The meaning of Revelation 22:18-19



By Spencer D Gear

It is a common ploy to make these two verses apply to the entire Bible. Here is an example that I met on Christian Forums:

All the newer bibles are garbage that have been changed by Satans children to subtlety change Gods messages , not unlike what Satan did in the garden of Eden when speaking with eve[1]…. I have only spoken the truth showing thru scripture what happens when one changes the word of God, I would think one would be able to make an informed view that the newer bibles are in direct conflict with Gods warning in revelation 22 [verse 19][2]…. He changed Gods word and for this his name was taken away from the bible just as God promised in revelation 22:19.[3]

Revelation 22:18-19 states:

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (ESV).

It speaks of “the book of this prophecy”. Which prophecy? The Book of Revelation.

We know this because the Book of Revelation was a prophecy given by “John to the seven churches that are in Asia” (Rev. 1:4). What was to be done with this prophetic Book of Revelation when it was first written?

“Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Rev. 1:11 ESV).

So this Book of Revelation (not the entire NT) – only this one book – was sent to the 7 churches of Asia [we now know that these churches are in what we call Asia Minor]. So, what was written in Rev. 22:19, if it were to have any meaning to the people in the 7 churches of Asia Minor COULD NOT have been referring to the entire Bible as it is one book, the Book of Revelation, that was in “the words of the prophecy of this book” and “in a book” and this one book was sent. It would have been strange to have the warning of Revelation 22:18-19 to apply to the whole of the OT and the NT for the “seven churches” of Asia Minor when only one book was sent to them to hear.

Therefore, the only meaning of this warning is to the prophecy of the Book of Revelation. The seven churches of Asia would know that, but people in the twenty-first century want to change that to give it a meaning that was not possible for the churches of Asia Minor to have understood.

Why don’t these people understand the intent of the writing of this book that had only one meaning to the people who first read it in Asia Minor – they had only one book, the Book of Revelation, and the warning against adding to the prophecy of this book could have only one meaning to them? It referred ONLY to the one book they heard or read in Asia Minor– the Book of Revelation.


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘The New International Version (NIV) Bible completely removes the word ‘Godhead’, Azadok2day#22, 5 July 2012. Available at: (Accessed 7 July 2012).

[2] Ibid., #49, 6 July 2012.

[3] Ibid., #53, 6 July 2012.


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.