Thanks, my friends, for your comments. They are all worthy of consideration.
18 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:
19 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.
John C pointed out the fallacy of the orthodox interpretation which is this. The standard believer thinks that this verse is telling the reader that the Bible is the complete word of God and no further revelation will be given. Anyone who adds more scripture is to be condemned.
The only problem with this, if it were true, is that John the Beloved himself would be condemned. Scholars tell us that he wrote the Gospel of John after the Book of Revelation.
Then it is common knowledge that the Bible was not even compiled at the time this injunction was given, so John could not be warning us not add to a book that does not even exist yet.
Obviously he was talking about the Book of Revelation - instead of a combination of books, as is the Bible.
Those who agree John is only talking about his book basically see the warning as follows: John is telling the reader that he is not to make any changes in the book by taking passages out or adding in new writings or commentary to become part of the book.
This interpretation has some merit, as the prophets were well aware of human frailties - that seekers like to put their own mark on various teachings. Scribes were often tempted to take out passages they did not like or add a few sentences of "clarification" to teachings they saw as lacking.
No doubt John realized the danger of some scribe doctoring up his words and saw this warning as a necessary protection for his book.
That said, we must remember that scripture has several layers of interpretation and this injunction is no exception. In fact, there is another way to see this that has even more importance than the changing of the literal words.
Notice that John is speaking to those who "hear" the words of the book rather than read them. This comes from the Greek AKOUO, which can also be interpreted as understanding.
Those who then hear with their souls and understand the words of John are not supposed to either add to them or take them away. What does this mean in the context of the meaning presented in this treatise?
Simply put it means this: There are certain and necessary steps the seeker must make as he progresses on the path of discipleship and toward becoming like the Christ himself, or at least manifesting his inner Christ.
It is a great mistake, yet a common one, for seekers to seek a shortcut and take out some of these steps to fool himself and others into thinking that there is an easy route to the kingdom of God.
Orthodox Christians are a quintessential example of this in their teaching of salvation. They take away from the path John outlined by stating that salvation is extremely easy. All one has to do is confess that Jesus is Lord and they will be saved no matter what their works have been.
Many new agers make the same mistake, claiming such things as space aliens are coming to redeem us or outlining simple steps to bypass hundreds of lives needed to finish our progression.
The only real shortcut is to avoid the pitfalls and apply ourselves in the strenuous service and labor necessary to complete the steps outlined by John.
Other seekers make a mistake in the opposite direction in adding unnecessary dead works that are supposed to bring redemption.
Here are some examples:
Some of these may have their place, but they are not steps toward manifesting Christ in the individual. This is accomplished by understanding the principles presented in John's book and then applying them. Only by following the correct steps will a seeker bring the flow of life from God through his being to manifest the tree of life.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
"Grace" comes from the Greek CHARIS which is derived from CHAIRO which implies quiet cheerfulness or happiness.
This is indeed a suitable way to end the book - wishing the happiness enjoyed by Christ to be our own. If we do the works of Christ this will indeed be the case.
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
Sir Francis Bacon
Copyright © 2006 by J J Dewey, All Rights Reserved