Summary: Why do some newer Bible translations seem to have verses that are missing from older translations? Are the new translations trying to hide something? Can we trust them? Let's take a look and see ...
John 5:1-15 (Please open your Bibles to this passage.)
This passage is the account of Jesus’ healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda; an account which only appears in the Gospel of John.
Many Bible scholars (a person can be a Bible scholar without being a Bible believer …) believed that the pool of Bethesda never existed. Those who doubted the truth of the account believed that John invented the story to embellish the story of Jesus. Why?
To make Him look greater than just another prophet?
To make a prophet into the Son of God?
In other words, to create a God where one doesn’t really exist?
However, in the very late 1800’s an excavation was started in Jerusalem near the ancient sheep gate and guess what they found! The pool of Bethesda right where the Bible said it would be!
So, let’s go ahead and read John 5:1-15 and today I’ll be reading from the NIrV which is a variation of the NIV and is specifically for those who perhaps have limited reading skills.
--- Reading from NIrV Translation ------------------------------------------------------------
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish feasts.
In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate is a pool. In the Aramaic language it is called Bethesda. It is surrounded by five rows of columns with a roof over them.
Here a great number of disabled people used to lie down. Among them were those who were blind, those who could not walk, and those who could hardly move.
One person was there who had not been able to walk for 38 years. Jesus saw him lying there. He knew that the man had been in that condition for a long time. So He asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the disabled man replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when an angel stirs up the water. I try to get in, but someone else always goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was healed right away. He picked up his mat and walked.
This happened on a Sabbath day. So the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath day. The law does not allow you to carry your mat.”
But he replied, “The One who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
They asked him, “Who is this fellow? Who told you to pick it up and walk?”
The one who was healed had no idea who it was. Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
Later Jesus found him at the temple. Jesus said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.”
The man went away. He told the Jewish leaders it was Jesus who had made him well.
--- End of Reading from NIrV Translation ------------------------------------------------------------
Now, I do not know what translation you were reading from but if you were reading from a relatively modern translation the second half of the third verse and all of the fourth verse are left out, bracketed or footnoted but are found in other Bibles.
Why is that?
Is it because the translators are trying to hide something that they don’t like?
Is it because it includes some Biblical doctrine that they do not support?
Let’s see if we can find out.
But, before we start looking into it, I want you to know that this is being talked about in a spirit of love for God’s Word and for His people, the church.
Almost everyone has a favorite translation of the Bible.
I really wanted to talk about the miraculous power that was demonstrated in Jesus’ healing of the lame man but the absence of this 1.5 verses in some of the modern translations seemed to be a perfect time to address an issue I’ve been putting off for months now and that is the horror of Bible wars. And I mean horror!
There is a book by C.S. Lewis called the Screw Tape Letters and in this book a senior demon named Screwtape is advising a novice demon named Wormwood through a series of letters. The purpose of these letters is to prevent a person from becoming a Christian. After the man becomes a Christian the letters become about keeping the man from becoming an effective Christian with the ultimate hope of enticing the man into rejecting Jesus as his Savior.
Try to imagine that the man assigned to Wormwood is reading his Bible and as a result he is growing in his understanding of the Lord and His word.
So, Screwtape advises Wormwood to have him start an argument with another Christian about which translation of the Bible is the one and only true translation of the Bible and that all of the other translations are a road to hell.