114 Did Jesus say: “I must be about my Father’s business?” or did He say: “I have to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49.

What did Jesus answer Mary and Joseph when He as a boy of twelve was found in the Temple? Was it: “Did you not know that I have to be in my FATHER’S HOUSE?” (NIV)

or was it: “Did you not know that I have to be about my FATHER’S BUSINESS?” (KJV)

In Luke 2:49 we have an interesting situation. The different translations reveal the two possibilities stated above. Yet there is no confusion or different versions in the source texts or any of the manuscripts. If both the KJV and the NIV use the same words in Greek, why this great difference? As a matter of fact, the very word translated by the one as “business” and the other as “house” is absent from the text.

If we translate this sentence “word-for-word”, the problem emerges:

“Did you not know that I have to be in that of my Father?”

All languages have some trends that are unique to them. In Greek it often happens that a word that would be obvious from the context, could just be left out of the sentence. That is probably what happened here. In this sentence “that” could be “business” or “house” or even “rabbis” or something else that could fit!

In the Greek the word “that” could be the plural, neuter, functioning as a substantive. It therefore could be interpreted as “the things” or “business” as is found in the KJV. If however Jesus wanted to say “house”, as the NIV translates, why would He drop the word here and not in other places like Luke 13:25: “When once the master of the house has risen up…” There “house” would be the obvious word that could have been left out. Yet is was not dropped. See also Luke 6:3-4, 11:51 and 19:46.

The challenge before every translator of the Bible is to decide on the best way to present us with what the writer of the gospel had written, or even meant with what he hadn’t written!

Both renderings have equal possibility to represent what Jesus said to his parents. In this case it is all about the interpretation of a “missing” word.

Your comments at the bottom of this page or to my at bibledifferences@gmail.com are welcome.

God bless.



About Herman of bibledifferences.net

The reasons for the differences between older Bibles like the King James Version and newer Bibles like the New International Version have fascinated me ever since my studies in Theology at the University of Pretoria in the seventies. I have great respect for scribes through the ages as well as Bible translators, so there must be good reasons for the differences. With more than 5600 Greek manuscripts and more than 19000 manuscripts of ancient translations to our disposal, the original autographs of the New Testament can be established without doubt. I investigate the reasons behind the differences and publish the facts in a post on my blogs www.bibledifferences.net (Afrikaans: www.bybelverskille.wordpress.com) to enable my readers to judge for themselves. Personally I love to make an informed decision based of facts. That is why I endeavor to provide that same privilege to the readers of my blogs. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page, founder director of Act-Up Support (www.actup.co.za) a prayer ministry for families struggling with drug-, occult- and other dependencies. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, four grand sons and two grand daughters. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman Grobler.
This entry was posted in Context, KJV/NIV Controversy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 114 Did Jesus say: “I must be about my Father’s business?” or did He say: “I have to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49.

  1. Rev the Preacher Man says:

    Either way being in the father’s house is where they found it the psalmist in Psalm 23 put it like this I will be in the house of the Lord forever Hallelujah both uses of the word seem to fit taking it in context.

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
      I agree that either could be a correct interpretation. The important point of this post is that no one can say that another interpretation than that one prefers, is incorrect. For the actual word is not there.It is purely at the discretion of the translator.

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