The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. - Revelation 22:21 (NRSV)
The footnote in my Bible reads: “Revelation 22:21 Other ancient authorities lack all; others lack the saints; others lack Amen.”
These are the last words in the entire Bible. Only it’s not clear which is last. Is the grace of the Lord Jesus to be with “all the saints?” Or just with “the saints?” Or simply with “all?” (The “Amen” is definitely an add-on.)
When I was first invited to write for the Daily Devotional, Quinn Caldwell warned me that if I was reaching for a commentary or a Greek New Testament, I was probably not writing a devotional. Sorry, Quinn!
My Greek New Testament only makes things muddier, though. Turns out, other ancient authorities also say, “all of you,” and “all of us.” And one adds a second “amen.” (Totally bogus.)
Is God’s grace for you? For us? Could it be for all? Who gets the last word could influence how we read the rest of the book, the rest of the Bible! In fact, it has.
If that weren’t enough, three verses earlier, Revelation lays a curse on anyone who adds or takes away a single word. Clearly “other ancient authorities” ignored those directions.
Maybe they knew something about grace. That it wasn’t something for us to decide on. That we can’t give it or withhold it with a stroke of our pens (or with words of assurance, or waters of baptism, or the Eucharist). It’s not something we can earn by opening our commentaries, or learning Greek, or getting it right.
It’s a gift freely given by the One who always gets the last word.
God’s grace be with us all. [Amen, Amen.]
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.