Depending on which translation you’re reading, you may have one of two questions while reading Mark 9:
- Why are verses 44 and 46 missing?
- Why do verses 44, 46, and 48 all say, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched“?
[This blog was originally written for my church’s blog. We’re doing a church wide read through of the New Testament. With each day’s reading we are composing blog posts. This is one of two posts I wrote on Mark 9.]
If you’re reading the King James Version of the Bible or the New King James Version of the Bible, you might have asked the second question. If you’re reading a more contemporary translation like the NIV, NASB, or ESV, you might be asking the first question.
Take a look
Mark 9 NIV
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
Mark 9 KJV
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Why is my Bible missing verses?
Why Are They Different?
The answer is very simple.
At the time that the King James version of the Bible was translated, the number of Greek manuscripts were somewhat limited. Specifically, the KJV was translated from what is called the Textus Receptus (Latin for “The Received Text”). At the time, this was the absolute best Greek New Testament available. To be clear, it could easily be argued that the King James Version of the Bible is one of the top two most important translations of the Bible in human history. The New King James Version of the Bible is a modern translation of the Bible using the Textus Receptus. The King James version of the Bible is a wonderful translation of the Bible into 17th century English, and the New King James Version is a solid translation of the Textus Receptus into contemporary English.
Here’s the deal: the King James Version of the Bible was first published in 1611. There have been multiple, monumental Greek manuscript discoveries over the 412 years since the KJV was first published. The newly discovered manuscripts are significantly older than those in the Textus Receptus. In fact, some of the discoveries from the last 150 years are Greek manuscripts dating to within decades of when they were originally written; this is unheard of when it comes ancient documents. As a point of reference, the earliest copies of the works of Homer (i.e. The Illiad and The Odyessy) are the 2nd most well attested to ancient writing behind the New Testament (based on the number of texts, and how near the earliest manuscripts are to the original text). The earliest manuscripts of his work were written 600 years after his death.
These newly discovered older manuscripts do not contain these verses. There are actually 16 passages in the KJV which do not appear in these earlier manuscripts. Therefore, besides NKJV of the Bible, modern translations do not include these verses.
I know what you’re thinking, “What are these verses? Do they contain important theology? What does this mean for the reliability of the New Testament?”
Here’s the most important thing: these discrepancies don’t mean anything for the reliability of the New Testament. We have 6,000 early New Testament manuscripts. You have to remember, they didn’t have copiers or printers. They are hand-written copies of the New Testament. There were people whose entire job was to just sit and copy the New Testament. Sometimes, they would make mistakes in the process.
Today’s passage is a great example of this. In Textus Receptus, Mark 9 repeats the line, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” three times. It would seem that the person hand-writing this text accidentally kept repeating the line.
- Does this change the meaning of the text? No.
- Is this cause for concern? No.
It’s just an acknowledgement of the very human process of bringing these divine texts to us in the 21st century. There are no theological changes. There are no doctrinal changes. There are simply some copy errors and possible examples of over-zealous copy scribes adding sentences to clarify theology at points.
Here is a video explaining some of the differences from The Gospel Coalition.
If you liked this post, here is another post on how we got our Bible:
SEAN CHANDLER | Associate Pastor
Sean has been a part of the association of Hill Country Bible Churches for over twenty years. He received Christ as a youth while attending Hill Country Bible Church Austin. He attended Hill Country Bible Church NW from 1989 to 2002. At that time he began attending HCBC Pflugerville. He served as a student ministry intern there for two years. In 2008, Sean graduated from Columbia International University with a double major in Bible and Bible teaching. Sean married his wife, Jennifer, in 2006. Their first child, Liam, was born in 2012.
He blogs regularly at seanchandler.net.