Revelation 22:18-21 (ESV):

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.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

I've heard cessationist arguments citing verse 18 to conclude that there would be no further prophetic revelations after the book of Revelation. Does it follow from verse 18 that the gift of prophecy ceased?


3 Answers 3


It does not follow; I will demonstrate this two ways:

1. Chronology

There are two main camps for when the book of Revelation was written:

  • Just before the destruction of the temple (AD 70), as argued by Edmundson here
  • Just before the death of Emperor Domitian (AD 96), as suggested by Irenaeus in Against Heresies 5.30.3

Whether we opt for AD 70 or AD 96, the Bible as a compilation of 66/73 books did not yet exist at this time. The "book" being referred to in Revelation is the book of Revelation, not the Bible.

The books of the New Testament are not arranged chronologically. With minor exceptions, the epistles of Paul are organized by length. The Gospels are not arranged chronologically.

Revelation is at the end of the New Testament because it deals with the end-times, not because it was written last. The Gospel of John, 2-3 John, and possibly other New Testament documents, were likely completed after the book of Revelation. If that is true, John himself clearly shows he did not believe prophetic/scriptural utterances ceased with Revelation. A deeper dive on several of these chronological topics is available on my channel here and in Robinson's work here.


2. The Reductive Argument from Deuteronomy

The Torah records:

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. (Deut. 4:2)

This is found in the 5th book of the Bible. If Revelation refers to the entire Bible, or the entirety of God's prophetic revealed word, then applying the same reasoning to Deuteronomy that is used for Revelation would eliminate the last 61/68 books of the Bible!

(including Revelation, meaning the argument invalidates the very text it relies upon)

Notably, the Biblical texts very much frown upon those who argued for accepting revelation up to a certain point in the past and rejecting everything subsequent to it. For example, some groups argued for the Torah and the Torah alone as authoritative scripture; this view was rejected by Jesus and the apostles (i.e. consider how many times Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Psalms are quoted in the New Testament).

Virtually no Jews or Christians today believe that Deut. 4:2 requires discarding everything found in the Bible after this pronouncement. When prohibiting the addition of commands or prophecy, the Torah speaks of itself, and Revelation speaks of itself. Neither speaks of the Bible or the entirety of God's message.

By Reductio Ad Absurdum and by self-refutation we can conclude that Revelation 22:18 does not indicate that there would be no further prophetic revelations after the book of Revelation.


The history of the Christian church is filled with countless pseudepigrapha - forgeries, documents pretending to be written by somebody famous such as the gospel of Peter, the gospel of Barnabas, etc.

These forgeries were not limited to stand-alone works but to some that pretended to be additions to existing documents such as "The prayer of the Three Worthies) a supposed addition to the book of Daniel.

Even in the book of Revelation, there are supposed additions to the book such as:

  • Rev 1:8, “the beginning and the end”
  • Rev 1:11a “I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last”
  • Rev 21:24a “of those who are saved”

... there are many more. Thus, I believe two facts:

  1. The Canon of inspired Scripture is complete as we have it
  2. The statement in Rev 22;18 applies to the tempering with the text of the book of revelation.

Thus, Rev 22:18 says nothing about the on-going (or otherwise) gift of prophecy; it is discussing the sanctity of the text of the book of Revelation only. This can be seen from the use of the phrase "this book" and then it quotes the plagues (in Revelation).

Indeed, the gift of prophecy is not mentioned nor implied.

  • 1
    Who supposes that Rev.1:8; 11a & 21:24a are additions to the original text? Universalists and anti-Trinitarians? What textual evidence might they call upon? I don't expect you to answer the latter question. Perhaps this would ideally result in a fresh question being posted, by yourself!
    – Anne
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 11:55
  • @Anne: I once made the mistake of reading it the other way; but the mistake is no position. Since this is Hermaneutics; I am free to point out that the two witnesses are prophets so the office of prophet is not closed. In any case; I am aware of no doctrine that hinges on those tiny fragments in Revelation being added/not added.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 20:15
  • @Anne - those additions are among a group[ that are supported by no MSS except the Latin Vulgate in the Clementine text.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 22:04

This looks to me pretty much like the no-derivative-works clause of the CC BY-ND licence, which is a perfectly standard licence. (The clause in question basically says "If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.")

Merely saying "no changing the words I just said" doesn't mean "no new words may ever be said", and it especially doesn't mean "no new words may ever come to me in a dream"!

To justify my claim, the furthest back in time I am capable of translating is the Vulgate, and it does seem to me to be extremely similar to what you quoted in English. The Vulgate very specifically refers to "verba prophetiae libri huius" ("the words of the prophecy of this [specific] book/scroll"); it's not even referring to the vision itself (so in some hypothetical world where someone else also directly experienced the same visions, they would be allowed to transmit their own account of them), and it's certainly not referring to the act of prophecy generally.

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