A friend texted me this afternoon, asking if I had heard the news about the New International Version… He had just found out that several verses appear to be ‘missing’ from this translation. Are they missing in your Bible?
Mark 16:9-20, John 5:4, Acts 8:37, 1 John 5:7
These verses are found in the 1611 King James Bible, but are not found in newer translations. Is this a conspiracy to distort the meaning of Scripture? Are newer versions corrupt and filled with false doctrine?
Actually, the reason you won’t find those verses in newer translations is simple… These verses are just not present in the original writings, and were therefore omitted or footnoted in more recent translations. (okay, everyone take a collective breath here before we go on.)
Since the KJV was translated in 1611, scholarship has improved dramatically, and many older, more accurate manuscripts have been discovered. It turns out that in the 1500 years between the original writings and the KJV, there were sentences and even sections added to the Scripture (some by accident, some on purpose.. None with malice.) The KJV translators did a fine job with what they had, but we now have better source material from which to make more accurate translations that we did 500 years ago.
The important thing to know is that none of these verses are of any great theological significance, and their presence or absence don’t really add up to much as far as what we know and believe about God and His work in and through us. Seriously, if someone was out to distort God’s Word, you’d think they would pick more prominent or significant sections to alter, right? Like, how about this one, found in all modern translations:
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
-Romans 1:16-17 NLT
Or this one:
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
-1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NLT (emphasis mine)
The “King James Only” crowd has been crying about these “missing” verses for years, claiming that there is some kind of agenda to twist the meaning of the Scriptures. They love to point to this passage in Revelation that tells us not to add to, or take away from any words in the Scripture:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 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.
-Revelation 22:18-19 KJV
Well, I am no language scholar, but here is that same passage in the original Greek:
Did you see that? The Greek original has 61 words in those two verses. The KJV has 81 words in the same two verses. Yep, that means the KJV added 20 words in those two verses alone to adequately communicate into Shakespearian English what was originally written in Greek.
So, does that mean the KJV is corrupt? Is there some secret agenda there? Should we burn all our copies of the King James?
This just shows us that translating from an ancient language into a modern one is difficult. Tricky, even. Language evolves and changes, and in most cases, translators (ancient and modern) just have a passion to get the message into a format that people can grasp, and understand so they can deepen their relationship with God. The reason that the KJV translators included those verses is the very same reason that the modern translators excluded those same verses… They want to be as faithful and true to the Word of God as they possibly can.
So, don’t panic when you hear talk about “missing verses,” or “lost gospels,” or whatever. God’s Word has been preserved for us in an incredibly accurate, faithful way.
We go into LOTS more detail about this in our Core Beliefs class. Try it out next time it comes around!