June 25, 2019

"Comparisons of Bible Versions, II"

By Steve Youngblood, Pastor

Matthew 15:8

  • KJV: "This people drawth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
  • NAS: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me."
  • NIV: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
  • NAB: "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: "This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me."
    (Note: The New World Translation (NWT) is the "bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses).

Some seven words are deleted from this verse in the newer versions. Those who read and study from the NAS and NIV would never know that this phrase was omitted from their translations unless they happened to do a comparison with the KJV. However, most people who read from these newer versions never interact with the King James Version since they consider it to be an inferior work of a preceding century. Those who are made aware of the above "vanishing act" may seek to justify the omission by saying that the sense of the message is still there. Is such reasoning acceptable, or even safe? Why are the new translations continually lining up with both Catholic and Jehovah's Witnesses bibles?

Consider the following statement: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people shall not be infringed." You have just read the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Or did you? The statement quoted, in and of itself, appears to be a protective regulation to guarantee the safety of American citizens, but a phrase was left out to demonstrate the importance of not deleting words from a document. The omission was: "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." These ten words radically affect the Second Amendment, do they not? Words -- or missing words -- can be vital in either strengthening or undermining an assertion. Some omissions are more important than others, but when it comes to the Word of the living God, every word is of utmost importance!

The dilemma for the student of the Bible is to choose what deletions are proper, or improper. Who will we allow to serve as our guide to determine the proper text? Shall we rely on Bible "scholars," and trust their activities when we know nothing concerning their motives and doctrinal beliefs? What shall we do if it is discovered that our textual critics do not believe in divine inspiration? Shall we trust their judgments to be authoritative when they cut, delete, and omit words, phrases, or even verses from the text that Protestants and others have always relied upon as the preserved Word of God? Can we in good conscience flippantly say that the phrase deleted in Matthew 15:8 is inconsequential to the infallibility of God's Word? Bible believers need to face up to the fact that someone is tampering with the precious words of God that were inspired of the Holy Spirit! To add or delete from God's Word is to bring judgment upon ourselves from God Almighty.

Matthew 17:21

  • KJV: "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
  • NAS: ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."]
  • NIV: This verse is completely deleted. There is no verse 21 in the NIV!
  • NAB: This verse is completely deleted. There is no verse 21 in the NAB -- a sidenote gives a defense for the omission. (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: This verse is completely deleted. There is only a slash mark where verse 21 should occur!
    (Note: The New World Translation (NWT) is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses.)

Would you expect to find any little "white lies" in your Bible? Surely one would not have to worry about translators being deceptive as they translate their Greek texts into English or add textual notes to defend the deletion of a passage from their particular version, would he?! Aren't all Bible translators godly men who are only motivated by the desire to make God's Word more understandable to the masses? Undoubtedly, there are many godly men in various countries today who are translating God's Word into the native languages of the people they are ministering to, but many of them are not aware that they are translating from a Greek text that has been corrupted by men from the past who were heretical in their beliefs. In order to accomodate God's Word to their aberrant beliefs, they took out their penknives and began slicing God's Word up to reflect their pernicious views. Oftentimes modern translators are producing new translations that they believe are faithful to God's original revelation, little realizing that they are perpetuating a mutilated text that was rejected by the church throughout her history. Matthew 17:21 is a good example of deception in the New American Standard and New International Versions, both in the text and in the sidenotes.

This verse is bracketed in the NAS, and contains the following information in the footnote: "Many manuscripts do not contain this verse." The NIV goes a step further than the NAS by deleting the verse entirely from the text. However, in a footnote the NIV states: "Some manuscripts: But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." Thus, the average Bible reader would take it for granted that the KJV rendering is rather dubious since the NAS avers that many manuscripts do not contain this verse, while the NIV asserts that some manuscripts include the sentence. Without even questioning the source(s) of these statements, most Bible readers will unquestioningly accept these statements as facts. But let us pause and reflect for a moment. Are there any ramifications to simply accepting these footnotes at face value?

We must realize, as has been previously stated, that these footnotes in the new versions cause every Bible reader to act as a textual critic, even though he will usually know nothing concerning textual criticism or the reason for the differences between the "Received Text" and the United Bible Society's Greek text. Nonetheless, he will probably defend the deletion or mere bracketing of a verse (a practice that casts suspicion upon the phrase or verse) in his newer version because he has been told by the media or some spiritual leader that his Bible is based on more reliable manuscripts. And herein enters the dilemma: What if the deletion or footnote is erroneous? What if the Holy Spirit truly moved Matthew to write the words that are recorded in 17:21 by the KJV?

A second ramification for those who use the NIV as their Bible for reading, study, and memory work is the realization that they find themselves in the same camp with the Jehovah's Witnesses and Roman Catholics when it comes to this verse and hundreds of other places. What strange bedfellows these newer versions can make for conservative Christians! Those who are "sold" on the NIV as the best translation available in our day should swallow hard when they repeatedly find their version in agreement with the New World Translation and New American Bible against the KJV! Why does an evangelical translation continually make the same deletions as the "bibles" of the Watchtower Society and Rome? This is not a matter that can be flippantly tossed aside as irrelevant, for we are dealing with the sacred Word of God!

Now to deal with the assertions of the NAS and NIV that Matthew 17:21 is only found in some Greek manuscripts, while "many" manuscripts do not contain this verse. Let us listen to the commentary of Dean John Burgon in his book, Revision Revised, concerning the evidence for the authenticity of the KJV rendering: "Thus, the precious verse (Matthew 17:21) is expunged by our Revisionists; although it is vouched for by every known uncial but two (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus), every known cursive but one(Evan.33); is witnessed to by the Old Latin and the Vulgate, the Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, and Slavonic versions; by Origen, Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom, the Opus imperf., the Syriac Clement, and John Damascene; by Tertullian, Ambrose, Hilary, Juvencus, Augustine, Maximus Taur., and by the Syriac version of the 'Canons of Eusebius': above all by the Universal East, having been read in all the churches of Oriental Christendom on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, from the earliest period."

My, how different a perspective we get when we compare the indefatigable labors of Dean Burgon with the trite footnotes found in our modern versions. A little research reveals that the NAS and NIV are quite fallacious in their footnote "helps." It is quite obvious that they have stretched the truth to the point of snapping when they say that many manuscripts do not contain this verse, for it is actually the case that the great majority of manuscripts, lectionaries, and church fathers cited and/or quoted this verse as the authentic text. Who would have ever thought that a "bible" bought in a local Christian bookstore in America would contain deception? If you truly believe that every word of God is inspired, then you have no other option than to admit that the NAS and NIV have not been upfront with its readers, but have relied on their gullibility to accept their assertions as authoritative. If the translators had been totally truthful, they would have written: "The majority of manuscripts contain this verse, but a mere handful of mansucripts delete it. Our decision to delete is based on the minority manuscripts."

Matthew 18:11

  • KJV: "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."
  • NAS: ["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost."]
  • NIV: There is no verse 11 in the NIV. The entire verse is deleted from the text.
  • NAB: There is no verse 11 in the NAB. The entire verse is deleted from the text -- a footnote seeks to give a defense. (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: There is no verse 11 in the NWT. The entire verse is deleted from the text.
    (Note: The New World Translation (NWT) is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses.)

As seen in the preceding passage, so again we find the same problem in Matthew 18:11 of the NIV deleting this verse and the NAS casting suspicion upon its trustworthiness. Is it possible that "scholars" who felt that man was intrinsically good by nature exercised their option to excise this verse from the Greek because its teaching is offensive to the depraved heart of man? Many "doctors and lawyers" in religious circles do not believe that they need to be "saved." Finding evolutionary hypotheses to be most palatable to their own belief system, they choose to deemphasize anything in the Word of God that deals with the wickedness of the human heart.

Isn't it interesting that the "bibles" of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Roman Catholics expunge this verse from the text, thereby lining up with the NIV?! Kingdom Hall devotees believe that they possess the power to earn their salvation through personal efforts and good works, thus Matthew 18:11 directly contradicts their fallacious doctrines. What do cults do when the Bible opposes their peculiar beliefs? They simply rewrite the Greek text to fit their theology. However, they didn't have to look far when it came to Matthew 18:11 since Westcott and Hort led the Revisionists back in the 1880's to jettison this verse like a bothersome "Jonah."

Matthew 19:29

  • KJV: "...or mother, or wife, or children..."
  • NAS: "...or mother or children..."
  • NIV: "...or mother or children..."
  • NAB: "...or mother or children..." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: "...or mother or children..." (Note: The New World Translation is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)

The above discrepancy between the KJV and the other translations may appear to many to be inconsequential, perhaps even bordering on being unjustifiably critical. However, Jesus Christ said that "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). Are we at liberty to delete and/or omit words from the sacred text according to our own discretion or subjectivity? Verbal inspiration demands the conclusion that not only the omission of one word should be studiously avoided, but that even the deletion of one letter should be considered a pernicious subtraction to be avoided at all costs!

Do you think the foregoing statement to be a mere exaggeration, bereft of reason? Then consider the following example taken from the real world. A couple placed an ad in their local newspaper advertising the sale of their home for $129,000. Consider their dismay when the paper was published advertising their home for $29,000! How important can one little letter or number be, you ask?! In this case, the omission of one little number made an expensive home appear to be one of little worth. Would you have been upset if you had been in the shoes of this couple, or would you have passed it off as something of no great concern? Obviously, normal people would be quite displeased with such a misprint! How much more invaluable is the Word of the living God in comparison with the sale of a home! How can professing Christians stand idly by when the scriptures are being defaced by liberal scholarship, and act as though no damage has been inflicted on God's revelation?

It is most interesting to consider the context of Matthew 19:29. Peter has asked Jesus what the apostles shall receive for following him, having forsaken everything to do so. Jesus explained to them that anyone who forsakes "houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands" for his sake would receive an hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life. Some of these men had left their wives for a time to be his intimate followers! It was a great sacrifice for men like Peter to kiss their wives (and perhaps children) goodbye in order to follow the Messiah. We know that Peter had left his wife at home (for a season) to accompany Jesus in his ministry, only to be reunited with her permanently after the ascension of Christ. Consider the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:5: "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas(Peter)?"

Irreligious scholars may scoff about the deletion of "wife" in Matthew 19:29, but such men demonstrate a total lack of reverence for the unique inspiration of the Bible, and in this one instance help to bolster the claims of Rome that her holy men should not be married. How else are we to understand the deletion of this category -- "wives" -- from the list that Jesus enumerated? The NAS admits in a sidenote that "many manuscripts add or wife! It is obvious to those who are unbiased that Jesus meant to bring comfort to the hearts of his brave men who had been willing to leave the comorts of home and the companionship of their wives, so let us tenaciously stick to the Received Text and its inclusion of "or wife."

Matthew 25:13

  • KJV: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
  • NAS: "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour."
  • NIV: "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
  • NAB: "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: "Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour." (Note: The New World Translation is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)

What a difference the deletion of six words can make! How we need to recall the words of our Lord spoken to Satan in Matthew 4:4, that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Those who proudly proclaim the superiority of their "easy-to-understand" translations over the KJV little realize how many words have been stripped from their versions by liberal textual critics.

Consider the following true story that took place a few years ago in the nearby vicinity. Someone went to a rural intersection and maliciously removed the "stop" signs. Now those who lived in that area and had traveled those roads for years would have realized that the signs had been removed. However, a mother who was driving her children home from school the next day was hit and killed by another vehicle that failed to stop because the sign was missing! The driver of the car that killed the woman had no idea that someone had come along and removed the stop sign! By way of comparison, those who read from the NAS or NIV have no idea that someone has deleted six words from their translation, six words that were inspired by God the Holy Spirit!

Now, how important is it to safeguard the six words contained in the KJV? Well, consider the NIV rendering: "Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." These words are the conclusion of the "Parable of the Ten Virgins." Without the words, "wherein the Son of man cometh," to conclude the statement of Christ, the NIV ends on a most disparaging note. Taken at face value, it would appear that Christ was mocking his listeners (the apostles -- see Matthew 24:3) by putting them on the level of an imbecile! What would you think if your pastor said to you, "Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour"? Perhaps you would question what he had been drinking lately, since you would obviously know what day it was, and you could easily discern the hour by taking a quick glance at your watch! But you would readily understand the thought of your pastor if he said, "Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour when the Lord will return." The completed sentence now makes it clear that the focus is on the return of Christ, and not an insult to your intelligence as the NIV purports!

Matthew 27:34

  • KJV: "They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall."
  • NAS: "They gave him wine to drink mingled with gall."
  • NIV: "There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall."
  • NAB: "They gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: "They gave him wine mixed with gall to drink." (Note: The New World Translation is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)

Does it really matter whether Jesus was offered vinegar or wine at his crucifixion? Well, consider the following prophecy concerning Messiah found in Psalm 69:21 (KJV): "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." The prophecy specifically named vinegar as the liquid that would be offered to Christ. It is most interesting that the NAS, NIV, NAB, and NWT all agree with the KJV in naming "vinegar" in Psalm 69:21. That being the case, then the new translations have a contradiction in their versions when Psalm 69:21 and Matthew 27:34 are compared!

Why do the new translations have the word "wine" in Matthew 27:34? Edward F. Hills gives us the answer in his book, Believing Bible Study: "Hort thought this to be a late reading suggested by the Psalm. The true reading, he contended, is that found in Aleph B D etc., wine mingled with gall" (p.93). Thus, the liberal Hort chose to include "wine" instead of "vinegar" in this verse on the basis of a few contradictory manuscripts that disagree among themselves repeatedly! The result is a false and/or unfulfilled prophecy from the Psalter! Those who would try to escape this conclusion should try drinking a glass of vinegar after an evening meal instead of a glass of wine. There is a big difference between the two liquids!

Mark 1:2

  • KJV: "As it is written in the prophets..."
  • NAS: "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet..."
  • NIV: "It is written in Isaiah the prophet..."
  • NAB: "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet..." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
  • NWT: "Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet..." (Note: The New World Translation is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)

Someone might think that the newer translations are more helpful in Mark 1:2 by identifying the source of the ensuing quote (i.e., Isaiah), whereas the KJV appears to nebulously make reference to the prophets as a whole, without crediting a particular prophet with the cited passage. However, a comparison of scripture with scripture leaves the new versions in an embarrassing dilemma, for the passage quoted in Mark 1:2 is not found in the book of Isaiah at all! The Scripture reference for "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee" is found in Malachi 3:1! Only one conclusion is possible: The newer translations contain an error in Mark 1:2! No sleight of hand can correct this fallacious insertion that was foisted upon the world in 1881 with the new Greek text developed under the leadership of Westcott and Hort.

Commentaries based upon the new translations do their best to weasel out of this problem, but end up looking silly in their attempts. For example, John Grassmick in The Bible Knowledge Commentary seeks to sidestep the attributing of Mark 1:2 to the prophet Isaiah in the NIV with these words: "This illustrates a common practice by New Testament authors in quoting several passages with a unifying theme...Since Mark was introducing the ministry of John the Baptist in the desert, he cited Isaiah as the source because the Isaiah passage refers to 'a voice...calling' in the desert." Do you accept that line of argumentation?! Grassmick knows that such an assertion made in a thesis paper in any graduate school would be marked up with red ink since it is a faulty statement! Grassmick did not give any evidence of another New Testament writer who quoted from the Old Testament and attributed the source to a different author than the proper one. Why not? Because no other apostolic author improperly quoted his source when utilizing the Old Testament writings! Grassmick, with tongue-in-cheek, said that what we find in Mark 1:2 "illustrates a common practice by New Testament authors in quoting several passages with a unifying theme," knowing that none of those other writers attributed their quotes to the wrong prophet!

Consider the following scenario in order to see the faulty line of reasoning offered by Grassmick in his comments on Mark 1:2. If a college student handed in a term paper that stated that the last words of Patrick Henry were, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country," do you know what the professor would do? He would mark up that paragraph with red ink and tell the student to make sure that he cited the proper source when quoting famous people of history, for it was Nathan Hale who uttered those famous words, not Patrick Henry! Any intelligent professor would also correct John Mark for making an erroneous reference in Mark 1:2 to Isaiah when the following quote came from the book of Malachi. However, the true text attributes the quotes in Mark 1:2,3 to the prophets, and that is a correct statement! The conclusion of the matter: The new translations contain an irreconcilable difference in their texts when it comes to Mark 1:2! By the way, what translation do you use in your personal Bible study and memory work?