A Student's Guide to
New Testament Textual Variants

The First Letter of John

1 John 1:4-5:18


1 John 1:4:

TEXT: "so that our joy may be made full."
EVIDENCE: S B L Psi 1241 some Byz Lect three lat earlier vg cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: B

NOTES: "so that plyour joy may be made full."
EVIDENCE: A C K P 33 81 104 614 630 945 1739 1881 2495 some Byz some lat later vg syr(h,pal) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASVn RSVn NIVn TEVn

OTHER: "so that our joy in plyou may be made full"
EVIDENCE: syr(p)

COMMENTS: In later Greek "our" and "plyour" were pronounced alike, so the variation is perhaps due to a mistake of the ear. There is a possibility that the reading "plyour" was borrowed by copyists from John 16:24. The reading of the Syriac Peshitta translation is a combination of the two readings.

1 John 2:20:

TEXT: "from the Holy One, and plyou all know."
EVIDENCE: S B P Psi cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: D

NOTES: "from the Holy One, and plyou know all things."
EVIDENCE: A C K 33 81 104 614 630 945 1739 1881 2495 Byz Lect lat vg syr(p,h) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSVn NASVn NIVn NEBn

COMMENTS: The difference between the two readings is only one of two letters. Although it is possible that "know all things" was changed to "all know" by copyists who felt that "know all things" was too strong a statement, it is also possible that the reverse change was made by copyists who felt that the verb "know" needed an object.

1 John 2:25:

TEXT: "this is the promise he has promised us"
EVIDENCE: S A C K P Psi 33 81 104 614 630 945 1739 2495 Byz Lect most lat vg syr(p,h) cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: B

NOTES: "this is the promise he has promised plyou"
EVIDENCE: B 1241 1881 two lat
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSVn

COMMENTS: In later Greek the words for "us" and "plyou" were pronounced alike. Most likely the change from "us" to "plyou" by a few copyists was due to a mistake of the ear.

1 John 3:5:

TEXT: "he appeared to take away sins"
EVIDENCE: A B P 33 945 1241 1739 1881 lat syr(h) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: ASV RSV NASV NEB TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: "he appeared to take away our sins"
EVIDENCE: S C K L Psi 81 104 614 630 2495 Byz Lect vg syr(p) cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV NIV TEVn

COMMENTS: It seems likely that the word "our" was borrowed by copyists from passages such as 1 John 2:2 and 4:10.

1 John 4:3:

TEXT: "·and every spirit which does not confess Jesus"
EVIDENCE: S A B K Psi 33 81 104 614 630 945 1241 1739text 1881 2495 Byz Lect one lat syr(p,h) cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: "·and every spirit which annuls Jesus"
EVIDENCE: 1739margin most lat vg
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn

COMMENTS: Although it is possible that "not confess" comes from negating verse 2, it is more likely that the reading "annuls" comes from a second century polemic against Gnostics who said there was a difference between the earthly Jesus and the heavenly Christ.

1 John 4:10:

TEXT: "·In this is love, not that we have loved God"
EVIDENCE: B Psi 81vid 945 1241 1739
TRANSLATIONS: NASVn TEV
RANK: -

NOTES: "·In this is love, not that we loved God"
EVIDENCE: S A 048vid Maj
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB

COMMENTS: The difference between the perfect tense (text) and the aorist tense is that of only one letter. Since in the next phrase "he loved us," the word "love" is in the aorist tense, it is likely that copyists changed the perfect to the aorist to make the tenses the same.

1 John 4:20:

TEXT: "whom he has seen cannot be loving God whom he has not seen."
EVIDENCE: S B Psi 630 1739 2495 syr(h) cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: B

NOTES: "whom he has seen, how can he be loving God whom he has not seen?"
EVIDENCE: A K L 048 33 81 104 614 945 1241 1881 Byz Lect lat vg syr(p) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASVn RSVn NASVn

COMMENTS: Although it is possible that some copyists substituted "not" for "how" to make the meaning clear, it is also possible that other copyists substituted "how" for "not" to heighten the rhetorical style.

1 John 5:7-8:

TEXT: "·And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. ·[That is] because there are three who testify: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and [these] three agree as one."
EVIDENCE: S A B K P Psi 048 33 81 104 614 630 945 1241 1739 1881 2495 Byz Lect one lat earlier vg syr(p,h) cop
TRANSLATIONS: ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: A

NOTES: "And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. ·[That is] because there are three who testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. ·And there are three who testify in the earth: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and [these] three agree as one."
EVIDENCE: 61 88margin 221margin 429margin 629 636margin 918 2318 most lat later vg
TRANSLATIONS: KJV NASVn NIVn

COMMENTS: A complete list of the Greek manuscripts that include this passage is given above, in spite of the fact that none of the manuscripts were copied before the tenth century. There is much variation among those who have it, and most of the old Latin manuscripts have the witnesses on earth before the witnesses in heaven. The expanded passage is a fourth century Latin gloss on verse 8 which found its way into the Latin text and was back-translated into a few Greek manuscripts.

1 John 5:18:

TEXT: "but the One who was born of God keeps him"
EVIDENCE: A* B 614 2495 lat vg syr(h) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: "but the one who was born of God keeps himself"
EVIDENCE: S Ac K P Psi 33 81 630 945 1241 1739 1881 Byz Lect syr(p) cop(south)?
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV

COMMENTS: The difference in the two readings is only that of one letter. Elsewhere John uses the word translated "the One who was born" to refer to Christ, and a different form of the word to refer to the believer in Christ. Copyists who misunderstood the word as referring to the believer change the simple pronoun to the reflective "himself."



The Second Letter of John

2 John 8-12


2 John 8:

TEXT: "that plyou may not lose what we have worked for"
EVIDENCE: B syr(h)margin cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: ASV RSVn NASV NEB TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: "that plyou may not lose what plyou have worked for"
EVIDENCE: S A Psi 0232vid 33 81 614 630 1241 1739 1881 2495 lat vg syr(ph,h) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASVn NIV TEVn

OTHER: "that we may not lose what we have worked for"
EVIDENCE: K P 104 945 Byz Lect
TRANSLATIONS: KJV

COMMENTS: The translations "we" and "plyou" in this verse are from the verb endings which were not pronounced alike. Even though there is not much manuscript evidence for the text reading, it is the reading that was most likely to be changed by copyists: some changed "we" to "plyou" to make it read "plyou . . . plyou"; others changed "plyou" to "we" to make it read "we . . . we."

2 John 12:

TEXT: "so that our joy may be made full"
EVIDENCE: S K L P Psi 104 614 630 945 2495 Byz Lect syr(ph,h)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV RSV NASVn NIV NEB TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: "so that plyour joy may be made full"
EVIDENCE: A B 33 81 1739 1881 lat vg cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: ASV NASV

OTHER: "so that my joy may be made full"
EVIDENCE: cop(south)

COMMENTS: In later Greek the words for "our" and "plyour" were pronounced alike. It is likely that copyists misheard "our" as "plyour," influenced by the two previous occurrences of "plyou" in the verse.



The Third Letter of John


No Major Variants Noted in English Translations
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