Answering the Bible critics on John 3:34 God giveth not the Spirit by measure UNTO HIM.
John 3:34 KJB - “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure UNTO HIM.”
ESV (NIV, NASB, NET, Holman, Jehovah Witness NWT) - "For he whom God has
A few times now I have seen this alleged “error” posted in various internet forums. One such Bible critic posts the following:
“Here is another error in the KJV. John 3:34 - “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure UNTO HIM.”
"Unto him" is not in the Greek. The addition of these two words by the KJV translators make the verse say something that is not. This "error" has led many to the false doctrine that Jesus alone receives the Spirit without measure and man only a limited 'measure" of the Spirit. The Greek grammar clearly renders the last portion of the verse as "He gives the Spirit without measure". (end of notes by Bible critic)
First of all it should be pointed out that not one of these Bible critics believes that any Bible in any language (including the ever elusive and never identified “the” Greek and Hebrew) either IS or ever was the complete, inspired and 100% true words of the living God. In fact, this same Christian who posted this alleged error openly admitted that he believes ALL Bibles have errors in them and that only the originals were inspired.
Of course he has never seen a single word of these long lost originals, and the modern versions he promotes among the Bible Babble Buffet all often reject the Hebrew readings and frequently differ radically among themselves. This Bible Agnostic has no infallible Bible in Hebrew, Greek or English to believe in himself and none to give anyone else either.
Now to address this alleged error. We will look at three issues. Number One - Other Bible translations. Numbr Two - the elliptical nature of the Greek language. And number Three - Correct Theology according to many Bible commentators.
King James Bible - “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure UNTO HIM.”
Some modern versions like the NKJV, RSV, NIV 1984 and 2011 editions, NASB, ESV, Jehovah Witness NWT and Holman Standard omit the extra words “unto him” referring to Christ.
NKJV 1982 - “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” (Notice that the word ‘God’ appears three times)
NASB 1995 - "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.” (the word ‘God ‘ appers twice)
NIV 1984, 2010 - “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (the word ‘God’ appears three times again.)
ESV 2001 - “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” (‘he’ in small letters twice and ‘God’ appears only twice again.)
Holman Standard 2003 - “For God sent Him, and He speaks God’s words, since He gives the Spirit without measure.” (He and Him now capitalized but ‘God’ appears only twice.)
The NIV 1973 and 1974 versions. The NIV New Testament has now been revised 4 times. It first came out in 1973, then was revised in 1974, again in 1984 and now once again in 2011 where they have changed both the English texts and in some cases even the Hebrew and Greek underlying texts in about 10% of the verses that were in the 1984 version.
I have right here in my study two early copies of the NIV. One is from 1973 and the other is the 1974 edition, third printing done in 1977. In BOTH of these NIV bibles John 3:34 reads like the King James Bible and does not even put the words in italics. The NIV 1973 says in John 3:34 - “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; TO HIM (Caps are mine) God gives the Spirit without limit.” But then in the 1984 edition the NIV removed the words “to Him”.
The NIV Spanish edition still contains the reference “to Him” in 1999. Here is the NIV 1999 Spanish edition - “Juan 3:34 (Nueva Versión Internacional) - “ El enviado de Dios comunica el mensaje divino, pues Dios mismo LE da su Espíritu sin restricción.”
There are numerous Bible translations done both before and after the King James Bible that contain the “added” words “unto him”, and with good reason. The context is clearly talking about the uniqueness of the Son of God who came from above and was above all and into whose hand God had given all things. He and He alone was given the Spirit without measure. It is clearly implied by the context of verses 3:31 to 36, and many other Bible commentators have seen it this way, as we shall soon see.
Not only does the King James Bible rightfully “add” the words “UNTO HIM" but so also do the following Bible translations.
The Modern Greek Bible actually has the words “to Him” in the text. You can see it here at the Unbound Bible site. Just type in John 3:34 and scroll down to Modern Greek and you will see it there.
John 3:34 - Διοτι εκεινος, τον οποιον απεστειλεν ο Θεος, τους λογους του Θεου λαλει· επειδη ο Θεος δεν διδει εις αυτον το Πνευμα με μετρον.
Bishops’ Bible 1568 - For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the wordes of God: For God geueth not the spirite by measure VNTO HYM.
Coverdale 1535 - For he who God hath sent, speaketh ye wordes of God: for God geueth not the sprete (vnto him) by measure.
Cranmer Bible 1539 - “For God geveth not the sprete by measure VNTO HYM."
The Great Bible 1540 - Joh 3:34 For he whom God hath sent, speaketh ?e wordes of God: For God geueth not the sprete by measure UNTO HIM.
The Geneva Bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599 - For hee whome God hath sent, speaketh the woordes of God: for God giueth HIM not the Spirit by measure.
Mace’s N.T. 1729 - “for he whom God hath sent, saith nothing but what is divine: for God hath given HIM the spirit without restriction. “
Wesley’s translation 1755 - “For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not HIM the Spirit by measure.”
Worsley Version 1770 - John 3:34 “for He, whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God: for God giveth the Spirit TO HIM not by measure.”
Webster’s Bible 1833 - “For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God: for HIM God giveth not the Spirit by measure.”
Goodspeed 1913 - John 3:34 For he whom God has sent speaks God's words, for God gives HIM his Spirit without measure.
Williams New Testament in the Language of the People 1937 - "For He whom God has sent continues to speak the words of God, for God continues to give HIM the Spirit without measure."
J.B. Phillips Translation 1962 - "For the one whom God sent speaks the authentic words of God—and there can be no measuring of the Spirit given TO HIM!"
Bible in Basic English 1961 - “For he whom God has sent says God's words; and God does not give HIM the Spirit by measure.”
New Century Version - "The One whom God sent speaks the words of God, because God gives HIM the Spirit fully."
The Complete Jewish Bible 1998 - “because the one whom God sent speaks God's words. For God does not give HIM the Spirit in limited degree --”
God’s Word Translation 1995 - “The man whom God has sent speaks God's message. After all, God gives HIM the Spirit without limit. “
Heritage Bible 2003 - “Because he whom God has set apart and sent speaks the spoken words of God, because God absolutely does not give the Spirit by measure TO HIM."
The Holy New Covenant 2004 - "God sent Jesus. Jesus speaks the words of God because God gave HIM the Spirit without limit. “
The Jerusalem Bible 1968 - “since he whom God has sent speaks God's own words: God gives HIM the Spirit without reserve.”
New Jerusalem Bible 1985 - “since he whom God has sent speaks God's own words, for God gives HIM the Spirit without reserve.”
John 3:34 (21st Century King James Version 1994)
"For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure UNTO HIM."
John 3:34 (Amplified Bible) 1987
“For since He Whom God has sent speaks the words of God [proclaims God's own message], God does not give HIM His Spirit sparingly or by measure, but boundless is the gift God makes of His Spirit!”
The Expanded Bible 2011 - "The One whom God sent speaks the words of God, because God gives HIM the Spirit fully."
The Complete Jewish Bible 1998 - "because the one whom God sent speaks God’s words. For God does not give HIM the Spirit in limited degree — "
Easy To Read Version 2006 - "God sent him, and he tells people what God says. God gives HIM the Spirit fully."
Other English Bibles that "add" the words "TO HIM", referring to Jesus, are the Bill Bible 1671, the Clarke N.T. 1795, the Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, The Dickenson N.T. 1833, The Living Oracles 1835, The Pickering N.T. 1840, The Longman Version 1841, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Anderson N.T. 1865, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Dillard N.T. 1885, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Improved Bible 1913, The Moffatt N.T. 1913, The Riverside N.T. 1923, The Phillips N.T. 1962, The Plain English N.T. 1963, The Bible in Basic English 1965, The New Life Version 1969, The Living Bible 1971, The Word of Yah 1993, The Contemporary English Version 1995, The God's Word Translation 1995, The Worldwide English N.T. 1998, The Last Days Bible 1999, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 (Vince Garcia), The New Century Version 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, The New European Version 2010, The Easy English Bible 2010, The Jubilee Bible 2010, The Disciples' Literal N.T. 2011, The Names of God Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2011, Far Above All Translation 2011, The Voice 2012, The Translators' Bible 2014 and The Holy Bible, Modern English Version 2014 - "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without measure to Him."
Juan 3:34 (Nueva Versión Internacional)
“ El enviado de Dios comunica el mensaje divino, pues Dios mismo LE da su Espíritu sin restricción.”
Juan 3:34 (Traducción en lenguaje actual)
“ ya que cuando el Hijo habla, el que habla es Dios mismo, porque Dios LE ha dado todo el poder de su Espíritu.” Traducción en lenguaje actual (TLA) Copyright © 2000 by United Bible Societies
The Spanish Sagradas Escrituras of 1569 - “Porque el que Dios envió, las palabras de Dios habla; porque no LE da Dios el Espíritu por medida.”
The Spanish Reina Valera of 1858 - “Porque no LE da Dios el Espíritu por medida.”
The Spanish Reina Valera Gomez of 2004 - “Porque el que Dios envió habla las palabras de Dios, pues Dios no LE da el Espíritu por medida.”
The French Martin of 1744 - “Dieu a envoyé annonce les paroles de Dieu; car Dieu ne LUI donne point l'Esprit par mesure.”
French Louis Segond 1910 - “car celui que Dieu a envoyé dit les paroles de Dieu, parce que Dieu ne LUI donne pas l'Esprit avec mesure.” = “because that which God sent said the words of God, because God does not give him the Spirit with measurement.”
French La Bible du Semeur 1999 Jean 3:34 (La Bible du Semeur) 34 “En effet, l'envoyé de Dieu dit les paroles mêmes de Dieu, car Dieu LUI donne son Esprit sans aucune restriction.”
Italian Diodati of 1649 and the New Diodati of 1991 Giovanni 3:34 (La Nuova Diodati) “Infatti colui che Dio ha mandato, proferisce le parole di Dio, perché Dio non GLI dà lo Spirito con misura.”
The Italian Riveduta of 1927 - “perché Dio non GLI dà lo Spirito con misura.”
Portuguese O Livro 2000 - “Pois esse, o enviado de Deus, fala as palavras de Deus, porque o Espírito de Deus ESTA SOBRE ELE, sem medida nem limite.”, and the Portuguese Almeida Corrigida E Fiel and A Biblia Sagrada em Portugués - "pois näo IHE dá Deus o Espírito por medida."
Number Two - The Elliptical Greek language.
The Greek language used in the New Testament is often elliptical and so also is the Hebrew in the Old. That is, certain parts of speech, including everything from the subject, the verb or the direct and indirect objects are frequently omitted in the literal sense but are implied in the context.
ALL Bible translations OFTEN “add” words like “him, them and you” to their English or foreign language translation. The KJB is honest about this. It places these “added” words in italics, whereas most modern versions still “add” the extra words but put them in regular print so you can’t see where they did it.
Here are just a FEW of the literally hundreds of examples that could be given. The Bold faced CAPITALIZED words are “added” to the Greek texts.
John 1:18 - “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared HIM.” (NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, Holman)
John 4:26 - “Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am HE.” (NIV, NASB, NKJV, ESV)
John 5:21 - “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth THEM; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman)
John 6:5 - “When Jesus then lifted up HIS eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (NKJV, NASB, ESV)
John 6:52 - “The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us HIS flesh to eat?” (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman)
John 8:44 - “Ye are of YOUR father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman)
John 8:47 - “He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear THEM not, because ye are not of God.” (NIV, NASB, RV, ASV, RSV)
John 9:9 - “Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am HE.” (RV, ASV, NKJV, - NIV, ESV “THE MAN”, NASB “THE ONE”)
John 10:29 - “My Father, which gave THEM me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” (RV, ASV, NASB, NIV, ESV, NKJV, Holman)
John 12:42 - “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess HIM, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (NASB, NKJV, Holman; NIV THEIR FAITH; ESV, RSV - IT)
John 13:9 - “Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also MY hands and MY head.” (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman)
John 13:10 - “Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash HIS feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. “ (NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman)
John 13:19 - “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am HE.“ (NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman)
John 15:6 - “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather THEM, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (RV, ASV, NKJV, NASB, Holman; - NIV SUCH BRANCHES; ESV THE BRANCHES)
John 19:1 - “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged HIM. “ (NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman)
John 19:15 - “But they cried out, Away WITH HIM, away WITH HIM, crucify him. “ (NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman)
John 20:22 - “And when he had said this, he breathed ON THEM, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” (NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman)
John 21:18 - “...but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry THEE whither thou wouldest not.” (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman)
Number Three - Sound Theology -
The King James Bible is right, as always.
Numerous Bible commentators have expounded upon the meaning of John 3:34 and the vast majority throughout history and even today still agree with the reading found in the King James Bible and many others. That is, that God does not give the Spirit by measure unto Christ, and this is in contrast to other mortal men who are much smaller vessels of God’s glory and gifts. Consider the following comments.
Daniel Wallace NET version footnote on John 3:34 - “for not by measure does he give the Spirit” (an idiom). Leviticus Rabbah 15:2 states: “The Holy Spirit rested on the prophets by measure.” Jesus is contrasted to this. The Spirit rests upon him without measure.”
Critical and Explanatory Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Faussett and Brown - “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure--Here, again, the sharpest conceivable line of distinction is drawn between Christ and all human-inspired teachers: "They have the Spirit in a limited degree; but God giveth not [to Him] the Spirit by measure." It means the entire fulness of divine life and divine power. The present tense "giveth," very aptly points out the permanent communication of the Spirit by the Father to the Son, so that a constant flow and reflow of living power is to be understood.”
Adam Clarke comments on John 3:34 - “He is the most perfect of all teachers, as having received the Holy Spirit as none before him ever did. Without measure-not for a particular time, people, purpose, and in reference to all eternity. Former dispensations of the Holy Spirit made partial discoveries of infinite justice and mercy; but now the sum of justice, in requiring such a sacrifice, and the plenitude of mercy, in providing it, shall, by that Spirit with which he baptizes, be made manifest to all the children of men.
Henry Alford - The New Testament for English Readers 1868 - "for God giveth not the Spirit by measure UNTO HIM." "Seeing that the contrast is between the unlimited gift of the Spirit to Him that comes from above, and the limited participation of Him by those who are of the earth; WE MUST NOT UNDERSTAND THE ASSERTION GENERALLY, BUT SUPPLY "TO HIM" AS HAS USUALLY BEEN DONE." (page 490)
Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testaments on John 3:34 - “The descent of the dove alighting and remaining on Jesus (John 1:33) is in view here, leading to the conclusion that it was a measureless gift of the Spirit received by Jesus, and the inevitable corollary that Jesus spoke the true words of God. These words further indicate that Jesus was in full possession of God's Spirit, not merely in some manifestation of it, or some portion of it, but to the fullest and total extent. Jesus said to the disciples that "The Holy Spirit abideth with you, and shall be in you," a clear reference to himself as being the perfect embodiment of the Spirit. On the other hand, Christian disciples receive merely "an earnest" of the Holy Spirit, and not even the apostles possessed the Spirit in the total sense that Jesus did.”
Barnes Notes on the New Testament on John 3:34 - “For God giveth not the Spirit. The Spirit of God. Though Jesus was God as well as man, yet, as Mediator, God anointed him, or endowed him with the influences of his Spirit, so as to be completely qualified for his great work.
By measure. Not in a small degree, but fully, completely. The prophets were inspired on particular occasions to deliver special messages. The Messiah was continually filled with the Spirit of God. "The Spirit dwelt in him, not as a vessel, but as in a fountain, as in a bottomless ocean" (Henry)”
John Gill on John 3:34 - “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him as he did to the prophets of the Old Testament, and to the apostles of the New; and to the ordinary ministers of the word, who have gifts differing one from another; to one is given one gift of the Spirit; and to another, another gift, as the Spirit pleaseth; and to everyone is given grace, or gifts of grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, (Ephesians 4:7) . To which agrees what the Jews say F1 of the Holy Spirit, and his gifts.
But the Lord Jesus has every, gift of the Spirit, and the fulness of grace in him: he is anointed with the oil of gladness, with the Holy Ghost above his fellows; and has an immeasurable unction of the holy one; which, like the precious oil poured on Aaron, descends from him to the members of his body.”
Matthew Henry on John 3:34 - “God giveth not the Spirit by measure to him. None can speak the words of God without the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10,11. The Old-Testament prophets had the Spirit, and in different degrees, 2 Kings 2:9,10. But, whereas God gave them the Spirit by measure (1 Corinthians 12:4), he gave him to Christ without measure; all fulness dwelt in him, the fulness of the Godhead, an immeasurable fulness. The Spirit was not in Christ as in a vessel, but as in a fountain, as in a bottomless ocean. "The prophets that had the Spirit in a limited manner, only with respect to some particular revelation, sometimes spoke of themselves; but he that had the Spirit always residing in him, without stint, always spoke the words of God." So Dr. Whitby.”
Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament John 3:34 “The words of God (ta rhmata tou teou).God sent his Son (3:17) and he speaks God's words. By measure (ek metrou). That is God has put no limit to the Spirit's relation to the Son. God has given the Holy Spirit in his fulness to Christ and to no one else in that sense.”
The Fourfold Gospel Commentary on John 3:34 - “For he giveth not the Spirit by measure. To give anything by measure indicates a partial, scanty bestowal (Ezekiel 4:16). The Spirit of God, even in inspired prophets, was but a partial and intermittent gift (1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 13:9; 1 Peter 1:11; Hebrews 1:1), but in Jesus, the Son of God, the Spirit of God dwelt fully and uninterruptedly (Colossians 1:19). The present tense "giveth" points to a continuous communication of the Spirit. If Christ had received the Spirit "by measure", then his gift of the Spirit might be exhausted.”
Life Application Study Bible. - "God's Spirit was upon Jesus without measure or limit. Thus, Jesus was the highest revelation of God to humanity (Hebrews 1:2)."
John Wesley’s Commentary on John 3:34 - “Verse 34. God giveth not him the Spirit by measure - As he did to the prophets, but immeasurably. Hence he speaketh the words of God in the most perfect manner.”
John Calvin on John 3:34 - “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure. This passage is explained in two ways. Some extend it to the ordinary dispensation in this manner: that God, who is the inexhaustible fountain of all benefits, does not in the least degree diminish his resources, when he largely and plentifully bestows his gifts on men. They who draw from any vessel what they give to others come at last to the bottom; but there is no danger that any thing of this sort can happen with God, nor will the abundance of his gifts ever be so large that he cannot go beyond it, whenever he shall be pleased to make a new exercise of liberality. This exposition appears to have some plausibility, for the sentence is indefinite; that is, it does not expressly point out any person.
But I am more disposed to follow Augustine, who explains that it was said concerning Christ. Nor is there any force in the objection, that no express mention is made of Christ in this clause, since all ambiguity is removed by the next clause, in which that which might seem to have been said indiscriminately about many is limited to Christ. For these words were unquestionably added for the sake of explanation, that the Father hath given all things into the hand of his Son, because he loveth him, and ought therefore to be read as placed in immediate connection. The verb in the present tense — giveth — denotes, as it were, a continued act; for though Christ was all at once endued with the Spirit in the highest perfection, yet, as he continually flows, as it were, from a source, and is widely diffused, there is no impropriety in saying that Christ now receives him from the Father. But if any one choose to interpret it more simply, it is no unusual thing that there should be a change of tenses in such verbs, and that giveth should be put for hath given.
THE MEANING IS NOW PLAIN, THAT THE SPIRIT WAS NOT GIVEN TO CHRIST BY MEASURE, AS IF THE POWER OF GRACE WHICH HE POSSESSES WERE IN ANY WAY LIMITED; as Paul teaches that to every one is given according to the measure of the gift, (Ephesians 4:7,) so that there is no one who alone has full abundance. For while this is the mutual bond of brotherly intercourse between us, that no man separately considered has every thing that he needs, but all require the aid of each other, CHRIST DIFFERS FROM US IN THIS RESPECT, THAT THE FATHER HAS POURED OUT UPON HIM AN UNLIMITED ABUNDANCE OF HIS SPIRIT. And, certainly, it is proper that the Spirit should dwell without measure in him, that we may all draw out of his fullness, as we have seen in the first chapter. And to this relates what immediately follows, that the Father hath given all things into his hand; for by these words John the Baptist not only declares the excellence of Christ, but, at the same time, points out the end and use of the riches with which he is endued; namely, that Christ, having been appointed by the Father to be the administrator, he distributes to every one as he chooses, and as he finds to be necessary; as Paul explains more fully in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, which I lately quoted. Although God enriches his own people in a variety of ways, this is peculiar to Christ alone, that he has all things in his hand.” (end of comments by John Calvin)
The King James Bible is ALWAYS right. Get used to it.
Return to Articles - http://brandplucked.webs.com/kjbarticles.htm