“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;”
The above statement written in the book of Revelation by its author John of Patmos is often misunderstood. The most common misunderstanding is that the book of Revelation marks the end of all Bible prophecy.
This belief comes from two things: The first simply has to do with Revelation being the last book of the Bible. The second has to do with the phrase “this book.” Many mistakenly take “this book” to mean either the New Testament or the Bible itself.
However, it’s clear that John could not be referring to the New Testament – which did not exist, in the latter portion of the first century A.D., when John wrote Revelation.
Clearly, John was only referring to his own writings.
Further, it is known that his manuscript was entirely independent of the other 27 separate manuscripts that later became part of the New Testament. Not only that, but many of the books of the New Testament were written after Revelation – which is not the last book of the Bible in terms of when it was written.
Therefore, we can safely conclude that John was not giving a prophetic statement that there would be no further words of prophecy to be written in biblical scripture.
A similar passage occurs in the book of Deuteronomy twice.
“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.”
– Deuteronomy 4:2
*note the new international version translation does not use “the word” but instead says “to what” I command you. This leads to confusion.
According to the scholar Ellicott, “the word” means the substance of the law.
Ellicott says: “The law of Moses contains in it the germ of all revelation to the very end.”
In another passage from Deuteronomy we read:
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”
Again, Ellicott says: “No later writer could put these words into the mouth of Moses.”
These two examples from Deuteronomy give us the same message that John of Patmos is delivering to us in Revelation – that no one is to alter his divine prophecy imparted by God.
It’s a warning against others adding their own interpretations, thoughts or wishes, and thereby diluting and impoverishing the fullness of God’s prophecy and promises.
There is much debate as to whether there have been additional prophets since the time of the authorship of the Old and New Testaments.
Indeed, the religions of Islam and Mormonism exist on the fundamental belief and writing of new prophecy delivered by those claiming to be prophets, whose writings occurred after the time of our current biblical canon.
However, the Bible, in the book of Revelation, chapter 11, only tells us about two future prophets who are to come in the end times.
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
– Revelation 11:3
Given the context of the Old and New Testaments, it is reasonable to assume that these two witnesses will embrace both Jewish and Christian beliefs.
The preceding verses speak of “the temple” and “the holy city” which makes it reasonable to assume that this is referring to a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
This vision by John seems to be founded upon Zechariah 4:6-7. The power these witnesses will have is described in Revelation 11:5-7.
The statement in these verses says that these two witnesses will possess supernatural abilities, much like those Moses demonstrated to the Pharaoh in Egypt, demonstrating that their powers that come from God.
A further Revelation Bible study of chapters 1, 5, 6, 12, 19, 20 and 22 will give you further insight, as well as point to Jesus Christ as whose testimony of the truth these witnesses are prophesying in support of.