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Whilst comparing a number of different versions I noticed that in Acts 16:7, some translations like the NIV, NLT, ESV say 'Spirit of Jesus', where as Young's Literal and the KJV just say 'Spirit'.

Why is this, and is one more correct?

  • The Textus Receptus (which both the KJV and Young's are based upon) has only the word 'spirit' in the original. The Westcot & Hort text (1881) and the Nestle Aland which followed, added the word 'of Jesus'. Without knowing why they added the word, I have only enough for a comment, not an answer. – Nigel J Apr 26 '19 at 1:31
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This is a textual variation. Bruce Metzger's commentary is the easiest to understand:

 16:7      Ἰησοῦ {A}

The expression τὸ πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ (𝔓74 א A B C2 D E 33 69 81* 326 467 vg syrp, copbo armmss), which appears nowhere else in the New Testament, is so unusual that various attempts were made to modify it, such as replacing Ἰησοῦ with κυρίου (C* itgig al) or with τὸ ὅγιον (armmss Epiphanius), or omitting the modifier altogether (H L P 81c and most minuscules copsa armmss Ephraem Chrysostom al, followed by the Textus Receptus). One Armenian manuscript known to Zohrab reads, “the Spirit of Christ,” which he adopted as text in his two editions (the text of the American Bible Society’s edition of the Armenian New Testament reads “the Spirit of Jesus”).

Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (pp. 390–391). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

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The textual data on this variation in the Greek text is as follows, and is based on UBS5. (Roman numbers in brackets after each MSS is its approximate date (century) of production.)

  • Those that say, "Spirit of Jesus": 01(IV), 03(IV), 02(V), 04 as later changed (V), 05(V), P74(VII), 06(VIII), 33(IX), 044(X), 181(X), 307(X), 1175(X), 1739(X), 81(XI), 2344(XI), 610(XII), 33(XII), 453(XIV), 1409(XIV), 1678(XIV)
  • Those that say "Spirit of the Lord": 04 original (V)
  • Those that say "Spirit": 024(VI), 019(VII), 1891 (X), 81 as corrected

The rating of UBS5 for the reading "Spirit of Jesus" is {A} meaning essentially certain. This is based on the majority of early manuscripts having this reading. "Spirit" came to dominate after about the 10th century and thus appears in the Byzantine text, the majority text (which is essentially the text in Byzantium from the 9th cent onwards), and TR.

An almost identical phrase appears in one other place - Phil 1:19.

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