I heard someone say that our Bible is incomplete because we don’t have the “real” First Corinthians (I Cor. 5:9) or the “Letter from Laodicea” (Col. 4:16). Is our Bible incomplete?–A.Y., from Oklahoma.
Thanks for the question. This goes along with the question we discussed last week as well on the so-called “lost books of the Bible.” It’s true that some people say we have an incomplete Bible because it appears we might be missing some letters written by the apostles. By saying this, they try to cast doubt on God’s revealed word. After all, how can you know you are going to heaven if you don’t even have the complete Bible? What should the Christian’s response be to such charges?
First, we need to understand the seriousness of the charge these people are making. To say we have an incomplete Bible is to question everything we know about God’s word. Imagine for a moment that there are parts of the Bible that were lost to time, and they included specific commands regarding worship or salvation that we simply do not have anymore. We couldn’t know whether or not we were pleasing to God. We couldn’t know if we were saved. We couldn’t be sure about anything! II Timothy 3:16-17 says Scripture is given so that we may be equipped for EVERY good work. But if part of the Scripture is missing, are we still equipped for EVERY good work?
Also, this charge goes directly to the core of God Himself! To say God’s message to mankind (the Bible) is incomplete is to say that God is not all-powerful. Ask yourself this: Can God make sure His word is available to all mankind through the ages (see Mark 13:31)? Would a loving, all-powerful God allow His message to disappear to where it is impossible for people to follow it? Of course not! God providentially made sure that we have all that we need to be pleasing to Him (Romans 10:17, Hebrews 11:6, II Peter 1:3).
Are we missing any inspired writings? It is very possible that the apostles wrote letters which we do not have today. After all, can we say for certain that Andrew, James, Phillip, Thomas, Bartholemew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), Thaddeus, and Matthias never wrote a letter to Christians? Can we say for certain that in over 30 years of preaching and traveling that Paul only wrote 13 letters total? That Peter only wrote two letters? That John only wrote five (including Revelation)? While it might indeed be true, you would be hard-pressed to make a convincing argument that says the majority of the apostles never wrote anything. But, what we do have is what the all-powerful God of heaven decided was necessary for us to have.
We do not have recorded for us all the words and acts of Jesus Christ. In fact, John said it would be impossible to write everything that Christ did (John 21:25). But do we have what we need? Absolutely! Even if we do not have everything written by each apostle, we still have those things we need to get us to heaven. The all-powerful God has given us what He decided we need. Other letters would not give us anything new or different than what we already have.
So, if someone tries to claim that the Bible is incomplete, let them know that the all-powerful God has made sure we have everything that we need to get to heaven. The Bible, therefore, is perfect and complete. God included everything we need. If God wanted other books in the Bible, they would already be in there.