Bible Question:

Why is there no verse 11 in Matthew 18? It goes from verse 10 to verse 12.

Bible Answer:

Matthew 18:11 does not appear in several current Bibles such as the New International Version (NIV), the New Century Version (NCV), the Contemporary English Version (CEV), and the New Living Translation (NLT). The verse you are referring to as follows:

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (NASB) Matthew 18:11

However, the verse does appear in the New American Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the King James Version, for example.

Why Is It Missing?

The verse is missing from some of the Bibles because the passage does not actually appear in the best early Greek manuscripts which contain Matthew. It is important to remember that the New Testament was written in Greek. These original documents called “autographs” were copied and passed from one person to another. In the process of making copies, errors would occur sometimes. Sometimes words were misspelled, words were left out, and on rare occasions, some copyists would insert some words. Today there are more than 5,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament in our possession. By using a process called Textual Criticism we have been able to determine very accurately how the original “autographs” should read. A better explanation of textual criticism and the accuracy of our Bible is available from an article at the following link, “How Accurate Is The Bible?” The conclusion of that article says that the Bible is 99.9% accurate. There is no other ancient book in existence with so many copies and with so little error. The Bible is really unique. The Bible is very accurate!

Textual criticism has determined that verse 11 should not occur in Matthew 18. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank Gaebelein, says that the verse was,

Omitted in the earliest witnesses of the Alexandria, pre-Caesarean, Egyptian, and Antiochene text types.[1]

Grant Osborne states,

Verse 11 . . . is added in several manuscripts . . . but missing in others . . . and most likely was added in assimilation to Luke 19:10 and because it aptly fits  the imagery of v. 12.[2]

Another Thought

It appears someone copied and modified Luke 19:10 and inserted it into Matthew 18. Here is both Mathew 18:11 and Luke 19:10,

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (NASB) Matthew 18:11

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (NASB) Luke 19:10

The only difference between these two verses is the phrase “to seek.” It is important to note that while Matthew 18:11 should not exist in our Bibles, the verse does accurately describe what occurred. It captures the sense of Luke 19:10. This discrepancy does not impact what is true or what we believe.

Conclusion:

God has helped us to keep His Word very accurate by preserving thousands of manuscripts. By employing textual criticism, we have been able to keep it pure. Thank the Lord for His Word!

 

References:

1. Frank Gaebelein. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Regency Reference Library. 1984. vol. 8, footnote 11. p. 401
2. Grant Osborne. Exebetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan Publishing. 2010. footnote 4. p. 681.