124 “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 3:14

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.

Ephesians 3;14

Variation: the Father: The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Whitness: Greek: Translation: Church Fathers: Greek: Translation: Church Fathers:
101-200 Papyrus46
201-300 Sahidic Origen* Origen*
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
601-700 Syriac
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.

God Bless,


Remarks at the bottom of this page or via e-mail to: bibledifferences@gmail.com are welcome.

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 Ancient Translations, Causes for Variations, External Criteria, Internal Criteria, Intrinsic Criteria and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 124 “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 3:14

  1. Your graphs are great and allow the reader to see the flow of manuscript families in snap-shot form.

    • Thank you Alex for stopping by and this remark.
      I try to make the facts concerning the manuscripts available as open and accessible as possible.
      Personally I love graphs, for it gives one an overview of all that is available at a glance.
      God bless.

  2. Jim Kerr says:

    Another exemplary conclusion based on sound Herman-eutics!

    • Thank you Jim, for your Kerr-ygma!
      But please share your choice on the variations and the grounds for your choice.
      I am aware that often the best players are those sitting on the pavilions. I do invite you to rather join in the struggle on the field! Give us your opinion.
      Does the KJV give the version that most likely represents the words God inspired Paul to write down, or should we believe the NIV? Both cannot be right! If you were a translator of the Bible, you had to make a decision, like everybody given the task! What would be the criteria you would apply and what would be your choice before God?
      God bless,

  3. Jim Kerr says:

    I think the strongest argument in favour of the shorter version here is the internal criteria you mentioned, Herman. Removing the name of the Lord from this verse would be unconscionable for a scribe to do intentionally. If accidentally done, it’s hard to imagine so many different correctors of different manuscripts missing the omission of a five word phrase that includes two nomina sacra.

    A minor point that you didn’t mention, and one that is invisible in English translation, has to do with the fact that ancient documents were always written to be read aloud (silent reading was unheard of in those days–see what I did there?). From an orator’s point of view, the impact of the euphony of the πατέρα/πατριὰ combination in this sentence (which includes v. 15) would be diluted the longer it took to get from the first word to the second.

    Oh, and my apologies for such a late reply. I forgot to tick the “Notify me of new comments” box the last time and so wasn’t aware you’d answered me till today.

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