Another King James Bible Believer



Did Jesus tell His disciples to take a staff or not? A Contradiction found in most bibles.

Matthew 10:10, Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3

In the King James Holy Bible we read the following:

Matthew 10:9-10

"Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither TWO coats, neither shoes, nor yet STAVES (ραβδους): for the workman is worthy of his hire."

In Matthew 10:10 the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, Young's, Jehovah Witness NWT, All Catholic versions  read: "Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals NOR A STAFF, (ραβδον) for the laborer is deserves his food." (ESV).

The singular word "staff" (ραβδονcomes from Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, D, the Latin Vulgate and the Syriac Peshitta and is the reading found in the Greek text of Stephanus 1550, Westcott-Hort and the modern UBS/Nestle-Aland/Vatican Critical Greek texts.

The plural word "STAVES (ραβδους) is the reading found in the Majority of all remaining Greek manuscripts as well as C, L, W, the Byzantine manuscripts, the Old Latin a, ff1, h, u, and the Syriac Harclean ancient versions.  

This is the reading found in Scrivener's 1894 Greek Textus Receptus put out by Trinitarian Bible Society and in the Majority Greek texts of Hodges and Farstad 1982, The Robinson-Pierpoint Byzantine Greek N.T., The Apostolic Bible Polyglot Greek 2003 and A Conservative Version Interlinear 2005.

Scrivener’s Textus Receptus 1894 - μηδε ραβδους

The Byzantine Majority Text - μηδε ραβδους

The Robinson-Pierpoint Byzantine Greek New Testament - ραβδους

F35 group of Byzantine Greek manuscripts - μηδε ραβδους

The Scripture For All Translation Interlinear Greek 2010 - rabdous - nor staves.



Mark 6:8

KJB - "And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save A STAFF ONLY; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse."

So read all texts, and the NASB, ESV, NIV also make mention of taking A STAFF only.

Luke 9:3

KJB - "And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither STAVES, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece."

Again STAVES (plural - ραβδους)) is the Majority reading and Alexandrinus, but again Sinaiticus and Vaticanus have the singular "staff", and so the NASB, NIV, ESV, Catholic versions and the Jehovah Witness NWT read:

"Take nothing for your journey, neither A STAFF, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money, and do not have even two tunics apiece." (NASB)

By way of example here, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus continually disagree with each other and so do the versions based on them. Here in Luke 9:1-3 the KJB and the Majority of all texts read: "Then he called HIS twelve DISCIPLES...and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal THE SICK...neither have two coats APIECE."

In just these three verses, Vaticanus omits "his disciples" and so do the NASB, NIV, ESV, but Sinaiticus reads "his twelve APOSTLES", contrary to the others. None of the versions follow the Sinaiticus reading here.

"and to heal THE SICK" is found in the majority of all texts including Sinaiticus, and so read the previous Revised Version, the American Standard Version, and the NIV; but because Vaticanus omits the words "the sick" the NASB, RSV, and ESV have  chosen to now omit these words.

Then in verse three we read "neither have two coats APIECE", which is in the Majority of texts, including A and D, and the NASB includes it, but Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit this word and so do the NIV, ESV. This is modern scholarship in action.

Anyway, the result of the Westcott-Hort texts which use the singular "STAFF" (ραβδονin all three gospels have the Lord telling His disciples not to take a staff in Matthew and Luke, and then in Mark He tells them to take a staff, has created a contradiction. And this contradiction has not gone unnoticed by the atheistic, Islamic, and Bible debunker sites.

An Islamic site lists this example as one of their alleged contradictions. They introduce the subject with these words: "There are contradictions in the Gospel accounts and such contradictions also prove that the Gospels do not constitute a revelation of God or that human interference has changed the original revelation out of recognition. Any ordinary author possessing an ordinary measure of consistency will not allow contradiction in what he writes. How then can we tolerate contradiction in a ‘Book of God’?  We give some examples here:

Then the Islamic site goes on to mention the apparent contradiction of Jesus telling his disciples not to take a staff in Matthew and Luke and in Mark telling them to take a staff.


The True Bible - The King James Holy Bible

The word used for a staff in Greek is rabdos in the singular and rabdous in the plural. It can have several meanings and uses. It can mean a staff, a walking stick, a twig, a rod with which one is beaten, or a branch. It can also mean a sceptre held by a king.

The Bible itself should serve as our dictionary. A simple staff may be used for walking on a journey. In Genesis 32:10 Jacob says to God: "for with MY STAFF I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands."

Zechariah 8:4 "There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with HIS STAFF in his hand for very age."

A staff could also serve in battle. Isaiah 10:5-6 "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and THE STAFF in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a tread them down like the mire in the streets."

Notice the use of the plural "staves" when David goes against Goliath in battle as recorded in 1 Samuel 17:43 where Goliath says to David: "And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with STAVES? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods."

The simple fact is that the King James Bible is one of the few Bibles that is right where the Lord tells his disciples not to take STAVES (plural) in Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:3, but tells them to take A STAFF (singular) in Mark 6:8. 


"STAVES" (plural - ραβδους)  This is the Majority reading of all Greek manuscripts in both Matthew 10:10 and in Luke 9:3 

"Matthew 10:9-10 - "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither TWO coats, neither shoes, nor yet STAVES (ραβδους)for the workman is worthy of his hire."


The King James Bible is actually the first English Bible to get this right.  All previous English bibles like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, The Great Bible, Matthew's Bible, the Bishops' bible and the Geneva bible had the singular "staff" in Matthew 10:10 and thus the contradiction.

The plural "STAVES" is the reading found in the Bill Bible 1671, the Mace N.T. 1729 and the Clarke Bible 1795. The Clarke Bible gives a running commentary or paraphrase and for this verse he writes: “But go just as you are; each man with the same coat, shoes AND STAFF, THAT HE NOW HAS; WITHOUT PROVIDING  ANY OTHER clothes, shoes or STAFF; or any bag of provisions for the way. For while ye are thus employed in laboring for the benefit and eternal welfare of others, ye may reasonably expect to be sustained by them for the present.”  

The Hussey N.T. 1845 also reads "nor yet STAVES" and then has a little mark next to this word indicating a commentary. He then says: "be not solicitous to provide ANY ADDITIONAL MEANS OF DEFENSE."

The Boothroyd Bible 1853 also reads "nor yet STAVES" and then footnotes: "Provide no ADDITIONAL SUPPLY of such articles." 

The Pickering New Testament 2005 reads: 9. "Do not provide gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10. nor a knapsack for the road, nor two tunics, nor sandals, NOR STAFFS;because the worker is worthy of his food." 

Then in his footnote he writes: "They were to travel ‘light’—A SPARE STAFF WOULD JUST BE EXTRA WEIGHT (they went everywhere on foot); with no knapsack a spare tunic and pair of sandals would just get in the way. However, this was a temporary instruction for a specific occasion. Later, in the upper room, He revoked this instruction (Luke 22:35-36). Perhaps 5% of the Greek manuscripts have ‘neither a staff’ (singular), THAT SETS UP A CONTRADICTION WITH MARK 6:8, TO BE DULY FOLLOWED BY THE NIV, NASB, LB, TEV, ETC."

Also reading "STAVES" are the Revised Translation 1815, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, the Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Revised N.T. 1862, the Anderson N.T. 1865, The Dillard N.T. 1885, the Clarke N.T. 1913, the NKJV 1982, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, Green's interlinear 1985, The Revised Webster Bible 1995 (The 1833 edition has "a staff"), the Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Koster Scriptures 1998, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 (Vince Garcia), A Conservative Version 2005, The Complete Apostle's Bible 2005, The Pickering New Testament 2005, The English Majority Text Version 2009 (Paul Esposito), The Faithful N.T. 2009, the Bond Slave Version 2009, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, The Scripture For All Translation 2010, the Conservative Bible 2011, The BRG Bible 2012, The Modern English Version 2014 and The Modern Literal New Testament 2014.


The Bible Commentators

Several Bible commentators saw the importance of this apparent contradiction based on different Greek texts and knew how to explain it.


Adam Clarke says in his commentary on Matthew 10:10: "all the following manuscripts and versions have STAVES: C, E, F, G, K, L, M, P, S, ninety-three others, Coptic, Armenian, latter Syriac, one of the Itala, Chrysostom, and Theophylact. THIS READING IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE, AS IT RECONCILES THIS PLACE WITH Luke 9:3, AND REMOVES THE SEEMING CONTRADICTION FROM Mark 6:8; as if he had said: "Ye shall take nothing to defend yourselves with, because ye are the servants of the Lord, and are to be supported by his bounty, and defended by his power."

John Gill remarks on these passages: "And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey,.... To accommodate them in it, except those things after directed to: save a staff only; a single one, FOR STAVES IN THE PLURAL NUMBER ARE FORBIDDEN. Matthew 10:10 does not forbid the taking of shoes, but two pair of shoes; as not two coats, nor two staves, but one of a sort only, that is, with more than one staff, which was sufficient to assist them, and lean upon in journeying: for, according to Mark, one was allowed; as though they might take a travelling staff, YET NOT STAVES FOR DEFENCE, OR TO FIGHT WITH."


Matthew Poole’s English Annotations - "Mark saith, Mark 6:8-9, that he commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save A STAFF ONLY; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. From whence is plain that the STAVES forbidden in Matthew were either staves for defence, or to bear burdens upon, not merely travellers’ staves.”

John Trapp Commentary (English Puritan) - “NOR YET STAVES - Either for offence or defence…But take a staff (as St Mark 6:8-9 hath it), so that may ease and relieve you in your hard toil and travel. A staff they might have to speak them the travellers, not soldiers; one to walk with, not to war with; a wand, not a weapon.”

B.W. Johnson's People's New Testament Commentary: "Save a staff only. Only the staff that each had already. Matthew forbids a supply for future use. With the staff each one had, but without an extra supply. A staff was always carried in walking over the rugged mountains of Palestine."

Matthew Henry comments: "In Matthew and Luke they are forbidden to take STAVES with them, THAT IS, FIGHTING STAVES;  but here in Mark they are bid to take nothing save A STAFF ONLY, THAT IS, A WALKING STAFF, such as pilgrims carried."


Most other versions I checked, including those that preceeded the King James Bible like Tyndale, Coverdale, The Great Bible, Matthew's Bible and the Geneva bible, got it wrong in Matthew 10:10 and say "nor A STAFF" and they ended up creating a real and not just an apparent contradiction.  


The King James Bible is the final product in the purification of God's inerrant words and it is God's masterpiece.  It is always right.  All of grace, believing the Book,


Will Kinney

Return to Articles -