I am curious to know why Matthew 17:21 is not included in the NIV translation. It is in the KJV and some other versions but in the NIV it is only in the footnotes. Do you know why? -- Elliott Quinones (Jacksonville, Florida)

Yes, verse 21 ("this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting") appeared in all the late Greek and Latin manuscripts upon which the KJV was based (from the 1400s), but is missing in some of the earlier Greek manuscripts. Latin mss containing this are C, Co, E, G, L, P, Si, St, Wi, S, and W.

It does appear in a2 the second edition of Codex Sinaiticus, c. 350 AD), C, D, L, W, f 1,13 (ms families 1 and 13), the Latin, Syriac, etc. But it is missing in the oldest NT mss (B, a [original], Q, etc. (B and a are both from the 300s, while Q is from the 9th century.) The evidence is divided, though the earliest and most accurate mss do not include this verse. The question is not, "What did Jesus say?", but "How did the earliest manuscripts read"? He may well have uttered those words, but if they did not appear in the original mss, a faithful copyist will not re-insert them.

In short, this verse is omitted from the NIV and several other modern versions because it does not appear in the Greek mss from which the translations were made. No "original" Greek N.T. has survived. Translators have to make good-faith decisions based on the best resources at hand. Naturally, there will be some differences of opinion. Fortunately, however, no doctrine of the Bible is affected by the sorts of translation choices involved.

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