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My understanding is that God revealed everything He wanted to reveal in the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus then commanded the apostles to proclaim those teachings to the world, but He didn't give them authority to add anything to His teachings. If Jesus did not mention a topic in His life and teachings, the apostles were not given authority to speak on that topic--only to pass on what they had seen and heard. If we cannot find evidence that Jesus taught or acted on a given topic, that topic cannot become part of the Deposit of Faith--is that a correct assumption?

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    you might want to scope this to a specific denomination
    – depperm
    Dec 5, 2023 at 16:24
  • With the labels, "apostolic-success" and "sacred-deposit-of-faith" are you asking for a Catholic/Orthodox view?
    – eques
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:24
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    What you state invalidates the entire writings of Paul and Mark and Luke. Did you mean to do that ? This is, in effect, what 'red letter' bibles do, by highlighting particularly the words of Jesus, the meanwhile forgetting that some of those very words were delivered by Mark who was not one of the twelve. I think you need to clarify and add considerable supporting detail to your question. We would know nothing of the death of Christ and its doctrinal importance (as opposed to the sufferings of Christ for sins) did we not have Paul's words on reconciliation, Nor justification by faith.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 5, 2023 at 21:26
  • I'm looking at the time before the Bible. The only truth that God revealed were the acts and teachings of Jesus--and that's all the apostles could pass on. If God could directly reveal Himself through people other than Jesus, why is Jesus unique? I don't know if the red letter words came from the mouth of Jesus or not--only an apostle would know.How would we know if an apostle added to those words of Jesus or not? Are we to give Paul's writings the same level of faith that we give the actual words of Jesus to His apostles?
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 5, 2023 at 21:46
  • Sure: Peter wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter, John wrote 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, and the "apostle born out of time" Paul wrote a slew of other letters that added to Christ's words.
    – Maverick
    Dec 6, 2023 at 19:12

5 Answers 5

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Could the apostles (or anyone) add to Jesus' teaching after His ascension?

People do, but it is not salvific.

More pertinent to your question is this answer.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13

Christ is speaking to the 11 apostles at the Last Supper.

So, the written New Testament beyond the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts 1, which is after ascension, is as authoritative and authentic for salvation as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

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  • After Jesus ascended and there was no more direct teaching, many people claimed to be inspired by the Spirit. If Jesus didn't directly say it, how could someone tell what God inspired? Why not include the Gospel of Philip or the Gospel of Truth or the Gospel of Thomas? The Book of Mormon, Science and Health, or A Course in Miracles? How can we choose from all the books which claim to be inspired by the Spirit? It seems simpler to limit revelation to the words Jesus actually said in His earthly life.
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 5, 2023 at 18:46
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    The direct teaching came from the Spirit sent by Christ to the eleven and Paul. In the early church, like with the Old Testament and prophets (word of God), once the time of apostles from James to John sons of Zebedee, sons of Thunder, all things salvific were written and assembled into the New Testament. Book of Mormon, Catechism, etc came far after the time of apostles.
    – SLM
    Dec 5, 2023 at 18:52
  • How could someone tell when it was Jesus speaking directly through the Spirit? Of the many books claimed to have been inspired by Jesus through the Spirit before the last apostle died, how could you tell which ones were from Jesus? Again, it seems simpler to limit revelation to what Jesus actually said to His apostles during His earthly life.
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:15
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    Well, you've painted yourself into a corner. How would you know which words actually came from Jesus' mouth? You'd know because of what it says, how it happened, and history. Jesus told the apostles the Spirit will come and tell you. In the OT, inspired words only were written during times of a valid prophetic voice. There were many books written over the last 6,000 years. Same with the NT, inspired words written between the first and last apostles to die. That's the way it is, the way God set it up. It may be a leap of faith, but it is reasonable.
    – SLM
    Dec 5, 2023 at 22:13
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    @kutschkem Sure, but it's not because the scriptures were wrong. Not one jot or tittle will fall to the ground. Jesus stood very firm against man made religious tradition which disregarded what was written and religious people killed him for it. His "new" command of love for neighbor was not new at all and neither was His insistence on faith. Dec 7, 2023 at 18:28
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John 14:26 KJV

The Helper, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 21:25 KJV

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. So be it.

Notice also that John's gospel does not include a list of teachings like Matthew and Luke, but that last verse leads to that there were many things not written.

2 Corinthians 3:17 KJV

The Lord is the Spirit.

Acts 15:28-29

Now it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us (apostles), to lay on you no greater burden other than these necessary things. That you abstain from foods offered to idols. [Deuteronomy 5:8-10, Leviticus 19:4] and from blood [Leviticus 17:14] and from fornication; [Leviticus 18, Matthew 5:31-32] from which if you keep yourselves, ye shall do well.

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  • Are you saying that the apostles added to Jesus' teachings after he ascended?
    – Lesley
    Dec 16, 2023 at 15:37
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    Dec 16, 2023 at 15:38
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Could the apostles add to Jesus' teaching after He ascended?

Depends on if Jesus revealed anything to them through the Holy Spirt after his Ascension.

The deposit of the faith ended with the death of the last Apostle and not the Ascension of the Lord Jesus!

Let us remember that not everything is written in the Sacred Scriptures. This is evident by the writings of both St. Paul and St. John:

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. - 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

29 Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. 30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name. John 20: 29-31

23 This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? 24 This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written. John 21: 23-25

The New Testament, while being the primary source for all that God revealed in Christ, is itself a product of Tradition. Tradition is a living and active process which the Church experiences from one age to the next while meditating on the Word of God and the events of salvation history. The Holy Spirit guides the Church in this process and guarantees that Tradition will be an authentic expression of God’s Word for each generation. After the writing of the New Testament, subsequent generations could reflect not only on Jesus’ teaching but also on that privileged experience of first generation Christians who knew Jesus when he walked the earth.

The Church in each generation, through prayer, study, and contemplation, reflects on God’s Word in Scripture and gives new interpretation to it while never altering the Revelation it contains. In every generation, she expresses anew the Word of God against an ever changing landscape of human society and culture. The diversity of devotions and styles of worship is beautiful and expresses the Church’s catholicity or universality. But these various local traditions are not what we mean when we speak of Tradition. As times change and in light of Tradition, these religious customs and practices may be changed or discarded. Sacred Tradition does not change. It is expressed differently from one age to the next but is always consistent with the truth of God’s Revelation.

In short the Apostles could not add their own personal teachings to the Deposit of Faith, but only those revealed to them through Christ or the Holy Spirit.

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  • The teachings to which we are to hold fast--those must come from the acts and teachings of Jesus, correct? The apostles could not add their own teachings to the Deposit of Faith, could they? They could only pass on, until they died, what they heard Jesus say and saw Him do.
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 7, 2023 at 15:22
  • @Ashpenaz Look at my lat paragraph.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 7, 2023 at 15:43
  • When we posit the theory that Jesus could reveal new teaching to His apostles after His ascension, that leads to new questions: Are the apostles the only people to whom He could reveal new teachings? Could Jesus reveal new teaching to people who aren't one of the 12 apostles? If this is the case, then how would we know for sure that the inspiration came from Jesus? The apostles saw and heard Jesus speak, so we know for sure that those quotes come from Jesus. But if Jesus can spiritually pass on His teaching through other people, why use Scripture or Tradition? Why not just inspire each person?
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:25
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    @Ashpenaz what does my answer say. The deposit of Faith ends with the death of the last Apostle. To them has been given the deposit of Faith alone. Do not lead this into an argument.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:46
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    Jude wrote to early Christian believers encourage them "to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." I believe that was before the end of the first century? They shared what had been revealed to them by Christ Jesus and by the Holy Spirit.
    – Lesley
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:47
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When we hear this question, we always think about the issue of validating the message. But, the fact is, the Son of God said he would speak to the disciples again. However, first they must stay in Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit descends upon them from heaven. (Acts 1:8-12)

In another passage we see that the Son of God speaks clearly of the Spirit of Truth, and when He comes, He will speak of the things of heaven, and of the things which are brought from the throne of grace to those who are saved. (John 14:26)

See that Yohanan (John) received tremendous revelations about the end times through the Holy Spirit. (Revelation 1:1-3)

However, I realize that the point of the question refers to the gospel. However, we see that in recent times there will be apostasy, and this will only happen precisely because of the errors that will be introduced into the evangelical teaching. See that today in churches, we find idolatries, such as worship of images with meaning that are a simple representation, or a simple memory of the saints, we see avarice taking over the churches, we see fornication and sensuality. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8)

The most sensible question is actually, after 2000 years, which erezias were already introduced into religious teaching to be in this way.

One thing is certain, if God did not spare Israel when they sinned, when they introduced an image of affront into the Temple, how much more so today, that the affront is against the Spirit of Grace.

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    – Community Bot
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:46
  • Welcome to the site. In view of the comment above, I have edited your answer to give the paragraph breaks you intended. Note that double spaces give a paragraph break, not a single return. I have added scripture references also. Please note that your pen-ultimate paragraph is neither a sentence nor a question. Can you adjust it, and if 'erezias' means 'errors', I suggest that would be a more clearly understood word. Be encouraged to continue answering! My edits are just to help ensure your answer remains up.
    – Anne
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:28
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The first-century apostles maybe could have added to Jesus' teachings, but would they have done so, given what they knew about Jesus' teachings and ascension? Theoretically, they could have; actually, would they have? Can anybody come up with an example of any of them adding to what Jesus taught - in other words, new teaching in addition to what Jesus taught?

Before anyone rushes in to comment, "Yes, and here's an example..." bear in mind that to explain an existing teaching is not to add a new teaching.

Explaining Jesus' teachings occurs all over the place in the New Testament. Clarifying confusion or misunderstanding that arose as to what Jesus taught is a major part of New Testament apostolic writing.

The Apostle John tells us that he chose only to write down certain things regarding Jesus' words and deeds, because:

"And many other signs did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing ye might have life through his name." John 20:30-31 A.V. [Bold emphasis mine]

Signs are a form of teaching. Done in the presence of his disciples, yet not all written down, they may well have been spoken of by his disciples, and you and I would have no way of knowing any of that. Yet verbal teaching about things done in their presence by Jesus would not be additional to Jesus' teaching.

John was instructed (taught) many things after Jesus' ascension, by Jesus, through his angel, and commanded to write it all down in what has become the last book of the Bible, the Revelation. Therein is a dire warning to all readers not to add any words, or to take away any words that John obediently wrote down. Revelation 1:1-3 & 22:18-19.

Further, readers of that last book of the Bible are told they will be blessed if they keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book - ch. 22 vss. 7 & 9 & 14.

Similarly with the apostle Paul, who only became a Christian after Christ's ascension. It was the risen Christ who confronted him on the road to Damascus. Yet not being a witness to Christ's bodily ascension did not prevent Paul being chosen by Christ to bear his gospel to the nations, did it? Paul's later writings explained Christ's teachings. Note also that Luke was never an apostle, yet he wrote more of the New Testament than ever Paul did! Nothing in Luke's writings, however, were in addition to what Jesus taught; everything agrees with what the apostles wrote, and taught. They passed on what they saw and heard, but the New Testament by no means contains all that they saw and heard.

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  • My question is in fact about people like Paul. We only have his testimony that he saw the Risen Jesus. We can't know that for sure. We can know for sure that the Apostles saw the living, breathing Jesus, so we can trust them to report accurately what they saw and heard. I would argue that Paul's letters are not any kind of revelation because there is no way to prove the teaching came from Jesus. The only revelation we have from God is the life and teachings of the historical Jesus, and nothing can be added to that, even by spiritual revelation.
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 7, 2023 at 20:36
  • @Ashpenaz Ananias vouched for Paul, and all the apostles in Jerusalem believed him, and Paul. The final word must go to the apostle Peter who wrote of "our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15-16
    – Anne
    Dec 8, 2023 at 8:29
  • Did Paul add to the Deposit of Faith, or did he simply report what Jesus had already said in His earthly life? Did Jesus reveal something to Paul that He had not already revealed to His apostles? Did Jesus leave His teaching incomplete at His ascension only to have to finish it later using Paul?
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 8, 2023 at 16:41
  • @Ashpenaz If you will not accept the apostle Peter's words about Paul as 'the last word' on the matter, you certainly are not going to pay the slightest attention to any further comments from me, therefore I respectfully bow out of this exchange.
    – Anne
    Dec 8, 2023 at 16:48
  • I accept Peter's words about Paul. Here's my question: did Peter agree with Paul because Paul said the same things Jesus taught in His earthly life, or did Peter see Paul as adding a new revelation coming from Jesus? Did Peter think that Jesus added new teachings through Paul, or did Paul simply pass on the same teachings Peter received from Jesus?
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 8, 2023 at 20:19

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