Jesus did not commission 26 of the New Testament books. At least, there is no record of him doing so. This gives us an opportunity to understand the role of tradition. Let’s do a thought experiment:
What if Jesus didn’t want 26 of the books in the New Testament? Where would that leave us? What would we need to rely upon in order to be saved?
For those who believe in “Bible alone,” they can’t just say, “Well, he must have wanted all of the New Testament.” They have to prove that from the Bible. For example, Luke 1:1-4 says:
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
There is no mention of being commanded by Jesus to do this.
There is one exception: the book of Revelation. For example, in Revelation 1:10-19 John claims that Jesus commanded him to write what he had seen:
I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this…”
There are a few other places in Revelation where John is specifically commanded to write, and one where he is commanded to not write. This strikes me as evidence that proves the rule. Based on Revelation, we know that Jesus could have explicitly commissioned the other 26 books, yet there is no evidence for it. Here are two searches, one for the word write and the other for the word writing.
Remember, the reason for this post is not to challenge the legitimacy of the New Testament. I only want people to think about it in a new way. We know about Revelation, but what about the other 26 books? What is the method we use to know that Jesus wanted those books? How were those books chosen to be part of the infallible canon, and who did the infallible choosing? If those books did not exist, what would we need to rely upon to be saved?