“Vain Repetitions” the Rosary and the Modern Vatican Versions
Matthew 6:7 KJB - “But when ye pray, USE NOT VAIN REPETITIONS, as the heathen do.”
ESV - “And when you pray, DO NOT HEAP UP EMPTY PHRASES as the Gentiles do”
NIV - “And when you pray, DO NOT KEEP ON BABBLING like pagans”
NASB - “And when you are praying, DO NOT USE MEANINGLESS REPETITION as the Gentiles do”
The use of “vain repetitions” in prayer can clearly refer to the type of prayer used by the Catholic church in their repetitions of the Hail Mary and the Paternoster, or Our Father. Many Bible commentators of the past have agreed with this application of the passage before us.
John Calvin - Use not VAIN REPETITIONS. He reproves another fault in prayer, a multiplicity of words. βαττολογία is “a superfluous and affected repetition,” Christ reproves the folly of those who, with the view of persuading and entreating God, pour out a superfluity of words. At the same time, this condemns the superstition of those who entertain the belief, that they will secure the favor of God by long murmurings. WE FIND POPERY TO BE SO DEEPLY IMBUED WITH THIS ERROR, that it believes the efficacy of prayer to lie chiefly in talkativeness. The greater number of words that a man mutters, the more diligently he is supposed to have prayed. Long and tedious chanting also, as if it were to soothe the ears of God, continually resounds in their cathedrals.”
Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament - Matthew 6:7 “when ye pray use not vain repetitions” - Any person familiar with the Rosary cannot fail to wonder how such a thing could be observed among the followers of Christ; that is, if considered in the light of Jesus' words in this passage.”
Matthew Henry - “We must not use vain repetitions in prayer - What the fault is that is here reproved and condemned; it is making a mere lip-labour of the duty of prayer...as the Papists saying by their beads so many Ave-Marys and Paternosters.”
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown comment: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions ...In the Church of Rome, not only is it carried to a shameless extent, but the very prayer which our Lord gave as an antidote to vain repetitions is the most abused to this superstitious end; the number of times it is repeated counting for so much more merit. Is not this just that characteristic feature of heathen devotion which our Lord here condemns?”
B.W. Johnson’s People’s New Testament Commentary - “Mahometans and Catholics still hold that there is merit in repeating certain prayers a set number of times.”
John Lightfoot’s New Testament Commentary: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. ROSARY. Part of the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church is the rosary, fifteen groups or series of prayers, each series consisting of a Paternoster (Lord's Prayer), ten Aves (salutes to the Virgin Mary), and a Gloria. The string of beads used in counting the prayers is also called a rosary. It is symbolic, for the large beads stand for Paternosters (Our Father's) and Glorias, and the small beads for Aves (Hail Mary's), while the crucifix on the pendant symbolized the Apostles' Creed. The groups of beads are "decades"; generally only five decades are said at one time. Instead of a large bead at the end and at the beginning of each decade, only one bead is used to represent the Gloria and the Paternoster. -The Wonderland of Knowledge Encyclopedia, 1965
McGarvey and Pendleton Bible commentary: “This command is especially violated by the repetitions of the Roman Catholic rosary.”
Vincent’s Word Studies - vain repetitions - A word formed in imitation of the sound, battalogein: ...to repeat the same formula many times, as the worshippers of Baal and of Diana of Ephesus (1 Kings 18:26; Acts 19:34) and the Romanists with their paternosters and aves.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible - “Even the Christian Churches in India have copied this vain repetition work; and in it the Roman Catholic, the Armenian, and the Greek Churches strive to excel.”
Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament - “The Mohammedans may also be cited who seem to think that they "will be heard for their much speaking" Vincent adds "and the Romanists with their paternosters and avast."
A Bible version comparison of Matthew 6:7
“But when ye pray, USE NOT VAIN REPETITIONS, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
“Use not VAIN REPETITIONS” is also the reading of the Geneva Bible 1587 - “Also when ye pray, vse no VAINE REPETITIONS as the Heathen”, Whiston's N.T. 1745, John Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley N.T. 1770, Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, Webster’s translation 1833, The Longman Version 1841, Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Revised N.T. 1862, Noyes Translation 1869 "use not VAIN REPETITIONS as the heathen do", The Alford N.T. 1870, The Revised English Bible 1877, the Revised Version 1881 - "USE NOT VAIN REPETITIONS", Darby’s translation 1890, Young’s literal 1898 - “ye may not use vain repetitions”, American Standard Version 1901 - use not VAIN REPETITIONS", Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902, the Godbey N.T. 1902, Worrell N.T. 1904, The Clarke N.T. 1913, American Bible New Testament -"use not vain repetitions", the American Bible Union N.T., the NKJV 1982, the New Heart English Bible 2010, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, World English Bible 2000, The Yah Sacred Scriptures 2001, the Updated Bible version 2004, A Conservative Version 2005, The New European Version 2010, the English Jubilee Version 2010 - "use not VAIN REPETITIONS", The Biblos Bible 2013 and The Modern English Version 2014.
The Montgomery N.T. 1924 and Bible in Basic English of 1969 say: "in your prayers DO NOT MAKE USE OF THE SAME WORDS AGAIN AND AGAIN."
The Riverside N.T. of 1923 said: "When praying, DO NOT KEEP REPEATING".
The Twentieth Century N.T. 1901 said: "When praying, DO NOT REPEAT THE SAME WORDS OVER AND OVER AGAIN."
William's N.T. 1950 says: "whenever you pray, YOU MUST NOT KEEP ON REPEATING SET PHRASES, as the heathen do".
Foreign Language Bibles
Among foreign language translations that also say “use not vain repetitions” are the French Martin 1744 and the French Ostervald 1996 - “n'usez point de vaines redites”, the Portuguese A Sagrada Biblia and the Almeida Actualizada - “E, orando, não useis de vãs repetições,” the Spanish Reina Valera 1960, 1995 and the 2010 Reina Valera Gómez bibles - “Y orando, no uséis vanas repeticiones” and the Italian Nuova Diodati of 1991 - “non usate inutili ripetizioni”.
The Catholic Connection
The Vatican is directly involved in Bible translations today and has made a formal agreement with the UBS (United Bible Society) to create an "inter confessional" text to help unite "the separated brethren".
This is not some KJB Only Conspiracy Plot. It is a documented fact. I have a copy of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition right here in front of me. It is the same Greek text as the UBS (United Bible Society) 4th edition. These are the Greek readings and texts that are followed by such modern versions as the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard AND the new Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American Bible 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985.
If you have a copy of the Nestle-Aland 27th edition, open the book and read what they tell us in their own words on page 45 of the Introduction. Here these critical Greek text editors tell us about how the Greek New Testament (GNT, now known as the UBS) and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece grew together and shared the same basic text.In the last paragraph on page 45 we read these words:
"The text shared by these two editions was adopted internationally by Bible Societies, and FOLLOWING AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE VATICAN AND THE UNITED BIBLE SOCIETIES IT HAS SERVED AS THE BASIS FOR NEW TRANSLATIONS AND FOR REVISIONS MADE UNDER THEIR SUPERVISION. THIS MARKS A SIGNIFICANT STEP WITH REGARD TO INTERCONFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS. It should naturally be understood that this text is a working text: it is not to be considered as definitive, but as a stimulus to further efforts toward defining and verifying the text of the New Testament."
There it is folks, in their own words. They openly admit that this text is the result of an agreement between the Vatican and the UBS and that the text itself is not "definitive" - it can change, as it already has and will do so in the future, and is not the infallible words of God but merely "a stimulus to further efforts".
The Catholic Versions have always tried to translate this verse in such a way as to hide or obscure the fact that “vain repetitions” can be connected in any way to their vain and endless repetitions of the Ave Maria or the Paternoster.
Repetitions are obviously saying the same thing over and over and over again. And that they are “vain” means that they serve no useful purpose, are empty and of no real value.
In an attempt to change the definition of the word or to pick one that does not reveal the error of what Jesus calls “vain repetitions”, exemplified by the Rosary or Muslim rote prayers, Bible correctors and the politically correct compromisers prefer a version that labels them as “babbling” or “meaningless repetition”.
With these definitions in place, the Catholic with his Rosary and the Muslim can easily claim that their “prayers” are not “babbling” since babbling is a series of noises with no sense to them, and likewise they are not “meaningless repetition” because the words they use clearly have “meaning”. Let’s see how they did it.
The Catholic Douay Rheims of 1610 said: “And when you are praying, SPEAK NOT MUCH, as the heathens. “
The Douay version of 1950 says: “But in praying, DO NOT MULTIPLY WORDS, as the Gentiles do.”
The 1968 Jerusalem bible reads like the NIV with: “In your prayers, DO NOT BABBLE as the pagans do.”
The 1970 St. Joseph New American Bible says: “In your prayer DO NOT RATTLE ON like the pagans.”
And the 1985 New Jerusalem bible reads like the NIV again with: “In your prayers DO NOT BABBLE as the Gentiles do.”
Most modern “Evangelical” versions, which are in fact the new Vatican Versions, also eliminate any reference to the “vain repetitions” that can easily and accurately be applied to the Roman Catholic prayers, and read in such a way as that the “prayers” are mere babble that have no meaning at all.
This subtle change in meaning was first popularized in modern times by the liberal RSV of 1952 by saying: “When you are praying, DO NOT HEAP UP EMPTY PHRASES as the Gentiles do” and this reading is still followed by the ESV today.
Dan Wallace’s NET version reads: “When you pray, DO NOT BABBLE REPETITIOUSLY like the Gentiles,” Note - this is just like the Catholic Jerusalem bible versions, the Holman Standard and the NIV. Just a coincidence, right?
The Holman Standard 2009 - “When you pray, DON’T BABBLE like the idolaters.”, just like the Catholic Jerusalem bible.
The NASB 1995 has: “And when you are praying, DO NOT USE MEANINGLESS REPETITION as the Gentiles do”
The ESV 2001 - 2011 “And when you pray, DO NOT HEAP UP EMPTY PHRASES as the Gentiles do”
The NIV 2011 - “And when you pray, DO NOT KEEP ON BABBLING like pagans” = the Catholic Jerusalem bible of 1968.
The 2012 International Standard Version says: “When you are praying, DON’T SAY MEANINGLESS THINGS like the unbelievers do.”
The devout Catholic can then claim that the almost endless repetition of his Hail Mary and Our Father’s are not “babbling” or “meaningless” because the words they use DO have a meaning. See how the game is played?
You may also be interested in these articles that show the Roman Catholic Church’s direct involvement in producing such modern Vatican Versions as the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard and NET versions.
Undeniable Proof the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard, NET etc. are the new "Vatican Versions"
The Lord’s Prayer - Matthew 6:13 & Luke 11:2-4 - Is your bible a "Catholic" bible?
All of grace, believing The Book - the Authorized King James Holy Bible. Don't settle for a Substitute,