John 5: 3-4, extra verse in the KJV?

I came across this at a fundamentalist Christian forum and thought I’d ask about it here.

In the King James Version, John 5:3-4 reads as follows:


The last part in all caps doesn’t appear in my bible, which is the RSV-CE, and it’s not in the NAB either. Just wondering if anyone knows anything about this and why the translations are different?

My RSV-CE has a notation (at the bottom of the page) on this verse that reads as follows:
Other ancient authorities insert, wholly or in part,
waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water; whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.

And the following is in the NAB footnote on this verse:
Toward the end of the second century in the West, and among the fourth century Greek Fathers, there is knowledge of an addivional verse: * “For (from time to time) an angel of the Lordused to come down into the pool; and the water was stirred up, so the first one to get in (after the bubbling of the water) was healed of whatever sickness he had had.” * … This verse is missing in our best early Greek witnesses, and the earliest versions; it is not to be found in St. Jerome’s original Vulgate. The vocabulary of the verse is markedly non-Johannine.

The Challoner Douay Rheims includes the verse.

So if the verse missing from early Gk manuscripts (assuming you meaning LXX) and not found in the Vulgate it can therefore be concluded it was added at a later date and should not be used as doctrinal teaching unless other verses in Bible can support position?

John 5:4 And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. (DRB)

Okay that’s strange, the Douay-Rheims there has it, and when I look in the Latin Vulgate it displays thus:


The Douay-Rheims was translated DIRECTLY from the Latin Vulgate - so, it had to be there at some point?.. The Douay-Rheims translators couldn’t translate verses from air!

:confused: I’m confused. This is very interesting.

Many Vulgates on the web are based on the Stuttgart Vulgate (which is more bent at purifying the text of millenia of scribal errors), minus the critical apparatuses, punctuations and other stuff. Do this simple experiment: try to search for the book of Daniel. If Daniel ends abruptly at chapter 3, then it is most likely one of the mutilated Electronic Vulgates.

Try looking at this website which has the COMPLETE Clementine Vulgate (at ‘Joannes’). The passage is there.

Just a simple glossary:

Clementine Vulgate - A standardized version based on countless medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and was first published in 1590.

The first edition (sponsored by Pope Sixtus V) was based on Robert Stephanus’ Textus Receptus and corrected to conform to the Greek, but it suffered many errors and omissions since it was hurried into print. It was soon replaced by subsequent corrected editions by Pope Clement VIII (who gave his name to this version), respectively published in 1592, 1593 and 1598. The Clementine Vulgate was the official translation of the Roman Rite before the Nova Vulgata superseded it in 1979.

Stuttgart Vulgate - A critical edition first published by the German Bible Society in 1969. This version seeks to cleanse the text of scribal errors and bring it closer to St. Jerome’s original through comparison of important manuscripts of the Vulgate.

The original Douay Rheims translation of the Vulgate into English was done in the late 1500’s (NT) and early 1600’s (OT). I do not know if that translation included the verses in question. Perhaps someone else knows.

The Douay Translation most of us are using is a revision of the original Douay. It was done by Bishop Challoner in the years 1749-1752. Here is just a brief excerpt from the preface in my Douay bible:
Some of the passages in the original Douay-Rheims Bible were needlessly obscure. As an extreme example, Ephesians 6:12 read, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and bloud: but against Princes and Potestats, against the rectors of the world of this darkenes, against the spirituals of wickednes in the celestials.” The spellings were archaic, and the verses were not set off by new lines for clarity. … On the whole, Bishop Challoner’s revisions were minor. He replaced certain anglicized Latin words and archaic words and expressions, rearranged the word order of the sentences and yet maintained the overall word-for-word accuracy…


The LXX is the Septuagint and it is only the Old Testament, so the gospel of John is not in it.

You really can’t assume it was added later. It may well have been in the original and accidentally got omitted when a copy was made. Subsequent copies of that manuscript would not contain the passage, whereas subsequent copies of the original text would contain it. Most early copies did not survive – and I don’t think any of the originals survived and are still in existence.

Naturally, prior to the printing press, copies were laboriously made by hand. My guess is that this making of copies went on continuously (same as we are continuously providing copies for people). Try to imagine the whole process as it would have taken place! Some copies being made at the same approximate time; being made in various locations; etc Deciding which copies are the most reliable and faithful, and should be accepted by its members, is a matter for the Church. I have much more faith in its decision than in the opinions of private individuals.

Thanks Nita for putting it in perspective! I have always been a little confused in this area and appreciate the clarity.

Yes it does (spelling as in the original):

AFTER these things there vvas a festual day of the Ievves, and IESVS vvent up to Hierusalem. + And there is at Hierusalem vpon Probatica a pond vvhich in hebrevv is surnamed ‘Bethsaida’, hauing fiue porches. In there lay a great multitude of sicke persons, of blinde, lame, vvithered, expecting the stirring of the water. + And an Angel of our Lord descended at a certaine time into the pond: and the vvater vvas stirred. And he that had gone dovvne first into the pond after the stirring of the vvater, vvas made vvhole of vvhatsoeuer infirmitie he vvas holden.

This is how the Clementine Vulgate shows the passage:

1: Post hæc erat dies festus Judæorum, et ascendit Jesus Jerosolymam. 2: Est autem Jerosolymis probatica piscina, quæ cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida, quinque porticus habens. 3: In his jacebat multitudo magna languentium, cæcorum, claudorum, aridorum, exspectantium aquæ motum. 4: Angelus autem Domini descendebat secundum tempus in piscinam, et movebatur aqua. Et qui prior descendisset in piscinam post motionem aquæ, sanus fiebat a quacumque detinebatur infirmitate.

This reading could not be too late, since Tertullian (ca. 160 – ca. 220 AD) was already familiar with this reading and refers to this (On Baptism):

If it seems a novelty for an angel to be present in waters, an example of what was to come to pass has forerun. An angel, by his intervention, was wont to stir the pool at Bethsaida. They who were complaining of ill-health used to watch for him; for whoever had been the first to descend into them, after his washing, ceased to complain. This figure of corporeal healing sang of a spiritual healing, according to the rule by which things carnal are always antecedent as figurative of things spiritual. And thus, when the grace of God advanced to higher degrees among men, an accession of efficacy was granted to the waters and to the angel. They who were wont to remedy bodily defects, now heal the spirit; they who used to work temporal salvation now renew eternal; they who did set free but once in the year, now save peoples in a body daily, death being done away through ablution of sins. The guilt being removed, of course the penalty is removed too. Thus man will be restored for God to His “likeness,” who in days bygone had been conformed to “the image” of God; (the “image” is counted (to be) in his form: the “likeness” in his eternity: ) for he receives again that Spirit of God which he had then first received from His afflatus, but had afterward lost through sin.

A book written in 1848 also addresses this:

The whole of the doubtful passage is omitted in the Vatican manuscript, in the Ephrem, as first written, in two others of less note, in manuscripts of the Coptic version, and in some one or more of the Sahidic; and Nonnus, who, about the beginning of the fifth century, wrote a metrical paraphrase of the Gospel of John, says nothing of the descent of an angel, but speaks of the water as rushing forth in spontaneous jets.

The fourth verse, beginning For an angel, &c., is omitted in the Cambridge manuscript and one other; and is marked as doubtful in more than fifteen others. It is wanting in the manuscripts of the Armenian version generally, and in several of the old Latin versions. On the other hand, this verse being retained, the last clause of the third, waiting for the moving of the waters, is wanting in the Alexandrine manuscript, as first written, the Codex Stephani η, and one other.

I find no historical remarks respecting the omission or insertion of the story of the descent of an angel. It is referred to by Tertullian, but it is not noticed in the extant works of any other Christian writer before Ambrose and Chrysostom in the fourth century…

Very interesting. Thanks Patrick

Its in the Clementine Vulgate which was declared by the Church at the Council of Trent to be “authentic in public readings, discourses, and disputes, and that nobody might dare or presume to reject it on any pretence.”

That is good enough for me.

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