By Ronald Graham
“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. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly…” Revelation 22:18 -20.
At first glance the above admonition seems to be directly referring to the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is the concluding text that closes out the entire Bible. From cover to cover, God designated the Holy Bible as a whole, a completely integrated design. The Bible is also a book of prophecy, and in light of that proven fact and the warning given by Jesus, anyone contemplating making any change to any chapter or any verse would be guilty of corrupting His word.
God takes His word very seriously, much more so than man, and as such He’s willing to protect it tenaciously. Jesus is warning all who hear the word of prophecy in this book that adding man’s flawed concepts to His word, or subtracting any part from His word would be a fatal mistake, both physically and spiritually. Jesus’ warning is explicit. His word needs no adjustments no tweaking, no additions, and no subtractions. It’s perfect as written.
When a believer reads the Bible it becomes a love search. We gain a greater knowledge of who God is and with that new knowledge there becomes a need to continually pursue a better grasp of God’s plan for our lives. God loves us and He loves it when we immerse ourselves in His word. But He’s adamant about making changes to it. No born again follower of Jesus Christ is going to intentionally make changes to God’s perfect and inerrant word. Those who profess having a relationship with Jesus, but in all actuality don’t, are the ones who these scriptures are speaking to. It would be completely arrogant and foolhardy to tamper with God’s word. Many, in the past, have ignored these warnings and without either understanding or believing it possible, they’ve corrupted the word of God. Where will this lead those who follow such people? Now that’s a scary thought.
God’s Holy Spirit moved among selected men to record events in their specific day and to give them history lessons in advance so they could record this information for all posterity. The Holy Spirit inspired those men to place prophecies throughout the Bible so that God’s word would gradually, over a period of many hundreds of years, develop into one complete unit, The Holy Bible. Keep in mind that all the chapter and verse portions of the Bible were developed by translators, not the original writers. If you want to get a better concept of the Bible as one complete book, consider each book in the Bible as a chapter title, all formulated in the authors mind to be read as one book.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16. All scripture is “God breathed”, who in their right mind would want to mess with what God Himself has designated as true and complete?
Some will take 2 Timothy 3:16 and say when Paul wrote those words to Timothy there was very little of the New Testament completed, let alone circulated. Timothy, for the most part, had only the Old Testament scriptures, and thus Paul was only referring to the Old Testament as God breathed. Since God is thoroughly able to see the future of mankind shouldn’t we at least consider that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write those words in anticipation of a still future completed book? “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15, 16. Even the Apostle Peter refers to Paul’s writings as scripture comparing them to other scriptures.
There are those who won’t see Jesus’ warning pertaining to the entirety of the Bible and will not agree with me on what I’ve stated, at least not from just three verses extracted from the book of Revelation which I laid out in the beginning of this commentary. As we study our Bibles we should find that there will be two or three witnesses to prove a matter. There are other verses that confirm this truth spattered throughout the Old and New Testaments.
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2. Does anyone dispute that what God is addressing here is the taking away or the adding to His word? The warning, given in the book of Revelation, is of course a warning that transcends all scripture. Certainly we read the result of Bible tampering as a warning God takes very seriously. God has applied His warning to all of His words. There will be a huge price to pay for anyone who refuses to heed His warning.
What is meant by “add unto the word”? How do we do that? Here’s just one example (of which there are many) of how some add to God’s word. Baptism as a requirement for salvation is a heresy promoted by numerous Churches around the world. Adding to the sufficiency of the cross is wrong. It’s bad doctrine and it’s dangerous. How dangerous? Does plagues and having your part removed from the book of life jar your memory?
“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Deuteronomy 12:32. We find this same admonishment twice in the book of Deuteronomy. God says what He means and means what He says. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. He isn’t just requesting we observe what He tells us, He’s telling us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments, and He commands us to leave this book as it is written.
These other verses that speak about adding to and subtracting from God’s word are very telling. God, by placing them strategically so many times throughout His word, fully expects some people to ignore His warnings. And guess what? They do. Is it that some folks think they are smarter than God in that re-writing His word has become their perceived destiny? Think about it this way, we change God’s word to fit our interpretation and we teach others our interpretation which is at odds with what God has plainly stated. Then this erroneous teaching gets passed on and on down the line and pretty soon there’s a snowball effect happening with loads of bad and destructive false doctrine being promoted as truth.
“…visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” Deuteronomy 5:9. What we can take from this scripture verse is that the sin of the father is taught to the children even unto the third and fourth generation. The children pickup the sins the father commits and carry them on in their generation and even pass them on to their children and so on. In that sense we see what’s being taught by one is passed down to those he is teaching. If someone changes God’s word and teaches these changes to others and they in turn teach the changes to still others we see that this can lead to generation after generation being taught false and destructive doctrines. Just take a look at the Christian cults that have flourished for generations. They’re all guilty of making fatal changes to God’s inerrant word.
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:6. Doubting God’s promises as described in Revelation 22:18 and 19 will lead to perilous times for those foolish individuals who take from or add to His word. Warnings which are purposely and openly observable abound throughout the scriptures to keep us from harm. Over and over again we’re admonished to listen to God and He will be our shield and make our paths straight. If we don’t listen to God our paths will be wide and will undoubtedly lead to destruction.
“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:4. Jesus used those words in response to Satan’s attempts to tempt Him during a 40 day fast in the wilderness. The word of God is the key. Jesus knew it and He’s been trying to get the rest of us to see it for years now. The Bible is perfect and believable and many do believe it, and many hold it in the highest esteem. But many more disparage, neglect, hate, dismiss and even change God’s word to fit their agendas. Those who treat God’s word with contempt will regret their life and their decision to do so.
My wife and I attended a conference in Tennessee a few months ago. While we waited for it to begin, she and I went to a coffee shop for some coffee and a donut. Seated near us two men, who seemed to be pastors, were discussing the Bible. We weren’t eavesdropping, but could hear the conversation clearly. One was explaining to the other how the Bible should be re-interpreted to take in a broader scope. He actually said “We need to take Paul’s letters and extrapolate them forward to fit today’s society.” In other words, take the words that God told Paul to write and change them to make the Bible conform to us rather than us conform to the Bible. Be Careful my brethren, this approach to God’s word will lead to a very sticky end.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3. This verse is an admonishment to the believer to declare the truth about what they believe. Contend for the faith. The truth we know as God’s word is something we must, with complete conviction, stand firm on.
Keep a watchful eye and ear out for those who have their own dubious plans to corrupt the word of God. Through the arrogance of people such as these, many of our brethren are being falsely led. The outcome of this type tampering can only result in the further dumbing down of the Church.
God bless you all,
All scripture verses are from the KJV