Is the Bible finished? Or do we have new revelations equivalent to the bible? How can we know that the Bible with its 66 books is closed and no more books can be added? How about the Catechism of the Catholic Church? What about the writings of a modern prophet? Or sermons of the pope or the chief apostle? What distinguishes the Bible from these writings? What does the Bible itself say about this? Does the Bible itself claim to be complete?
In these last days
In Hebrews we read an interesting sentence:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”Hebrews 1, 1-2 (ESV)
Almost 2000 years have passed since these “last days”. What does that mean? The letter is addressed to the Jews, and they are told that the Old Testament prophecy reached its climax when Jesus Christ spoke. So, we can already state that the prophecy of the Old Testament has come to an end, the Lord Jesus has appeared as fulfillment of divine prophecy, a new period of time has begun.
Paul Completes the Word of God
The four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the other writers of the New Testament report about His work and document His words. They unfold the teaching of Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul plays a special role among these writers. He became a servant of the church to complete the Word of God:
“…the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (or: to wrap up)Colossians 1, 25 (ESV)
It was Paul who preached and wrote down the gospel of the grace of God, thus fulfilling the commission he had received from the Lord Jesus:
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.Acts of the Apostles 20, 24, (ESV)
The apostles refer to the inspired writings
When the apostles in the New Testament speak of the last times, they do not promise new revelations, but warn against false teachers, apostles and prophets and refer to the Scriptures. John wrote:
“They are from the world; therefore they speak from the worldd, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”1. John 4, 5-6 (ESV)
“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Jude 17 (ESV)
Paul admonishes Timotheus:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”2 Timothy 3, 14-15 (ESV)
Paul also spoke of the last times. He wrote to the Thessalonians:
“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions (or: teachings) that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”2 Thessalonians 2, 15 (ESV) with a comment by the author (alternative translation from the NIV)
Closing Point in the Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation therefore rightly draws a line under the biblical books:
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.”Revelation 22, 18 (ESV)
This applies first to the book of Revelation. But:
- The book of Revelation (which is actually not that of John, but of the Lord Jesus Christ, who revealed it to John) is the last book of the biblical canon, and also the book which was revealed last. So we can assume that this book draws a line under all biblical books.
- In this book God unfolds the story of all humanity until the completion of all things. No further prophecy is necessary. Nothing more needs to be added.
- The “quality” of “new revelations” outside of the Bible speaks a clear language. None for 2000 years has been proven to be equivalent to the Bible. In most cases the non-fulfillment of these prophecies is already history.
- Other words of the Bible (see above) point to the completion of the biblical scriptures.
Valid for all time
Jesus Christ said when he spoke about the last time:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”Matthew 24, 14 (ESV)
So I believe that this is our mission, the Bible is our authority, and every sermon and proclamation must be measured by the message of the Bible.