Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) [emphasis added]This tremendous promise of true freedom has an important precondition: If you abide in My word . . . And where is His word to be found in our day? In the midst of emotional worship? In “goose bumps” we get in our devotional time? In the Scriptures! The Scriptures alone are the objective measure of God’s will and person. Without knowledge of the Scriptures, maturity is impossible and deception is the certain result. See commentary on Revelation 13:13.If anyone adds to these things
That the specific words of Revelation are not to be sealed up stresses again that there is no hidden, secret meaning apart from the normal sense of the text. If the truth is not clear in those words then this command is nonsense. If the plain, normal understanding of the words of Revelation does not convey the meaning God intended its readers to grasp, then those words are sealed.3
God is surely capable of speaking plain words, through His angel and through John, to us, and we had better let Him say what He says. This is a book of revelation, not mystification, of apocalypse, not apocrypha.4Although the warning against adding or removing apply specifically to this book, by both implication and experience, the canon of Scripture is complete with the book of Revelation:
Chafer well concludes: “The formal closing of the New Testament canon is at least intimated in Revelation 22:18+. The dissimilarity in the manner in which the two Testaments end is significant. All the unfulfilled expectation of the Old Testament is articulate as that testament closes and the last verse gives assurance of the coming of another prophet. But no continued revelation is impending as the New Testament is terminated: rather the announcement is made that the Lord Himself will soon return and the natural conclusion is that there would be no further voice speaking from heaven before the trumpet heralds the second advent of Christ. Of no small moment is the fact that since the canon of the Bible was divinely closed no attempts have been made to add to it.”5
These two warnings against additions and subtractions in their context are concerned specifically with the book of Revelation, and the primary emphasis is not on the Bible as a whole. However, since the book of Revelation is the final revelation of God’s Word, the principle behind the warning can be extended to the Bible as a whole, for the Bible as a whole is complete only with the book of Revelation.6The main examples in our own day of those who add to the inspired text are numerous cults which append extra-Biblical writings to the text by elevating them on a par with the inspired Scriptures:
Examples of those who add are the numerous cults that accept other writings as inspired and authoritative and place them on equal grounds with the Bible (i.e., the Mormons with The Book of Mormon and Christian Science with their Key to the Scriptures).7
Some, such as Mohammed, have led whole nations away from the truth, and the total effect of all of them has been incalculably tragic.8God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book
1 “Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of the apostles, attested thus: ‘The Jews would die ten thousand times rather than to permit one single word to be altered of their Scriptures.’ ”—Rene Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture (Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1969), 164.
2 NT occurrences of the phrase, it is written: Mat. 2:5; 4:4, 6-7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24, 31; Mark 1:2; 7:6; 9:13; 14:21, 27; Luke 2:23; 3:4; 4:4, 8, 10; 7:27; 19:46; 24:46; John 6:31, 45; 12:14; Acts 1:20; 7:42; 15:15; 23:5; Rom. 1:17; 2:24; 3:4, 10; 4:17; 8:36; 9:13, 33; 10:15; 11:8, 26; 12:19; 14:11; 15:3, 9, 21; 1Cor. 1:19, 31; 2:9; 3:19; 9:9; 10:7; 14:21; 15:45; 2Cor. 8:15; 9:9; Gal. 3:10, 13; 4:22, 27; Heb. 10:7; 1Pe. 1:16.
3 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 22:10.
4 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 22:10.
5 Mal Couch, “Soteriology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 170.
6 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 547.
8 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:18.