1 John 2:23 Why the italics?
1 John 2:23 in the King James Bible reads: “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hat the Father also.”
In the present printings of the King James Bible, the words from [but] to the end of the verse are in italics. Why is this?
Actually what we see here is the sovereignty of God overruling the shortcomings and uncertainty of the men He was using to give us His masterpiece in the King James Bible - the complete, inspired and inerrant words of God.
Apparently some of the King James Bible translators were not certain or in full agreement among themselves as to whether these additional words were inspired Scripture or not, but they did put them into the TEXT of the King James Bible. Perhaps some thought they were authentic and others were not so sure, but God guided them put the words into the English text of the greatest Bible to every be printed.
The use of italics does not mean that they were unaware of textual support for this reading. The phrase is found in the Old Latin copies, the Syriac, the Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic and the Latin Vulgate.
Martin Luther’s German Bible 1545 - “Wer den Sohn leugnet, der hat auch den Vater nicht; wer den Sohn bekennt, der hat auch den Vater.”
The Spanish Sagradas Escrituras of 1569 as well as the Cipriano de Valera of 1602 both contained the extra words, reading: “Cualquiera que niega al Hijo, este tal tampoco tiene al Padre. Así cualquiera que confiesa al Hijo, tiene también al Padre.”
They are also in the Italian Diodati of 1649 - “Chiunque nega il Figliuolo, nè anche ha il Padre; chi confessa il Figliuolo, ha ancora il Padre.”
They are also in the previous English translations of Wycliffe 1395 “So ech that denyeth the sone, hath not the fadir; but he that knowlechith the sone, hath also the fadir.”, and the Bishops’ Bible 1568 - “Whosoeuer denyeth the sonne, the same hath not the father [But he that knowledgeth the sonne, hath the father also.]”
Another reason they may have put the words in italics is because not all previous English translators had considered them to be inspired Scripture and, humanly speaking, they may have wanted to encourage further study. The additional words are NOT found in Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, or in the Geneva Bible 1587. All these previous English versions read: - “Whosoeuer denyeth the Sonne, the same hath not the Father.”
Stephanus’ Greek text of 1550 did NOT include the extra words, nor does the Majority text by Hodges and Farstaad or the Majority text by Robinson and Pierpoint, nor does the Greek Orthodox text contain the extra words even today.
They all read “πᾶς ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν υἱὸν οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει” and omit the words “ο ομολογων τον υιον και τον πατερα εχει.” But they were found in the Greek text of Theodore Beza and that is why the King James Bible translators included them, and correctly so. They are also found in the Greek texts of Scrivener and Elziever.
Other bible versions that came after the KJB that also omitted these extra words from 1 John 2:23 are Mace’s N.T. 1729 and the Living Oracles of 1835. The Finnish bible of 1776 and the Czech BKR Bible, and the Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible also omitted these words, but the German Schlachter Bible of 2000 DOES contain the extra words.
The reading is found in Sinaiticus (since discovered), Vaticanus, Psi, C, 33, 614, 630, 1505, 1739 and many others. It was also so quoted by Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, Cyprian and Hilary. The phrase is certainly genuine Scripture and we can see the Providence of God Almighty for having the King James Bible translators put it into the English text of the King James Bible.
Most modern versions include these extra words in 1 John 2:23 including the NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, NET, Holman, the Third Millennium Bible and the Jubilee Bible 2010. They are also found in The Bill Bible 1671, the Worsley Version 1770, Sawyer N.T. 1795, Darby 1890, Young's 1898, The World English Bible 2000, Green's literal 2005, the Lexham English Bible 2012,
And it is also the reading of the Modern Greek Bible - "Πας ο αρνουμενος τον Υιον δεν εχει ουδε τον Πατερα. Οστις ομολογει τον Υιον εχει και τον Πατερα."
The use of Italics does not exclude the TEXT from being the inspired words of God. In fact, there are biblical examples showing that the use of italicized words ARE inspired Scripture and if they are not part of the inspired text, then there are verses that make no sense at all or even the opposite sense of what was intended.
See Why the Italics in the King James Bible? here -
The King James Bible is always right.
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