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Why Is Matthew 18:11 Missing?

How would you feel if you picked a friend’s Bible or wanted to read a Bible verse in another Bible translation but realized it isn’t included in it?

You would probably think there was an error of omission from the publishers, right?

Certain Bible verses in the King James Version, like Matthew 18:11, which reads, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost,” are missing in several modern translations, including New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), New Living Translation (NLT), Revised Standard Version (RSV), Good News Translation (GNT), New American Bible (NAB), Common English Bible (CEB). 

This has raised many questions and debates within the Christian community, who wonder why Bible publishers are tampering with the sacred Word of God.

The situation also becomes more complex as many consider the KJV one of the oldest, most credible, and most reliable Bible translations.

Let’s explore some of the possible reasons why Matthew 18:11 is missing in some Bible translations.

Why Is Matthew 18:11 Missing?

Not included in earlier manuscripts.Why Is Matthew 1811 Missing

The original Bible were manuscripts written in the Greek language.

They were compiled by scribes and then later translated into various languages for different tribes and tongues to access the Word of God.

This process included using various manuscripts.

The New Testament alone comprises approximately 5,800 Greek manuscripts.

It is believed that Matthew 18:11 is not included in the older manuscripts like the Codex B and Codex א, written in the fourth century.

The manuscripts from which the King James Version was written (Codex W, Codex D, Codex N, and Σ) were written in the fifth and sixth centuries. Therefore, the earlier manuscripts were believed to have more authority than the later ones.

Most modern translations rely on older manuscripts because they feel they are more reliable and have not been tampered with, which is why Matthew 18:11 is not included in them.

The originality or credibility of manuscripts is debatable. The King James Bible translation, for example, used many old manuscripts that reflected Matthew 18:11.What is the meaning of Matthew 18 11

For example, Codex E, F, H, K, and Δ manuscripts, including old Latin and Vulgate manuscripts, contain the verse. Therefore, the King James Version is still regarded as credible by many Christian scholars.

However, since a lot of research is still going on to make biblical facts 100 percent true and accurate, certain portions of the Bible might still be affected as newer Bible versions are printed and new facts are discovered. But does that mean that the Bible is false and God’s Word fallible? No.

The fact that Jesus was born, died, and resurrected is an eternal truth that brings salvation and redemption to the world. 

The issue of parallel influence

Parallel influence plays a huge role in Bible translation. It determines the willful addition or omission of Bible verses by scholars or translators.Why is verse 11 missing in Matthew 18

When translating a book in the Bible, the translator can add or remove a portion of the Bible for consistency.

This practice is popular in the four Gospel books of the Bible – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four books mostly have similar events and stories, sometimes with little or no differences. 

It is believed that scholars often add verses from a particular Gospel book to another, even when necessary, for consistency’s sake. Examples are Matthew 18:11 and Luke 19:10.

“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost,” (Matthew 18:11, KJV).

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10).

These verses of the Bible are similar, although Matthew 18:11 uses the phrase ‘come to save’ while Luke 19:10 uses ‘come to seek and to save.’

In this case, the scholar might have added verse 11 to Matthew 18 for consistency’s sake, even when necessary. 

The scenarios in which Jesus made the statement in Matthew 18:11 and Luke 19:10 are different. In Luke 19:10, Jesus made the statement when He visited Zacchaeus, a well-known tax collector and sinner.Why Matthew 1811 Doesn't Exist In Your Bible

The Pharisees tried to fault Jesus for visiting a sinner. However, Jesus responded by stating that God had sent Him to save those who need salvation, not the righteous.

This statement correlates with the story.

However, when we consider Matthew 18:11 and what transpired before the verse, we will discover a disconnect.

In Matthew 18:6-9, Jesus warns about offenses. However, in Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus told the parable of the Lost Sheep.

Matthew 18:11 seemed to have been snuck into the passage to give the parable of the Lost Sheep more weight and meaning. But considering the preceding verse, it does not really click or make sense. 

Perhaps it would have been more seamless if Matthew 18:11 came after verse 14. Nevertheless, this is based on assumptions and not facts. 

However, scholars often add extra lines to Bible passages to synergize and harmonize the scripture and remove doubts and confusion.  

The issue of marginal notesMatthew 1811, Was it removed from modern Bibles

The process of translating a manuscript is a long, daunting task that requires many hours of consistent work.

Scholars who translate manuscripts often commit errors of omission.

Back then, they used pen and paper.

There were no advanced technologies like the computer that gave one the liberty to easily correct mistakes and add missing notes to already typed texts.

So, scholars back then who realized that they had skipped a verse or two wrote notes in the margins to guide other scholars and help them correct the mistakes they had made and avoid them.

So, when another scholar is translating, he makes references to the notes in the margin to add missing text. But it sometimes gets confusing and complex.Missing Matthew 1811

The margin is not only used to indicate missing text. It is also used to add extra notes for contexts.

The extra notes are to provide additional information and are not to be added by the next scholar translating the manuscripts. 

However, a scholar might confuse marginal notes meant to be added to the translation with those that are supposed to be used for cross-referencing.

In the case of Matthew 18:11, it is assumed that it was written as an additional note, not a missing verse to be re-added to the manuscript. However, it was added, making it a duplicate of Luke 19:10. 

Based on the context of the parable in Matthew 18:11-14, which talks about a missing sheep and how a shepherd who had one hundred sheep left ninety-nine to go after the one that was missing, it is understandable for a scholar to sneak in Jesus’ statement into the verse as it perfectly compliments it.

However, the truth is that many verses in the Bible can fit into many other contexts even though they are not originally intended.

Therefore, Matthew 18:11 might be influenced by notes in the margins.

The use of footnotes in some Bible translationWhy do some Bible translations skip Matthew 1811

In most cases, when a Bible version removes a Bible verse, a note is left for clarification, explanation, and additional context to enhance Bible study.

These notes are most often under the Bible page; hence, they are called footnotes. A footnote is a short text that provides information about a text or verse in a Bible passage.

In Bible versions like the NIV, where Matthew 18:11 is missing, there is a footnote attached, which reads, “Some manuscripts include here the words of Luke 19:10.”

This footnote indicates that Matthew 18:11 is a duplicate of Luke 19:10. Therefore, there was no point in adding it to the passage. In this case, the reader is encouraged to do a deeper study or refer to Luke for clarification. 

Adding footnotes helps clear misunderstandings and confusion. In this case, it proves that the publisher’s intent was not to tamper with God’s Word but to help readers get direction toward in-depth study and comparison of biblical texts.

Footnotes will spark curiosity in readers and spur them toward research for a better understanding and context of the scripture.

Therefore, it is difficult to say that Matthew 18:11 is completely missing from the Bible since a footnote is presented, and it is still reflected in Luke 19:10.

In other words, the Bible, as regards the message Jesus gave in that Bible verse, is still available and effective. However, a Bible reader will have to dig deeper during Bible studies to seek out scriptures.

This can be challenging but fun if viewed as an adventure.


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