Col 1:14 - Redemption Through the Blood of the Savior
KJV: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even
the forgiveness of sins.
NIV: In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of
Nothing could be more crucial to salvation doctrine than the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin, and to dismiss the reference to this in Col.1:14 on the basis of the amount of manuscript support is to put all confidence in mere men to preserve God's Word. It is because manuscript support is dependent on the reliabilty of sinful men and their natural bent toward ungodliness that manuscript numbers are sometimes very misleading, and the textual evidence can become the decisive factor.
Hebrews 9:22 says, without shedding of blood is no
remission. The remission of sin is redemption, so the crucial
Col.1:14 phrase through his blood in the Received Text is
doctrinally authentic. This phrase doesn't appear in the NIV critical
Greek text, based mainly on Alexandrian-type texts, and, as we'll
see, there's evidence here of erroneous omission of testimony to the
doctrine of redemption through the blood of the Savior.
This crucial phrase has only minor support by some
Traditional-Text manuscripts, by Erasmus' texts and by
Reformation-era versions. Absence of genuine text portions in most old manuscripts would
not be surprising, full preservation perhaps being con- fined to
relatively few manuscripts of small biblical churches zealously
guarding the text during troubles of Dark-Ages history. Indeed
a lack of such devotion would be likely even in numerous manuscripts of unbiblical churches of the eastern locale where the Traditional Text originated and propagated most thoroughly.
Now true followers of Christ can rely upon God's
preservation of the scriptures, and at times, this will involve
restoration of important deleted passages. The crucial phrase through
his blood, preserved in some Traditional-Text manuscripts, would be restored in the Received Text superseding the Traditional. Restoration in the Received Text and associated versions is indicated since this text marked the end of the Dark Ages, and became the standard
of biblical churches. We expect God's guidance of scholars involved
in production of the Received Text, for this text would be the basis
for Bible-oriented churches arising in the Reformation era, and later ones that were entirely Bible-based, and were
experiencing great new growth due to a new widespread desire to
return to the biblical standard of the early apostolic-era church (see Essay 2).
The view of scholars
Scholars suggest that some Traditional-Text scribes acquainted with Eph.1:7 and its phrase on the blood, added an
unauthentic note on the blood in the Colossians verse. That view just
reflects the way modernists commonly account for textual differences
in their efforts to justify a modern critical-type Greek
text. Presumption is often their basis for defending authenticity on the basis of major manuscript support, and we should consider that many questionable readings that they prefer have only very minor support of a few of their favored, supposedly-oldest (see essay 4i), Alexandrian manuscripts.
Decisive textual evidence
Contextual evidence: That the phrase is textually
authentic is seen by context in relation to other verses showing
Christ's blood as vital to salvation. In Eph.1:7 Paul says
essentially the same thing he says in Col.1:14, including the role of
Christ's blood, and this is in modern versions as well as the KJV.
Two such closely-matched verses would not likely differ over this
vital role of the blood in salvation, especially since Paul was so
keen (by the Spirit) on this subject.
In both verses the phrase in question is part of an
opening salutation in the message of Paul. His habit of personally
writing a closing salutation in an epistle is obvious (2 Thes.3:17-18), and it's likely that he wrote the opening one here since in
both the wording is personal, and the Greek here commonly applies to
initial greetings (Mt. 23:7, Mk.12:38). Thus Paul likely followed a
salutation pattern in the opening of chapter one of Colossians, and since
the blood is noted in the Ephesians salutation, we can expect it to be noted in
that of Colossians, especially since the content of the Ephesians
passage so closely parallels that of Colossians. It’s very
unlikely that Paul would omit a syntactical part of his usual pattern.
Just 6 verses after Col. 1:14 in verse 1:20, Paul again
notes reconciliation to God by Christ's blood (in the KJV &
modern versions). He would not likely forsake a pattern of emphasis
on the blood 6 verses earlier in speaking of the same subject,
redemption. And in Eph.2:13 in the various versions, Paul tells of
reconciliation by Christ's blood, so he keeps emphasizing the blood
in speaking of redemption, as we see in Rom.3:25 & 5:9. The
ultimate importance of it to Paul is noted by his associate Luke who
speaks of Paul's final emphasis on the subject in Acts 20:28 as he
bids his final farewell to the Ephesus church.
The indicated cause of omission
Evidence of selective tampering in Alexandrian-type
texts to impart teaching friendly to Gnostic dogma is the indicated
cause of absence of the subject phrase in the critical texts (essay 3 comments on this type of text
distortion). The Cerinthian-type Gnostics would reject this clause,
for they believed Jesus was a mere man who was temporarily indwelled by the
eternal Christ, and the blood of their mere man could not confer any
forgiveness of sin. Docetist-type Gnostics would reject the
importance of blood since their view of Jesus was that of a phantom
spirit who only seemed to have a body.
Scholars discredit the potential for tampering in textual history, as they must in order to defend their favored Alexandrian manuscripts, and their view is just an expedience designed to make arguments against their view seem silly. Gnosticism was a potent force competing with early
Christianity, and there was a real potential for modification of the
Colossians verse to omit the role of Jesus' blood in any manuscripts
handled by Gnostics since the blood as crucial to our salvation was contrary to their dogma (they saw all substance of the
material world as inherently evil, and salvation as achieved by unveiling of hidden knowledge). It's important to know that in the early
days of hand- written manuscripts, a scroll would often be limited to
a few, or just one, scripture book, and Gnostic meddlers might well have access to
the text of Colossians, but not that of Ephesians & others that speak of the blood. That type of situation is further indicated by the absence of the last 12 verses of Mark's gospel, and the presence of much of that subject material in other gospels (see essay 3, item 16). Many copies of Colossians
could contain a distortion due to the widespread influence of
Gnosticism in early centuries and the large number of its early
Now it might seem that other verses in Colossians would
be subject to tampering-type distortion, but Gnostics were largely
successful in competing with the church by giving the impression of
authenticity. One way to make their dogma seem authentic was to
minimize disagreement with the New Testament, making changes only
where that was needful to them. Other related passages might be
verbally explained in a distorted way to make them seem to accord
with Gnosticism, as in the case of Col.1:20 that says, And
having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile
all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in
earth, or things in heaven. This can be
interpreted as saying that making peace though the blood isn't the
same thing as the involvement of the blood in salvation. They might
say that peace through the death and shedding of blood on the cross
speaks of a devaluation of the material body of the "mere man"
Jesus postulated by Cerinthian Gnostics to set an ultimate example of
their low view of the material world; this would accord with their
earthly mission and would pacify their Gnostic-version god in their
version of heaven. They also might include the notion that the peace
of shedding of His blood on the cross was a placating of hostility of
the Jews toward Jesus. Self-serving explanations like this would be
effective only if the Col.1:4 note on the blood of the Savior as the
means of redemption is removed (see essay 3 for more about this likely
of Gnostics to text tampering).