According to Jack McElroy and his book, “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?”, the NIV scrubs Jesus’ omnipresence. His supposed evidence is John 3:13. Let’s look at this verse in the KJV and also in the NIV.

John 3:13 (NIV)
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 

John 3:13 (KJV 1900)
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

McElroy goes on to say that “the King James shows that Jesus lived in heaven and earth simultaneously. He does on to accuse the “NIV staff” of dumping the rest of the verse “because they chose manuscripts where the writers couldn’t figure out how the Son of Man who was then on earth could also be in heaven.”

But is this so? As we address this, let’s separate ad hominem from facts. Manuscripts don’t have “writers”. They were copied by scribes. McElroy is asserting to know the intent of those who worked on the NIV and also the intent of those who penned the manuscripts used by the NIV translators. To be clear, the NIV translators worked from the Nestle-Aland Greek Critical Text. Ultimately, the NIV translators didn’t choose the manuscripts. They translated based on the work of the Nestle-Aland team.

But the question remains. Did the Nestle-Aland team choose manuscripts where the writers couldn’t figure out how the Son of Man who was then on earth could also be in heaven? This assertion is made my McElroy because the NIV does not add the text, “which is in heaven” in John 3:13.

If we look at other popular English translations, we will see that the NIV is consistent with modern translations:

LSB And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
ESV No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
NASB No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
NKJV No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

As you can see, the New King James Version does include the phrase, “who is in heaven” because it uses the same underlying Greek text as the KJV. The others use the same Nestle-Aland text used by the NIV committee. So why is there a difference? Here is John 3:13 in the “TR” and also in Nestle-Aland text:

John 3:13 (Scrivener 1881)
13 καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὁ ὤν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ.

John 3:13 (NA28)
13 καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου⸆.

The Greek text in question is, “ὁ ὤν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ”. As you can see, it is included in the “TR”, but it is missing in the NA (Nestle-Aland). Why is it missing in the NA? There is a clue in the text. If you look at the end of the verse in the NA, you will see this symbol: “⸆”. That symbol means there is a textual variant at that portion of the text. It means that some manuscripts have a different reading here. The NA text comes with a critical apparatus that shows us the reasoning behind the choices made in the NA. It also contains a list of manuscripts and papyri fragments that have the chosen reading and other readings. Here is the critical apparatus info for John 3:13:

13 ⸆ ο ων εν τω ουρανω Ac (− ο ων A*) K N Γ Δ Θ Ψ 050 ƒ1.13 565. 579. 700. 892. 1424. l 844. l 2211 𝔪 latt syc.p.h bopt; Epiphpt
¦ txt 𝔓66.75 א B L T Ws 083. 086. 33. 1241 co; Eus Epiphpt
Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), 299.

In the critical apparatus, we find verse 13 and we see the “⸆” symbol that was present in the text. The text that follows, “ο ων εν τω ουρανω” is the very text we see in the “TR” that the KJV is based on. How cool is that? That text is followed by “(− ο ων A*)”. That means that there is another variant for this same portion in a significant manuscript known as Alexandrinus. The asterisk beside of that “A” tells us that the reading is not thought to be original, but added in a “corrector”. That is a change made at a later time. The strange looking text that comes next is a list of Greek letters representing Greek codices or manuscripts and then a series of numbers representing other Greek manuscripts. I will not go into detail explaining the differences here.

Next, there is a very important symbol: “𝔪”. This means that the reading that is not included is in the majority of Greek manuscripts. It is also present in the Latin, Syriac, and Boheric manuscripts. So it should be an easy decision, right? “ο ων εν τω ουρανω” or “which is in heaven” should be included in the text. But why did the NA Greek Text not include it? Because they deduced that it is not original. What did they base that on? Let’s go back to the critical apparatus. You will see the symbol, “¦ txt” followed by more letters and numbers. The “¦ txt” tells you the evidence that supports the reading chosen by the NA. Most importantly, at least to their decision on this variant, 𝔓66.75 א B do not have the reading. 𝔓66 and 𝔓75 are two of the oldest papyri that we have. 𝔓66 is usallly dated to around AD 150-200 and 𝔓75 likely between AD 175-225. Those two very old manuscripts are consistent with two very old codices א and B. א is Codex Sinaiticus and dates to around AD 330-360. B is Codex Vaticanus and dates to AD 325-330. While oldest does not always mean the best, there is a pattern here that led them to conclude that the phrase in question is not original, but added later such as seen in the Alexandrinus corrector I mentioned above.

I know that’s a lot to take in, but that is how textual criticism is done. That is the same kind of work that Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza did when producing their “TR” editions. It is the same kind of work that the KJV translators had to employ when producing their translation. It is not always as black and white as we expect or want it to be. And if you think this is complex, you should see how difficult it is to translate Hebrew because things are so heavily based on context. The point is, we should have some grace when it comes to translation.

Now, let’s get back to the original question. Does the NIV scrub Jesus omnipresence? If that was their intention, they were absolute idiots. They failed miserably. Let’s look at a few verses in the NIV:

Matthew 18:20 (NIV): “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 28:20b (NIV): “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 14:20 (NIV): “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Colossians 1:17 (NIV): “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Ephesians 4:10 (NIV): “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.”

As you can see, the NIV does not remove, hide, or otherwise obfuscate the omnipresence of Jesus as YHWH. On the contrary, there are many places in the gospels and in Paul’s epistles that demonstrate the opposite.

In conclusion, Jack McElroy is an extremely biased KJV-Onlyist published by Chick Publications which is an extremely biased KJV-Onlyist organization. McElroy’s book is not scholarly. It is a collection of poorly presented arguments that are appealing to people who either choose not to do the homework or are somehow unable. I have refuted quite a few of the infographics in McElroy’s book, “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?” Neither the NIV nor modern English versions that do not include the reading, “which is in heaven” do so in an attempt to scrub Jesus’ omnipresence. They do it based on data-driven analysis of the historical manuscript evidence.


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