During bible study I noticed that Acts 8:37 was missing from my bible. Verse 36 goes straight onto verse 38. Some cursory Google searches show that this happens in the NIV but not the KJV.

Is there some controversy with the verse? A translation error? Hidden conspiracy?

Are there other verses of the bible like this? What is the story here.

  • 3
    There are at least three other verses that are missing from the NIV, one of which is John 5:4. In most, if not all cases, they are left out because various methods of analysis indicate that it was added at a later date (years later). I've got another project I'm working on, otherwise I'd develop this into an answer. Jun 4, 2012 at 0:06
  • Exactly - as more manuscript evidence is found, some verses can be shown to be later editions. Check out Bruce Metzger's Critical Appartus for a full listing. Jun 4, 2012 at 1:00
  • 2
    Hidden conspiracy? That's a bit of a stretch. It was most likely a side margin notation that was later included in the text itself. No conspiracy. No controversy. No translation error.
    – Narnian
    Sep 26, 2013 at 12:14

4 Answers 4


It is important to understand that we do not have an "original copy" of any book of the Bible. What we have are copies of copies of copies... (manuscripts), from which "Textual Critics" seek to ascertain the original wording. It is the original wording that most Bible scholars hold to be perfect and inspired by God.

Many modern Christians view "The Bible" that is sitting on their shelves as the perfect, exact word of the living God, but this doctrine is a bit off. What is sitting on your shelf is an English rendition of a particular translator's interpretation of the group of manuscripts he studied when writing his translation. (NOTE: The Bible on your shelf is completely sufficient for understanding God's message to us in 99.99% of cases.)

The books of the Bible were not originally divided into verses - this happened around the 16th century. This was a period in time when a very limited set of manuscripts were available for translation. The numbering scheme was, of course, based on those manuscripts which were available at the time. The KJV is one of the translations written around this time. (It is very interesting to look at how few manuscripts the KJV is based on, but that is a huge volatile topic that I won't go into here.)

Since that time, thousands of manuscripts have been excavated, which have given us more insight into what the original wording might have been. Modern translators (e.g. the NIV translators) seek to faithfully handle the word of God by considering as many reliable manuscripts as possible during translation - which is exactly what the KJV translators sought to do in their day (they just had far fewer manuscripts to work with.)

Contrary to what some in the KJV-only camp would have you believe, the NIV translators are not trying to lead you into a fiery demise by deceiving you with false translations. Many of the so-called "missing verses" are referenced in the side-column of your NIV Bible (see here). The only reason they were left out is that the translators of the NIV honestly believed that the evidence was overwhelmingly against those verses being part of the original writing.


I agree with pretty much everything Jas3.1 said, but let me add a couple of comments:

  1. It is certainly true that the manuscripts we have are copies of copies and that some number of discrepancies have crept in through the process. But as I note in my answer to this question: Is it possible for The Bible to contain errors?, most of these discrepancies are trivial spelling errors and the like. None affects any important doctrine.

  2. In my copy of the NIV, the verses they omit because they consider them debateable are still included in footnotes. (In other cases they include the verse in the text but then have a footnote saying it is debateable.) Some of my KJV-only friends take the NIV to task to for this. Not to start a fight, but I think it's fair to highlight where there is some debate about the text.

I suppose I can see that this could be construed as a maneuver by someone who doesn't like what the Bible says on a certain subject to try to cast doubt on the doctrine by casting doubt on the reliability of the text. But I don't see any evidence that the NIV has done this. Even without studying the manuscript evidence, there is no pattern to the elisions based on the doctrinal content. If a translation cast doubt on every verse that relates to, say. the Trinity, that would make me suspicious. But I don't see that.


Specifically, in regards to Acts 8:37, one thing to consider is that there was no stenographer following them around detailing every conversation. These messages were passed along orally for many years before someone compiled them in written form.

Another comment used Proverbs for illustration. We cannot assume that the NIV (and most other translations) gets Proverbs 18:24 wrong and the KJV is correct. As someone pointed out, the KJV was very limited in the number of source documents used. In fact, for the OT the KJV relied pretty much on paraphrasing one Hebrew to English translation, the Hebrew Rabbinic Bible translated by Daniel Bomberg in the 1500s.

Looking specifically at the original language for Proverbs 18:24, the original Hebrew reads "a man of friends will come to destruction." Not only is this a more accurate translation than the KJV, it makes more sense than saying "if you want to have friends you must be friendly." It is a warning to pick your friends wisely.

The KJV has served a great purpose in spreading the gospel, but there is no reason to disparage other translations because none of them are exact. In the same chapter as the question, read Acts 8:32-33 and then read Isaiah 53:7-8 (the verse it is quoting). Even then, translations were not precise and were based on intention and, often, on the views of the person copying it down. This is why most versions include things in the footnotes about translational issues. It's not some nefarious scheme, it's a problem any time you are translating between two very different languages. You have to consider word meaning and intention.

  • Welcome to the site! This doesn't really have much to do with your answer, but I find that sharing the following tends to help new visitors avoid mistaking the purpose of this site. I do hope to see more from you! When you get a chance, please see How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Jun 1, 2014 at 14:23
  • Thanks. Very happy to have found this site. I'll get accustomed to it soon.
    – Terry
    Jun 1, 2014 at 17:57
  • Sorry, but I don't see how the 2nd to 4th paragraphs help to answer this question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 1, 2014 at 22:44
  • There were four questions in the original post. Is there some controversy with the verse? Answered by showing that it was a common thing. A translation error? Answered in all three of the first paragraphs. Hidden conspiracy? Answered in paragraph four. Are there other verses of the bible like this? Answered with examples of other verses including some from the same chapter and some from examples given in other responses.
    – Terry
    Jun 3, 2014 at 3:58

Acts 8:27 and a few other verses are not contained in the NIV, NLT, ESV, ERV, ASV, or the latest NASB, because they are missing from the "Codex Alexandrinex" parchment copy of the Greek New Testament, which was discovered within a sealed jar under ~20 feet of sea-water, during the discovery and subsequent excavation of an Alexandrian library in 1881. There are at least two schools of thought among Greek New Testament scholars, regarding which copies are "closest" to the original manuscripts: A) the Alexandrian copy with the least number of copies, or B) the Byzantine copies,with the largest number of documented copy-corrections. The Alexandrian "camp" argues fewer copies means fewer copy-errors. The Byzantine "camp" argues more documented error-corrections means closer to the original manuscripts. I personally find the Byzantine argument more persuasive, because the "missing text" in Act 8:27, looks "missing" when comparing versions. Meanwhile, the arguments are likely to continue.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .