Moses was the lawgiver. Obviously Christ was the Lawgiver, He was the one who inspired Moses. But Moses was the one, he was the prophet, who gave the law and all the other prophets then comment about the law.

That is an important point, because as we come onto the New Testament, it is actually organised in a very similar way. Because when you look at the Old Testament, and you look at the first five books of the Old Testament, you are looking at the Pentateuch. If you look at the first five books of the New Testament you are looking at the four gospels and Acts and they contain the Spiritual Law that Christ gave. So there is a similarity there.

The second canonisation period was David and Solomon, where the Temple system was out of date. They were putting in the laws necessary, the orders of the priests and so on. But the basic problem was a Temple problem. They needed to have a change within the canon to allow the Temple to function instead of the tabernacle.

Many of the Psalms were written at that time. There were 24 courses of priests added. Solomon compiled Proverbs but he didn't actually put it into the canon at that time. A lot of work was done at that particular time in David and Solomon's day.

Thirdly, Hezekiah. That's the third canonisation period, and there you are looking at an attack by the Assyrians that was being threatened. Remember they actually went in and they took over the northern tribes, but they were threatening Judah at that time as well. And there were certain things added and again they were thinking they may well need to take this across into captivity if God allowed them to go into captivity at that time. Additional psalms were added because again the temple needed more work done to it. Samuel and Kings was given at that time.

Fourthly, the time of Josiah. And this again was the attack by Babylon and Jeremiah was at this time as well. Jeremiah, Lamentations and some of the Minor prophets were added at this time. Again this attack by Babylon, they were going into Babylonian captivity and the various things that were needed at the time, but it was the attack that was the problem.

And then the final canonisation period in the Old Testament was Ezra and Nehemiah which then put the seal on the entire Old Testament as we have it today. That was primarily a Samaritan problem. That was the real reason why it was nailed down the way it is. It was to stop the Samaritan syncretism from taking place. There were edited or addition marks all over the Old Testament. Place names were changed. The whole book, or whole series of books were changed to a different script, to the square Babylonian script from the normal curly script because that was what the Samaritans were still using. And so they put this seal on the books and they canonised the books to make sure that this would be the official version and there wouldn't be this synchretism and this corruption that was coming in from Samaria in the north.

That was really a bit of a review of what in fact was happening, and it's important to have that review because when we come into the New Testament they are both different and also the same. It is different because if you notice, those five canonisation periods stretch over thousands of years. But when you are looking at the New Testament it all took place in a very short space of time. In the matter of a decade or two. Even between Peter and John. Many of the books were written before that particular canonisation period. But those two individuals, when they canonised the New Testament, they did over just a few decades; a couple of decades.

But in many ways it is in fact the same. The laws were needed in the intent and in the spirit for the Church. The old temple system was about to fall, so they needed a new temple system. There was an attack on Jerusalem, both coming on Jerusalem in the case of Peter and in the case of John it had already occurred, and was coming again on Jerusalem. I'll come onto how that applied. And finally the Samaritan problem, and particularly with the apostle John - the Samaritan problem and the synchretism that was taking place. It was the start of the Catholic church and it was corrupting the Church of God and something had to be official, something to which the Church could go back to. And to this day the true Church of God has the ability to go back to the official words of the apostles, the early apostles and the prophets because of the canonisation of these words. And allowed Mr Armstrong as the end-time Elijah, the apostle of our time, to be taught by Christ through that canon. Turn over to Hebrews 13:8: we need to remember that it does say here:

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8)

In other words, when we are looking at secular law as we did in the news items earlier on we look at secular law when we are going to have to apply secular law to carnal individuals, the same laws apply. This is why I say, we are going to have to understand a little bit about the laws that are there. Now once that heart changes and turns and the forgiveness is applied then we are looking at a New Covenant and a new agreement, but it is all there. Still you go back into the Psalms and you read many of the psalms of David and he talks about the forgiveness of God. But; "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8). If you go over to I Corinthians 10:1 we find here that:

"...how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat;And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (I Corinthians 10:1-4)

So the God that was with them at that time, and with Moses, giving the laws initially on which the whole of scripture is based. Which we are told to remember the laws of Moses and his statutes and judgement when we are looking at the Elijah that was to come right at the very end-time. We are still going back to those same laws. It was given by Jesus Christ. The same process is being used. This process is being used also in the New Testament.

How Laws Were Needed in the New Testament (PLAY FROM 13:03)

So if we look at this first point then, the laws that were actually needed within the Church. You can find over in Genesis 26:2 that the laws go right back, even beyond Moses, and it goes back to the time of Abraham. Here Christ, as the God of the Old Testament, is talking to Isaac and it says:

"And the [Eternal] appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land...And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven...Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26:2-5)

So the Law of God was in effect at that time, long before Sinai; and we are looking at the Laws of God, the way of God, it goes right back into pre-history. This same individual, Jesus Christ, when we are looking at Moses, Moses was the one through whom Christ operated and gave the Laws. But notice the One talking about this said; "...obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26:5). That is Jesus Christ speaking, that is the 'My.' So when we look at Acts 3:19, we find the human form of Jesus Christ. Peter is talking:

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that...the times of refreshing shall come... And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me [Christ was very much like Moses and when He came on the scene, He established the Law, He magnified the Law, He made it honourable]; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." (Acts 3:19-24)

So here was a time when the law was needed for the New Testament, the New Covenant Church. This new agreement was actually coming on the world where the very laws of God were going to be in the heart and written on the minds and we are looking at an understanding that had to come. Just the same as Moses codified the Law for the nation of Israel, Christ codified the law for the nation of the Church that was going to come in the future. If we turn back to Isaiah 42:1 we find here, talking about my servant:

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench..." (Isaiah 42:1-3)

Which I mentioned in the news items - that we don't apply the secular laws today. Because that is not our position. We are to follow this example; "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench..." (Isaiah 42:3). But eventually He will come back as the Messiah and implement the Laws. It goes into Isaiah 42:17, it says:

"They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. Hear, ye deaf; Who is blind, but my servant [talking of Israel there]? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the [Eternal's] servant? [He then talks about; "...my servant, whom I uphold..." (Isaiah 42:1) ] Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. The [Eternal] is well pleased for his righteousness' sake [the true servant of God, the Christ]; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable." (Isaiah 42:17-21)

He is anything but having his ears blocked, like the servant Israel that failed. So we are looking at the Christ having magnified the Law. Making it honourable. Doing what God's will is. And this is very much the case that when you come over to Matthew 5:17 we find that Christ says:

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to [fill to the brim]." (Matthew 5:17)

The word fulfil here, (Strong's G4137), is to fill to the brim. "...when it was full, they drew to shore..." (Matthew 13:48), where a fishing net is filled, exactly the same word is being used in that case, it is filled to the brim. So He has not come to destroy the Law and the prophets, He has come to fill it, fill it full. But in Matthew 5:18:

"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be [brought to pass; an entirely different word being used there, Strongs G1096]." Matthew 5:17-18)

Just as Christ baptised; "...Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)" (John 4:1-2). Christ baptised but He didn't actually do the physical baptism. His disciples actually did the baptising, though obviously it was the belief and faith in Christ that was necessary. So just in the same way, He used His disciples, He used His apostles to do the canonisation as well.

So here we see one of the parallels with the Old Testament canonisation period is the fact that the Laws, the New Testament Laws, were needed; and there was a need for a formalisation of this New Testament Law. The new magnified view of the very Laws of God and you will find that in the first five books of the New Testament, just the same as you find it in the first five books of the Old Testament. There is a New Testament 'Pentateuch' of the four gospels and Acts, the same as there is an Old Testament Pentateuch.

The Old Temple System was Out of Date (PLAY FROM 20:35)

Now coming on to the second point, the fact that the old temple system was out of date and we certainly see that when you look at David and Solomon's time, the temple system was very much out of date. They had a tabernacle before that, and they therefore needed additional psalms. No new psalms or anything were added in the New Testament, but if you turn over to Hebrews 8:13 we do find very clearly that this temple system was about ready to vanish away. Hebrews was written just a matter of a few years before Titus came in and destroyed - and I mean, utterly, utterly, destroyed the area of the temple. We will come into that a little bit more when I talk about the attack that was coming, and did come on Jerusalem. But the comment here in Hebrews says:

"In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)

Now is doesn't actually say 'covenant', it says; "In that he saith, A new he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13). And the old temple system was about ready to disappear. And you come into Hebrews 9:11 it says:

"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:11-14)

So clearly it is showing that the old temple system which was about ready to pass, was just about on the way out - at that time when this was written - and the various offerings which were made physically, he then draws a parallel and says "Look -here is the offering that we have. This is the offering that we go back to." It is one offering, one sacrifice that we go back to and we claim and we hang onto this sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 9:15:

"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new [covenant] testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first [covenant]..." (Hebrews 9:15)

So the laws themselves have not changed, it is the magnification of the Laws of God. It is the same; "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8), but the temple system was out of date. And just as in David and Solomon's day the system became out of date, because it was a tabernacle; there had to be a canonisation that took place. Hebrews 9:15 goes on, it says:

"...they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:15)

The inheritance is very different as well, obviously looking forward into the future. If we turn back to Ephesians 2:18:

"For through him we both have access [talking about Jew and Gentile] by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye [Gentiles] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:18-20)

So the apostles were actually being used at this time specifically to have the canonisation done. And certainly apostles are continually used as the ones God sends, at any particular time. Ephesians 2:21:

"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21-22)

So we are looking at a different temple. The temple system is out of date, it is going into a different one. Ephesians 3:1:

"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known [here is a change, a distinct difference; he had already talked about the temple and how in fact the Gentiles had got access into that temple, totally different from what went before] unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body [temple], and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel [good news]: Whereof I was made a minister [a servant], according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;" (Ephesians 3:1-8)

So Paul had a specific job to do among the Gentiles and he is pointing out that we are looking at a temple that is being built. And this temple includes Gentiles within the one body of the Church. A huge, huge change in the temple system of God; and therefore because it is a huge change within the temple system of God it parallels the fact that a canonisation period took place. Just as in previous years, the canonisation periods took place because of the same problem. The same fact that the temple system had been changed.

Attack on Jerusalem (PLAY FROM 27:07)

Another reason is that an attack, the pressure on the Church from outside sources as well was taking place. We can see this in the Old Testament under Hezekiah and also Josiah. Hezekiah because of Assyria, Josiah because of Babylon. When we understand that, we look at the fact of what was going on in the case of the apostles and how the New Testament Church started. Even before Christ's time under the Greek rule from the Maccabees and the revolt there. Remember Antiochus Epiphanes setting up pigs' blood on the altar and all that. Then the Maccabees, which means 'hammer', hammered him, hammered those that were involved. And the Hasmonean dynasty began which was under that Greek rule. This Hasmonean, they were a priestly dynasty.

There was certain internal problems, Rome was called in and Herod was then installed. That is how Herod came into power, or a series of Herods. And finally under Herod the Great, you have a Hellenic or a Greek city and the temple area was enlarged. The actual platform was made bigger. These huge bedrock stones were laid down, many of them were 100 tons each, not all of them but many of the new ones were put in there. The river was diverted, a conduit was put in. There was all kinds of other building going on. A palace was made in the west, the Hippodrome for the games - this huge Hippodrome which was actually there, south of the temple mount. Yet if you come over to Matthew 23:33 Christ is lambasting the Pharisees and says:

"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation [notice, upon this generation]. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 23:33-39,24:1-2)

Now He uses this then to go into the end-time prophecies that will take place, but the initial questions and initial introduction is about what is to take place actually at that time. And it was that these stones that He was looking at; I'm not talking about the foundation stones I'm talking about the stones of the buildings. You can go up the top there and thee is not a single stone on that temple platform remaining, everything has been scrapped clean. And where we had the Dig, just at the south end of the temple platform, all the muck and rubbish was plonked over the side and dropped into where we had the Dig. That is why there is so much stuff in that particular area.

If we look at AD 70 when Titus actually came and destroyed the temple, I'll just read you a little bit from Josephus, from the 'Wars of the Jews', book 7. In the first chapter he says:

"NOW as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury...Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation [in other words, they completely, totally flattened it, now it is only the west side and the west side wall is the 'Wailing Wall'], that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited..." (War of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 1)

In other words you look at Jerusalem after the Romans had finished with it and it looked as if nobody had ever lived there. And it even got worse than that, as you do a little bit more research, because that was not the end of the matter. That was the end of Jerusalem at that time in 70 AD when Titus destroyed it. He scrapped the whole of that top area off, and dumped it over the side. He left certain towers. He left certain walls so that he could put his garrison in there but all the actual area of building he completely flattened everything. Erosion also then filled the valleys.

But in 132-135 AD, now that is some time after John had done the canonisation, there was the Bar Kokhba revolt as well. And during the revolt by Bar Kokhba, Hadrian actually squashed that and the Romans were getting so fed up with what was going on at that time they renamed Jerusalem - they called it Aelia Capitolina. And they actually ploughed the ground. They ploughed the ground where the city had been. So they made it into a ploughed field and they banned any Jews from coming within twenty miles of that city. Any Jew that was found within twenty miles would be executed. That was under Hadrian. After he had built his wall between Scotland and England, he was down there as well suppressing the Bar Kokhba revolt.

So this attack was a very, very real thing and there was great uncertainty in the air. The church fled to Pella and they fled then from Pella, and went across to Babylon and into many other areas. So again they needed to have text they could carry them with them. The initial canonisation done by Peter was done to that effect.

The Samaritan Problem (PLAY FROM 34:55)

However there was also the Samaritan problem. So it is almost as if everything is combined. In the case of the Old Testament {1} you had the Law, you had the temple, you had the attacks and you also had the Samaritan problem; but they were spread over thousands of years. But in the case of the New Testament you had all of them, all at the same time. And they were happening just within a few years of each other. And the Samaritan problem with Simon Magus was a real problem and as I brought out last week when I gave a good deal more depth of information why it is actually called BABYLON, THE GREAT, how there is an axial period that took place back in about 600-500 BC. And we look at the next axial period after that one, and we are looking at the return of Christ. That is when the entire system will revolve around and we are looking at Babylon being overthrown. Over in Jeremiah 25:15 just refresh our mind on that a little bit, it says:

"For thus saith the [Eternal] God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations [he was sent to the nations, plural; you can find that in Jeremiah 1:5], to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. Then took I the cup at the [Eternal's] hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the [Eternal] had sent me: To wit, Jerusalem... Pharaoh king of Egypt...mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod, Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon, And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea, Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners, And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert, And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes, And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them." (Jeremiah 25:15-26)

And you can go back to Jeremiah 51:41; "How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!" (Jeremiah 51:41) which clearly identifies the King of Sheshach as the King of Babylon. This was the axial period. It's when the whole host of nations literally as it says here in verse 27: "...Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you." (Jeremiah 25:27)

And we see so many of these ancient civilisations just simply disappear out of view at this period of time and what arises then you have Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Confucian religions or philosophies. You get new rulers in China, and in India and in the west it is Babylon. Babylon was the ruler, bar none. And that then began really everything that will culminate in the rulership that we will see rising in Europe today. And we are now at the end of this period of time, the Babylonish period of time waiting for a new axial period.

When God looks at this world, He doesn't just see the world that we see today with a few newspaper clippings that might go back into 10, 20 or 30 years back. He goes back, 1, 2, 3, 4 thousand years back and can see the position that we find ourselves within that perspective. We need to keep that same kind of perspective today in the Church because we need to have God's perspective of what is taking place around us. And this is the reason why I am giving this on canonisation periods, because what we have got has a huge history and what we are going into has a huge history behind it. We within the Church of God are the inheritors of the canon. The canon was written for us. That is why it has been preserved, we are the ones God did it for. So we had better make sure that we understand a little bit of the great amount of work that has gone into - it for our benefit.

As we see this system arise we can start to understand the Samaritan problem that was there. Alexander said that the mysteries of Greece, Babylon and Egypt were the same. He was inculcated into all three, and everywhere he went he was inculcated into the mystery religions, and they were all the same.

If we go back to II Kings and have a look and remind ourselves who these people were who put pressure on God's people to have the Old Testament canonised; it was the final pressure that caused Ezra and Nehemiah to do what they did with the Old Testament. It was also the final pressure that caused the apostle John to do what he did with the New Testament and it is going to last right the way down to our time. And it is going to be the pressure on the Church today as well.

This religion and this system, this Babylonish system and religion - the woman riding the beast - is what is going to be facing the Church. It is going to pursue the woman into the wilderness. We are going to come across it. We need to make sure we are aware of just what kind of a history we are looking at and looking forward to the axial period that will remove it once and for all from the earth. In II Kings 17:18, notice it says:

"Therefore the [Eternal] was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the [Eternal] their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made [so both nations were at fault, verse 24;] And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof." (II Kings 17:18-19,24)

And that is the group of people who were in Samaria and they also, as it says in verse 32:

"So they feared the [Eternal], and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places...[verse 34] Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the [Eternal], neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the [Eternal] commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; With whom the [Eternal] had made a covenant, and charged them..." (II Kings 17:34-35)

And these comments were probably put in by Ezra and Nehemiah. It may have gone in there at the time of Hezekiah, by Isaiah, I am not sure but certainly if not then, it would have been Ezra and Nehemiah who made these types of comments. Now verse 41:

"So these nations feared the [Eternal], and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day." (II Kings 17:41)

Now that; 'to this day' was Ezra and Nehemiah, it was Ezra and Nehemiah's time, that is where it would have come from. If we look over in Ezra 4:1 we find here the trouble that Ezra and Nehemiah were having with this syncratic Samaritan religion. This mixture of what was the Eternal's Laws with their own ideas and their own idolatry:

"Now when the adversaries of Judah [talking about the Samaritans] and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the [Eternal] God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither." (Ezra 4:1-2)

So it is very clear who he is talking about, it is the Samaritans. And you know we may find that today, we may find that people will say "We are all Christians together," and they are not building the temple. The people of God build their temple; and it is a new temple, it is a temple which had to have a canon linked to it. A canonisation period to firm up the Laws, to make sure that we know what the Laws really are. Ezra 4:4:

"But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the [Eternal] God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors [they went to the court system, it talks about being hauled before the rulers in the synagogues; Luke 21:13-14 talks specifically about that just before the end time and it looks as if that is what we will need to face] against them, to frustrate their purpose, [which was to build the temple] all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem." (Ezra 4:3-6)

So they were a thorn in the side constantly. The religious people, the people who claimed to worship the true God, but in fact were doing so in an abominable syncratic way that was in fact twisting the very laws of God. Now if we come to Acts 8:9. We find exactly the same thing that the apostles came up against. This individual, Simon, who - notice in verse 9 it says:

"But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God [or the great god; notice it was for a long time]. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries." (Acts 8:9-11)

It had been going on for great length of time. And it was incredibly successful in Rome and we can see the reason why even in the language that was used for the book of Romans. Romans was written to Rome, obviously, but it wasn't written in Latin. It was written in Greek. Now the Greek language was the lingua franca, it was the language that was used. Why? Because the tutors for the Roman children, were Greeks. They would bring them in and the Greek culture had dominated the entire world prior to the arrival of Rome.

So the Greek language and the people flowing from the Babylonish area through Samaria to Greece across to Rome - there was this flow of slaves that was taking place. So the Romans that you see today, the Italians that you see today are in fact the Roman slaves. They are not the ancient Romans. The ancient Romans to all intents and purposes have died out. They have gone: we don't really know where they are. They dispersed and they intermarried with other nations and the entire fabric of Rome was destroyed. And what we have there in the Italian race are the slaves of the Romans. It is not the Romans of yesteryear.

So this is why Simon Magus was so successful. It is why the Samaritan problem was a real problem within the New Testament times and why this canonisation had to take place. It is because this religion had spread and it had a fertile ground within the slaves or the educated slaves over in Rome. So it was something that they really did have to fight against.

How the New Testament was Canonised (PLAY FROM 48:26)

Now when we come to how the New Testament was actually canonised. If we turn over to II Peter 1:12 it says:

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me." (II Peter 1:12-14)

So here he is talking about his death, he knew he was on the point to die, he was getting elderly and he also could see the trouble that was actually happening at that time. It was probably about 67 AD - just before the time that Jerusalem was sacked by Titus. And the pressure on them was enormous at this particular time. II Peter 1:15:

"Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (II Peter 1:15-17)

Now there were only three of the apostles involved [at the trasfiguration, Matthew 17:2] and that was James, Peter and John. Now James had already been killed long before so it left Peter and John. The 'we' being talked about here was Peter and John, and the canonisation was done by these two apostles. These are the two apostles who did the canonisation of the New Testament. II Peter 1:18:

"And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts [until Christ comes back]: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (II Peter 1:18-21,2:1)

So we see that here that in Peter's mind - when he was writing these words - that there was going to be problems after his death; and something needed to be done about that. It goes into II Peter 2:21:

"For it had been better for them [talking about these deceiving false teachers] not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." (II Peter 2:21)

It was a commandment delivered by the apostles and it fitted with the Old Testament scriptures and he was in the process of canonising the scriptures that he had. II Peter 3:1:

"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant..." (II Peter 3:1-5)

But it is very clear that Peter and John were the two remaining apostles that heard that voice. They were the leading men. They were the highest ranking men at that time. They were the ones that God therefore used to canonise the New Testament. And in the case of today as well, we also have got to go back to the words that have been given to us. Now they are not canonised in the same way that these words are canonised. The writings of Mr Armstrong are not canonised. But we have technology today that they didn't have then and we can go back and we can place ourselves under that spiritual heritage that we should have over us, and that is very important to us today.

Peter and John's Canonisation (PLAY FROM 53:05)

Turn over to II Timothy 4:9. Here is Paul writing because although Peter is the one who did the canonisation, much of the epistles of Paul were canonised by Peter. We will read a little bit more later on from II Peter. But Paul also was involved with collating his material. He didn't canonise anything. Paul was not one used in the canonisation period therefore we cannot take Paul as a canonisation period. Paul collated his own material and he sent that then to Peter for canonisation. It says here:

"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me [he is writing to Timothy]: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry [for a ministry, or a service; the original is 'a' rather than 'the', Strong's G1249, it is for a specific service]. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments." (II Timothy 4:9-13)

Now these parchments were the letters of Paul that had been transcribed into a durable form and they were able to go round various Churches and be read. And these parchments are what you are holding in our hands now, a translation of. This is where we see, almost certainly, we are looking at the epistles of Paul - on those parchments that he was going to collate, adding certain comments - and then send by the hand of Mark to Peter. Now this was written round about 64-66 AD, something like that.

Turn over to I Peter 5:13 you find that here is Peter in Babylon. Now he had obviously got away from Jerusalem, this is written about 65-67 AD. It is about a year later, after II Timothy was written; it says:

"The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son [spiritually, his son]. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen." (I Peter 5:13-14)

So Mark went to Babylon presumably carrying the parchments from the hand of Paul. And this was the service presumably - we are reading between the lines a little bit to do this - but as far as we can see this is the service of ministry or what in fact Paul wanted him to do, was to take that to Peter. If you notice in II Peter 3:15 now here is a little bit later on, certainly about 67 AD coming up to the time of 70 AD where Jerusalem was destroyed, just before that. When we look here notice it says:

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you [Peter by this time would have had the epistles of Paul on the parchments in his hands]; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures , unto their own destruction." (II Peter 3:15-16)

The epistles of Paul were being recognised now as scripture. Because why? Peter had canonised them - this is the first canonisation period that would have taken place. The parchments would have gone across to Peter in Babylon, he would have canonised what he wanted to have part of the New Testament canon of those epistles, what he felt under inspiration by God that needed to go on into the future.

We can see certain editorial comments. If we turn over to Roman 16:25 we can actually notice some of these editorial comments that would have been added, probably by Paul rather than by Peter. Once he got the parchments he would have added this. The book was written about 55-56 AD something like that. The book of Romans as I said was written in Greek. It was sent to the Romans even though it wasn't written in Latin. Notice Romans 16:24 ends with an 'Amen', so here is a bit tacked on the end:

"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)

Now that was added presumably by either Paul or Peter, we don't know for sure,. Probably Paul around about 65-66 AD if it was Paul something like that, several years after Romans was written.

Now if we go back to II Timothy and notice something that we probably should have noticed before it says; "Only Luke is with me..." (II Timothy 4:11). So the only one with him at that time was Luke. Now it is interesting, go back to the very end of Acts, which was written by Luke we find:

"And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." (Acts 28:30-31)

No Amen, no nothing, just finishes. Presumably whatever Luke was writing on at the time, Paul bundled up with his parchments, and sent them off to Peter for canonisation. This is when it would have gone across because Luke was there with Paul at that time. Mark went across with the parchments and presumably Acts would have gone across there as well. So again, by putting these bits and pieces together. It is interesting that there is no Amen, there may well be an additional amount to go on the end of Acts as well, going right the way down to our present time but that won't alter the order of the books, it won't do anything, but that has to come from Jesus Christ, it doesn't come from us.

If we notice, I Corinthians 5:9 just to give you an indication, when Peter did the canonisation he excluded some epistles. The epistles were written but were not included within the canonisation that Peter did; and here is one book that is mentioned:

"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world..." (I Corinthians 5:9-10)

This epistle we do not have, it's gone. It was one before I Corinthians. We have got II Corinthians, that came afterwards but we don't have this one that came at that time. Just to give you the idea really that this had to have the stamp of approval and it was done by these two individuals who were the foremost apostles at that time. The first one being Peter before his death at Babylon.

Now how it was transmitted from Peter? They didn't have email in those days, so they had to go ahead and cart these manuscripts, these parchments and in some way the apostle John finally got them on the Isle of Patmos. Now he was a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos. He obviously had a great responsibility. He did not want to offend anybody. He wanted this word to continue on, he could see what was arising; the Samaritan problem was staring him in the face at the time 90 AD when he wrote and finally gave the final books that he added.

It is interesting that if you take out the gospel {2}of John, I, II and III John and Revelation; the five books that John wrote. At the canonisation that Peter did, there were 22 books in the New Testament. So you have got 22 books in the New Testament, 22 books in the Old Testament; again there is a comparison there and then John puts his five in and then you suddenly have 22 books before the gospels and Acts - which are the five that start the New Testament canon - and 22 books afterwards, which again gives the balance. The whole thing is a structure which is 49 books altogether throughout Old and New Testaments.

But in John's canonisation, if we turn back to John 21:20, right at the very end of the gospel of John:

"Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true." (John 21:20-24)

Now there was a lot of speculation about whether in fact he would live until Christ's return going around, but he points out in the end of his account of the life of Christ, that that wasn't the case. But he was the final, the last remaining apostle alive as far as the Church was concerned. If we turn back a few pages to John 16:13 we can see how Christ actually prophesied to a large degree of Revelation, the actual book of Revelation, it says:

"Howbeit when [it], the Spirit of truth, is come, [it] will guide you into all truth: for [it] shall not speak of [itself]; but whatsoever [it] shall hear, that shall [it] speak: and [it] will shew you things to come." (John 16:13)

Now that is something that certainly the apostle John had. And we can see in; "...the Ancient of days did sit...and the books were opened." (Daniel 7:9-10). If you go back to the original you will find that 'the' is not there and yet when you come into; "...the books were opened..." (Revelation 20:12) you will find 'the' where it talks about the books being opened, and they were judged out of the books. 'The' is in the original, it is another indication of the canonisation. Also you can find another indication in Revelation 22:18:

"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: 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." (Revelation 22:18-19)

There is a warning just leave things alone - this is it. If anybody adds to this, then added to him will be the plagues; if anybody takes away, your name out of the Book of Life will be taken away. So again it certainly is an indication that these are canonised.

So you have five Old Testament canonisation periods and two New which makes seven in all. You also have the major sections. You have the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels and Acts, the general epistles, Paul's [epistles] and Revelation. Seven again and you take all the books together and you come up with 7 x 7 which is 49. So it is a complete work. With the New Testament canon you have a complete work of scripture and that then has been saved all the way down to our present day.

Order of the Books (PLAY FROM 1:07:29)

Now if we look at the order of the books, about ninety-seven and a half percent, or round about that percentage of the Greek manuscripts do not have the order that you have in the King James. Only about two and a half percent do and those two and a half percent tend to be somewhat spurious. They tend to come from North Africa and various other places. When you are looking at the Byzantine text then they have a different order and of that Byzantine text ninety-five percent have the same order. So there is an inspired order to the books of the New Testament just the same as there is an inspired order to the books of the Old Testament. I will try and post the order up for you. {3} But if I can make a few comments:

Today there are something like 4,500 to 5,000 Greek manuscripts available, roughly what's available. They go back several centuries; these are older manuscripts they are not modern electronic versions or anything. But of these, about ninety-five percent are virtually identical - about 4,500 plus - and those are the Byzantine texts and you find them in Asia Minor. That is where you find the text that is this Byzantine text.

Now from them there has been a modern standard text been made called the Majority Text. And that Majority Text is where they have taken all the Byzantine Text, these thousands and thousands of manuscripts and they have compared them and they have come up with a text which is a standard where the vast majority adhere to this particular standard. So they have, in fact, produced this thing called the Majority Text. There is no translation of the English Bible that is based on the Majority Text; not one, not even the King James. What actually happened - but not exclusively on this - the King James Version is based on five manuscripts of this Byzantine text; and these five are called the Received Text. It is the ones that were put together by Erasmus apparently. So that gives you a bit of history. Nevertheless the nearest you can get to it is the King James and probably the New King James although the New King James is suspect as well. But the King James is as near as you can get to it.

When you get to the Alexandrian manuscripts, there are three of them which are very old - Sinaiticus, and so on. There's huge variance between the three and there are thousands of words missing compared to the Byzantine text. Now it is interesting that when you come to Westcott and Hort- I haven't got time to go into them - but they were theologians back in the time of Victoria and they tried to give the impression that they could go ahead and get back to the original Greek by going back to these manuscripts and they came up with all kinds of ideas.

The interesting point is that they were also involved in the occult. And if you go back and notice what they have done, and you notice what is in the New International Version, and you see what, in fact, was used within the Church, we can see that this is a heresy, and a plan that goes back a thousand-plus years. And these texts were actually planted by Satan for a very real reason. And he influenced these two men, Westcott and Hort, and we have so many of the modern translations today go to that. This is why I tend to use the King James. I don't even like the New King James personally. I don't think it is as good. Certainly when I am writing the psalms and I am trying to find out anything specific, I will go to an interlinear and try and find out something from the Majority Text where I can.

If we turn over to Revelation 1:9 I want you to notice something; here is this apostle John, here he is canonizing this final canonisation of the New Testament:

"I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ [this is the purpose of him being there, this is what he was doing; he was an elderly man in his nineties or around about at that time]. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day [he was actually seeing visions, projecting himself to the time we are just coming up to], and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last..." (Revelation 1:9-11)

The one who changes not, the one who is; "...the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8). The canonisation stamps the approval on these words to make sure that we don't change them. And the apostle at the end time had access to the pure word and it is interesting he had the King James Bible largely. He used the Moffatt as well but his bedrock was the King James Version. Revelation 1:11:

"...and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia..." (Revelation 1:11)

These manuscripts - Revelation was part of the canon - and that canon was sent to the seven churches that were in Asia. Now that is Asia Minor, that is where you get the Byzantine text from today, that is where this Majority Text arises from. It is coming out of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The actual physical locations. And that is why we should certainly look to that as the canon right now.

So as far as the proper order of the books is concerned, if I can just give you them briefly; But you have got the first five almost like the book of the Law: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and Acts. Then you have the general epistles next and they are: James, I and II Peter, I, II and III John and Jude. So you are looking at a different order. Then you have the Pauline epistles. First to the seven Churches: Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Thessalonians. Then you have the general letter to the Hebrews. Then the pastoral epistles: I and II Timothy, Titus and Philemon and finally you have the prophetic which is the Revelation.

So that is the order. Notice the general epistles come after Acts. If you read it in the right way you get the basis first. You get the law that Christ laid down within the gospels and Acts. You then go into the general epistles which give you the basic fundamental beliefs and only later do you then go into the Pauline epistles that gives you much, much more, it says; "...they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (II Peter 3:16). And then having had that you have a general letter and then the pastoral epistles and finally Revelation. But it is a progression and much more logical progression as to the content and the subject matter that is there.

Why it is Preserved (PLAY FROM 1:16:26)

Now when we look at why it is preserved and how it is preserved really for us, and how we must approach it we read that; "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (II Timothy 3:16) it was God breathed, it is given by inspiration of God. And if we turn over to I Corinthians 2:9 it says:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (I Corinthians 2:9-11)

And so many today have lost sight of this. Mr Armstrong did not get this by his own intellect. He got it via revelation that revealed God's Word out of the canon. Out of what was canonised all those years ago and protected from the Samaritan system which we have all around us today and we are also having to fight against because this Babylon is eventually going to be removed at the axial period that we are approaching. I Corinthians 2:12:

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (I Corinthians 2:12-14)

Now people in the world have an excuse, they can look into this same canon and they cannot understand it. God has deliberately designed it that way because eventually He is going to do His level best to save as many as possible; to make sure that as many as possible are in, and under that government, that kingdom, that ruling government, that He will establish. In Matthew 11:25 Christ said here:

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Matthew 11:25-26)

There has got to be certain approach used to scripture. When we approach this canon, when we read this canon that has been preserved for us through the canonisation periods; it we do not have the correct approach before it, if we do not put ourselves below it, we will not understand it. And that is the defining line. We have got to be babes before this book because it is the Word of God.

If you go back to I Corinthians 1:26 again, He did it for a particular reason: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: [Then it says in verse 29] That no flesh should glory in his presence." (I Corinthians 1:26,29)

He is determined that the sovereignty of God is going to remain. Theology is an oxymoron, we do not study God, God studies us. We can read His book and we can make ourselves subject to that book or books but we do not study God. We are not theologians which is what the word actually means. Let's turn to another one Isaiah 66:1, right at the end of Isaiah it says:

"Thus saith the [Eternal], The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me [where is this temple going to actually be]? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the [Eternal]: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." (Isaiah 66:1-2)

Who subjects himself to the Word of God, puts himself under the canon because it is spiritually discerned, because it is God-breathed. Because it came by; "...holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (II Peter 1:21). They have therefore got to be subject to that Spirit, and subject to the spiritual legacy that revealed the Word to us as well. The two go hand in glove. And it goes on in Isaiah 66:5 it says:

"Hear the word of the [Eternal], ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the [Eternal] be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." (Isaiah 66:5)

To those people that will be subject to the Word of God, and faithfully be subject to it, eventually Christ will appear and to the joy of those people. So again we must be sure that we approach the Word of God in that way, in the right way, like the people of Berea; "These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11). The Bereans were fair-minded, they searched to see whether they actually were true. They were trying to find out if in fact it was true.

It is interesting in John 7:17, here is a litmus test that God gives us; and really the King James Version is the one that has it translated correctly, as far as I am concerned, because other translations don't translate this correctly. It says:

"If any man will do his will [so if do His will, get ourselves subject to the will of God], he shall know of the doctrine,[ the teaching] whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17)

You see if we can study this word and we can come to the conclusion that this is the Word of God and we can kind of look at God in it, we are in fact elevating ourselves above it. But if we put ourselves under it, being subject to it, and having been subject to it, then discover that, in fact, it is right. "Who has tasted the Lord is gracious" as it says, (I Peter 2:3) then it is a case of testing it and seeing that it works. That is the proof of the canon. It is trying it out and God is deliberately designed it that way. The erudite, the theologians will never come to the understanding of God because they are approaching it from a totally wrong perspective.

Mr Armstrong came to the understanding because having seen something in the Word of God, the Holy Days for instance, he subjected himself to it. And for seven years kept the Holy Days not knowing what they meant but then the things were revealed. So turn over to II Timothy 3:14. It is not by mathematical formulas, it is not trying to work out all the angles and everything else, it is a certain frame of mind that we need as we approach this Word which has been canonised very carefully by God throughout millennia, including the New Testament. It is a complete Word. And in I Timothy 3:14:

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God [God breathed, in the original], and is profitable for doctrine [or for teaching], for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness [this is the purpose of the scriptures that we have]: That the man of God may be perfect [may be mature, and have God's righteousness there], thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:14-17)

It is not just going out and being a do-gooder here and now, it is so that we can then take this Word and the laws and the Way and the Mind of God into eternity. That is the purpose of the canon and I hope it has given you a much greater insight into it.


Footnotes:

{1} Mr Bowles inadvertently said; "New" instead of "Old".

{2} Mr Bowles meant gospel and not epistle

{3} This chart can be found on https://members.cogiw.org/articles/#transcripts-other