Most do not realize that the Church of God had the ‘chain of custody’ of the New Testament


The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the New Testament asserts the following:

The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. (Reid G. Canon of the New Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3., 1908)

The above is only true if one considers that the Vatican has always represented the true Christian church.

If, however, one believes the Bible and considers the fact that the Church of Rome was not dominating all of Christendom in the first and second centuries—which their own scholars recognize (Duffy E. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2002, pp.2,6; Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah, NJ, 2001, pp. 13-15,147)— then the idea that the true Christians’ Church knew the books from the beginning does have a foundation.

Yet, contemporary Protestant scholars often take the Roman Catholic view:

The canon of the NT, as commonly received at present, was ratified by the third council of Carthage (A.D. 397.) (Unger M. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Moody Press, 2009, p. 204)

But the view of early Christians, including Greco-Roman Catholic ones, was that the New Testament canon was known at the time of the apostles.

Consider this from Augustine of Hippo:

In order to leave room for such profitable discussions of difficult questions, there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles through the successions of bishops and the extension of the Church. (Augustine. Contra Faustum, Book XI, chapter 5)

Augustine is acknowledging that the canon came from the apostles, that bishops/overseers confirmed this, and thus what he considered to be the church accepted it. He did not indicate that the books were unknown and that a council was needed to determine the books.

Bishops, like Polycarp of Smyrna and Serapion of Antioch, who had succession from the apostles, confirmed that they knew the writings handed down from the apostles.

The late Dr. Ernest Martin wrote:

Some historians would have people believe that the church of the early 2nd century (or even the 3rd or 4th century) probably formulated the final New Testament. There has always been a problem with this appraisal because there is not a sliver of evidence that such a thing took place. The truth is, when the early church fathers began to talk about the canon of the New Testament near the end of the 2nd century, it is assumed that it was already in their midst. The first recorded discussion among Catholic scholars about the books of the New Testament only concerned whether certain books in the canon were of lesser rank, not which books were needed to form the official canon. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III.25) (Martin E. Restoring the Original Bible. A.S.K. 1994, p 295)

If you read Dr. Martin’s reference to Eusebius, you will see that Eusebius did not refer to the Church of Rome in that chapter, but that some people had doubts about the Book of Revelation as well as other books.

Consider that Jesus is identified as “the Word” four times in the first chapter of John’s Gospel (1:1,14). This fact alone should give us pause to consider that the word of God is something that God wanted all to highly value.

Between them, the Apostles Peter, John, and Paul wrote 21 of the 27 books of the NT (plus, between them, they personally knew all the other NT writers). The Bible also suggests that Peter, John, and Paul all had roles in the process of finalizing the NT canon. Even though many Roman Catholics believe that their church ‘gave the Bible to the world,’ the Church of Rome admits that it wrote none of the books of the NT (though as it includes all the writers as theirs, they would in that sense).

Peter wrote:

15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. …

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:15, 19-21)

Thus, the Bible teaches that God gave scripture to humans. 2 Peter 1:15 demonstrates that Peter intended for God’s teachings to be remembered — and since he was writing at the time, this (as well as common sense) suggests that properly preserving canonical writings would be the way to accomplish this.

Since the Bible, in 1 Peter 1:25, teaches, “But the word of the LORD endures forever,” it would not seem to be biblically correct to believe that portions of it were lost for centuries — which is the prevailing view that the world’s scholars hold to!

The Continuing Church of God put together the following chart, which is also in its new book Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete?:

Here is a timeline of custody from the view of the Continuing Church of God and the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches with many of the early dates approximate:

Timeline of Custody

Church of God Date Greco-Roman-Protestants
Paul writes the Mark to bring parchments (2 Timothy 4:11-13). c. 66 Paul writes the Mark to bring parchments (2 Timothy 4:11-13).
Peter has Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16). c. 66 Peter has at least some of Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16).
John gets writings from Peter. c. 66 John gets some writings from Peter.
Peter and Paul are killed. c. 67 Peter and Paul are killed.
In Patmos, John pens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11). c. 92 In Patmos, John pens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11).
John moves back to Ephesus. c. 96 John moves back to Ephesus.
John passes the finalized canons on to Polycarp of Smyrna and others. c. 98 John passes knowledge to Polycarp of Smyrna.
Papias of Hierapolis shows accepted Revelation as scripture. c. 120
Polycarp quotes or alludes to everyone of the 27 books of the New Testament (including Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter, and James) and notes that those of Philipi are “well versed in the Sacred Scriptures.” c. 135 Polycarp refers to various NT books and notes that those of Philipi are “well versed in the Sacred Scriptures.”
c. 160 Shepherd of Hermas and Gospel of Peter are considered to be scripture.
c. 175 Muratorian Canon includes Apocalypse of Peter and Wisdom of Solomon, but excludes Book of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and one of John’s epistles.
Melito of Sardis lists the books of the Old Testament, but does not include any of the Apocrypha. Melito’s use of the term ‘Old Testament’ presupposes that he also knew the New Testament. c. 175 Melito of Sardis lists the books of the Old Testament, but does not include any of the Apocrypha. Melito’s use of the term ‘Old Testament’ presupposes that he also knew the New Testament. Apocrypha used by some Greco-Romans.
Polycrates of Ephesus said he and others in Asia Minor had “gone through every Holy scripture.” c. 192
Serapion of Antioch condemns Gospel of Peter as pseudepigrapha (ψευδεπιγραφα). c. 209 Gospel of Peter still being used.
Serapion says the books were “handed down” to those in Antioch/Asia Minor, as opposed to those he encountered in Egypt. c. 209
c. 180-250 School in Alexandria, with Origen in the 3rd century, classifies Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, and Jude as “contested writings.”
c. 230 Origen sees major problems with the Septuagint texts, but it is still used.
c. 250 Cyprian of Carthage’s “first Latin Bible” fails to include Hebrews, 2 Peter, James, and Jude.
School in Antioch, with Lucian predecessors, then Lucian himself, improves Greek Septuagint by using Hebrew Masoretic documents and also edits the ‘Traditional Text’ of the Greek New Testament. c. 250-312
c. 320 Eusebius writes that Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation are disputed.
367 Athanasius lists the 27 books of the New Testament.
c. 380 Canon 85 of the Apostolic Constitutions includes the “two Epistles of Clement” among its “sacred books.”
382 Damasan catalogue has a canon for the Roman Church with the Book of Hebrews.
Nazarene Christians use the Old and New Testaments without the Apocrypha. c. 382 -395 Jerome works on Latin Vulgate Bible, but does not want to include the Apocrypha. He notices that he is often using corrupted texts.
Nazarenes continued with the original canon. c. 382-404 Jerome consults with one or more Nazarene Christians on the canon.
393 Augustine said Hebrews was still disputed.
c. 405 Pope Innocent I left Hebrews out of his list of the New Testament canon he sent to Exsuperius.
c.405 Jerome completes his Bible, and, after succumbing to pressure, includes the Apocrypha.
419 Council of Carthage adopts catalogue of canon.
Proto-Waldenses and Waldenses preserve and translate the books. 5th-16th centur-ies
Waldensian books taken by supporters of Rome. 12th-15th centur-ies Edicts against the Waldneses issued by Roman Catholics in 1184 (Synod of Verona), 1215 (Fourth Lateran Council), and 1487 (Bull by Innocent VII).
1522 Martin Luther included Apocrypha in his translation of the Bible.
Huldrych Zwingli did not accept Revelation as scripture.
1546 Martin Luther still doubted the inclusion of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation.
1546 Rome’s Council of Trent declares fixed canon is a dogma that cannot be changed.
1611 King James Version published with the Apocrypha as part of the appendix.
1672 Eastern Orthodox finalize their canon, at the Synod of Jerusalem, which includes the Apocrypha.
19th century Protestants drop the Apocrypha from the appendix of the edited KJV.
Church of God leaders continued to cite the same canon of scripture from prior to the Protestant Reformation to present. They continue to point to the Masoretic Hebrew and a version of the Textus Receptus as the best available scriptural texts. 16th– 21st centur-ies

There are basic two views of the canon. While the last column reflects, to a significant degree, the major scholastic view today, the first column hopefully provides enough scriptural and historical information to show the honest inquirer that, yes, the Church of God had the canon from the beginning.

The true chain of custody for the Church of God has continued to hold the same books of the canon of scripture to this day.

Because the Greco-Roman churches often included certain books they dropped and did not include others which they added, that would not be considered an unbroken chain of custody.

Although Jesus taught that His church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), most scholars ignore that and accept that the Greco-Romans (and later the Protestants) represent Christianity as a whole. So, they have tended to teach the Greco-Roman view as fact.

Most have overlooked the true chain of custody. Part of the reason is that many aspects of church history have been misunderstood (details on church history can be found in the free book, online at, titled Continuing History of the Church of God).

For more details, here is a link to the free online book: Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete?

Some items of related interest may include:

Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete? Are there lost gospels? What about the Apocrypha? Is the Septuagint better than the Masoretic text? What about the Textus Receptus vs. Nestle Alland? Was the New Testament written in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? Which translations are based upon the best ancient text? Did the true Church of God have the canon from the beginning? Here are links to related sermons: Let’s Talk About the Bible, The Books of the Old Testament, The Septuagint and its Apocrypha, Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, and Lost Books of the Bible, and Let’s Talk About the New Testament, The New Testament Canon From the Beginning, English Versions of the Bible and How Did We Get Them?, What was the Original Language of the New Testament?, Original Order of the Books of the Bible, and Who Gave the World the Bible? Who Had the Chain of Custody?
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading, certain ancient texts, and discusses translations. Is the King James Version completely trustworthyy? Here is a link in Mandarin Chinese: ‹ûW#~Ï Here is a link in the Spanish language: Lea la Biblia.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession? Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs. Here is a link to that book in the Spanish language: Creencias de la iglesia Católica original.
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
How to Study the Bible David Jon Hill wrote this initially and Dr. Thiel added scriptures, tips, and suggestions to it. A 2015 sermon is available and is also titled
How to Study the Bible.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

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