Correlation of Revelatory Spiritual Gifts and NT Canonicity

Robert L. Thomas | August 25, 2009

Paul uses portions of three of his epistles to develop the role of spiritual gifts in building the body of Christ. Among the eighteen gifts he lists are four that provide for the impartation of special revelation necessary for the body’s growth: the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge. In discussions of NT canonicity, apostleship has been prominent, but a study of relevant passages shows that prophecy also played an important part in furnishing the early church with special revelation. Several NT examples, particularly the Apocalypse, reinforce this observation. In their efforts to single out books for inclusion in the NT canon, early Christian leaders looked for the works that were inspired, narrowing their search by concentrating on works by men whose spiritual gifts capacities included apostleship and prophecy. A number of early Christian writings verify their interest, not just in apostolicity, but also in the propheticity of a writing. After narrowing down their possibilities to works authored by apostles and prophets, they applied tests of antiquity, orthodoxy, catholicity, and traditional usage to finalize their list of NT books.

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