Sometimes critics like to suggest that the New Testament is late, and that although individual writings may be earlier, the gathering of them as Scripture is a much later development. We are led to believe that there were just a bunch of writings, orthodox, gnostic and other, that were floating around and then Constantine had the Council of Nicaea choose certain books that suited his political motives. It is true that we do not have many early official lists of the authorized or canonical books. But we can learn a lot by the way the early Christian Fathers quoted from the New Testament.
One of the earliest of the Church Fathers that we have is Polycarp (69-155 AD). Polycarp was a disciple of John, thus having direct contact with the Apostles. The only surviving work of Polycarp’s that we have is his Epistle to the Philippians (110-140 AD). I will not go into detail about the teachings in this epistle but I would like to note the number of New Testament books that Polycarp quotes from: Matthew, Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 1 Peter, and 1 John. That such an early Christian writing quotes so much New Testament is remarkable. The question is: does Polycarp quote such passages as interesting Christian writings or as Scripture? A clue is given in chapter 12, where Polycarp writes:
It is declared then in these Scriptures, ‘Be ye angry, and sin not,’ and, ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.’
The first passage quoted as Scripture is from Psalm 4:5, which is no surprise. But the second passage quoted as Scripture is from Ephesians 4:26. Polycarp, a Christian so early that he was a disciple of the Apostles, considers both the Old Testament and the New Testament to be Scripture. I would encourage you to check out Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians for yourself and to learn from this Church Father the importance of the whole Bible to the early church. You can find online text and information here.