A Question I Was Asked:



Isn't There a Verse Which States That God Can Blot Us Out of the Book of Life?

If There Is, Doesn't This Overturn Your Belief in 'the Perseverance of the Saints'?







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Isn't there a verse which states that God can blot Us Out of the Book of Life?

If there is, doesn't this overturn your belief in 'the Perseverance of the Saints'?


UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay. We need to look at Revelation 22:19.

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (KJV; my emphasis).


However, this is one of the KJV's most famous mistranslations, now corrected in most newer versions. Sadly, the New King James only partly corrected the problem.

The verse is also rendered incorrectly in the 1599 Geneva Bible and in the 1899 Douay-Rhiems Catholic Bible (American version) but is corrected almost everywhere else. The problem arises through following the old Latin Vulgate too closely instead of the original and inspired Greek mss (manuscript).

The NIV translates this verse accurately:

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. (NIV).


Let us briefly look at some other translations:

and if any one may take away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the scroll of the life, and out of the holy city, and the things that have been written in this scroll. (Youngs Literal Translation).

if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (NRSV).

and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. (NASB).

If anyone takes away any words from the book of this prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book. (ISV).

If anyone takes away from the words of this scroll of prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and the holy city, which are described in this scroll. (CEB).

And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. (NET Bible).

So we may see that when adequate care is taken with the translation there is absolutely no reference made to the 'book of life' here at all! Not just my opinion by the way, this is very widely agreed upon.

The NET, by the way, adds this very helpful note on this problem:

The Textus Receptus, on which the KJV rests, reads “the book” of life instead of “the tree” of life. When the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus translated the NT he had access to no Greek mss for the last six verses of Revelation. So he translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek at this point. As a result he created seventeen textual variants which were not in any Greek mss. The most notorious of these is this reading. It is thus decidedly inauthentic, while “the tree” of life, found in the best and virtually all Greek mss, is clearly authentic. The confusion was most likely due to an intra-Latin switch: The form of the word for “tree” in Latin in this passage is ligno; the word for “book” is libro. The two-letter difference accounts for an accidental alteration in some Latin mss; that “book of life” as well as “tree of life” is a common expression in the Apocalypse probably accounts for why this was not noticed by Erasmus or the KJV translators.

And I think that this settles this matter. So this verse, when correctly translated, never talks about taking names out of the 'Book of Life'! Of course, one might say that this amounts to a serious warning anyway but it really adds to the point starting from verse 18, which states this:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy contained in this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. (Revelation 22:18).

The point is: here is a most serious warning not to tamper with the original wording of the Book of Revelation: we don't add to it, we don't take away from it! And what has happened since? Thousands have abused the words of this book, expecially in applying them to their own 'end-time prophecy' scenarios. Frankly men have ignored this warning or at least taken it much too lightly. Yet the 'tree of life' and 'holy city' warnings are serious but general and non-specific, but to "blot names from the Book of Life" could not be specific because it would turn God into a liar.

God not only will not but cannot take names from the Book of Life. Look at this:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12).

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15).

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven. (Luke 10:20; my emphasis).

God will warn His people continually but will not renege on divine promises already given to His very elect. He is not an irresponsible parent! This is why His called and chosen back in the Old Testament sometimes slipped up and did bad things (Samson, David, Moses etc.,), but they remain the Lord's 'called and chosen.' I knew this years ago so when I came upon Revelation 22:19 (in the old KJV, that is) I knew there was a translation problem somewhere which, of course, is exactly what I found. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Frankly, there are too many translation problems in the old KJV, a fact conveniently ignored by the 'King James only' advocates.

Robin A. Brace. May 4th, 2020.

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