Revelation: Can Scripture be written today?
The only people who could write Scripture were prophets and apostles—people who were witnesses of God’s revelation in Jesus, or authors like Luke who based his Gospel on eyewitness testimony and on the report of the apostles who were eyewitnesses. [FOOTNOTE: Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1–3, 9.]
Books of the Bible cannot be written today for two primary reasons. First, the Old Testament ended with the prophet Malachi promising that the next major event in redemptive history would be the coming of John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus. [FOOTNOTE: Mal. 3:1; 4:5–6.] Four hundred years followed during which time no book of the Bible was written until John came, as promised. [FOOTNOTE: Luke 1:11–17.] Likewise, the New Testament ends with its final book, Revelation, telling us that no other books of the Bible are to be written following it, as the Bible is completed as we await Jesus’ Second Coming. [FOOTNOTE: Rev. 22:18–19; Rev. 22:20–21.]
Today, we are like God’s people in the days between Malachi’s promise and Jesus’ coming. We know the future but are awaiting its coming. We do not need any more Scripture, but rather the fulfillment of the promises we have already received.
Second, the Bible says that Jesus is God’s final word to us and that we should not add anything to the Bible. [FOOTNOTE: Heb. 1:1–2; Deut. 4:2, 12:32, Prov. 30:5–6.] Furthermore, we have no need for any new book of the Bible because we already have all we need for faith and godliness. If there were some knowledge that all Christians desperately needed, God would certainly not have waited some two-thousand years to reveal it while His people sat in the darkness of partial knowledge.
Simply stated, the canon of Scripture is closed. No books, not even a word, will be added to the Bible. John’s warning at the end of Revelation (22:18-19) applies to the Bible as a whole:
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, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
This does not mean that God’s special revelation has ceased. God still speaks to people and groups, albeit not in apostolic, inspired, canonical revelation. Examples include such things as predictive prophecies, audible speech, dreams, visions, angelic visits, and the like that Scripture itself speaks of.
In dealing with any alleged extra-biblical revelation, we must follow the biblical cautions. We must be neither gullible nor skeptical. On one hand, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 says we must “not despise prophecies,” but instead, “test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
The following six biblical guidelines are for testing those who allege to have extra-biblical revelation, including prophesy:
- Are they loyal to the LORD? [FOOTNOTE: Deut. 13:1–11; 18:20.]
- Is their word consistent with the Bible? [FOOTNOTE: Deut. 13:1–11, 1 Kings 13:15–18.]
- Is what they describe or predict accurate? [FOOTNOTE: Deut. 18:22.]
- Is their character Christlike? [FOOTNOTE: Jer. 23:9–40, Mic. 3:5–10.]
- Does their word build up and encourage the church in truth? [FOOTNOTE: 1 Cor. 14:3.]
- Do Spirit-filled church leaders affirm their word? [FOOTNOTE: 1 Cor. 14:29.]