What is it that makes the Bible worth listening to? Why does it have such authority even though its writers claim no such authority themselves? The answer is revelation. The prophets and apostles which penned the Scriptures are witnesses who claim no authority. They did not “appoint themselves publishers of revelation,” to borrow from Swiss theologian Karl Barth. They, like John the Baptist, point away from themselves towards an event. What makes the words of the prophets and apostles revelation is this event, namely, the occurrence of God’s revelation which exists apart from them. This event has happened *to* them and causes them to be. What is this event which has happened?
“God was with us, with us His enemies, with us who were visited and smitten by His wrath. God was with us in all the reality and fullness with which He does what He does. He was with us as one of us. His Word became flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood. His glory was seen here in the depths of our situation, and the full depths of our situation were disclosed for the first time when illumined then and there by the Lord’s glory, when in His Word He came down to the lowest parts of the earth (Eph. 4:9), in order that there and in that way He might rob death of its power and bring life and immortality to light (2 Tim. 1:10). This happened, and this is what the Old Testament as a word of prophecy and the New Testament as a word of fulfilment both proclaim as having happened, as having happened conclusively, totally, and sufficiently.” (Barth, Church Dogmatics Ch. 1 S4p.115).
Barth continues on to say about these biblical witnesses and the authority which they enjoy:
“This is why, although they seek no authority, even with their fallible human word they can continually claim and enjoy the most unheard of authority. This came upon them, and through them it constantly seeks to come afresh upon the Church and to be cried aloud as absolutely the most urgent thing that any age and any man in any age and any man in any respect can and must hear: This “God with us” has happened. It has happened in human history and as a part of human history. Yet it has not happened as other parts of this history usually happen. It does not need to be continued or completed. It does not point beyond itself or merely strive after a distant goal. It is incapable of any exegesis or of even the slightest addition or subtraction. Its form cannot be changed. It has happened as self-moved being in the stream of becoming. It has happened as completed event, fulfilled time, in the sea of the incomplete and changeable and self-changing.” (116).