True Meaning of Revelation 22:18–19 About Not Adding or Removing Things
By Yuting, Japan
I heard news of the Lord’s coming but hesitated about whether to seek His word.
Ever since I believed in the Lord, I have often heard my pastor say, “We are already in the last days and the Lord will soon return; we must not go and listen to other sermons. Because Revelation 22:18–19 say, ‘For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to 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.’ All of God’s words are there in the Bible. Nothing can be added or removed from the Bible, and anyone who adds anything to or removes anything from the Bible cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. In believing in God, reading the Bible is enough for us. We don’t need to go out to seek.” I was deeply influenced by what the pastor said, and thus kept listening to him and never went to other places to attend meetings or listen to sermons.
Until one day in December of 2017 when I accompanied a sick sister to her doctor friend’s house for an examination, I met three brothers and sisters there. After the sister’s examination, we began to talk about the Bible together. A brother among them talked about the relationship between the New Testament, the Old Testament, and the Book of Revelation, as well as the background and the significance of God’s work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. His fellowship was very clear. I thought of how I had believed in the Lord for seven years and how I had often read the Bible and how I had often listened to my pastor preach, yet I had only become a little familiar with Bible stories but had failed to understand God’s intentions behind many things He once did and the relationship between God’s works. However, hearing the brother fellowship in this way, I felt particularly bright in my heart. On our way home, I talked about the brother’s fellowship with my sister. Both of us felt that what he said was very enlightening and that we had never heard such practical fellowship in the years since we began to believe in God.
Afterward, we went to listen to the brother’s sermons again and understood many mysteries we didn’t understand before, and spiritually, we felt very provided for. At the end of the meeting, the brother said, very seriously, “In fact, the Lord has already returned, has expressed several million words, and has opened up the scroll prophesied in Revelation. The things I fellowshiped about were from what I understood from God’s new words.” With that, he took a book from his bag and showed it to us, saying, “This is the ‘scroll opened by the Lamb,’ and it contains the newest words expressed by God incarnate.” Hearing his words, I felt for a moment like something had exploded in my head and I thought, “God’s new words? Aren’t all of God’s words in the Bible? Nothing can be added or removed from the Bible, then how can there be God’s new words outside of the Bible?” I was full of confusion and puzzlement, and so I was unable to hear a word he said after that. When we were leaving, the brother said to us that we could take the book back and have a look and, afraid of losing face, I had to do as he said.
After returning home, I put the book on the desk, and Revelation 22:18–19 my pastor often expounded on came to my mind, “For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to 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.” And I thought, “The pastor tells us that all of God’s words are there in the Bible, that nothing can be added or removed from the Bible, and that anything that goes beyond the Bible is a heresy, and is a false way. And yet, the brother said this book was God’s word — isn’t this adding things to the Bible?” But then I thought, “For so many years when I listened to sermons in church, I haven’t felt the light, and my spirit has always been negative and weak, while after several days of listening to the brother’s clear and concise interpretations of the Bible, I’ve gained much understanding of the background and the meaning of God’s work, and my spirit was provided for. The Book of Revelation also prophesies that God will open the scroll when He comes again. Is this book really a book of God’s words?” The more I thought about it, the more conflicted I felt and I didn’t know what to do. So, I prayed to God and asked Him to lead me to make the right decision.
Two days later, the sister who listened to sermons with me invited me and the brother to her house to fellowship about the Bible. In order to figure my question out clearly, I accepted.
I understood the true meaning of not adding or removing anything.
During the gathering, I asked the brother, “My pastor often talks about these words in Revelation in the Bible to us, ‘For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to 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’ (Revelation 22:18–19). He tells us that all of God’s words are there in the Bible and nothing can be added or removed from the Bible. But you testify that the Lord has returned and uttered new words, isn’t this adding things to the Bible? This question has been puzzling me. I want to listen to how you understand this.”
The brother said, “Based on these verses, many people believe that all of God’s words are there in the Bible and that God’s words outside of the Bible are an addition to God’s words. Does this view conform to the facts? What do ‘If any man shall add to these things…’ and ‘And if any man shall take away from the words…’ mentioned in this passage really refer to? We all know that, the New Testament came into being after more than 300 years after the Lord. But John wrote the words the Lord Jesus revealed to him in Revelation about 90 years after the Lord; at that time the New Testament didn’t exist, much less the entire Bible, the Old and New Testament as one book. Obviously, ‘this book’ written by John was a reference to the Book of Revelation, rather than a reference to the complete Bible; ‘If any man shall add to these things…’ and ‘And if any man shall take away from the words…’ mean that we humans can’t add or delete anything from the prophecies of the Book of Revelation. However, a lot of people don’t understand the true meaning of this passage of the Scriptures, and think that it means that, nothing can be added to the Bible and God will not work or speak aside from the Bible. This leads to many brothers and sisters not daring to seek for the Holy Spirit’s words to the churches or look into God’s new work outside of the Bible. These are the consequences of their fallaciously understanding the Scriptures.” Hearing this, I took a closer look at these verses and thought, “What the brother said is indeed not incorrect. ‘If any man shall add to these things…’ and ‘And if any man shall take away from the words…’ don’t refer to the fact that people cannot delete or add to the entire Bible. John wrote the Book of Revelation before the completion of the whole Bible containing both New and Old Testaments, but I thought that these words refer to the fact that people cannot delete or add to the entire Bible — I was really so ignorant.”
The brother continued fellowshiping with us, “As we all know, in addition to these verses in Revelation, there are also many Scriptures mentioning not adding or removing anything. For instance, ‘You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you’ (Deuteronomy 4:2). ‘What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it’ (Deuteronomy 12:32). ‘Add you not to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar’ (Proverbs 30:6). If we look carefully, we will see that during the Age of Law of the Old Testament, Jehovah God already said that mankind could not add to or remove from what God commanded them. Regardless if it is God’s laws, God’s commandments, or God’s teachings, as long as it is God’s words, we can’t add anything to or remove anything from it, because God is the Creator, and God’s word is truth and is immutable life motto, and so all creatures have to follow God’s words and none of them can add anything to or remove anything from God’s words. Moreover, distorting God’s words will be cursed by God. Therefore, if we say that not adding or removing anything from God’s word is not adding or removing anything from the Bible, then aren’t we layering our own ideas over God’s words? Isn’t this distorting God’s words? It’s something that offends God’s disposition, is deceptive, and will cause God to curse us.”
Hearing what the brother said, I nodded continually, thinking, “Yes, John said clearly that nothing can be added or removed from the Book of Revelation, but I misrepresented these verses and thought they meant that nothing could be added or removed from the Bible, and even used this to condemn God’s new words and work. This was truly offending God’s disposition.”
There is God’s word outside of the Bible.
The brother went on: “Many people hold the belief that nothing can be added or removed from God’s words and believe that God’s words in the Bible are all of God’s words, and that God’s word outside of the Bible is adding to the Bible and any message of that is heresy and false way. Does such a view fit with the Lord’s words? The Lord Jesus once told His disciples: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). We can see from this that there are still many things the Lord Jesus has not said to us, and that He asked us to await the Spirit of truth to come and guide us into all truth. So if we use the belief that nothing can be added or removed from God’s words to condemn all God’s words and work outside of the Bible, won’t we condemn the utterances of the Spirit of truth when He comes to speak? In addition, many passages in the Book of Revelation say, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2–3). So, if we hold this belief and do not listen, do not see and do not investigate, how then can we hear what the Holy Spirit says to the churches? And won’t we miss the chance to be saved by God in the last days?”
Hearing this, I suddenly saw the light. Yes! The Book of Revelation only prophesied God’s work in the last days, God said that He still has many things to say to us, and these things definitely couldn’t be recorded in the Bible. I listened to my pastor and always believed that God’s words were only those listed within the pages of the Bible and that God’s words outside of the Bible were an addition to the Bible. By doing this, I was condemning God’s new work! If it hadn’t been for the brother fellowshiping like this, I would have foolishly continued resisting God and offending God’s disposition.
Then, the brother continued to fellowship, “Let’s read a passage of Almighty God’s words, ‘The things that are recorded in the Bible are limited; they cannot represent the work of God in its entirety. The Four Gospels have fewer than one hundred chapters altogether, in which are written a finite number of happenings, such as Jesus cursing the fig tree, Peter’s three denials of the Lord, Jesus appearing to the disciples following His crucifixion and resurrection, teaching about fasting, teaching about prayer, teaching about divorce, the birth and genealogy of Jesus, Jesus’ appointment of the disciples, and so forth. However, man values them as treasures, even verifying the work of today against them. They even believe that all the work Jesus did in His life amounted only to so much, as if God were only capable of doing this much and nothing further. Is this not absurd?’ God is the Creator, and is all-encompassing and greatly abundant; we as humans cannot fathom all that He has and is or His almighty and wisdom, much less can we draw up boundaries for them. The Old Testament recorded God’s work in the Age of Law, such as God’s destruction of the world by flood, God’s making Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and so on. The New Testament recorded God’s work and words in the Age of Grace, such as the Lord Jesus healing the sick, casting out demons, performing miracles, teaching people to forgive others seventy times seven, being crucified for mankind, and so on. But these records were merely one part of the deeds of God, and they couldn’t represent all of God. Just as it is written, ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written’ (John 21:25). Not even the entirety of the Lord Jesus’ work and words was recorded in the Bible, so wouldn’t us saying that anything outside of the Bible cannot be God’s words be a denial of the Lord’s own words and deeds?”
After that, he read another passage of Almighty God’s words: “When you have finished reading this book, when you have experienced each step of the work of God incarnate in the Age of Kingdom, you will feel that the hopes of many years have finally been realized. You will feel that only now have you truly seen God face-to-face; only now have you gazed upon the face of God, heard the personal utterance of God, appreciated the wisdom of God’s work, and truly sensed how real and almighty God is. You will sense that you have gained many things that people of times past have never seen or possessed. At this time, you will clearly know what it is to believe in God, and what it is to be after God’s heart. Of course, if you cling to views of the past, and reject or deny the fact of the second incarnation of God, then you shall remain empty-handed and acquire nothing, and ultimately be guilty of opposing God. Those who obey the truth and submit to the work of God shall come under the name of the second incarnate God — the Almighty. They will be able to accept the personal guidance of God, and shall acquire more and higher truth and receive the real human life. They shall behold the vision that people of the past have never seen: ‘And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength’ (Revelation 1:12–16). This vision is the expression of God’s entire disposition, and such an expression of His entire disposition is also the expression of the work of God when He becomes flesh this time. In the torrents of chastisements and judgments, the Son of man expresses His inherent disposition through the speaking of words, allowing all those who accept His chastisement and judgment to see the true face of the Son of man, a face that is a faithful depiction of the face of the Son of man seen by John.”
He then fellowshiped this with us, “God’s work and words cannot be defined by us. God’s management work is always progressing forward. The Book of Revelation prophesies that God will return in the last days, unlock the seven seals, open the scroll, speak to the churches, judge and cleanse mankind, and express all the truths that mankind needs to gain salvation. We are already in the last days, and the Lord Jesus has long since returned, coming in the flesh as Almighty God. Almighty God has expressed words to the whole mankind, has unveiled all the mysteries that we don’t understand, such as the mystery of the Bible, the mystery of the incarnation, the mystery of God’s name, and so on, and has done the work of judgment beginning from the house of God. He expresses the whole truth that can purify and save mankind, as well as reveals His righteous disposition, which brooks no offense, and tells us the true fact of how we have been corrupted by Satan, the root of our rebelliousness and resistance to God, which kind of people He will save and which He will punish and eliminate, and so on. At the same time, He points out the path by which we can attain salvation and be purified. By uttering words, God incarnate Himself is leading a group of people who return before His throne in the last days to gain entry into all aspects of the truth. This just fulfills the Lord Jesus’ words, ‘However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:13). Only by accepting the work of expressing the words to judge and purify mankind of Almighty God — the returned Lord Jesus can we be cleansed of our sins and be led by God into the kingdom of heaven.”
After listening to his fellowshiping, I became extremely excited. This is God’s voice. God has already returned. But I blindly listened to the pastor and refused to accept God’s new work. I was so ignorant! Only at that time did I understand that the words that God speaks to judge and purify mankind upon His return in the last days are not an addition to the Bible, but the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation, and that they are the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches.
Afterward, I also watched the evangelical movie Disclose the Mystery About the Bible. When I finished watching it, I was moved very much. The notion of the protagonist once confused me, but as the brothers used God’s words to fellowship the various truths concerning the Bible, I gained a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of the Bible. At the same time, how the protagonist clung to her own misconceptions and was unwilling to accept God’s work at the start, but eventually was conquered by the word of God and cried and repented to God allowed me to see that God’s sheep hear God’s voice, that God’s word has supreme authority, and that all of man’s conceptions are difficult to hold their own before God’s word. I became even more sure in my heart that Almighty God’s words are the truth, the way and the life and Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. Thank Almighty God for allowing me to hear the voice of God and follow the footsteps of God. From now on, I will diligently pursue the truth and knowledge of God. All the glory be to Almighty God!