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It amazes me to this day that some Christians continue to refer to this scripture as a way of claiming that the Book of Mormon contradicts the ‘Will of God’; that the Bible itself says not to add to that Holy Book… and that the Book of Mormon is an addition! – therefore in direct contravention of this scripture.

They say, Mormons are ‘adding to the Bible’, and they quote Revelations 22:18 claiming that it says that we must not add to the Bible!!  This is sadly a major misunderstanding.  With my recent comments regarding the Mormon church’s use of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as scripture, it is quite relevant that I now move on to discuss this misunderstanding.  Especially so, that as I review other Christian blogs throughout “wordpress”, I have come across this misunderstanding a couple of times already!

So let’s take a look…

Revelations 22:18 states:

(New International Version)

 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.”

(King James Version)

“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:”

What are the key words? – “this scroll”, “this book” and “add.. to them/these things”.

Many Christians wrongly assume that this is in effect saying, “Do not add to the Bible” – but it’s not, quite clearly!

To understand why, we need to consider a number of points:

1)  Is John writing about the Bible as a whole – or the ‘Book of Revelations’ that he was in the process of writing? 

It is important to note that right from the beginning, John is commanded to record the revelations that he was privileged to witness.  In Chapter 1, verse 19, the Lord says: “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later”.  John then proceeds to record the many revelations, with him being continually reminded to “write this”.

John is subsequently told in Chapter 22, verse 7:  “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll” referring directly to the scroll presented to John by the Angel within his vision.

The Angel then states in verse 10 of Chapter 22: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near”.

It is quite clear that in the context of the Book of Revelations (especially chapter 22), the words “this scroll” (as used within the New International Version) refer directly to the scroll that was revealed to John by the Angel.

Putting verse 18 into context then, let’s take another look:

 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scrollIf anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.”

“The scroll” referred to in this verse is the same scroll referred to in the previous verses.  That scroll is not ‘the Bible’ but is rather the source of the Book of Revelations.

John was commanded to write – and he did.  He recorded what he saw, and the words that he was told to write.  This account – his writings – are what make up the Book of Revelations.  It is quite clear therefore, that the directive given in verse 18 does not relate to the Bible at all – but only to the scroll, in other words, the Book of Revelations.  Do not add to the Book of Revelations – yes – but it does not say, ‘do not add to the Bible’.

2)  Had the books of the Bible been compiled at the time of this scripture?

No.  They had not yet been compiled.  The books of the Bible do not follow chronological order, and a number of scholars believe that John in fact wrote other books after he finished recording the Book of Revelations! It is quite unreasonable to assume that because the Book of Revelations just so happens to be the last book in the New Testament, that this verse refers to the Bible as a whole.

It is generally accepted that the Book of Revelations was written by John whilst banished to the Isle of Patmos with a dating of around 65 AD.

3) And what of Deuteronomy 4:2??

(New International Version)

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”

How striking the resemblance to Revelations 22:18!  The key words here being “what I command you” and “do not add” or “subtract”.  Both scriptures are effectively saying the same thing.  Is Deuteronomy 4:2 instructing that we are to add no further ‘word of God’ to the Bible? – or just the words within Deuteronomy?

If this verse refers to the Bible as a whole, then we would surely have no more word of God – thus no more of the Old Testament, and in fact.. no New Testament.  That’s just plain silly! We all know this scripture does not mean that the word of God is to end there!! – and thankfully so.. the Lord did provide us with more of his word thereafter!

Let’s not pick and choose.  If Deuteronomy 4:2 does not refer to the Bible – but merely to the commandments in Deuteronomy – then let’s not try to assume that Revelations 22:18 is any different.  Just as Deuteronomy 4:2 does not mean ‘do not add to the Bible’ the same must be said of Revelations 22:18.

In summary and conclusion, there is a great misunderstanding that arises from Revelations 22:18.  Many Christians will say that this verse specifically rejects the Book of Mormon – because they have wrongly interpreted this verse as saying that no more is to be added to the Bible.  As explained above however, that is not the case.  What it is actually saying, is do not add to “this scroll” – the Book of Revelations.

Revelations 22:18 does not therefore reject the Book of Mormon.

In any case, the Book of Mormon is not an “addition” to the Bible.  It is a separate record of a separate people who lived (for the most part) on a separate continent to where the Bible was written!  The Book of Mormon was in fact written during much of the same time that the Bible was being written.

I will very shortly be explaining the Book of Mormon in much greater detail, and I hope that you will take the time to read – as I address many commonly held misunderstandings about this great and sacred book of scripture.

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