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  • Joe Steenholdt

Revelation 22:16–21 - A Book with No Equal

The end of the Bible is serious about its warnings and promises.


Revelation 22:16–21 (NIV)

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” 

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

18 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. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” 

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture

We believe

that this Holy Scripture contains

the will of God completely

and that everything one must believe

to be saved

is sufficiently taught in it.

For since the entire manner of service

which God requires of us

is described in it at great length,

no one—

even an apostle

or an angel from heaven,

as Paul says—

ought to teach other than

what the Holy Scriptures have

already taught us.

For since it is forbidden

to add to or subtract from the Word of God,

this plainly demonstrates

that the teaching is perfect

and complete in all respects.

Therefore we must not consider human writings—

no matter how holy their authors may have been—

equal to the divine writings;

nor may we put custom,

nor the majority,

nor age,

nor the passage of time or persons,

nor councils, decrees, or official decisions

above the truth of God,

for truth is above everything else.

For all human beings are liars by nature

and more vain than vanity itself.

Therefore we reject with all our hearts

everything that does not agree

with this infallible rule,

as we are taught to do by the apostles

when they say,

“Test the spirits

to see if they are of God,”

and also,

“If anyone comes to you

and does not bring this teaching,

do not receive him

into your house.”



The end of the book of Revelation is similar to how it begins in 1:1–3, confirming it as a testimony of Jesus Christ. Given the source of John’s revelation is none other than the Son of God, everyone who hears its words should take notice! As we consider how we have viewed Scripture over the past few weeks, it is critical to remember that we do not think the Bible is inspired because it is profitable, but it is profitable precisely because it is inspired. And since it is the Word of God communicated to us, we should handle it with reverence and care.

The warning in Revelation 22:18–19 makes this point without sugarcoating it. All those fanciful scenes of judgment described earlier in the book can plague anyone who twists or distorts God’s message by adding their own words as if they were as authoritative, or subtracting from what's been written. In the first century, the Pharisees were known for adding all kinds of strict prohibitions on top of God’s laws. At the same time, the Sadducees were more guilty of taking away the supernatural, most notoriously known for not believing in the resurrection of the dead.

Today, some legalists like to add their own rules and claim they are “biblical” when binding someone’s conscience beyond Scripture. In comparison, there are also those today who prefer to leave out supernatural parts like Christ’s virgin birth or resurrection. Even the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, thought the Bible as it was didn’t fit his philosophies or preferences. So he cut and pasted from his Bible to create a new version that excluded the accounts of miracles and resurrection.

Dig Deeper

You should never come to Scripture ready for it to serve your agenda or to place your personal opinions and views above it. The Bible, instead, is authoritative over you, as a creature made in God’s image, who must continually go to His Word for renewal and to be conformed to becoming more Christlike. Any of your own thoughts and writings, or those of your favorite Christian theologians, musicians, or authors are subversive to the authority of Scripture; even this devotion and the commentary notes found in your favorite Study Bible must be placed under the authority of Scripture.

As serious as the warnings are in the book of Revelation, its invitation to life in Christ is just as serious: “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (22:17). If you come to God’s Word in faith, you will be like a wanderer in the desert who discovers an oasis with refreshing water.

So then, accept the invitations, be warned by the threats, and embrace the promises that come from your Lord and Savior, and respond the same way the Bible ends, by saying “Amen, so may it be,” as you look forward to His final return to fulfill His final promises of making everything new.

Until then, may the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, the only One Who can give the Living Waters;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: To humbly come to Scripture seeking God’s will over your own;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Acts 23


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