Does Revelation 22:18-19 apply to Revelation or the whole Bible?

So, does the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 apply just to the book of Revelation or to the whole Bible? As I see, I think two things can be said here:

1. I think that the primary way to interpret the warning in Rev. 22:18-19 is that it immediately and directly refers to the book of Revelation. If we read the verses in context, it makes the most sense that — at least textually speaking — the words of Jesus here refer directly to the words contained in the book of Revelation. Notice that back in 22:7 Jesus says, “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” So logically and textually it makes sense that “this book” in both verse 7 and 18-19 means the book of Revelation. Remember, it’s not as if when John was writing these words he was thinking that his letter was going to be the concluding chapter of a 66 chapter book. He was merely recording what he saw and heard in his vision, and there can be no doubt that, at the most basic level, the warning in chapter 22 was for the book of Revelation.

However…

2. I think there is a basic principle here that is consistent with how the rest of Scripture has been understood and handled throughout history. From the earliest days of Judaism those who were charged with preserving the words spoken by the Lord knew that their duty was to maintain their precise accuracy. They took very seriously the words of Deuteronomy 4:2 – “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (See also Deut. 12:32 and Proverbs 30:6). The oral tradition employed by generations of Jews went to great lengths to ensure that the exact words were passed on. This was due not only to the fact that God commanded them as such, but also because of a larger theological reality.

The salvation that God provides is not based in some esoteric or philosophical teaching. No, the salvation God provides is based on His historical intervention in space and time. He did not free the Jews figuratively from the Egyptians, but literally. They did not symbolically walk through the Red Sea; the waters literally parted, the ground dried up, and they walked across on their own two legs. God literally saved them, and He literally spoke to Moses on the mountain and gave them the Law. The Jews knew full well that their salvation was based exclusively on actual words and deeds from God in history.

Therefore, it was of the utmost importance that they not simply preserve the essence of a teaching. Their duty was to preserve the actual record of the words and deeds. Therefore, they knew that to add or subtract, or to tamper in any way, with the Scriptures was to risk not only angering God but undermining the whole basis of their salvation. Thus the general rule of thumb with handling Scripture as a whole has been that it is hands off for any changing, tweaking, redacting, updating, etc. This mentality was adopted by the Christian church, which was originally comprised solely of Jews fully aware of and sensitive to this concern.

Since the words of Scripture are God-breathed, they are to be treated as sacred. So while the words of Revelation can textually be interpreted to mean specifically for the book of Revelation, theologically it makes total sense to interpret them to mean the entire Bible. The historical witness of the church confirms this handling of the Scriptures (one fine example is in Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, Article 8). From the early formulation of the canon on, the warning in Revelation 22 extended to every book that precedes it. The Holy Bible IS the word of God, therefore it is hands off. Our duty is to preserve it (and it has been wondrously preserved, as I mentioned in an earlier post), translate it, and faithfully interpret and apply it

4 thoughts on “Does Revelation 22:18-19 apply to Revelation or the whole Bible?

  1. Look, I like reading about Revelations and all, but how come you don't do funny pictures anymore? Those were awesome. Well, some of them were.

    Anyway, I was drawed back to your sight when I saw you was writing about Calvin, but then I saw you wasn't righting about the boy and his cat, but another person entirely.

    I'll try and come back when you get some content up. Keep up the good work!

  2. LOL. I'm sorry, Anonymous. I didn't realize that anyone out there was really interested in the ridiculous pictures I have created in the past. Perhaps you'll see something of that nature again in the future. We'll see.

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