Are the words of Jesus enough?
Most Christians believe that the entire Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, is the inspired word of God. It is all we need to understand and serve God and we need all of it. I have encountered some who believe that all we need are the words Jesus spoke while he was on earth. They believe that the words of Paul and the other writers of the New Testament are of no value whatever. Which view is correct?
One fact those who believe only the words of Jesus are inspired overlook is that we do not have all of the words he spoke. He frequently spoke to the people before his death but his teaching didn’t end with his death and resurrection. He continued to teach the disciples.
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
We only have a record of a few of the things Jesus taught after his resurrection but one of them is the command known as the Great Commission:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
He told them to teach all that he had commanded them. That includes all the things recorded in the gospels and also the things he taught after his resurrection that are not in the gospels.
The eleven disciples weren’t the only ones to whom he committed teachings that he wanted made public. He also appeared to Saul of Tarsus, the one who was also known as the apostle Paul. Here is Paul’s description of the encounter.
And I said, “Who are you, Lord?”
And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:15-18)
These were the people Jesus chose to reveal the truth contained in the rest of the New Testament. He sent the Holy Spirit to enable them to do this.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)
Since Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to reveal his will we can regard the words of the Spirit as also being the words of Jesus. This means that Jesus actually spoke the words of the Old Testament as well as the New, and all of the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, is made up of the words of Jesus. For anyone who understands this truth, the words of Jesus are all we need. Anyone who believes that the only words of Jesus are those that are recorded in the gospel has placed himself under this curse:
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. (Revelation 22:19)