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The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church states plainly (emphasis added):

In Jesus Christ, God himself came to earth. He is God's last Word.

Indeed, some modern English translations of the New Testament present Chapter titles for Hebrews 1 that echo this sentiment: God's final word: His Son (NIV), God's Final Word in His Son (NASB), God's Supreme Revelation (NKJV). Hebrews 1:1-2 says,

God, having spoken earlier at many times and in many ways through the Prophets, spoke to us in these last days by the Son, who he established heir over all things and through whom he made the ages.

From a sola-scriptura protestant perspective, what does it mean that Jesus is God's last word? Has God spoken to man in the time since Jesus' teaching? If so, by what method has he done so?

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@laovultai I hope that between your question and this one you might get the information you're seeking. –  Andrew Jun 28 at 17:25
    
@Bye In regards to the edit adding (Protestant Perspective) to the title: in my opinion we should avoid labeling questions as Catholic or Protestant in question titles. To me at least, it seems that it may lead to an atmosphere where Protestant and Catholic viewpoints are commonly seen as opposites. For instance, a significant portion of the answer below, which is very thorough, directly contrasts the "Protestant" and "Catholic" viewpoint, which is not something the OP (myself) requested in the question, and as such should be considered off-topic for this question. –  Andrew Jun 28 at 21:48
    
What is your question? Is it 'How is Jesus, God's last word?' or 'what does it mean that Jesus is God's last word?'. (The words 'how' and 'what' have slightly different meanings.) As you can see the answers do not answer either question and that could be the fault of their authors not paying attention but it might be because the question is unclear. –  gideon marx Jun 29 at 13:24
    
Jesus is great. I mean the Ladder. When I start a sentence with the word "How," it most often means either "by what cause or action" or "in what mode or quality". In this case I mean the latter. –  Andrew Jun 29 at 20:49
    
The question is implying that Catholicism believes Jesus is God's final word while Protestantism doesn't. Slyly, this is accomplished by the final question "Has God spoken to man in the time since Jesus' teaching?" as if to imply that Protestantism doesn't believe Jesus' teaching was the last word because it places Paul above Jesus. But so does Catholicism! Ever heard of Augustine? He's the one who made that change for Catholicism, and Protestantism simply continued it and took it to a further extreme. –  david brainerd Jun 30 at 2:55

2 Answers 2

The final word refers to the final revelation, in practical terms Matthew to Revelation. There is no Scripture after this or above it. In the past God 'gradually' over a long period revealed his word, bit-by-bit, shadow-by-shadow but when Christ came he brought the final conclusion in the gospel of grace and truth.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (NIV, Jn 1:17 )

And

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (NIV, Heb 1:1-2)

In the same short period he also established all remaining doctrines necessary for the church through the Apostles and forever closed up into the canon of scripture.

This final revelation was initiated at the time of Christ ending very shortly after. Its glory and superiority is based on the directness of its communication in that God himself through the incarnation spoke it to men as a man. We are not to expect any new revelation and supplemental books such as the Koran, or other books various Christian sects have claimed to have been given as a supplement in the last few hundred years.

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Much of what I said here in relation to the Catholic perspective on this issue remains directly relevant to a Protestant perspective. The incarnation provides the key to understanding why 'the Son' constitutes superior revelation to all preceding and subsequent prophets - in Jesus own words:

If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. - John 14:7 ESV

...Whoever has seen me has seen the Father... - John 14:9b ESV

Also highly relevant are Colossians 1:11-20 -

11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV emphasis added)

And of course the verse quoted in the body of the question - Hebrews 1:1-2 - which is merely the preface to a whole epistle dedicated to expounding the pre-eminence of Christ's revelation above all other revelators and His service to the Father above that of all other servants of God.

Protestants would affirm that God still speaks through the proclamation of the Gospel and the ministry of the word (preaching, teaching the 'whole counsel of God' etc.), but that these ministries don't add anything 'new' to the revelation of God in Christ - if they do, then they exceed 'sola scriptura' and can (and should!) be judged as error if not heresy.

There is some controversy within Protestantism between Cessationist and Continuationist camps on the additional nuance of this issue regarding ongoing 'special revelation', with (some) Cessationists asserting that anything of that nature (e.g. prophecies, dreams, visions, hearing the audible voice of God etc.) being not only un-necessary given the completed canon of scripture, but anti-thetical to 'sola scriptura' even if (as the near unanimity of Continuationists assert should be the case) such revelations are subject to testing according to the revelation of Christ drawn from scripture. And by the by, (most) Continuationists think Cessationists are actually willfully ignoring what the scriptures actually say about these issues and are hypocritically basing their doctrine in this area on extra-biblical arguments!

The greatest divergence from the Catholic perspective would be that what constitutes a complete understanding of God's revelation through Christ should not be mediated through the lens of the tradition and an 'infallible' teaching magesterium, but only through using the bible itself - Interpreting Scripture by Scripture.

So you see, even though most orthodox Christians would agree that Jesus is the 'final word' of God's revelation, there is plenty of scope for disagreement as to what this actually means, though it would be safe to say that most parties, though manifesting their polity in a variety of ecclestiastical forms, strive to accord with the pattern of Ephesians 4:4-16 -

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV)

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Please see my comment to the main question for my motivation for voting against this answer. –  Andrew Jun 28 at 21:51
    
@andrew Unless I'm missing what you're really referring to (the long one to Bye? - it's the only one I can see there), your comment there is not a valid basis for downvoting this answer. By all means down-vote if the answer itself is unsatisfactory in any way, but not because of issues with the question titles! If anything, your comment provides a basis for rolling back the edit (or just editing as you see fit). In my view, the onus is on you to make the titles harmonious and clear since you decided to effectively split the scope of the OP through your advice and posting this question. –  bruised reed Jun 28 at 22:06
    
I'm referring to the comment to Bye (he approved the edit.) "a significant portion of the answer below (this one), which is very thorough, directly contrasts the "Protestant" and "Catholic" viewpoint[s], which is not something the OP (myself) requested in the question, and as such should be considered off-topic for this question. " In my opinion it would be unacceptable to downvote an answer because of disagreement about an edit. –  Andrew Jun 28 at 22:16
    
@Andrew I've added a tiny bit extra in an effort for the post to seem a little less combative, but the actual divergence arises from scoping the question to Protestants and including a Catholic source in the body of the question. Given that, an honest answer should reference the divergences in perspective between the respective Traditions regardless of titles. –  bruised reed Jun 28 at 22:22
    
I think that helps a lot. One more suggestion would be to remove "purported 'infallible' teaching ... contradictory to scripture" and substitute simply "papal infallibility, but only through the Bible." I know what you mean and I personally agree, but I still think as is, the tone of that paragraph is divisive and might be offensive to Christians who venerate the Pope. When you say "an honest answer should reference the divergences in perspective between the respective Traditions", do you mean that this is a policy here? –  Andrew Jun 28 at 22:32

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