Why Have Modern Bible Translations Removed Words, Phrases, Sentences, Even Whole Verses?


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The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 170+ books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

As some Christians have been studying their King James Version and comparing it to other modern translations, they have discovered that in the King James Version there are verses that these other translators removed, such as our Luke 17:36 under discussion herein, as well as Matthew 18:11; 23:14 that we discussed earlier this week, and others. Many uninformed or willfully blind King James Onlyist have used these verses to misinform readers of the King James Version. Below will be a detailed reason why they are missing from the modern Bible translations, except the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the New American Standard Bible. Thereafter, we will offer more technical internal and external evidence as to why.

The Warning

Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you. 32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

Revelation 22:18-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 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 out of the holy city, which are written in this book.

These are the verses that the King James Version Onlyists use to misinform the King James Version reader. First, it is true that if one removes a part of the Bible that was in the originals, it would be a catastrophic matter for that person or persons. Second, I would argue, as would the modern-day translators, that Luke 17:36 under discussion herein, as well as Matthew 18:11; 23:14 were not in the originals, they were added by later copyists, who are actually the ones who added to God’s Word and so, they face the above judgment. Third, I would further point out that you cannot add what was never there in the first place. Let us see why the modern-day Bibles are not lacking these verses. Because this may be the first time some are hearing that there are certain words, phrases, sentences, even whole verses that are found in the King James Version and other older translations that are not authentic, i.e., they were not in the original.

Before we begin, let’s make it clear that the entire Bible that we have today, the critical translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, are mirror-like reflections of the originals. All translations that remain faithful to the original are reliable. New Testament textual scholars have over 5,836+ Greek manuscripts, not to mention ancient versions such as Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, and Gothic, which number into the tens of thousands. We have many early and reliable manuscripts in Greek and the versions, a good number that cover almost the entire New Testament, dating within 100 years of the originals. Therefore, reconstructing the original Greek New Testament is not only realistic but is now a reality.


Copying Manuscripts

Some are still not aware that no Bible translator has had access to the originals of the New Testament when making their translations because they have not been in existence for almost 2,000 years. Even if they were discovered, we could never ascertain that they were the originals unless they were autographed by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, or Jude. Almost immediately after the originals were written, copies were being made to be used by the early Christian church.

We have inherited from the past generation the view that the early text was a ‘free’ text, and the discovery of the Chester Beatty papyri seemed to confirm this view. When P45 and P46 were joined by P66 sharing the same characteristics, this position seemed to be definitely established. P75 appeared in contrast to be a loner with its “strict” text anticipating Codex Vaticanus. Meanwhile, the other witnesses of the early period had been ignored. It is their collations which have changed the picture so completely.[1]

While we have said this once, it bears repeating, as some of the earliest manuscripts that we now have evidence that a professional scribe copied them. Many of the other papyri confirm that a semiprofessional hand copied them, while most of these early papyri give evidence of being produced by a copyist who was literate and experienced. Therefore, either literate or semiprofessional copyist did the vast majority of the early extant papyri, with some being done by professionals. As it happened, the few poorly copied manuscripts became known first, establishing a precedent that was difficult for some to shake when the enormous amount of evidence emerged that showed just the opposite.

The most reliable of the earliest texts are P1, P4, 64, 67, P23, P27, P30, P32, P35, P39, P49, 65, P70, P75, P86, P87, P90, P91, P100, P101, P106, P108, P111, P114, and P115. The copyists of these manuscripts allowed very few variants in their copies of the exemplars. They had the ability to make accurate judgments as they went about their copying, resulting in superior texts. Whether their skills in copying were a result of their belief that they were copying a sacred text, or from their training, cannot be known. It could have been a combination of both. These papyri are of great importance when considering textual problems and are considered by many textual scholars to be a good representation of the original wording of the text that was first published by the biblical author. Still, “many of these manuscripts contain singular readings and some ‘Alexandrian’ polishing, which needs to be sifted out.” (P. Comfort 2005, 269) Nevertheless, again, they are the best texts and the most faithful in preserving the original. While it is true that some of the papyri are mere fragments, some contain substantial portions of text. We should note too that text types really did not exist per se in the second century, and it is a mere convention to refer to the papyri as Alexandrian, since the best Alexandrian manuscript, Vaticanus, did exist in the second century by way of P75. It is not that the Alexandrian text existed, but rather P75/Vaticanus evidence that some very strict copying with great care was taking place. Manuscripts that were not of this caliber of strict and careful copying were the result of scribal errors and scribes taking liberties with the text. Therefore, even though P5 may be categorized as a Western text-type, it is more a matter of negligence in the copying process.

“What we do know, from the manuscript evidence, is that several of the earliest Christian scribes were well-trained scribes who applied their training to making reliable texts, both of the Old Testament and the New Testament. We know that they were conscientious to make a reliable text in the process of transcription (as can been seen in manuscripts like P4+64+67 and P75), and we know that others worked to rid the manuscript of textual corruption. This is nowhere better manifested than in P66, where the scribe himself and the diorthotes (official corrector) made over 450 corrections to the text of John. As is explained in the next chapter, the diorthotes of P66 probably consulted other exemplars (one whose text was much like that of P75) in making his corrections. This shows a standard Alexandrian scriptoral practice at work in the reproduction of a New Testament manuscript.” (P. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography and Textual Criticism 2005, 264)


Scribes Taking Liberties

While we can say that the early Alexandrian copyists certainly made some mistakes at times and added some intentional changes, generally, they used extreme care to make certain that their work was an exact duplication of the exemplar (archetype; master copy) that they were copying. Metzger tells us of another family of manuscripts, “The Byzantine text, otherwise called the Syrian text (so Westcott and Hort), …, on the whole, the latest of the several distinctive types of text of the New Testament. It is characterized chiefly by lucidity and completeness. The framers of this text sought to smooth away any harshness of language, to combine two or more divergent readings into one expanded reading (called conflation), and to harmonize divergent parallel passages. This conflated text, produced perhaps at Antioch in Syria, was taken to Constantinople, whence it was distributed widely throughout the Byzantine Empire.”[2]

It went something like this, a scribe who was very familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, as he is going about the work of copying the Gospel of Mark or Luke, had a tendency to to pen the wording that he had memorized from Matthew. Another way these interpolations crept into the text was carried out unintentionally as well. The scribe who is familiar with the Gospels may take note that a sentence that Matthew used was not to be found in Mark or Luke, so the scribe decides to add the sentence into the margin. However, a later copyist using this manuscript as his exemplar might not know if the sentence that has been added to the margin is there because it should be in the main text, so he moves the sentence from the margin to the main text in his copy of Mark or Luke, as it makes the accounts agree more closely. For example, In Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer, some manuscripts (A C D W Θ Ψ 070 f13 33vid Maj it syrc,h,p cop) add “Our Father who is in heaven”[3] (Luke 11:2a) Also, in Luke 11:2b, which should read “let your kingdom come,” some manuscripts (D itd) expand it to, “let your kingdom come upon us.”[4] In addition, in Luke 11:2c, some manuscripts (א A C D W Θ Ψ 070 f 33 Maj it syr,p copbo) add “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” which is not present in (P75 B L syrc, Marcion Origen).[5] The weightier manuscript evidence suggests that this interpolation was taken from Matthew 6:10. These harmonizations were interpolations from sincerely motivated scribes with good intentions.


The Dark Ages (5th to 15th centuries C.E.), was a time when the Church had the Bible locked up in the Latin language, and scholarship and learning were nearly nonexistent. However, with the birth of the Morning Star of the Reformation, John Wycliffe (1328-1384), and the invention of the printing press in 1455, the restraints were loosened, and there was a rebirth of interest in the Greek language. Moreover, with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 C. E., many Greek scholars and their manuscripts were scattered abroad, resulting in a revival of Greek in the Western citadels of learning. Now, let us jump ahead to the 16th century, just prior to the plethora of English translations that were to come on the scene. After the invention of the Guttenberg printing press in 1455, it would be this Byzantine text which would become the first printed edition by way of Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. Thanks to an advertisement by the publishers, it was referred to as the Textus Receptus, or the “Received Text.” The Scriptures had been locked up in the Latin language for a thousand years, and now scholars began to demand copies in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written.

About fifty years later, or at the beginning of the sixteenth century, Ximenes, archbishop of Toledo, Spain, a man of rare capability and honor, invited foremost scholars of his land to his university at Alcala to produce a multiple-language Bible—not for the common people, but for the educated. The outcome would be the Polyglot, named Complutensian, corresponding to the Latin of Alcala. This would be a Bible of six large volumes, beautifully bound, containing the Old Testament in four languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin) and the New Testament in two (Greek and Latin). For the Greek New Testament, these scholars had only a few manuscripts available to them, and those of late origin. One may wonder why this was the case when they were supposed to have access to the Vatican library. This Bible was completed in 1514, providing the first printed Greek New Testament, but it did not receive approval by the pope to be published until 1520 and was not released to the public until 1522.

Who Was Desiderius Erasmus and What Is the Textus Receptus?

Froben, a printer in Basel, Switzerland, became aware of the completion of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible and of its pending consent by the pope to be published. Immediately, he saw a prospect of making profits. He at once sent word to Erasmus, who was the foremost European scholar of the day and whose works he had published in Latin, pleading with him to hurry through a Greek New Testament text. In an attempt to bring the first published Greek text to completion, Erasmus was only able to locate, in July 1515, a few late cursive manuscripts for collating and preparing his text. It would go to press in October 1515 and would be completed by March 1516. In fact, Erasmus was in such a hurried mode that he rushed the manuscript containing the Gospels to the printer without first editing it, making such changes as he felt were necessary on the proof sheets. Because of this terrible rush job, the work contained hundreds of typographical errors, as we noted earlier. Erasmus himself admitted this in his preface, remarking that it was “rushed through rather than edited.” Bruce Metzger referred to the Erasmian text as a “debased form of the Greek Testament.” (B. M. Metzger 1964, 1968, 1992, 103)

Froben had asked Erasmus to put a rush on a Greek copy of the New Testament. Erasmus was given extremely short notice to get done, in haste, what should have taken a couple of years at a minimum. With only a half dozen manuscripts (Byzantine), with just one being moderately old and only slightly reliable. Erasmus went to work with none of the manuscripts containing the entire New Testament. Moreover, some verses were not even in this handful of manuscripts. Therefore, Erasmus had to actually translate the verses that had initially been translated from Greek into Latin back into Greek. There is no manuscript out of the 5,836+ that we have that contains this part of the Textus Receptus.


Martin Luther would use Erasmus’ 1519 edition for his German translation, and William Tyndale would use the 1522 edition for his English translation. Erasmus’ editions were also the foundation for later Greek editions of the New Testament by others. Among them were the four published by Robert Estienne (Stephanus, 1503-59). The third of these, published by Stephanus in 1550, became the Textus Receptus or Received Text of Britain and the basis for the King James Version. This took place through Theodore de Beza (1519-1605), whose work was based on the corrupted third and fourth editions of the Erasmian text. Beza would produce nine editions of the Greek text, four being independent (1565, 1589, 1588-9, 1598), and the other five smaller reprints. It would be two of Beza’s editions, that of 1589 and 1598, which would become the English Received Text.

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

Beza’s Greek edition of the New Testament did not even differ as much as might be expected from those of Erasmus. Why do I say, as might be expected? Beza was a friend of the Protestant reformer, John Calvin, succeeding him at Geneva, and was also a well-known classical and biblical scholar. In addition, Beza possessed two important Greek manuscripts of the fourth and fifth century, the D and Dp(also known as D2), the former of which contains most of the Gospels and Acts as well as a fragment of 3 John, and the latter containing the Pauline epistles. The Dutch Elzevir editions followed next, which were virtually identical to those of the Erasmian-influenced Beza text. It was in the second of seven of these, published in 1633, that there appeared the statement in the preface (in Latin): “You therefore now have the text accepted by everybody, in which we give nothing changed or corrupted.” On the continent, this edition became the Textus Receptus or the Received Text. It seems that this success was in no small way due to the beauty and useful size of the Elzevir editions.

THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS: The Greek Text Behind the King James Version

Why should this brief history of our Greek New Testament be so important to us? How can our knowing that Erasmus created the first printed master Greek text with chiefly two corrupt twelfth-century manuscripts help us today, some 500 years after 1516? The reason that it is important to us is because of the impact Erasmus’ master Greek text had.

The fact that Erasmus was terribly rushed resulted in a Greek text that contained hundreds of typographical errors alone.[6] Textual scholar Scrivener once stated: ‘[It] is in that respect the most faulty book I know’ (Scrivener 1894, 185). This comment did not even take into consideration the blatant interpolations into the text that were not part of the original.  Sir Frederic Kenyon made this observation about the Textus Receptus, “The result is that the text accepted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to which we have clung from a natural reluctance to change the words which we have learnt as those of the Word of God, is in truth full of inaccuracies, many of which can be corrected with absolute certainty from the vastly wider information which is at our disposal today.”[7] Erasmus was not oblivious to the typographical errors, which were corrected in a good many later editions. This did not include the textual errors. It was his second edition of 1519 that was used by Martin Luther in his German translation and William Tyndale’s English translation.

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

The Restoration Period

For the next 250 years, until 1881, textual scholarship was enslaved to the Erasmian-oriented Received Text. As these textual scholars[8] became familiar with older and more accurate manuscripts and observed the flaws in the Received Text, instead of changing the text, they would publish their findings in introductions, margins, and footnotes of their editions. In 1734, J. A. Bengel of Tübingen, Germany, made an apology for again printing the Received Text, doing so only “because he could not publish a text of his own. Neither the publisher nor the public would have stood for it,” he complained. (Robertson 1925, 25)

The first one to break free from this enslavement to the Textus Receptus, in the text itself, was Bible scholar J. J. Griesbach (1745-1812). His principal edition comes to us in three volumes, the first in Halle in 1775-7, the second in Halle and London in 1796-1806, and the third at Leipzig in 1803-7. However, Griesbach did not fully break from the Textus Receptus. Nevertheless, Griesbach is the real starting point in the development of classifying the manuscripts into families, setting down principles and rules for establishing the original reading, and using symbols to indicate the degree of certainty as to its being the original reading. We will examine his contributions in more detail below.

The King James ONLY Movement (KJV Onlyists)

Karl Lachmann (1793-1851) was the first scholar fully to get out from under the influence of the Textus Receptus. He was a professor of ancient classical languages at Berlin University. In 1831, he published his edition of the Greek New Testament without any regard to the Textus Receptus. As Samuel MacAuley Jackson expressed it: Lachmann “was the first to found a text wholly on ancient evidence; and his editions, to which his eminent reputation as a critic gave wide currency, especially in Germany, did much toward breaking down the superstitious reverence for the textus receptus.”  Bruce Metzger had harsh words for the era of the Textus Receptus as well:

So superstitious has been the reverence accorded the Textus Receptus that in some cases attempts to criticize it or emend it have been regarded as akin to sacrilege. Yet its textual basis is essentially a handful of late and haphazardly collected minuscule manuscripts, and in a dozen passages its reading is supported by no known Greek witnesses. (B. M. Metzger 1964, 1968, 1992, 106)

Subsequent to Lachmann came Friedrich Constantine von Tischendorf (1815-74), best known for his discovery of the famed fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus manuscript, the only Greek uncial manuscript containing the complete Greek New Testament. Tischendorf went further than any other textual scholar to edit and made accessible the evidence contained in leading as well as less important uncial manuscripts. Throughout the time that Tischendorf was making his valuable contributions to the field of textual criticism in Germany, another great scholar, Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-75) in England made other valued contributions. Among them, he was able to establish his concept of “Comparative Criticism.” That is, the age of a text, such as Vaticanus 1209, may not necessarily be that of its manuscript (i.e. the material upon which the text was written), which was copied in 350 C.E., since the text may be a faithful copy of an earlier text, like the second-century P75. Both Tischendorf and Tregelles were determined defenders of divine inspiration of the Scriptures, which likely had much to do with the productivity of their labors. If you take an opportunity to read about the lengths to which Tischendorf went in his discovery of Codex Sinaiticus, you will be moved by his steadfastness and love for God’s Word.


The Climax of the Restored Text

The critical text of Westcott and Hort of 1881 has been commended by leading textual scholars over the last one hundred and forty years, and still stands as the standard. Numerous additional critical editions of the Greek text came after Westcott and Hort: Richard F. Weymouth (1886), Bernhard Weiss (1894–1900); the British and Foreign Bible Society (1904, 1958), Alexander Souter (1910), Hermann von Soden (1911–1913); and Eberhard Nestle’s Greek text, Novum Testamentum Graece, published in 1898 by the Württemberg Bible Society, Stuttgart, Germany. The Nestle in twelve editions (1898–1923) to subsequently be taken over by his son, Erwin Nestle (13th–20th editions, 1927–1950), followed by Kurt Aland (21st–25th editions, 1952–1963), and lastly, it was coedited by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland (26th–27th editions, 1979–1993).

Many of the above scholars gave their entire lives to God and the Greek text. Each of these could have an entire book devoted to them and their work alone. The amount of work they accomplished before the era of computers is nothing short of astonishing. Rightly, the preceding history should serve to strengthen our faith in the authenticity and general integrity of the Greek New Testament. Unlike Bart D. Ehrman, men like Sir Frederic Kenyon have been moved to say that the books of the Greek New Testament have “come down to us substantially as they were written.” And all this is especially true of the critical scholarship of the almost two hundred years since the days of Karl Lachmann, due to which all today can feel certain that what they hold in their hands is a mirror reflection of the Word of God that was penned in twenty-seven books, some two thousand years ago.

Even though dozens of others had given their lives to the restoration of the Greek New Testament text, the pinnacle of those efforts came in the late 19th century with B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, who produced a restored text in 1881 that has been widely accepted. Westcott and Hort carried out their work so meticulously and thoroughly, possessing such knowledge insight, and skill that all textual scholars since then has been working in reaction to their work. This restored text of Westcott and Hort has been the basis for almost all modern-day translations. On this Metzger writes,

Subsequently, other critical editions appeared, including those prepared by Constantin von Tischendorf, whose eighth edition (1869–72) remains a monumental thesaurus of variant readings, and the influential edition prepared by two Cambridge scholars, B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort (1881). It is the latter edition that was taken as the basis for the present United Bible Societies’ edition. During the twentieth century, with the discovery of several New Testament manuscripts much older than any that had hitherto been available, it has become possible to produce editions of the New Testament that approximate ever more closely to what is regarded as the wording of the original documents.[9] (Bold mine)

The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

Some Verses That Should Not Have Ever Been

Matthew 17:21 King James Version (KJV)

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Matthew 17:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 ——[216]

Many later Greek manuscripts add vs 21, scribes making it agree with Mark 9:29, [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.] However, the earliest, weightiest, and diverse manuscripts אB Θ 0281 33 892* ite Syc,s copsa WHNU does not contain vs 21.

Matthew 18:11 King James Version (KJV)

11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Matthew 18:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 ——[222]

The earliest and most trusted two manuscripts (א B) do not include variant 1 or variant 2. Also excluding these variants is L* Θ* f1, 33 ite syrs copsa Origen as well. Multiple later manuscripts (D L W Θc 078 Maj syrc,p) ad variant 1: “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Several other manuscripts (Lmg 892c itc syrh) would expand upon this reading in variant 2: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Based on their not being in the most important and trusted witnesses and diverse witnesses (Alexandrian, Egyptian, Antiochian), clearly, variant 1 and variant 2 are interpolations (spurious) were not part of the original. It seems that the copyists inserted this verse in the text to create some sort of bridge between Matthew 18:10 and 18:12, so they borrowed it from Luke 19:10, which is not even parallel to this one. In all likelihood, the shorter variant came first, and a later copyist expanded upon it with the longer variant 2, bringing it to the point where it corresponds exactly with Luke 19:10.

Matthew 23:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

Matthew 23:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 [269]


This verse was taken from Mark 12:40 or Luke 20:47 and inserted before verse 13 of Matthew Chapter 24 in the Majority Text (W 0102 0107 it syrh,p) but after verse 13 in the Textus Receptus (f13 it syrc). It was not in the original text of Matthew per it not being in the early weighty documentary witnesses against the reading from the Alexandrian and Western text types. (א B D L Z Θ f1 33 it,e syrs copsa) This type of harmonization of the gospels was common after the fourth century CE and is characteristic of the Byzantine text-type. Both the KJV and the NKJV part company with the Textus Receptus and instead went with the Majority Text when they placed the verse after verse 13. Many modern-day translations cite the verse in a footnote out of respect for its long history in the English Bible. The HCSB and the NASB take it to the next level out of reverence for the KJV and the NKJV readers, so they place this interpolation right in the main text within square brackets with footnotes that read, “Other MSS omit bracketed text” and “This v not found in early MSS” respectively. However, it should be noted that the 2017 CSB removed this spurious verse from the main text. The HCSB and the NASB are not helping their readers by clinging to a translation that is based on corrupt, inferior manuscripts support.

Mark 7:16 King James Version (KJV)

16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Mark 7:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 ——[43]

WH NU א B L Δ* 0274 al omit; A D W Θ f1,13 33 Maj, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” The scribe clearly added this verse from 4:9 or 4:23, as it is nearly identical, possibly seeking to provide an ending for a short pericope.

Byzantine Text-Type of Greek New Testament Manuscripts

Mark 9:44, 46 King James Version (KJV)

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark 9:44, 46 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

44 ——[56]

46 ——[58]

WH NU א B C L W ΔΨ 0274 f1 28 565 itk syrs cop omit; A D Θ f13 Maj, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” This verse is identical to verse 48 and is missing from the earliest and best manuscripts, as well as several text types. It is an interpolation.

WH NU א B C L W ΔΨ 0274 f1 28 565 itk syrs cop omit; A D Θ f13 Maj, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” This verse is identical to verse 48 and is missing from the earliest and best manuscripts, as well as several text types. It is an interpolation.

Mark 11:26 King James Version (KJV)

26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 ——[66]

Many later Greek manuscripts added vs 26, as the scribes were expanding on verse 25, inserting the words from Matt. 6:15 making it agree with its parallel account. [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in the heavens forgive your trespasses.] However, the omission has much stronger manuscript support:  א B L W Δ Ψ 565 700 syrs WH NU omit vs 26.

Mark 15:28 King James Version (KJV)

28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Mark 15:28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

28 ——[97]

WH NU omit verse, which is supported by the earliest and best manuscripts א A B C D Ψ itk syrs copsa. A variant/TR add verse Και επληρωθη η γραφη η λεγουσα· και μετα ανομων ελογισθη “And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘He was counted among the lawless,’” which is supported by L Θ 083 0250 f1,13 Maj syrh,p.

Luke 17:36 King James Version (KJV)

36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Luke 17:36 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)


The earliest and most reliable manuscripts (P75 א A B L W Δ Θ Ψ f1 33 cop,bo) does not contain 17:36, while later manuscripts (D f 700 it syr) does contain verse 36, “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.” This is likely a scribal interpolation taken from Matthew 24:40. This verse is missing from Tyndale’s version (1534) and the Geneva Bible (1557). Even the King James Version translators had their doubts about 17:36, as it reads in the original 1611 edition and a sidenote in good quality editions today, “This 36th verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies.”

John 5:3b-4 King James Version (KJV)

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

John 5:3b-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

3 In these lay a multitude of sick ones, blind, lame, and paralyzed. 4[27]



The earliest and best witnesses (P66 P75 א B C D L T Ws 33 579 1241 it syc co) do not have John 5:3b-4 in their exemplar; Other later witnesses (Ac C3 D K Ws Γ Δ Θ Ψ 078 ƒ1.13 33. 565. 579. 700. 892. 1241. 1424 Maj lat syp.h bopt) did contain: “waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel of the Lord would come down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred the water. Whoever went in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.” This interpolation was added by later scribes to explain the sick man’s answer in verses 7 where he describes ‘the water being stirred up.’

Acts 8:37 King James Version (KJV)

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 8:37 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)



The earliest and best Greek manuscripts (P45, 74 א A B C) as well as 33 81 614 vg syrp,h copsa,bo eth Chrysostom Ambrose do not contain vs 37, while other manuscripts 4mg (E 1739 it syrh** Irenaeus Cyprian) contain, And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” If this were apart of the original, there is no good reason why it would be missing in so many early witnesses and versions. This is a classic example of a scribe taking liberties with the text by answering the Eunuch’s question (“Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”) with ancient Christian baptismal practices from a later age.


Acts 15:34 King James Version (KJV)

34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.

Acts 15:34 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)


Verse 34 is not contained in the earliest and diverse manuscripts (P74 א A B E Ψ Maj syrp copbo), while vs 34 is contained in two different forms in other manuscripts (C 33 614 1739 syr** copsa) “But it seemed good to Silas to remain there” and (P127vid D it,w) “But it seemed good to Silas to remain with them, so Judas traveled alone.” The scribes likely incorporated a gloss from the margin that was trying to rationalize why Silas just happened to be there in verse 40 for the apostle Paul to choose him as a traveling companion. The only problem is that the interpolation of vs 34 contradicts vs 33.

Acts 24:6b–8a King James Version (KJV)

Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,

Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.

Acts 24:6b–8a Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

6 He even tried to desecrate the temple, but we seized him. 7 ——[120] 8 When you examine him yourself, you will find out about all these things of which we are accusing him.”



P74 א A B H L P 049 cop omit the following from vss 6-8, which read, according to (E) Ψ Maj 33 614 1739 it (syr): “We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7 But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8 ordering his accusers to come before you.” The earliest and most reliable manuscripts have the shorter reading. The interpolation is a classic example of a scribe trying to fill in what he perceives to be gaps in the text.

Acts 28:29 King James Version (KJV)

29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

Acts 28:29 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)


The earliest and best Greek manuscripts (P74 א A B E Ψ 048 33 1739 syrp cop) do not contain vs 29, while is later less trusted manuscripts (Maj it syrh**) that contain Acts 28:29, “When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.” This is another example of later scribes seeking to fill in the narrative where they perceive there is a gap in the account.

Romans 16:24 King James Version (KJV)

24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Romans 16:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 ——[120]

The earliest and best manuscripts (P46 P61 א A B C 1739 Itb cop) do not contain vs 24, while later witnesses (D Ψ Maj syrh) contain 16:24, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” with F G omitting Ιησου Χριστου [Jesus Christ]. This verse is the same as the end of vs 20. All modern translations do not include this verse because of the superior testimony against it.

1 John 5:7-8 King James Version (KJV)

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

1 John 5:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For there are three that testify:[16] the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.


The earliest and best manuscripts (א A B (Ψ) Maj syr cop arm eth it) do not contain this spurious interpolation. Only eight late Greek manuscripts add “… in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth, the Spirit.” If this passage had been in the original, there is no good reason why it would have been removed either accidentally or intentionally. None of the Greek church fathers quote this passage, which they certainly would have during the Trinitarian controversy. (Sabellian and Arian). This interpolation is not in any of the ancient versions, such as Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic, and the Old Latin in its early form, or Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Intrinsically, the interpolation “makes an awkward break in the sense” as Metzger points out.

Some other verses that contain interpolations (italics is the spurious portion) are Matthew 20:16 (b) KJV: 16 … for many be called, but few chosen. Mark 6:11 (b) KJV: 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet, for a testimony against them: Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgement, than for that city. 12 And they went out, and preached … Luke 4:8 (b) KJV: 8 And Jesus answered and said unto to him [the Devil], “Get thee behind me, Satan, for   it is written, …” Luke 23:17 KJV: For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast. Acts 9:5-6 KJV: 5 And he [Paul] said, ‘Who art thou Lord?’ and the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.’ 6 And he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ And the Lord said unto him, ‘Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.’


Translation Chart from Wikipedia

O = omitted in the main text.

B = bracketed in the main text – The translation team and most biblical scholars today believe were not part of the original text. However, these texts have been retained in brackets in the NASB and the Holman CSB.[140]

F = omission noted in the footnote.

  Bible Translations
Matt 9:34                    
Matt 12:47       F F F   F    
Matt 17:21 F B F O F B O F    
Matt 18:11 F B F O F B O O    
Matt 21:44     F F   B   F    
Matt 23:14 F B F O F B O O    
Mark 7:16 F B F O F B O O    
Mark 9:44 F B F O F B O O    
Mark 9:46 F B F O F B O O    
Mark 11:26 F B F O F B O O    
Mark 15:28 F B F O F B O O    
Mark 16:9–20 B B F F B B B      
Luke 17:36 F B F O F B O O F  
Luke 22:20           F   F    
Luke 22:43   B F F   B B F    
Luke 22:44   B F F   B B F    
Luke 23:17 F B F O F B O O    
Luke 24:12                    
Luke 24:40       F            
John 5:4 F B F O F B O O    
John 7:53–8:11   B F F B B B      
Acts 8:37 F B F F F B O O F  
Acts 15:34 F B F O F O O O F  
Acts 24:7 F B F O F B O O F  
Acts 28:29 F B F O F B O O    
Rom. 16:24 F B F O F B O O    

As was mentioned above, some scribes have added a sentence or even an entire verse from elsewhere to another part of the manuscript he was copying. This is clearly made evident in Mark 9:43-48. In the above Bible translations, you can see that verses 44 and 46 are omitted in the main text with the omission noted in the footnote. The only exception in the NASB and the HCSB, which bracketed 44 and 46 in the main text. These translation committees and most biblical scholars today believe verses 44 and 46 were not part of the original text. It could be the translation committees are clinging to the King James Version readers. The text of verses 44 and 46 reads, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched,” the same as in verse 48.

Mark 9:44: WH NU א B C L W ΔΨ 0274 f1 28 565 itk syrs cop omit; A D Θ f13 Maj, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” This verse is identical to verse 48 and is missing from the earliest and best manuscripts, as well as several text types. It is an interpolation.

Mark 9:46: WH NU א B C L W ΔΨ 0274 f1 28 565 itk syrs cop omit; A D Θ f13 Maj, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” This verse is identical to verse 48 and is missing from the earliest and best manuscripts, as well as several text types. It is an interpolation.

Clearly, as the evidence suggests a scribe or scribes simply repeated verse 48. This could have been intentional or unintentional. Therefore, when modern translations remove verse 44 and 46; they are not removing part of God’s Word because (1) it was never a part of God’s Word in the first place and (2) the same sentence is right there in verse 48 of the same account. However, what are these translations accomplishing by removing these two spurious interpolations? The text is being restored to what Mark had been inspired to write.

Looking again at our example verse above, we note that there are other cases where the verses come not from the same book but from another book of the Bible. There are generally footnotes that help the reader to see this but often, the translations do not give the reader enough information so he or she can fully understand. If you compare your King James Version with the modern translations, you will discover that the verse that has been omitted, it is merely a verse repeated from another place in that book or another Bible book. If we look at Romans 16:24 again, we will see that the earliest and best manuscripts (P46 P61 א A B C 1739 Itb cop) do not contain vs 24, while later witnesses (D Ψ Maj syrh) contain 16:24, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” with F G omitting Ιησου Χριστου [Jesus Christ]. This verse is the same as the end of vs 20. All modern translations do not include this verse because of the superior testimony against it. When we compare 16:24 with 16:20 and the closing passages in almost any of the books written by the apostle Paul, we discover that at Romans 16:24, some scribe plainly added a closing expression that is identical to or very similar to the conclusion in almost all of Paul’s books.


Trusting the Greek New Testament

As we have looked at a few verses that obviously were not part of the original inspired text that the author penned, this should not leave us doubting the trustworthiness of God’s Word. We should not that 90% of the Hebrew Old Testament Text is without significant variation and 93% of the Greek New Testament Text is without significant variation. We have the work of hundreds of textual scholars from the days of Desiderius Erasmus, who have given their entire lives to the restoration of the Greek New Testament. Therefore, textual scholars only need to focus their attention on this very small 07% of significant textual variants. These variants that have been corrected have not undermined the Word of God, rather they highlight and stress the fact that God has preserved his Word through restoration.

What Are Textual Variants [Errors], and How Many Are There?



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[1] (Aland and Aland, The Text of the New Testament 1995, 93-5)

[2] Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), xxi.

[3] Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), 202.

[4] IBID., 202.

[5] IBID., 203.

[6] In fact, his copy of Revelation being incomplete, Erasmus simply retranslated the missing verses from the Latin Vulgate back into Greek.

[7] Frederic G. Kenyon Sr., Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts: Being a History of the Text and Its Translations (London: Eyre & Spottiswood, 1896), 162.

[8] Brian Walton (1600-61), Dr. John Fell (1625-86), John Mill 1645-1707), Dr. Edward Wells (1667-1727, Richard Bentley (1662-1742), John Albert Bengel (1687-1752), Johann Jacob Wettstein (1693-1754), Johann Salomo Semler (1725-91), William Bowyer Jr. (1699-1777), Edward Harwood (1729-94), and Isaiah Thomas Jr. (1749-1831)

[9] Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), xxiv.

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