How were the books in the New Testament chosen?

News articles attacking the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible are nothing new. Their purpose is to weaken the faith of those who believe the Bible to be the written revelation of God to His people.

These articles are often written by scholars who suggest that the Bible is unreliable because the process for choosing the books was corrupt, that the early church leaders made their choices based on their own personal or political agendas.

I recently read an excellent article in the Baptist Press that explains how the books of the New Testament were chosen, why these books were included while others were excluded. Here is a brief excerpt (you can read the full article here):

So, what criteria did the early church use as a guide? Blomberg notes three predominant requirements: apostolicity, catholicity and orthodoxy.


This does not mean that every book is written by an apostle, but rather that each book is written during the apostolic age.

In addition, no book in the New Testament is more than one person removed from an apostle or another authoritative eyewitness of the life of Christ.

Mark, for example, is not an apostle, but he is a traveling companion of both Peter and Paul. Early church tradition attributes much of Mark’s Gospel to the memoirs of Peter.

Luke, in a similar manner, travels with Paul and interviews eyewitnesses of Jesus.


This has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church. The word “catholic” simply means “universal.” Catholicity means that believers throughout the world to which Christianity was spreading were in agreement on the value of these books –- and used them widely.

No books that were found only among one sect of Christianity or in a single geographical location are included in the New Testament canon.


This refers to the faithfulness of the books to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Blomberg writes, “It is a criterion that could not have developed if people had not recognized that the heresies afflicting the church in its earliest centuries were parasitic on orthodoxy. That is to say, the heresies developed in response to apostolic doctrine –- modifying it, challenging it, trying to refute it, supplementing it or simply rejecting it.”

I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read this article. It will strengthen your understanding of the origins of the New Testament and help you see the errors that often appear in the secular media.

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