Question and Answer

Why do some versions of the Bible leave out Mark 11:26? Is this verse part of Scripture?


In the New King James Version, Mark 11:26 says, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” But other translations, including the ESV, NLT, and NIV do not print the verse, and the NASB and HCSB print the verse with brackets and notes indicating that the textual tradition following the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament does not contain this verse. When the KJV was translated, the earliest manuscripts to which modern translations have access had not yet been discovered.

In the case of Mark 11:26, later scribes and those tasked with copying the Scriptures by hand likely had access to Matthew 6:14–15 and 18:35, which have similar words and concepts. It is likely a copier added the verse in Mark, thinking that they were missing since they appeared in the passage in the Gospel of Matthew.

Most scholars agree that the older manuscripts that were copied closer to the time of the original writings of the New Testament are more accurate than those copied during a much later period of history. It is also known that later scribes were more likely to make a reading easier to read than harder and more likely to add words than take away words known to be inspired.

Mark 11:26 agrees with the testimony of inspired Scripture in the Gospel of Matthew, and in that sense it is not a false or untrue word. But this verse almost certainly was not in the original text of the Gospel of Mark, which our contemporary translations indicate with brackets or a note.

What is the synagogue of Satan in Revelation 2:9? 


The phrase “synagogue of Satan” occurs in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9. Both verses describe “those who say they are Jews and are not.” Both verses are in letters written to churches experiencing persecution, and the activities of both synagogues stand in contrast to congregations that are faithful to Christ and have not denied His name (see Rev. 2:10; 3:8). Therefore, we can conclude that the satanic synagogues refer to first-century Jews who were persecuting those who had believed on the name of Jesus. They still gathered at the synagogues as Jews, but they denied Jesus as their Messiah. Though they claimed to be Jews, they were not experiencing the blessings offered to Israel that are experienced only through faith in Christ alone. Instead, they were being used as instruments of Satan to persecute Jesus’ churches. Nothing in this text implies that all Jewish synagogues are satanic, however, nor does this justify anti-Semitism. The “synagogue of Satan” refers only to those specific first-century assemblies who harassed the followers of Jesus.

Was Jonah a historical figure, and does it matter? 


Jonah was a historical figure, which is important for the truthfulness of both Old and New Testament Scripture. The Old Testament book of Jonah presents the story as a factual account, and in the New Testament Jesus refers to the historicity of Jonah to describe His coming resurrection and judgment upon the unbelieving generation (Matt. 12:39–41; 16:4; Luke 11:29–32).

The book of Jonah begins with the same historical markers as in other prophetic books (see Jer. 1:2–11; Hosea 1:1; Joel 1:1; Zech. 1:1). A second historical note in Jonah 3:1 is akin to the marker in Haggai 2:20, and 2 Kings 14:25 gives a historical account that includes Jonah. Fictional accounts do not provide the type of details given in the book of Jonah, such as Jonah’s journey to Joppa, his payment of the fare, the conversations among the mariners before they cast lots, the entirety of Jonah’s prayer and his specific judgment of idolaters within the prayer, and the length of the city of Nineveh and its population.

The book of Jonah describes miraculous events, actions, and occurrences that are not natural, logical, or traditional happenings. They include a storm increasing in intensity specifically against the sailors, a fish large enough to swallow a man whole being present at the very moment Jonah is in the water during a violent storm at sea, a fish holding Jonah for three days and nights without digesting or suffocating him, the appearance of Jonah in Nineveh by means of a fish, and the raising and withering of a plant within a day.

If we attempt to explain the miraculous happenings as natural events, we deny the supernatural ability of God and the supernatural character of Scripture. God’s sovereignty and omnipotence are on display in the book of Jonah, and we should not diminish that by claiming these mighty acts were mere fiction. While we should not expect those with eyes closed to Christ to see the miraculous as true, we should also feel burdened to make the miraculous credible to them. We need supernatural eyes to see the truth.

BY Eric C. Redmond, Assistant Professor of Bible

Eric C. Redmond serves as an assistant professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Mens’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway). He blogs at ericcredmond.wordpress.com.