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Inspiration of the Bible: Difficult Passages

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Does Matthew 18:11 Belong in the New Testament?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Q:

My resources are limited to find a decent enough answer for the passage at Mt. 18:11. I would like to know why or why not it should be in our Bibles.

A:

During the early centuries of Christianity, copies of New Testament books were made by Christians as those books came from the hands of the apostles. Then copies were made of copies, and then copies of copies of copies, and so on. It was inevitable that slight/minor changes would occur in some copies. In later years, New Testament books were copied by monks and even by professional copyists who did so for their living. Those who became very familiar with the synoptic Gospel accounts sometimes unnecessarily attempted to harmonize them with each other in those passages that are parallel, even though the Holy Spirit used different wording in, say Matthew, than He did in Luke, where the same incident is reported. Hence, copyists sometimes introduced words from one Gospel account into another to force them to be uniform in wording. That is clearly what happened with Matthew 18:11. Somewhere along the line, a copyist who was very familiar with Luke introduced the words of Luke 19:10 into the copy of Matthew 18 that he was making. The words are authentic from Luke’s pen, but were not written by Matthew. Many manuscript copies do not contain the verse, but the copies that ultimately influenced the KJV were copies that had the interpolation introduced. Observe that no doctrine of Scripture is placed in jeopardy and no new information is added to the text by such variants in certain copies, and the original text is still preserved in the aggregate of manuscripts. See our article at: http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5196&topic=103.





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