We continue our comments on the manuscript sent to us by a Mormon called Stephen.(*) Click here to see the other articles in this series. You can also go to the Mormonism page to find all the articles that are in this refutation of Stephen’s document.
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18,19) I cannot count how many times I have had these verses thrown at me by the misinformed and Scripturally illiterate of other Christian faiths. One by one, I will explain the reasons this does not apply to anything other than the book of Revelation.
Oh, we expected that you would talk about textual criticism, because you said you would address those issues about which you were talking above… But you didn’t… Anyway… The ignorant calls other people ignorant…
As you see in this passage from Revelation, the subject is the prophecy contained in that Book. Have you ever noticed that it is not the prophecies of that Book (in plural), but the prophecy in singular? Of course, Stephen has no idea what this prophecy is, therefore he says this is only about the content of the Book of Revelation. But we have seen what this prophecy is, i.e. the final revelation that came in Jesus Christ. So if anyone adds anything to this prophecy, he will be adding to the whole Bible. Anything you add to any passage of the whole Bible will be an addition to the final revelation that came in Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is the topic of the whole Bible. As He already came, so there is no new revelation that can be added to the prophecy that was revealed in Him. The details of this truth are found in our article The Canon of Scripture. A summary of the explanation given in this article was also given in the following article: Mormons confess that they are “open minded” in the interpretation of the Word of God; I will rewrite that summary here:
The Book of Revelation contains the consummation of everything until the new heaven and the new earth and the Wedding of the Lamb. It gives us the explanation of the fulfillment of all prophecies according to the final revelation of God’s truth in His Son (read about this final revelation in Hebrews 1:1-2). This indeed is explained at the beginning of the Book of Revelation (cf. Revelation 1:1-2). So if you add anything to the prophecy (singular) of this Book, you will be adding to the Word of God, and if you take away from it, you will be taking away from the Word of God. And the verses 18 and 19 above give you a clear warning.
And of course we should remember that it is not only the Book of Revelation that warns us against adding to the Word of God, but other passages also, like: Deuteronomy 4:2 and Proverbs 30:5-6.
Stephen continues and gives us the reasons why he thinks he can add to the Word of God…
Reason #1—The word “book” in the Greek text is biblion or biblioi—“little book or scroll.” In Rev. 1:11, John is commanded by the Lord to write down what he is shown on a “scroll.” At the end of the Revelation, the Lord issues His warning about adding to or taking away from the information of “this scroll.” This warning refers to the Book of Revelation. Do you still believe it refers to the entire Bible?
What is that information, Stephen? Ever thought that it could be the final revelation of the consummation of all things that came in Jesus Christ who is the full revelation of who God is?… We have explained all this above, so our answer is: yes, we believe this refers to the prophecy of Revelation, just as the Book itself says, so it refers to the whole Bible, because the whole Bible is about that one prophecy, as we have seen.
By the way, Stephen’s silly interpretation makes void of the warning that we read at the end of Revelation, because according to this interpretation we can add some things to God’s Word… This is what Mormons want actually…
Reason #2 (a continuation of Reason #1)—“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, . . .” (Deut. 4:2) If we have to consider the verses in Revelation as representing the entire Bible, then we must also consider the same of this verse in Deuteronomy. That would mean, from the Book of Joshua on, the Bible is false because it is an addition to the words God gave to His prophet, Moses, the only prophet with whom God spoke face to face. (See Num. 12:5-8.)
No, because Deuteronomy did not talk about some words (plural), but about a singular Word, i.e. the Word of God. That verse is saying that we should not add to any word that God gives through a prophet. It’s once again about the whole Word of God. But the same Book of Deuteronomy promises that the Messiah would come and would bring the final revelation: “A prophet will I raise up unto them from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass that the man who hearkeneth not unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him“ (Deuteronomy 4:18-19) So neither Revelation nor Deuteronomy are talking about their content only, but about the whole Word that God commands, the whole revelation, and the end of this Word or its full revelation is in His Son who is for this and other reasons called the Word of God. We have seen all this in our article The Canon of Scripture.
Reason #3—There was no “Bible” until the Catholic Church compiled it in the content and order they chose. In fact, the Revelation was written before John wrote his Gospel and his epistles. Do we exclude these as well? Of course not. I therefore submit these verses cannot be referring to anything but the Revelation.
John wrote his Gospel sometime between A.D. 80-90, while the Book of Revelation was written sometime between A.D. 94-96, near the end of Emperor Domitian’s reign. Although some date it during Nero’s reign (A.D. 54-68), but their arguments are unconvincing and contradict the view of the early Church. Irenaeus, writing in the second century, declared that Revelation had been written toward the end of Domitian’s reign. Later writers, like Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Victorinus (who wrote one of the earliest commentaries on Revelation), Eusebius, and Jerome, all affirm the Domitian date.
So Stephen is in error concerning the date of Revelation… But that’s not the issue. Even if Revelation were written before the Gospel, the same argument would stand, because Revelation is not speaking only about its content, but about the final revelation in Jesus Christ, as we have seen.
And Stephen is wrong about the Bible: there WAS the WHOLE Bible before the Church declared (and not made) the Canon, as we have seen. For the details, read The Canon of Scripture.
Reason #4—The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price are not “additions” to the Bible, or to the Revelation. They were and are part of the Restoration of All Things to be discussed in this chapter.
All what the false prophet Joseph Smith brought are additions to the final revelation that came in Jesus Christ, as we have seen; they are additions to the Word of God (singular). For the details, read The Canon of Scripture. The Canon was closed at the end of the first century, with the death of the last Apostle, John. Joseph Smith lived long after John the Apostle died…
Reason #5—These “additions” to the Bible are not of “man” as the Lord’s warning specifies at the end of the Revelation. The Lord told Jeremiah we are not to trust in man. (See Jer. 17:5.) Did the Lord mean we could not trust in any man? Were the Israelites not expected to believe Jeremiah? Would you concede He meant carnal man and not His prophets? We will be discussing prophets later on in this chapter. For now, my point is only to clarify how the Lord—Who will do nothing without disclosing His intentions to His prophets (see Amos 3:7)—is not bound to the warning of the Revelation, even if He meant for man to not add to the entire Bible.
We have seen how God said that He would not bring any additional revelation to the final revelation that came in Jesus Christ. After the Canon was closed, no prophet would receive a new revelation. All is explained in the article The Canon of Scripture.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ