Why 66 books?
“We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” -1 Thessalonians 2:13
We know there is only one book that contains the exact words that God spoke. We call that book the Holy Bible. Did you know that your Bible is really a set of many books bound together? When I hold the Holy Bible, I am really holding up 66 books all in one. There are 66 books that make up the Bible. These books are divided into two sections: the Old Testament that has 39 books and the New Testament with 27 books. Each of our Bibles has the same number of books. God’s Word would be of little good if Ryan’s Bible has 45 books, and Emma’s had 101 books.
But how did these books all wind up together in one huge volume, especially since they were not written at the same time or in the same place? How did this remarkable collection come together? It’s not very likely that the 66 books just got together by chance. So how did God plan this to happen?
Today we learn a new word. It is “canon.” This canon has nothing to do with the big gun on wheels that shoots huge cannonballs. This word goes all the way back to the Greeks who used it to mean “a measuring stick” or “a ruler.” Later it came to mean “rule of faith” or “accepted writings.” Today the word canon speaks of the 66 books we have in our Bibles.
Were these 66 books the only ones that were around in Bible times? Certainly not. The Bible mentions many more books that people read and used. Numbers mentions “The Book of Wars.” Joshua mentioned the “Book of Jasher.” Why didn’t these books make it into the Bible?
First, we see what did not happen when the Bible was put together. It was not decided by one man or a special council to choose only certain books for the Bible. Neither did any church make that decision. It was God’s guiding hand that placed these books together to form the complete Bible. God had planned all along just which books would become part of the set of 66 books. Each of the books that God chose were all written by specially chosen men of God. And over many years, they were all considered to be the ones chosen. There will never be any more books added or taken away from the 66 books that now make up the Holy Bible.
We can be thankful that God gave us the canon of 66 books to become the set of books in the Holy Bible. We can be confident that these books are real and correct just as God planned. Now when you read your Bible you can enjoy 66 smaller books, some only a few pages long, and some very long, some that have hymns and songs, and some that have history, some that tell us about Bible heroes, and some that tell us about the life of Jesus. What a wonderful gift we have in the canon of the Bible!
In Christ, Mike Allard, Principal @ St. John’s