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No Church in Acts 2:47?

Growing up with the KJV, I learned Acts 2:47 as

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Later in life, I moved to the NIV, which reads,

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Where did the church go? One explanation is that the evil NIV hated the church and thus remove mention of it from this text. However, that explanation would be wrong.

The answer to which translation is correct comes down to the matter of how the manuscripts of the NT were preserved and eventually came down to us.

Actually the NT manuscripts (MSS) contain some variations. The “best” reading is ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό (to thier group/number) instead of τῇ ἐκκλησία (to the church). That is, some MSS of the NT have the first reading while the majority of MSS have a variation of the latter.

The first reading (ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό) is supported by 01 02 03 04 81 1175.

However regarding the addition of “church,” the following readings are attested in the MSS:

  1. τη εκκλησια 08 014sup1 025 044 049 056 1 33 69 88 226 323 330 440 547 614 618 927 1241 1245 1270 1505 1611 1646 1828 1837 1854 2147 2344 2412 2492

  2. τη εκκλησια επι το αυτο 35 945 1739 1891

  3. εν τη εκκλησια 104 1243

  4. + εν τη εκκλησια 05

  5. της εκκλησιας επι το αυτο 2495

Metzger, in his Textual Commentary, offer the following explanation for the rise of the jumbled secondary readings:

The phrase ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, which is common enough in classical Greek and in the Septuagint, acquired a quasi–technical meaning in the early church. This meaning, which is required in 1.15; 2.1, 47; 1Cor 11.20; 14.23, signifies the union of the Christian body, and perhaps could be rendered “in church fellowship.”91 Not perceiving this special usage of the word in ver. 47, scribes attempted to rearrange the text, either by moving the phrase to the following sentence (3.1) or by glossing it with an equivalent phrase, ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ.

This being the case, therefore, the first time Luke uses the word “church” (εκκλησια) is Acts 5:11 (followed by Acts 7:38; 8:1, 3; 9:31; 11:22, 26; 12:1, 5; 13:1; 14:23, 27; 15:3-4, 22, 41; 16:5; 18:22; 19:32, 39-40; 20:17, 28).

While I’m certain the Lord adds people to the church, I’m also certain Luke did not use the word church here–now those later scribes . . . well, that’s a different matter and another topic.


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Origen and the First or Second Psalm

Most of the examples of Origen’s text-critical observations occur in the Gospels, but I have found one in Acts. In commenting on Acts 13:33, Origen notes that Acts attributes Psa 2:7 to the first psalm (ὡς γὰρ γέγραπται φήσιν ἐν πρώτῳ ψαλμῷ) as does Codex Bezae (D),[1] however, all other extant MSS of Acts refers to the second psalm (καὶ ἐν τῷ ψαλμῷ γέγραπται τῷ δευτέρῳ). After pointing out this discrepancy, Origen discusses the different numbering systems used by the Hebrew OT, in which Psalms 1 and 2 are considered separate compositions, while Acts 13:33 (apart from D) knows Psalm 1 and 2 as a single psalm (τὰ Ἑλληνικὶ μέντοι ἀντίγραφα δεύτερον εἶναι τοῦτον μηνεύει. τοῦτο δὲ οὐκ ἀγνοητέον ὅτι ἐν τῷ Ἑβραϊκῷ οὐδενὶ τῶν ψαλμῶν ἀριθμὸς παράκειται πρῶτος εἰ τύχοι ἢ δεύτερος ἢ τρίτος).[2] While this is one of the few places where Origen agrees with D alone, Origen’s comment gives evidence that at Acts 13:33 “ἐν πρώτῳ ψαλμῷ” was present in some Greek MSS in the early third century.

[1] PS.CAT – 1099/1100, D2 is a catena and as such may not necessary reflect the exact text of Origen. 05 reads τω πρωτω ψαλμω γεγραπται.

[2] The Latin is “… verum exemplaria Graeca hunc secundum esse indicant illud autem non ignorandum est in Hebraieis exemplaribus nulli psalmo numerum apponi sive primus sive secundus sive tertius sit.” On the numbering of Psa 1 and 2, see Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50 (WBC 19; Waco: Word Books, 1983), 18–19, who misreads the case when he writes, “The evidence from the early Christian tradition is found in Acts 13:33. The writer, Luke, gives a quotation from Ps 2:7, but introduces it as coming from the first psalm; the corrections, both in the early Greek text and in modern English versions, to read ‘the second psalm,’ are appropriate given the change in the conventional system of numbering the Psalms. Nevertheless, the oldest Greek text of Acts provides evidence for the early Christian view that the first two psalms were considered to be a single unit.” Actually, only D among extant Greek MSS, has ἐν πρώτῳ ψαλμῷ.


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Something Worth THINKING About: The Continued Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and Heart

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Famous Bible Translation Mistakes

I have not had much time to blog of late; so I pass this on to you:

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Porter on Wallace’s New MS

“Has Dan Wallace Made a Big Mistake?” Stanley Porter thinks so: see

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Turning Plowshares into Swords

Recently, in doing some research into the history of the Disciples of Christ in Louisiana, I ran across this entry in the minutes of Beulah Baptist Church of Cheneyville, Louisiana:

Saturday before the first Lord’s day in May 1862.

The church met after prayer and praise by the pastor. It was resolved. That whereas General G. G. Beauregard of Louisiana has made a call on the planters of the Mississippi valley to give their bells to be cast into cannon (sic.) for the confederate service. That the bell belonging to this church was in accordance to the case shipped to New Orleans, subject to the order of Gov. T. O. Moore on the 29th of March last. No motion adjourned.

H. B. Ferguson, Clk.

Does it not ring strange in our ears that a bell that once called people to worship God would now be used to kill people?

The prophets offered a grand vision of the time when war would be no more:

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more. (Isa 2:4; repeated Mic 4:3)

The powerful images of weapons being melted down and turned into agricultural equipment is quite motivational. The move from killing people to feeding them speaks loudly to our times.

This motif was subverted by the prophet Joel in his attempt to arouse his people to their current reality:

Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.” (Joel 3:10)

However, the burden of Joel was that building up a military arsenal would make no difference since the foreign army they were to face was God’s army.

When we come to God’s call on the church today, there is no doubt that God has called us, the church, to to beat our swords into plowshares and ours spears into pruning hooks, that is, God has called us not to kill people but to call them into the peaceable kingdom.

It just doesn’t ring true, does it? That the church would in any way participate in the killing of others when her mandate is the salvation of all people.

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Update on the Semester

A very full academic semester has come to a close. Just in time, I would say.

This past semester I have had the chance to explore the Bauer Thesis in the Orthodoxy and Heresy seminar as well as how the Biblical writers used earlier sources in my Biblical Intertextuality seminar. In this latter class, I specifically looked how Luke used the Minor Prophets in the composition of his narrative known today as Luke-Acts. The paper I wrote in this seminar will be presented at the Thomas H. Olbricht Christians Scholars Conference (, June 7-9 at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

In addition to these two seminars, I attended a reading colloquium that covered Johannine scholarship, NT theology, and linguistics. The reading colloquiums at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary are a way to expose NT students to the important literature across the field of NT study. Needless to say, it involves stacks of books.

Consequently, I have not been able to contribute much to this blog. But now that summer is here, I should be able to find some time to add to these scholia.

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