An Introduction to the Canon of Scripture
It is known infallibly to God by necessity and to man with a certainty directly related to God’s purpose in giving the Word to the church.
Therefore, the originator of a book (or books) has an infallible knowledge of the canon of those works, while anyone else has a mediated knowledge, dependent upon both the honesty and integrity of the author and the author’s desire to make that canon known to others.
It is not itself an object of revelation, but comes into existence as a by-product of the action itself. God inspires, and the canon expresses the limitation of that action.
And even as God leads His people to gain knowledge of canon2, there can be times when the certain knowledge of canon2 lags behind the actual content of canon1. The knowledge of canon2 is dependent upon God’s purposes at any given point in time, and if His intentions include using a human process in the creation of canon2, that process may not result in a clear and widely known canon listing for some time after the giving of that revelation.
Once we realize that it is Scripture, not man’s knowledge of the canon, that is inspired, and that canon1 exists perfectly in God’s mind, we can see that the clarity and knowledge of canon2 is dependent not upon human beings, councils, churches, or anything else in this world, but instead upon God’s purposes in giving us the inspired Scriptures in the first place.
So does it not follow that God will both providentially preserve the Scriptures and lead His people to a functional, sufficient knowledge of the canon so as to fulfill His purpose in inspiring them?
It is part of the very nature of God’s Word to be unfailing, utterly trustworthy and reliable, always successful in accomplishing His purpose. Scripture, therefore, has a purpose that God will ensure it fulfills.
Hence, Paul explicitly teaches that the divine purpose in the writing of Scripture included the future instruction and teaching of believers in the church, resulting in their being encouraged so that they might have hope
The foundation of the certainty of our knowledge of the canon is based upon God’s purposes in giving Scripture, not upon the alleged authority of any ecclesiastical body
The canon’s certainty is found in its author and in the outworking of His purposes for Scripture itself! God’s sovereign power stands behind the revealing of canon2 over time through the work of His Spirit, which led to a nearly unanimous view of the New Testament canon.14