Mar 07, 2019 by Alyssa Duvall

Are Newer Translations Of The Bible Really Missing Verses?

If you've been a Christian for any substantial amount of time, chances are someone in your life has urged you to use one Bible translation over any others for various reasons, and you've most likely been told to stick with the King James Version only, if for no other reason than that its modern counterparts omit thousands of crucial words or verses that, intentionally or not, undermine Scripture's affirmation of such key doctrines as the deity of Jesus Christ.

There are, in fact, many factors that make choosing the translations of the Bible you use for devotion and study throughout your walk with Jesus a somewhat difficult task. There are genuinely bad translations out there, and most scholars agree that we simply have too many English translations in general. But, is the claim that modern translations of the Bible take words out of God's mouth and remove critical verses for nefarious purposes?

While it must be made clear that the King James Version (despite its many edits and revisions over the centuries) is a time-honored literal translation which has served the Church well, it must also be made equally clear that many claims made about its superiority are untrue.

In a wonderfully helpful article, popular Christian research ministry GotQuestions tackles the common question, "Why are the newer translations of the Bible missing verses?"

The answer, GQ explains, lies in whether you make another English translation, like the King James Version, your standard for what is God's Word, or the original languages in which the Scriptures were "God-breathed" and written.

"If you compare the King James and New King James Versions with the newer translations (e.g., the New International Version, English Standard Version, Christian Standard Bible, New Living Translation, etc.), you will notice that several verses are entirely missing from the newer translations," the article begins.

Dodging no questions, GQ proceeds to list a handful of supposedly missing verses referred to by KJV Only advocates: "Examples of missing verses and passages are John 5:4, Acts 8:37, and 1 John 5:7. Another example is Mark 16:9–20, although that passage is always placed in the text or in footnotes. In addition to the few missing verses, there are numerous words and phrases that are missing from newer translations."

But, why? 

"The KJV was translated in AD 1611," the article continues, explaining that the New Testament translators of the KJV used a Greek manuscript called the Textus Receptus, a work of rushed, hasty translation by Desiderius Erasmus, a Roman Catholic priest that deserves its own thorough explanation some other time.

Since 1611, God has blessed his people with the discovery of many biblical manuscripts far older than the Textus Receptus, and these older manuscripts, in theory, are likely to be more accurate and closer to what would have been originally penned by each New Testament author himself.

"In their research," GotQuestions continues, "Bible scholars and textual critics have discovered some differences between the Textus Receptus and the older manuscripts. It seems that, over the course of 1,500 years, some words, phrases, and even sentences were added to the Bible, either intentionally or accidentally."

Truly, when one considers the centuries of persecution Christians have endured from the days of Christ under Roman rule through the oppressive era of the papacy which prohibited any unauthorized translation or transmission of the Scriptures, not to mention the rise of Islam and the resulting destruction of ancient Christian cities (and their churches and libraries), all the while dutifully and painstakingly making copies of the Bible by hand, it's a miracle that God has preserved his Word for us.

GQ explains that the “missing verses” mentioned earlier simply are not found in some of the oldest and most reliable manuscripts. So, newer translations do not include these verses or instead place them in footnotes or in brackets because the translators believe they were truly added onto the original words God inspired at later dates.

Why would anyone add to God's Word over the centuries? Well, not for the same evil purposes many ascribe to translators who omit such verses or phrases. Instead, it's an issue of trying to add clarity while accidentally causing confusion. In many cases, ancient scribes would add helpful notes to explain aspects of Scripture by adding to the author's original words, but over time these notes became mistaken for part of the original text itself.

Lastly, GotQuestions urges the reader to realize that every instance of an omitted verse or phrase does nothing to change a translation's doctrinal bent, especially when such a translation is read in its entirety and not scrutinized here and there specifically to find fault—a standard which could easily be applied to the King James Version and its predecessors, though it rarely is.

"None of [the verses] change in any way the crucial themes of the Bible, nor do they have any impact on the Bible’s doctrines—Jesus’ death and resurrection; Christ’s being the only way of salvation; and the doctrines of heaven and hell, sin and redemption, and the nature and character of God," GQ concludes. "These doctrines are preserved intact through the work of the Holy Spirit, who safeguards the Word of God for all generations."[emphasis added] 

"It is not a matter of the newer translations missing verses, and it is not a matter of the KJV translators adding to the Bible. It is a matter of determining, through careful research and textual science, what content was most likely part of the original manuscripts of the Bible."

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