Closed Canon

There is no doctrine of closed canon in the Bible. And if one believes that all of the Lordís doctrines are in the Bible, then one must believe that there is no doctrine of closed canon. The Bible itself is a compilation of scriptures that were written over a long period of time. If there had been a doctrine of closed canon at the time that the apostles were establishing the church during the first century, then we would not have the New Testament today.

However, it is not surprising that there has been a long period without the addition of new scripture since the original establishment of the church. At least 1500 years passed without scripture between the time of Adam and Eve until the writing of the Pentateuch, the first books of the Bible. And about 500 years passed between the writing of Malachi in 430 BC and the writing of the first books of the New Testament around 60 AD.

There has been no need for new scripture since the establishment of the church. All of the doctrines of salvation are contained in the Bible. In addition, the prophecies regarding the end of the earthly church age are contained in the Bible. It is clear that God is not frivolous and would not generate new scripture without the need for such. So new scripture is not needed until the prophesied end times events transpire in fulfillment of scripture.

When and if the time comes for new scripture, believers should apply a test of reasonableness before accepting claims that are made by anyone promoting new scripture:

  1. Is it needed? Would God introduce new scripture with no purpose? If there is a claimed purpose that is not already satisfied by the Bible, what is it?  How does it uniquely satisfy the claimed purpose?

  1. Is it consistent with previous scripture? Would God contradict Himself? If there are changes in doctrine, is there a reason for those changes? For example, the New Testament introduced the New Covenant, which made the Old Covenant obsolete. And the reason for the change is clear. The Old Covenant promised a Messiah, and the New Covenant was introduced because the Messiah came in fulfillment of that promise. As a specific example within the change, the Old Covenant contained doctrines of animal sacrifices. But since the Messiah served as the ultimate and final sacrifice Himself, He eliminated the need for future animal sacrifices.

  1. Is it consistent with known truth? For example, if it contradicts history, archeology, linguistic anthropology, genetic anthropology, or the laws of physics, it contradicts known truth. And if it contradicts known truth, it is false.

The Bible is the only scripture whose contents pass this test. Thus, it is complete, and nothing has been added to it since it was canonized.  This is not because of a presumed doctrine of closed canon, but because there is no other scripture that passes the above test. (See Evidence for the Bible.)

Since the last book of the Bible is Revelation, both in sequential order and in chronological order, the last words of Revelation are the last words of the Bible.  They are the words of Christ, "Behold, I am coming soon!" (Rev 22:7) and again "Behold, I am coming soon!" (Rev 22:12) and finally "Yes, I am coming soon." (Rev 22:20). For those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, this is a clear form of conclusion.  No more words are expected.  So the next action item that we expect is not more scripture, but the coming of the Lord Himself.

© 2005 William C. Hamer