Does the word ‘book’ appear in the NT – and in the Book of Revelation?

oldbook by Armini

(courtesy openclipart)

By Spencer D Gear

I was provoked to think about this in a post by childofdust on Christian Forums. He wrote:

There were no “books” in the ancient world. He might have rolled up a scroll or sealed a tablet or something, but no “book” was closed. And the Revelation itself (not the letters) is certainly not part of God’s word. But YHWH did continue to reveal himself to humankind through his Church. She is the body of Christ and the fount of his Spirit. Spirit-inspired Tradition has been with us since the beginning of the Church and continues till this day.[1]

[2]This is your idiosyncratic view. The Greek word, biblos (translated as ‘book’ in ESV), is found in Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5, 20:15. Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek lexicon gives the meaning as, book, later esp. sacred, venerable book; of a single writing; especially book of life (summary from Arndt & Gingrich 1957:140-141).

This includes the meaning from classical and koine NT Greek.

The classical Greek, NT, and church fathers also used biblion (see Rev. 13:8) which meant, according to Arndt & Gingrich, book, scroll, document, of the scroll of the prophets, of holy writings generally, certificate of divorce (summary from Arndt & Gingrich 1957:140).

So in classical and koine Greek there was an understanding of ‘book’, not as in the days of the printing press, but ‘book’, nevertheless.

Your view is false about the Book of Revelation as not being part of God’s Word. History refutes you. The oldest copy we have of the NT canon is the Muratorian Canon, which is dated about AD 170-200, and is a manuscript fragment. Have a guess what? It refutes your view. While it excludes some books from our current canon (it contained portions of 22 books), it most certainly does include the Revelation of John.

Athanasius, in his Easter letter of AD 367 to the churches under his jurisdiction as the bishop of Alexandria, listed the 27 books that we have in our canon of the NT – including the Book of Revelation.[3]

So when it came to the Council of Carthage in AD 397, it merely affirmed what had been generally accepted by the church over a long period of time – the 27 books of the NT, including the Book of Revelation. Church historian, Earle E. Cairns has noted,

The slowness with which the church accepted Hebrews and Revelation as canonical is indicative of the care and devotion with which it dealt with this question (Cairns 1981:118-119).

I urge you to become a student of church history. Then you would not make this kind of banal statement about the Book of Revelation not being a part of God’s Word. You are clearly wrong, based on the evidence from church history.

Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[4] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the Centuries, rev ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.


[1] Christian Forums, Christian Scriptures, ‘Did God stop dictating his Word after the Book of Revelation?’ childofdust#7, available at: (Accessed 21 June 2012).

[2] The following is my response to him, ibid OzSpen#12.

[3] This information is from Cairns (1981:118).

[4] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & augmented edn 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 November 2015.