The one who testifies to these things says, “Definitely, I’m coming quickly.” Amen. Definitely, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelations 22:20)
If there was one thing that undermined the writer of the book of Revelations, it is this short verse. The fact that it is attached to the new testament brings into question the standards used to judge what books went in and, therefore, casts doubt on the rest of the collection of books of the new testament. The Jewish Bible (or “old testament”) isn’t included, since those books were put together by other people using a different standard.
The principle in the Jewish Bible, the law of Moses, is that if someone makes a prediction in God’s name and it doesn’t come true, then God did not command that prophet. There are limitations to this criteria. For example, if it is predicted that God is sending some punishment, but the guilty party repents, it may be that the punishment doesn’t happen due to another biblical principle of forgiveness which can (but not always) remove the divine punishment. The problem here is that this limitation does not apply to this prediction or promise of Jesus to come soon or quickly. There is no criteria or limitation given by Jesus that says “but if you do this, I will delay.” In fact, the very wording of the verse destroys that idea. How?
The Greek word translated “quickly” means the following, based on Strong’s Dictionary, Strong’s number 5035.
takh-oo’; neuter singular of G5036 (as adverb); shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily:—lightly, quickly.
“Without delay.” “Soon.” “Shortly.” The promise is that Jesus is coming really soon as can be seen by the response of the writer, “Definitely! Come!” which reflects the desire for the object of the writer’s devotion to come as soon as possible. It logically and naturally follows that a person would want to see the object of their devotion arrive with haste.
Based on all this, I can make a simple and accurate observation: 2000 years and counting is not soon! It’s not quickly! It is not shortly! And there’s not point in referring to some verse that says “a thousand years to God is like a day” because God isn’t talking to himself. He’s talking to humans to whom a thousand years is a thousand years, and it is not “soon” or “shortly” to us. It’s not as if God is so trapped in his own reality that he can’t speak to us in ours.
Now I can already hear the devil’s advocate in my mind saying, “But wait, writer! Isn’t one of the meanings “by surprise?” Doesn’t that make it possible that Jesus could have meant “well, it’s gonna take a long time, but hey, when I come, it’s gonna be sudden and unexpected, like a surprise.” And I think those who want to believe in Jesus or who want to harmonize the words of the new testament with their beliefs may think such logic is acceptable. But – and you can call this my personal opinion – I think such reasoning is unnatural. Let me write out that version of John’s verse.
And Jesus said, “Definitely, I could come any time, even millennia from now, you may not even see it, but truly, when I come, it’ll be so sudden, like a surprise.”
John: Definitely, Jesus! Come by surprise, any time you like!”
That seems ridiculous to me. Whereas the more natural understanding of
And Jesus said, “Definitely, I’ll be with you shortly.”
John: Definitely, Jesus! Come!
Although it undermines the christian’s hope, it makes a lot more sense.
So, to summarise, it’s my conclusion that Revelations 22:20 shows John to be a false prophet since it’s an obvious lie, and its inclusion into the new testament casts doubt on the whole collection of books.