Help interpreting Revelation 22:18


Can someone help me interpret Revelation 22;18 with regard to relevance to Sola Scriptura.

Also to what does “in this book” refer to?

Thank you and God Bless!


It might help if you post the line from book.


My understanding is that since the Bible as we know it today didn’t exist, “in this book” is referring to just revelation. Especially as it states “for the prophecy of this book” as it is my understanding that not all the Bible is prophetic. I think the rest is pretty much self explanatory, you add to it and there will be trouble.

For those that don’t know the scripture:

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,


[quote=Rev 22]18 I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,

It is not clear how this passage could be used either to support SS, or to reject it. It does not seem to apply to this topic.

I believe that “in this book” refers to the book of Revelation.


The Bible is a compilation of books and letters, of which Revelations is one. Since the Bible did not exist when Revelations was written, it is safe to assume that the author was speaking specifically about the texts of Revelations. It does not make sense to assume that he was talking about something that had not been conceived of at the time of his writing.

As for how it relates to SS… well, it doesn’t… not even tangentially.


Rev: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:

Sola scriptura “by Scripture alone” is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. I don’t think St. John would subscribe to this being one of the first Bishops at the beginning of the unbroken apostolic change.
John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

St John is warning us not to add anything to the prophecy of this book of Revelation. In case you are wondering he does not mean the entire 73 books of Bible, although no one should be adding to that either.


Revelation 22:18 is a reference to the 4th chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy.

***You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. *(Deuteronomy 4:2)

Deuteronomy 4 has to do with keeping God’s commandments and persevering to the end. In so doing God would protect Israel, save them and lead them to the promised land.

When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice, for the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:30-31)

Like the quote above, the Book of Revelation is a message of hope for a persecuted people, that if they persevere to the end they will be saved, and will enter the “New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.” The reference to Deuteronomy 4:2 would have brought that context - perseverance to the end, God’s salvation and entry into the promised land - to the hearers of John’s words who were severely persecuted because they refused to participate in emperor worship.

It is a teaching technique called remez which means to hint in Hebrew. Jesus did it extensively as did Paul. That’s how the Jewish writers of the New Testament wrote and how rabbis taught, by bringing Old Testament themes and messages to mind through references or “hints” to the Hebrew Scriptures.

Revelation 22:18 is a hint at the themes and messages presented by Moses in Deuteronomy 4. It is super interesting to read Dueteronomy 4 in light of what would later happen in Asia Minor regarding the seven Churches, emperor worship and persecution of Christians. These people needed hope and the reference to Deuteronomy 4 would have helped give them hope that God would never, ever give up on them as long as they persevere to the end. Just as Jesus persevered to the end and is now victorious, so they would be also.



I thank all of you. Your help is much appreciated.

God Bless you


Just an interjection, although John was writing the words of the prophecy he received, the prophecy he received was talking about different things in different times,… the words in
Rev. 22:18 could also be inspired words that he received and also wrote down, meaning they may not be, as is easy to assume, his own personal notes at the bottom of the
prophecy, they too, may be inspiration, and if so, then they may apply to more than just
the prophecy John received, but may apply to the Bible, (although not already compiled)
the Holy Spirit who inspired John’s Prophecy, knew the Bible would come into being
in future.


Where is Revelations placed,? Always at the end of the Bible. Perhaps these inspired
words from Holy Spirit are talking about God’s Book, the Bible.

In the NT church, authority rested in the leaders of the church, esp. those who ‘had been with Jesus.’ They depended on the Holy Spirit to guide them.

After the Bible was formed leaders in the church can reference it for decision making and no decisions in the church should be against what it reveals.

ie homosexuality, the Bible clearly lays out info. on this, and the whole bible of Revelation from God shows the image of man and woman, never man and man or woman and woman, and whenever homosexuality practice is mentioned it is always in a negative way, never approved.

So for any church leaders to make decisions in the church that condone same sex relationships, for ie. or even hint that God approves, this is against the Revelation
of God from the Whole Book, all the way through the OT and all the way through the NT.

They are ‘adding to the book’ something that is Not Found in it.


Rev 22:18 was written when the Book of Revelation was written, somewhere around 100AD. The New Testament, as we know it today, did not exist when the Book of Revelation was written. It is not possible, therefore, for Rev 22:18 to apply to the New Testament as we know it today. That line ONLY applies to Revelation.

Once you know the history about how the New Testament was compiled, that fact is plainly obvious.

Yes, the individual books of the New Testament existed in 100AD. And, yes there was a loose consensus of what was “gospel” and what was not. But they were part of an unorganized collection of letters, gospels, and other works, some of which no longer survive. They included works of second-hand knowledge such as the Letters of Clement, alternate works such as the Apocalypse of Peter, and significant works of uncertain origin such as the Didache.

It wasn’t until the 4th Century that a series of church councils met to determine, once and for all, what works belonged in the New Testament. Specifically, the New Testament includes writings attributed to the original 12 apostles and Paul, their scribes (Mark wrote for Peter; Luke wrote for Paul), the Letter to the Hebrews (attributed to Paul), the Letter of James (who had first-hand knowledge), and the Revelation to John (attributed to the apostle John but possibly written by Presbyter John).

Ironically, this Book of Revelation that includes the verse “you shall not add or subtract” almost didn’t make the cut at all, specifically because of the uncertainty about which John wrote it. The councils wanted to include an end-times vision book, but they chose this one because the case for the other end-times books was weaker.


IOW, you’re hypothesizing that

(1) God knew which books would eventually be codified in the New Testament, three centuries later, even though men were ignorant of the list at at the time,
(2) Therefore, God inspired John to write a line at the end of HIS book that would apply to all the other books when they were finally compiled,
(3) Knowing that everyone who lived between the first and 4th centuries would be misled by thinking otherwise.

Looking at parts (1) and (2) you almost have an argument. Part (3) sinks it.


In addition to the answers you got, keep in mind Revelations was not even considered as part of Scripture, initially.


Though mentioned in the Muratorian fragment, Revelation was the last of the New Testament books to become accepted as part of the Christian biblical canon, upwards of 100 years later than the other books.

Until the Council of Carthage of 397 AD (and possibly as late as the synod of Carthage of 419) Revelation’s place in the canon was quite debated and often outright doubted. Even as late as the Reformation, Martin Luther initially felt Revelation was not canonical Scripture, stating that it was “neither apostolic nor prophetic,” adding, “my spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book.”–Luther’s Antilegomena, Preface to the Revelation of St. John (1522).

Because the authors of the books of the New Testament did not initially understand that their writings would some day be considered as a definitive text for the Church, the Church did not automatically assign such authority to them. Along with Revelation, other books were not widely heard of or accepted by the early Church for four centuries, including Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, the Epistles of John and Jude. The Church did not originally feel that a Christian canon of Scripture was necessary and largely drew one up due to the controversy stirred up by Marcion of Sinope.

By the time the Church finalized and accepted the New Testament books as canonical it had already developed a theology that was not so much dependent on Scripture as it was reflected within it. Clearly it was not the New Testament books upon which the Church found her authority to act. On the contrary it was her authority she had been endowed with by Christ before any of the books were written that was used to answer the questions regarding canonicity of any writing and finalizing such a rule.


I am really enjoying seeing the Book of Revelation as John’s vision of the Catholic Mass. I am only beginning to study Scott Hahn’s understandings, but they make great sense to me. Here is a link to the first chapter of the Lamb’s Supper -->

Therefore, from my current understanding, “in this book” refers to “in this Mass.”

Thanks for sharing the interesting question!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit