"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let the hearer say, 'Come!' Let the thirsty one come and let the one who wishes take the life water gift. I warn everyone hearing the scroll's prophecy words: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll." (Revelation 22.17-18)✞
This passage has two different interpretations. The Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) takes the first two parts as appeals to Christ to fulfill his promise and come quickly back to this world. He takes the third part as the thirsty soul's invitation to come to Christ. The second interpretation is that the whole passage is a come-to-Christ summons. There is the call, "Come Spirit Bride." The bride is the church. The Holy Spirit operates in the prophets. He is always calling us back to God to receive life's water! The Spirit and the bride tell the seven churches how to fulfill their deepest spiritual needs and urge them to "Come to Christ." In Revelation 2.7, the seven church's letters each end with the Holy Spirit's call, 'come to Christ.' John of Patmos writes, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victorious one, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God's paradise." The risen Christ himself is the speaker to the seven churches.✞
The Holy Spirit and the Bride invite everyone to receive the living water gift. They encourage all to join the call to accept everything that the Holy Spirit and the Bride offer. They help them by saying, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let the hearer say, 'Come!' Let the thirsty one come, and let the one who wishes take the living water gift." The great truth is that every Christian is to become a missionary. Those who Christ has found must find others for Christ too!✞
The "invitation to come" is issued to all thirsty souls to satisfy their deepest spiritual needs. Jesus repeats this call in John 6.35, "I am the living bread. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Isaiah's great invitation in Isaiah 55.1 also says, "Come, all you thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and cost." We are all invited to come to Christ!✞
Revelation issues a warning against altering the Bible text. Those who twist, add to, change the meaning, or remove scripture will come under God's curse. Certain things stand out in this solemn warning against changing scripture's words. It warns against distorting the text, which the book contains, by altering by even a single word. Saint Paul writes in Galatians 1.8-9, "But even if we, or a heavenly angel, should preach another gospel than what we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!" To alter the true wording is such a severe offense that Saint Paul repeats this warning. Changing the meaning and, therefore, the truth itself must not happen. This ancient book's end warning is far from unique. Many ancient writers commonly finished their manuscripts with an alarm. We find similar counsel in other Bible places. Deuteronomy 4.2 orders, "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the of the Lord your God's commands that I give you." Proverbs 30.5-6 says, "Every one of God's words is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar." Finally, in the Book of Enoch 104.10, an ancient religious work ascribed to Noah's great-grandfather dating from BC 300 and included in the biblical canon by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the writer insists that no one should "change or diminish any of my words."✞
Adding or omitting words or changing the scripture's meaning brings a Revelation curse and a solemn appeal. The Letter of Aristeas 310, 311, tells how seventy Jewish scholars in the 2nd century BC translated the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, called the Septuagint, at the Egyptian King's order. On completion, "they bade them pronounce a curse upon any who should make an alteration, allow an omission, or change the written words in any way!" In his book's preface "On Origins," Tyrannius Rufinus (340-410 AD), a monk, historian, and theologian, added a similar solemn appeal. "In the sight of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, anyone who read or copied this book is not to add, subtract, insert, or alter anything!" Eusebius (263-339 AD), the Bishop of the Caesarean Church, wrote in "Ecclesiastical History 5.20.2" how Irenaeus (130-202 AD), the great second-century Christian scholar, ended one of his books. "I make a solemn appeal to anyone who copies this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by his glorious advent, when he comes to judge the quick and the dead. Compare what you write, and correct it carefully by this manuscript, and also write this earnest solemn appeal, and place it on your copy!"✞
The wicked Bible error was a terrible mistake. In ancient days, all books were hand-copied by scribes, and a copyist could make even a single mistake. It was customary to insert a solemn warning against change at the book's end. The writer also added a blessing to his manuscript. If a Middle Ages scribe found even one document error in a manuscript that may have taken months to copy, they destroyed it. Such was the importance of adhering precisely to the original text. In 1631 AD, the "Wicked Bible," also called the "Adulterers' Bible," or the "Sinners' Bible," was produced on a press run of a thousand copies by the London Royal Printers. A year later, they discovered a mistake in verse fourteen of the seventh commandment, omitting "not" and reading, "thou shalt commit adultery!" The Archbishop of Canterbury, in response, wrote, "great care was taken with the printing, the Bibles especially. Grave and learned men were employed with good compositors and the best correctors. The paper and fine letters are in every way the best, but now the paper is of nothing, the composers' boys, and the correctors unlearned." King Charles 1 furiously ordered the burning of every "Wicked Bible." Only a few escaped, and only nine copies exist today. One was auctioned by Bonhams in London in 2015 and sold. As recent as 2008, a Wicked Bible went for sale online, priced at $89,500. In 2015, the displayed book's price was $99,500. A single error like this resulted in a massive fine in those days of $600 or $60,000 in today's money on the publishers Robert Barker and Martin Lewis. They had their licenses taken away, the entire publishing run withdrawn, and every known copy burned. King Charles 1st and the Archbishop of Canterbury made a joint statement condemning the wicked Bible omission. "His Majesties printers, at or about this time, had committed a scandalous mistake in our English Bibles by leaving out the word "not" in the Seventh Commandment. His Majesty, being made acquainted with it by the Bishop of London, gave an order calling the Printers to the High-Commission, after which evidence of the fact, the whole Impression was called in, and the Printers harshly punished, as they deserved. With some of this fine, Archbishop Laud caused a fair Greek Character to be provided, for publishing such manuscripts as time and industry should make ready for the public view." The omission of "not" is not, however, a rare thing. The Associated Press today advises reporters to use "innocent" instead of "not guilty" to prevent misunderstandings in court proceedings should the "not" be omitted by mistake!✞
The Holy Spirit and the bride, the church, say 'Come Jesus Christ.' Many Biblical passages tell us that Jesus is coming soon. John of Patmos writes several times, "Come Spirit Bride." Indeed, Christ may appear at any moment, and that is clear from Revelation 22.7, "Look, I am coming soon!" Revelation 22.10 adds, "the time is near.'" Revelation 22.12 says, "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." Revelation 22.20 adds, "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." "Behold, I am coming soon" is this chapter's repeated refrain. In Jesus Christ alone, the soul's longing can be satisfied. The Old hymn by Emma Francis Shuttleworth Bevan (1827-1909) reflects this longing,
"O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found,
and found in Thee alone,
The peace, the joy I sought so long,
The bliss till now unknown.
Now, none but Christ can satisfy,
No other name for me.
There are love and life and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee."✞