Through His Blood


         Other than the Deity, Virgin Birth, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, no other truth is so essential to our faith as that of the Blood Atonement. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission” of sins (Hebrews 9:22). “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus Himself said, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

         Is there a reader who would dare say that any of the great fundamental truths of the Christian faith are founded upon only a single text of Scripture? The Inspiration of the Bible, the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Blood Atonement — NONE are established by an isolated verse. There are however those “KJV-Only” brethren who tell us that modern versions of the Bible “attack” Christian doctrine because they do not contain certain words of doctrine in places where the KJV has these words. Let us take an example of one of these alleged “attacks”, or rather, DIFFERENCES between the KJV and some newer translations.

Colossians 1:14  —  KJV

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:14  —  NIV

“In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

         The above comparison of Colossians 1:14 in the KJV with the NIV (as seen also by comparing to the NASB) reveals an omission of the words “through his blood” from the verse as it reads in the KJV. Such is a favorite prooftext for those of the “KJVOnly” position. This difference is often cited to “prove” that modern translations of the Bible cannot be trusted, and should be regarded as attacking the blood, or leaving out the blood, or such the like.

         It is further misleading when these same brethren accuse “all the new translations” of the Colossians 1:14 omission. The New King James Version, a modern translation, does contain the words in dispute:

 Colossians 1:14  —  NKJV

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

         “KJVOnly” advocates conveniently avoid the NKJV when citing their favorite “antiblood” text. Those who do this reveal not just dishonesty but deliberate coverup in their attempt to smear “all modern translations.” Furthermore, if “through his blood” in Colossians 1:14 makes the KJV superior to the NIV, NASB, and several other translations, then it makes the New King James Version just as “superior”. In fact, the NKJV may even be “superior” to the KJV for capitalizing “his” and reading “through His blood,” emphasizing the Deity of the One whose blood was shed!

Let the reader examine the following selections from the NIV to see how clearly it establishes the Blood Atonement of Jesus Christ —

[Ephesians 1:7  NIV]

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

[1 Peter 1:19  NIV]

“But with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

[Revelation 1:5  NIV]

“…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”

[Ephesians 2:13  NIV]

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

[Hebrews 9:14  NIV]

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that led to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

         We could multiply countless references to the Blood Atonement, the Deity of Christ, etc., from the NIV and NASB. So what, someone will say, that does not give them the right to take the blood out of any verse, even if it’s only one place. We would certainly agree that none have the “right” to remove a single word of God anywhere from the Bible (Revelation 22:19). We would just as strongly agree that this rule must apply equally to the KJV, for the King James translators had no “right” to omit words from the Bible. We would also equally agree that the KJV men did not have the right to add words, such as “through his blood” to Colossians 1:14 (Revelation 22:18).

         The truth is, translators simply translate the form of the Greek text that is before them and do not make omissions of words from the standard text on which they are assigned. If that Greek text omits or adds certain words based upon the readings of good manuscripts, the translator includes or else excludes them. Translators are simply following their texts, and this is exactly what the KJV translators did when they followed their Greek text, the Textus Receptus, at Colossians 1:14. The Greek New Testament currently in use is that of Nestle’s and follows older manuscripts at Colossians 1:14. The difference in the way the two Greek Bibles read is reflected by the translation. The picture portrayed of translators conspiring behind closed doors to attack Christianity by taking a pair of scissors to the word of God is simply FALSE.

         When we examine the manuscript evidence for the words, “through his blood” in Colossians 1:14, we find that the words were probably borrowed from the parallel passage in Ephesians 1:7 by a later copyist of the Greek manuscripts. Only a minority (though a strong minority, roughly 200 out of 600 extant) of the Byzantine manuscripts contain the words. Some of these are identified in Nestle’s text as MS 2464 (10th century), MS 614 (13th century), and MS 630 (14th century). On the other hand, the words are omitted from most of the majority text and from all the early Greek papyri of Colossians, including P15, P46, P49, and P65 (these papyri and 3rd century copies.)

         Regarding the manuscript evidence on Colossians 1:14, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman writes the following: Both of the Catholic Bibles (and all Catholic Bibles from 4501970 A.D.) resent the words through his blood in the text, so they simply remove the words” (The Christian’s Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, 1976, pg. 163). Such a statement, packed with emotional code words such as “Catholic Bibles” and “resent the words,” etc., is dishonest and unfounded. In the first place, Colossians 1:14 read without the words, “through his blood” back in the 3rd century, long before any “Catholic Bibles” or even the Catholic church existed! Secondly, if there was ever a “Catholic Bible” it was the Clementine Vulgate (decreed incidentally to be “infallible” by the Pope himself), and it contains the words. Ruckman further writes, The verse [Colossians 1:14] is a checkpoint placed by the Holy Spirit to enable the Bible believer to spot the corrupt Bibles when they appear (The Books of Galatians–Colossians, Bible Believer’s Commentary series, 1980, pg. 472). According to this statement, the New King James Version cannot be one of these “corrupt Bibles”!

         Ruckman also accuses modern translations of teaching a heresy in Colossians 1:14. He argues that by omitting the words “through his blood,” we are led into thinking that ‘redemption’ (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:15) is synonymous with ‘forgiveness'” (ibid., pg. 473). This is Ruckman’s twisting of the passage in Bibles that have the omission. “Redemption” and “forgiveness” are certainly not identical, but our “forgiveness” is included in the redemptive work of Christ, for we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). [See also Colossians 1:1922, 2:13; John 1:29; Hebrews 10:14; Revelation 5:9] “In whom we have redemption,” reads the verse and because of His redemption, we have “forgiveness of sins.” The shedding of His “blood” is understood in the work of “redemption” as much as the word “whom” in Colossians 1:14 is understood to be referring to Christ.

         In conclusion, once again, accuracy of information regarding both the manuscripts and Biblical doctrine are absolutely indispensable when dealing with the irrational, emotional appeals of KING JAMES ONLYISM. The translations into any languages that omit the words, “through his blood,” from Colossians 1:14 are certainly not “attacking the blood” or “resenting the blood,” but are IN FACT following what the strongest manuscript support declares to be the apostle’s rendering.  The “checkpoint placed by the Holy Spirit” in these matters is the TRUTH itself, which, thank God, sets us free (John 8:32).

Gary R. Hudson, former coeditor of Baptist Biblical Heritage now called THE  PILGRIM  Magazine.

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