2 Corinthians 11:3 “the SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN Christ” or “A SINCERE AND PURE DEVOTION TO Christ"?
KJB - “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST." - ἀπὸ τῆς ἁπλότητος τῆς εἰς τὸν χριστόν.
ESV, NIV - "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from A SINCERE AND PURE DEVOTION TO Christ." - ἀπὸ τῆς ἁπλότητος καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος τῆς εἰς τὸν Χριστόν.
The word "simplicity" is a noun, not an adjective as in the ESV, NIV. Even the added word is "purity" (a noun) and not an adjective and there is no word in any text for "devotion". Even the previous RV 1881 and ASV 1901 both read "simplicity" like the KJB for the word ἁπλότητος
There are two problems with the differences between the King James Bible and the modern versions such as the NIV, NASB, Holman, NET and ESV. One is textual and the other is translational, and the doctrinal emphasis has been changed as a result.
The Catholic Connection
The earlier Catholic Douay-Rheims of 1610 read very much like the King James Bible with - "But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted and fall from THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST."
But then they started to change the meaning and add the extra words to the text as do the modern Vatican versions. The Douay 1950, St. Joseph New American bible 1970 and New Jerusalem bible 1985 all read basically the same way with this change of emphasis and meaning.
These more modern Catholic versions say "...your minds be led astray FROM SINGLE-MINDED DEVOTION TO CHRIST." (New Jerusalem 1985) or "...your SINCERE AND COMPLETE DEVOTION TO Christ." St. Joseph New American bible 1970.
The Greek texts followed by the KJB and the Reformation Bibles is that of the Majority of all remaining manuscripts including Sinaiticus correction, D correction, the Lectionaries, the Old Latin b, dem, f, x, z, the Syriac Peshitta, Harclean, Armenian, Georgian and Slavonic ancient versions and is so quoted by such early church writers as Cassianus, Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Didymus, Chrysostom, Jerome, Euthalius and Theodoret.
The reading followed by the UBS/Vatican critical texts adds three Greek words to the text - καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος - "and the purity" and this comes from P46, Vaticanus and a handful of others. There are many variant readings found among the Greek manuscripts in just this one little verse.
The context of 2 Corinthians 11 is the contrast between the true Jesus Christ (and by direct implication, the true Bible) versus another, false Jesus and the deceiving work of Satan.
The apostle is telling us that there is a SIMPLICITY in the doctrine of Christ and we should not be moved from these fundamental truths that are revealed even to babes in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
John Gill, the famous Baptist commentator, remarks on this verse: “should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ; that is, lest their judgments should be misled, their minds be vitiated with corrupt principles, and be carried away in any degree with the error of the wicked, from off the pure and simple doctrine of the Gospel, which respects the person and grace of Christ; and chiefly lies in this one plain, easy, and important truth, salvation alone by him.”
John Calvin translates the verse as it is found in our King James Bible and comments: “by the simplicity that is in Christ is meant, that which keeps us in the unadulterated and pure doctrine of the gospel, and admits of no foreign admixtures.”
John Owen also comments: "Hereby he hopes to draw off men from the simplicity that is in Christ, or the plain declaration of the will of God in the gospel, unto false and foolish imaginations of his own suggestion."
William Burkitt's Commentary - "he tells them very plainly in this verse, that he was really afraid of them, lest as Eve was seduced by the subtilty of the devil, so their minds should be corrupted by false apostles, and seduced from the pure doctrine of the gospel: For as the noblest and most generous wine is adulterated by mingling it with water, so is the doctrine of the gospel corrupted, by mixing with it either philosophical speculations, or Jewish traditions, or any sort of human inventions. Well therefore might the apostle say, I fear lest your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Agreeing both with the underlying Greek texts and the meaning found in the King James Bible are the following bible translations: Wycliffe 1395 “the simpleness that is in Christ.”, (Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568), the Geneva Bible 1599 - “so your mindes shoulde be corrupt from the SIMPLICITIE that is in Christ.”, Douay-Rheims 1610, Wesley 1755, Webster’s 1833, Darby 1890, Young’s 1898, The N.T. Translated from the Sinaitic Mss. 1918 (Henry Anderson) - "so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ.", Hebrew Names Version - “corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Messiah.", World English Bible, NKJV 1982, KJV 21st Century 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, Jubilee Bible 2000 and the Natural Israelite Bible 2012 - "so your minds may be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in the Messiah."
The Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, Reina Valera 1909, and the 2004 Reina Valera Gomez also agree with the King James Bible saying: “Mas temo que en alguna manera, como la serpiente engañó a Eva con su astucia, así sean corrompidas vuestras mentes, DE LA SIMPLICIDAD QUE ES EN CRISTO.”, the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada and the Almeida Corregida E Fiel 1681 - "e se apartem da SIMPLICIDADE que há em Cristo.", the French Martin 1744 and Ostervald 1996 - "vos pensées aussi ne se corrompent, de la SIMPLICITE qui est en Christ.", Luther's German bible 1545 - " also auch eure Sinne verrücket werden von der Einfältigkeit in Christo.", the Italian Diodati 1649 and La Nuova Diodati 1991 - "e sviate dalla SEMPLICITA che deve essere inverso Cristo.", the Modern Greek Bible - "ουτως ο νους σας, εκπεσων απο της απλοτητος της εις τον Χριστον." and the Modern Hebrew Bible.
The modern versions based on the UBS, Nestle-Aland/Vatican Greek Critical Text have changed both the text and the spiritual emphasis of the verse.
These modern versions are based on a different Greek text which comes primarily from the Vaticanus manuscript. Vaticanus adds three extra words here - kai tns agnoteetos - which literally would be ‘and the purity’. There is no Greek word in any text for “devotion”. The modern versions have added it to their own English translations.
The three extra words are not found in the Majority of all Greek texts, nor in the modern Greek Bible used throughout the Greek Orthodox churches, nor are they in the Sinaiticus correction. Even Tischendorf, who himself discovered the Sinaitic manuscript, did not include the extra three words in his own published Greek text.
Furthermore, Westcott and Hort, as well as today’s Nestle-Aland critical texts, continue to bracket these extra words in their own Greek text, thus indicating doubt as to their authenticity. Yet they are found in versions like the NIV, NASB, RSV, NET and Holman Standard.
Let’s do a simple contrast between the two different readings here.
King James Bible - “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST.”
NIV - “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from YOUR SINCERE AND PURE DEVOTION TO CHRIST.”
The theological emphasis found in the text of the King James Bible (and many others as well) takes our eyes OFF of ourselves and focuses our attention ON Christ Himself and the simplicity that is found in His saving gospel.
The variant text and consequent translation of modern versions like the NIV, NASB, RSV takes our eyes off of the simplicity found in Christ and instead turns them upon our own religious feelings and performance. The whole context is wrenched out of place. The true words of God, as found in the King James Bible, are telling us to keep our minds on the simple truths that are found in the true Jesus Christ, and not to be led astray by “another Jesus”.
People can be very passionate and “devoted” to a false Jesus and a false religion. This happens all the time; we see it on every hand. The modern version reading would tend to turn us into spiritual belly-button watchers constantly testing the temperature of our own “devotion” and religious zeal, rather than on the objective, unchangeable and simple truth found in Christ.
Satan already has most Christians not believing that any Bible in any language is the complete, inspired and 100% true words of God, and “another spirit” is rapidly persuading the world that all religions are equally valid paths to God. Satan convinces them that what is really important is that they only be sincere and devoted to whatever it is that they might believe about their ‘God’.
The King James Bible is the true words of God on the earth today. Don’t let the ‘scholars’ and scribes cause you to doubt it, and don’t let your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ - that through the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE is there salvation from sin, death and hell, and there is absolutely no other way to have your sins forgiven and find peace with the one true God.
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Corinthians 5:21
"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6
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