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    Q: #258. Why is the NIV Bible missing some verses?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: The NIV has 16 "missing" verses, all in the New Testament. I put "missing" in parenthesis because many scholars would say that they aren't "missing" at all, but rather, the Bibles that have them (like the KJV) "added" them when they never should have been included in the Bible in the first place.

     First off, it is important to understand that we do not have the "autographa" or original manuscripts of the Bible. The versions of the Bible we have today are based on copies from these original manuscripts. We have thousands of fragments and copies of the original manuscripts (some dating before 100 A.D.) that are surviving today. These are used by scholars when they write different versions of the Bible, generally using what is considered the best manuscript evidence available at the time.

     These copies agree more than 98% of the time in what they say, but there are some differences. It should be understood that as Christians, we believe that the "autographa" is infallible, however, because fallible man has been involved in copying or translating what God originally stated, MINOR errors have occurred (none that concern any major doctrine). Many of these have been corrected over time. This being said, the "missing" verses would fall into this category.

     When the KJV Bible was written in 1611, it was written primarily using what is called the "Textus Receptus." This was a highly regarded source at the time. However, since the KJV was written, we have found many more ancient source texts to use that were not available to those KJV writers (i.e the Codex Sinaiticus - found in the mid 1880's). When these different sources are compared they sometimes (but rarely) disagree. Regarding the "missing" verses, nearly all of the manuscripts we have today do not contain the "missing" verses. Therefore, they are not believed to have been a part of the "autographa" and are removed from that version (the NIV places them in footnotes with an explanation). Some versions include them, but with a warning. The NASB has them in parenthesis and says in the footnotes "Early mss do not contain this verse." The NKJV says, "NU omits verse --" (NU = Nestle-Aland).

     I should add here that many who make an attack against these verses being left out are "KJV only" people. They believe that the KJV Bible is infallible or error free. (This is refuted here: Q: #1) We must understand that all Bibles we have are VERSIONS or copies of the original. NONE are infallible or error free. When a "KJV only" person or anyone else voraciously attacks a version of the Bible that leaves out these verses, they are often stating that "their" version (which includes the verses) is the correct standard by which every other version should be judged. If the verses are in "their" version, they should be in ALL versions. Again, this is simply false. (They also attack for other reasons too, some of which have more validity.)

     Let me close by sharing this truth with you. God has promised in (Isa 40:8)(1 Pet 1:23,25)(Mt 5:18) that he would preserve His word, and He has done just that. The Bible is the most tested, scrutinized, proven and enduring book in history. While there may be differences in different versions of the Bible, we can rest assured that God's word is preserved.

PS: For those of you who want to know, here is a list of the "missing" verses: (Mt 17:21)(Mt 18:11)(Mt 23:14)(Mk 7:16)(Mk 9:44,46)(Mk 11:26)(Mk 15:28)(Lk 17:36)(Lk 23:17)(Jn 5:4)(Acts 8:37)(Acts 15:34)(Acts 24:7)(Acts 28:29)(Rom 16:24).
*** It should be noted that these are also missing from other Bible versions like the NLT, RSV, NRSV, CEV.

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