When the Bible was first viewed as having both an "Old and New Testament"

A conservative, bible believing perspective!

God's providence gave us the 27 book New Testament Canon, not the church. God, not men decided the canon. This providence does not mean that church leaders were inspired in their selecting the canon, only that God had his eye on the scriptures the whole time and brought about His will to form the Bible we see today!

When the Bible was first viewed as having both an "Old and New Testament"

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When the Bible was first viewed as having both an "Old and New Testament"



Scholars often base their opinions on history to the exclusion of what is actually in the Bible. A perfect example of this is the whole discussion regarding when the 27 books were first called, "the new testament/covenant". Scholars will imply that the collection of New Testament books were first called the "New Testament" only after about 150 AD. Yet they fail to observe the obvious fact that in several books, they are called just that: Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Heb 8:6-13; 9:1-4, 15. So instead of admitting that the earliest Christians MUST have referred to their collection of books as the New Testament as the Bible itself documents, they ignore this and base their opinions strictly on extant historical information. Here is the earliest evidence of when Christians referred to their collection of books as the New Covenant/Testament:

  1. Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
  2. Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
  3. 1 Corinthians 11:25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
  4. 2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
  5. Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, He says, "Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, When I will effect a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
  6. Hebrews 8:13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
  7. Hebrews 9:15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
  8. Hebrews 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.


I. Comments by Scholars:

  1. "The term New Testament, as it is used in second-century Christian literature, may very well refer to the Canonical Edition. At the end of the second century, Melito of Sardis, on behalf of a friend, compiles "extracts from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Savior, and concerning all our faith." In the introduction to this work, Melito informs his friend that he "learnt accurately the books of the Old Testament," especially "how many they are in number, and what is their order." Even if the term New Testament is not explicitly used, it is implied by the designation Old Testament, which is introduced without explanation. At approximately the same time the previously mentioned anonymous treatise against the Montanist movement seems to use the term New Testament in reference to a written source. The author explains that he was initially very reluctant to write at all. He did not want to create "the impression that he was adding anything to the word of the gospel of the New Testament; since no one, who decided to live according to the gospel, can add to it or take away from it." When Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and-in the early third century-Tertullian and Origen1 refer to the second part of the Canonical Edition, they use the term New Testament." (The first edition of the New Testament, David Trobisch, p 44, 2000)
  2. "Hippolytus, likening the church to a ship, compared its tillers to "the two testaments" (Antichr. 59). The statement is not unambiguous between "agreements" or "written records" of the agreements, but the latter is more likely, especially in view of the usage of his predecessors and contemporaries. For him "holy scriptures" included books that we know as Old Testament and New Testament . Cyprian a few years later used the terminology of "old and new," without the word "covenant," in reference to the scriptures: "As you examine more fully the scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books"" (Lee Martin McDonald, James A. Sanders, Editors: The Canon Debate; Everett Ferguson, Factors Leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon, p 308, 2002)


II. Roman Catholic and Orthodox get Marcion wrong:

Father James Bernstein, an Orthodox church leader wrote: "It is not until A.D. 200-about 170 years after the death and resurrection of Christ-that we first see the term "New Testament" used, by Tertullian." (Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament?, Fr. James Bernstein, Orthodox churchman, 1994, p 11)

Refutation of James Bernstein (Orthodox):

  1. Bernstein should be spanked! He knows full well that the terms "New Testament" were commonly used within the Bible itself, as we have shown above in reference to the scriptures of Christians.
  2. This merely illustrates an important matter that Bernstein is all too willing to ignore, namely that the record of what the early fathers believed is incomplete and sparse.
  3. You see the Orthodox church wants so desperately to avoid the Bible being a central authority so early, and wants you to think the early church relied upon human church tradition.
  4. So the Orthodox church tries to deceive you into thinking that the first time in history the term "New Testament" came into existence, could be no earlier than 200AD. All the while the term, "New Testament" was found in no less than 8 places in the very scriptures that were read in the church every week from 50 AD.


By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.


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