In most modern translations the words printed in bold are not found:
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What would be the reason for leaving such an important qualification from the Word of God?
We use three objective criteria to try to establish the reason for this version and determine which version would have the greatest chance to correspond with the original autograph, and which would be the deviating version.
1. External criteria.
First we look at what we can discover from the manuscripts available through the ages.
|Variation:||the Father:||The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:|
|Whitness:||Greek:||Translation:||Church Fathers:||Greek:||Translation:||Church Fathers:|
|301-400||Sinaiticus, Vaticanus||Syriac Bohairic||Cyrel-Jerusalem||Vulgate, Gothic||Ambrosiaster, Victorinus-Rome, Ephraem, Basil|
|401-500||Alexandrinus, Ephraemi||Ethiopic||Epiphanius, Augustine, Jerome, Cyrel- Alexandria, Euthalius, Vigilius||Bezae||Old Latin, Syriac, Armenian||Ps- Justin, Chrysostom*, Theodore, Theodoret|
|701-800||Atous- Laurae||2 Old Latin||John-Damascus|
|801-900||Porphyrianus, Minuscule 33||Boernerianus, Mosquensis||5 Old Latin||Photius|
|901-1600||5 Minuscules||1 Old Latin||16 Minuscules, Byzantine Lectionary||1 Old Latin|
Five of the six manuscripts up to the year 500 A.D. have only “Father” in this sentence, the oldest dating from around 200 A.D. The antique Translations also support the shorter reading. Origen (†254 A.D.) who knew both versions, used the short version twice for every time he used the longer version. The rest of the Church Fathers used both versions, but we have to bear in mind that their references do not always render a direct quotation, but often a free conversation to emphasize the point they are making.
The manuscript evidence strongly point to the short version as providing the original autography.
2. Internal criteria.
Next we consider the normal manner of scribes to try and establish how the versions could have originated. It is unthinkable that the words: “…of our Lord Jesus Christ” would be removed without very good reasons! These words do not cause any disrepute or present any other reason why anybody would want to remove them. On the other hand there could be good reason to add them, in order to give a clearer description of the Father unto whom Paul bows his knees. Adding these words is almost logical, but removing them is unthinkable!
Therefore the shorter version could rather be seen as the original, and the longer a deviating variation.
3. Intrinsic criteria.
Our third criterion is to study the use of words as well as the context.
“The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is almost a catchphrase found all over Paul’s epistles. Therefore the adding of this phrase or not, would cause no trouble or uneasiness.
In this paragraph it is actually about Jesus Christ and not the Father. Therefore a nearer description would not be foreign. The specific sentence is also found in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
All indications drawn from the context point to the addition of the words almost logical, while the removal of such to be unimaginable.
With all three criteria strongly pointing towards the shorter version rather to provide the original words, and the longer version to be a deviating variation, removing these words from the text must be seen as a restoration of the original text as God had inspired Paul to write down.
Deviations from versions of the Bible like the KJV that are based on the Textus Receptus are often branded as being Gnostic, Roman Catholic and similar denunciations. We need nothing more than the very words God had Paul write down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
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