Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 13, 1964

God's Word - The Invincible Anvil

Edward Fudge

We have already seen that when the New Testament documents were originally written, neither their readers nor the authors were fully aware of how they would come to be used as a "Bible" by future generations. The first Christians expected the Lord's return any day. We have seen some of the reasons for the inspired books being collected together and some of the criteria by which their canonical value was determined. The term "New Testament" to describe the collection of inspired writings was first used about A. D. 193.

We now come to the final years of the formation of the Canon as we know it today.

Lucian of Antioch (3rd and 4th centuries) made a revision of the New Testament on which most of our present Greek manuscripts rely heavily. Accepted from Antioch to Constantinople, his New Testament did not include 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, or the Apocalypse.

Gregory of Nazianzus, an early contemporary of Lucian, accepted all the books of our New Testament except the Apocalypse, but he believed that it was written by John. He too was an extensive traveler, and his influence had much to do with the development of the Canon.

Called "the greatest preacher of ancient times," John of Antioch (347-407) never quoted from 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, or Revelation in his sermons. As Bishop of Constantinople, he accepted the Canon of Antioch to a large degree.

Eusebius "had fifty manuscripts made of the Bible for the emperor Constantine, Gregory thinks that... Codex Siniatious may be...of the fifty... Siniatious has all of the 27 books of our present New Testament."

Athanasius of Alexandria (298-373) probably first designated our exact New Testament books as canonical. Athanasius concluded:

The Old and New Testament books are the divine writings, the inspired scripture, the springs of salvation...In them alone is the good news of the teaching of true religion proclaimed: let no one add to them or take away aught of them.

The Council of Hippo in 419 issued a list of twenty-seven New Testament books — identical with our list of 1964.

We may thus conclude that: the canon, then, is not the product of any one person's... judgment, nor was it set by conciliar vote...Some were recognized more slowly than others because of their small size,... or seeming lack of applicability to the immediate ecclesiastical need. None of these factors mitigates against the inspiration of any one of these books, or against its right to its place in the authoritative word of God. Afterthought.

Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, viewed the marble stones of Herod's temple. To his disciples, who had just commented on the durability of those stones, Jesus replied' "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35).

Today almost twenty centuries later, we turn to the Gospel of Christ and read his words. We turn to the Acts of the Apostles, and read of the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ. From the Epistles we read the warnings, admonitions and exhortations of the Apostles. The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ stands before us, warning us not to tamper with its sacred contents, and encouraging us to look into the great drama of the glorious Advent of our Savior and the ultimate triumph of Faith. God's Word has stood the test of time. His Providence is clearly seen in the preservation of His Word. No, the Roman Catholic Church did not give us the Bible, as they claim; but rather, the Bible has stood against that digression of the Church throughout the centuries. Someone has expressed thoughts of truth in the lines:

Last eve I passed beside 'a blacksmith's door And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;

When looking in, I saw upon the floor, Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

"How many anvils have you had," said I,

"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"

"Just one," said he; then said with twinkling eye,

"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."

And so, I thought, the anvil of God's word For ages skeptics' blows have beat upon;

Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard, The anvil is unharmed — the hammers gone!

— 503 Chandler Drive, Athens, Alabama