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Why Did the Bible Stop Being Written?
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Why Did the Bible Stop Being Written?

The Bible is the inspired word of God, containing 66 books written by around 40 authors over a period of around 1,500 years. The Old Testament contains 39 books written from approximately 1400 BC to 400 BC, while the New Testament contains 27 books written from around 40 AD to 90 AD. But why did the Bible ultimately stop being written after the book of Revelation? There are a few key reasons:

Key Takeaways:

  • The Bible contains all the revelation man needs for salvation and righteous living
  • The apostles and prophets were unique foundational figures in the early church
  • The canon of Scripture was closed with the completion of the New Testament
  • No new revelation or scripture is needed after the death of the apostles
  • The Holy Spirit now illumines believers to understand God’s completed revelation
Why did the bible stop being written?

The Bible Contains All That is Needed

The 66 books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, communicate all of the theological truths, principles, and revelation that mankind needs to know about God, salvation, righteousness, and godly living. When the final book written, Revelation, came to a close, the canon of Scripture was completed. The apostle John wrote in Revelation 22:18-19:

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (NKJV)

This stern warning not to add or remove anything from Scripture applies not just to Revelation, but the entire Bible. Jude 1:3 tells believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” The faith has been fully and finally delivered through God’s complete revelation in Scripture. No new books need to be added.

The Apostles Were Foundational Figures

The New Testament books were written either by apostles (Matthew, John, Paul) or those closely associated with them (Mark, Luke). The apostles played a unique and unrepeatable role in the early church. Ephesians 2:19-20 says that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” The apostles helped establish the doctrines and practices of the early church, with Christ as the cornerstone.

Once the apostles died, there were no longer any foundations of the church left to lay. The canon of Scripture was complete with the recording of the Spirit-inspired words of the apostles and their associates. No more books needed to be added to this foundation. In the absence of living apostles, the church simply builds upon the foundation they left through their written teachings.

The New Testament Closed the Canon

The New Testament writings were circulating among the churches during the 1st century AD. Believers during this time recognized that the words of the apostles were uniquely authoritative as they echoed the teachings of Jesus Himself and were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

As the canon of Scripture came to a close near the end of the 1st century AD, the churches gradually recognized the 27 books of the New Testament as carrying divine authority equal to the Old Testament. The apostle Peter mentioned that the writings of Paul were being twisted by some, indicating that collections of apostolic writings were in circulation (2 Peter 3:16).

Paul commands the Thessalonian church to read his first letter to them, indicating that early apostolic writings were meant to be distributed and obeyed among believers (1 Thessalonians 5:27). Near the end of the 1st century AD, the churches discerned that the canon was complete with the writings of the apostles and their associates. No more scriptural books would need to be written. The church now looked to the closed canon of Scripture for guidance from God.

No New Revelation is Needed

With the Old and New Testament established as Scripture, containing God’s full revelation to mankind, no new revelation or scriptural writings are needed. God communicated everything necessary for salvation, godliness, and righteous living through His prophets, apostles and Son. Jude 3 tells us the faith has already been delivered.

Bible Knowledge Quiz

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Who was thrown into a lions' den but was not harmed?

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What city were Jesus’ parents traveling to when Jesus was born?

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Who led the Israelites out of Egypt?

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What is the first book in the Bible?

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Who built the ark?

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What sea did Moses part to escape the Egyptians?

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Who was the first man created by God?

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Which apostle denied Jesus three times?

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Hebrews 1:1-2 reminds us that while God spoke through the prophets, He has spoken finally and ultimately through Christ in these last days. Revelation 22:18 warns against adding to God’s words. The scriptural canon is now closed because God’s full revelation for mankind is complete. The Holy Spirit helps illumine believers to understand and apply the already delivered Scriptures.

The Spirit Illumines Believers

With the canon complete and the apostles gone, the Holy Spirit now works inwardly within believers to help them understand, interpret, and apply the Scriptures. Jesus told His disciples that the Spirit would come to guide them into all truth and remind them of His teachings (John 14:26, 16:13). The Spirit no longer gives believers new doctrines, prophecies, or revelations.

Rather, the indwelling Spirit illumines believers as they prayerfully read, study, and mediate on the already complete Scriptures. The Spirit helps believers interpret and wisely apply the unchanging truths of the Bible to their lives. Christians now have the complete Scriptures along with the inward ministry of the Holy Spirit to provide all that is needed for salvation, righteousness and godliness in Christ.

The Bible is Sufficient

In summary, the Bible stopped being written because the complete canon of Scripture provides full revelation from God for mankind. The apostles laid the doctrinal foundation of the early church through their Spirit-inspired writings. Once their teachings were complete and circulated through the churches, no more scriptural books were needed.

Believers now have the finished Word of God in the Old and New Testaments, illuminated by the inward ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Bible contains all we need for salvation, spiritual growth, and righteous living until Christ returns. This is why the Bible stopped being written after the apostolic age – because the complete Scriptures are sufficient for the Christian life.

Objections Some May Raise

While the reasons covered above explain why the canon of Scripture was closed with the completion of the New Testament, some may object and ask reasonable questions like:

  1. Why can’t there be new apostles who write new revelation?
    • The qualifications to be an apostle required knowing Christ during His earthly ministry and witnessing His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). No new apostles who meet these qualifications can arise because anyone who knew the earthly Christ would be 2,000 years old.
  2. Doesn’t the Holy Spirit still give prophecies and words of knowledge today?
    • Absolutely, the Holy Spirit is still actively speaking to the church today through spiritual gifts like prophecy and words of knowledge. While these will never contradict the completed Scriptures or add new doctrines, the Holy Spirit often gives believers timely prophetic words about specific situations they are facing or reveals details about other people’s lives.

      However, we must be wise in discerning alleged prophecies, testing them against the Bible and evaluating whether they truly edify and build up the church. All prophetic words should be weighed carefully.

      As Pentecostals and charismatics, we believe the Holy Spirit still speaks to churches today through the biblical spiritual gifts. Though no new canonical books are being added, prophecy and revelation from the Spirit can provide guidance, encouragement and exhortation to believers when delivered properly and weighed against Scripture. This should never go beyond the parameters of the written Word.
  3. Why can’t God inspire new books to be added to the Bible?
    • Revelation 22:18 warns strongly against adding to God’s words. The Scriptures themselves claim to be complete and sufficient for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). No books should be added to the Bible.
  4. What if an apostolic writing was missed and shows up later – like a letter Paul wrote disappearing then being found in an archaeological dig?
    • Even if a letter directly from an apostle showed up today, it would not have the same authority as Scripture. It would be a valuable look into the early church but not be considered the inspired Word of God since the canon is closed. The church fathers worked carefully to compile the inspired NT books.
  5. Doesn’t the Bible say “all Scripture is inspired”? How can we know for sure which books comprise Scripture?
    • Some criteria the early church used was apostolic origins, consistency with other doctrine, circulation among the churches, and wide acceptance. Through the illuminating work of the Spirit, believers in the early centuries recognized the 27 NT books as carrying unique, divine authority.

I hope these responses help address some common objections. The key is that the completed Scriptures alone are authoritative for defining doctrines and practices for believers, not new revelations or prophecies. While we always have more to learn from the Bible’s treasures, no new books need to be added to God’s Word.

Principles for Application

In light of understanding why the canon of Scripture was closed, here are some principles believers can apply:

  • Treasure the completed Bible as the fully inspired Word of God. Regularly read, study, memorize, and mediate on it.
  • Since no new revelation is being given, discern teachings carefully and reject anything contrary to Scripture, even if claimed as prophecy or new revelation.
  • Look to the Bible alone as the source for sound doctrine and righteous living. Be wary of anyone claiming to speak revelation from God.
  • Thank the Lord for the illumination of the indwelling Holy Spirit to help you understand and apply God’s Word.
  • There are no perfect modern translations, but use reliable English Bible versions that are translated from the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
  • Resist adding to God’s Word through eisegesis. Be careful not to twist Scripture by reading meanings into texts that were not intended by the original authors.
  • Don’t be tempted to remove parts of the Bible because they seem culturally outdated or are hard to understand. Scripture warns against taking away any portion of God’s Word.
  • Live with holy reverence for Scripture, seeking to obey all of Christ’s commands for believers with the Spirit’s help. Seek to conform all areas of your life to the truths, principles, and parameters laid out in God’s holy Word.

Conclusion

In closing, the Bible stopped being written because its completion with the book of Revelation brought God’s full revelation to mankind for everything needed for salvation, godly living, and knowledge of Christ. The apostles provided unique doctrinal foundations for the early church through their Spirit-inspired writings. Once these were circulating among the believers, the canon was closed. God expects nothing to be added or removed from Scripture. Christians now have the completed biblical canon illuminated by the Holy Spirit to guide them until Christ returns. While we will never fully plumb the depths of God’s Word, no new scriptures need to be written. The holy Bible contains everything required for life and godliness through faith in Jesus Christ.

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Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.