Why are there 66 books in the Bible and not more? Why is for example the “Seventh Book of Moses” not in the Bible?
The 66 books of the Bible are God’s complete written revelation to humanity from the very beginning of history (Genesis) to the very end (Revelation). God specially inspired the authors of these books to write “Scripture” (2 Peter 1:20-21), which means that every single word they wrote (Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17) was “breathed-out” by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and so is true (Psalm 33:4) and will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:25). But how do we know that these 66 books alone are truly God-breathed, and that every other book ever written, like the “Seventh Book of Moses,” are ordinary, uninspired books which should be left out of the Bible?
What does Jesus say? The Old Testament.
To answer this question, we must to start by asking another question: “What does Jesus say?” Because, when we look at Jesus’ teaching about the Bible, we will quickly understand why certain books are included in the Bible and why others are left out.
Before Jesus was born, the Jews already believed that the books of the Old Testament were written by inspired prophets (although they called the Old Testament the “TaNaKh,” a name referring to its three main sections: the “Law,” the “Prophets” and the “Writings). Jesus agreed with the Jews. Jesus Himself regularly quoted from and obeyed the Old Testament, and He specifically referred to its three main sections in Luke 24:44. This is the reason why we have 39 books in the Old Testament: we simply accept the same works that Jesus did.
What about the New Testament? When Jesus was on earth, He made preparations for the rest of the Bible to be written. Jesus chose specific people to be His apostles and sent them out with His authority to preach (Mark 3:14), and to be the official witnesses of His resurrection to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). To help them with their job, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remind them of everything that He had taught them (John 14:26) and to guide them “into all truth” (John 16:12-13). Because Jesus did all this for the apostles, we can be sure that the apostles’ writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and so they are Scripture and should be included in the Bible. So, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the letters of Peter and John, and Revelation (also by John), all written by apostles, are the word of God, and so are included in the Bible. Jesus also chose Paul to be an apostle (Acts 9:15), and Peter confirms that Paul wrote inspired Scripture too (2 Peter 3:16). This is why Paul’s letters are also included in the Bible. Paul, in turn, tells us that Luke writes Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18), which is why the New Testament includes Luke and Acts.
This just leaves four books of the New Testament to explain: Mark, James, Jude and Hebrews. Mark was a good friend of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13), and so we can understand that Mark’s gospel is also inspired, because it is really Peter’s account. James and Jude were Jesus’ brothers (Jude 1; Galatians 1:19), and again we can accept that these men were close enough to Jesus and the apostles to also write inspired Scripture. Today, nobody knows for sure who wrote the letter called “Hebrews.” However, Jesus said that His sheep would recognize His voice (John 10:27), and the consensus of 2,000 years of church history gives us assurance that the early church, who would have known the author of “Hebrews,” was not wrong to recognize this letter as inspired, and so belonging in the Bible too.
Seventh book of Moses
It is now easy to see why the “Seventh Book of Moses” is not included in the Bible. The “Seventh Book of Moses” cannot belong in the New Testament, because it does not come from the inspired apostles; and it cannot belong in the Old Testament, because Jesus never accepted it as being written by the inspired prophets. Actually, despite its name, the “Seventh Book of Moses” was not written by Moses, but was written in Germany at least 1700 years after Jesus was born. In a similar way, the so-called “Gospel of Thomas” and “Gospel of Barnabas” are also late, uninspired fakes, and so not part of the Bible.
The 66 books of the Bible are God’s complete written revelation to humanity, entrusted to us once and for all (Jude 3). God has given us these 66 precious books, authored by the truly inspired apostles and prophets, to lead us to faith and salvation through Jesus Christ (John 5:39-40). So, do not be distracted or confused by any other book which claims to be from God! Instead, “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
How does this Bible passage speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!
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