"And He 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 the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).
In this verse our risen Lord showed the disciples the canon of scripture. This three fold division of the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms was one with which the Old Testament Church was familiar. The Old Testament Church had the Old Testament scriptures exactly as we have them today. They combined several of the Books into one, for example the first five books of the Bible was in the days of our Lord combined into one book called the Pentateuch. The first century Old Testament was in twenty-two books instead of our thirty-nine due to this grouping, but it was the same scripture as we have today.
The arguments for the canon of scripture are closely connected with the arguments for inspiration and authority of the scriptures. We receive as the word of God those writings that contain heavenly matter, those that have been effectual in conversion and sanctification, those that are majestic in style, those that consent to one another, those that give all glory to God, those that are self authenticating, those that are confirmed by the faith of God's elect, and above all those that lead us to Christ. This is what the Lord told these disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Old Testament in all its parts concerned Himself.
Reading through the four gospels we find that the Lord Jesus Christ quoted from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, the Psalms, and Isaiah. By quoting these scriptures for authority our Lord was showing that he accepted all the Old Testament as "canonical". Nowhere do we find the Lord questioning any of the Old Testament as being inspired of God. Those who call the Old Testament into question are simply calling Christ a liar and prove themselves to be in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.
As we read the Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles we find the apostles and their deputies quoting from these Old Testament books: Micah, Malachi, Zechariah, Numbers, Amos, Habakkuk, Proverbs, Ruth, II Chronicles, Jeremiah, Job, Daniel, Jonah, Joel, and Hosea. By seeing how these books were unitized in their respective divisions at that time, we see, that our Lord and His apostles accepted all of our present Old Testament as "canonical." In Acts 7, as Stephen defended the faith, he took his hearers to Genesis, Exodus, I and II Samuel. I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles and Isaiah. In Hebrews eleven, Paul refers to Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges and the Prophets. Gary Crampton says in his fine book on the doctrine of scripture that there are over five hundred places where the New Testament writers refer to the authority of the Old Testament. Christ and the Apostles accepted our thirty-nine Old Testament books as "canonical."
Lord willing, next week we will take up the identity of the New Testament.