John 5:3-5 NIV

3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

John 5:3-5 KJV

3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

John 5:3-5 NASB

. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [[c]waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5 A man was there who had been [d]ill for thirty-eight years.

John 5:4 is missing in the NIV but in the other versions its there.

Why is this verse missing in this translation?

  • 2
    Surprisingly it looks like a textual criticism question hasn't been asked about this verse before.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 5:55

6 Answers 6


John 5:4 is a verse that is variously included or excluded in various manuscripts upon which the modern edited versions depend. Thus, the question is purely a textual criticism problem.

Of the commonly used edited NT texts we have:

  • NA28 & UBS5: omit
  • Jerome's Vulgate (~400 AD): omit
  • SBL: omit
  • W&H: omit
  • Souter: omit
  • NIV GNT: omit
  • THGNT: omit
  • Wordsworth-White vulgate: omit
  • Stuttgart vulgate: omit
  • Majority Text (HF): include
  • Byzantine Text (RP): include
  • F35 (Pickering): include
  • Patriarchal text of Orthodox Church (1904): include
  • Textus Receptus: include
  • Clementine Vulgate: include

Of the original ancient Bible MSS that omit John 5:4 (century dates in brackets)-

  • P66(~200); P75(III); 01(IV); 03(IV), 04*(original)(V);05(V); 029(V); 023(~400); 0141(X); 33(IX); 157(~1122); it_d(V); it_f(VI); it_l(VIII); it_q(~700); several Coptic, Armenian and Geogeian MSS; etc.

The ancient MSS that include John 5:4 with many variations (ie, those that include it are far from uniform) -

  • 02(V); 04(at the third correction); 020(IX); 037(IX); 038(IX); 078(VI); 0233(VIII); f1, f13, 28(XI); 180(XII); 205(XV); 565(IX); 579(XIII); 700(XI); 892(IX); 1006(XI); 1010(XII); 1071(XII); 1241(XII); 1292(XIII); 1342(~1400); 1505(XII); 07(VIII); 09(IX); 011(IX); 013(IX); some itala and vulgate text; a Coptic text, Ethiopic text; etc.; 041(IX) and 042(VI) include between asterisks or obeli saying that the text was uncertain.

Bruce Metzger in his "Textual Commentary on the GNT" suggests:

Ver 4 is a gloss whose secondary character is clear from (1)its absence from the earliest and best witnesses [see above lists], (2) the presence of asterisks or obeli to mark the words as spurious in more than 20 Greek witnesses … (3) the presence of non-Johannine words or expressions (κατὰ καιρὸν, … ταραχὴν, δήποτε, … ), (4) the rather wide diversity of variant forms in which the verse was transmitted.

With this explanation, the answer to the question is simple. The NIV omits John 5:4 because it (basically) uses the NA28/USB5 text of GNT.

  • Could you please give links or references to the data which you are quoting, that is to say the origin of the material that you are (presumably) copying and pasting or which you are copying from in written form.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 11:21
  • The above data is taken directly from the references (GNT's) listed (in paper) and from UBS5.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 21:43

The verse is extremely unlikely to be original, and evidently a latter addition, as the NET Bible notes on John 5:3:

9 tc The majority of later mss (C Θ Ψ 078 ƒ M) add the following to 5:3: “waiting for the moving of the water. 5:4 For an angel of the Lord went down and stirred up the water at certain times. Whoever first stepped in after the stirring of the water was healed from whatever disease which he suffered.” Other mss include only v. 3b (A D 33 lat) or v. 4 (A L it). Few textual scholars today would accept the authenticity of any portion of vv. 3b-4, for they are not found in the earliest and best witnesses (P א B C* T co), they include un-Johannine vocabulary and syntax, several of the mss that include the verses mark them as spurious (with an asterisk or obelisk), and because there is a great amount of textual diversity among the witnesses that do include the verses. The present translation follows NA in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.

The verse is clearly a marginal gloss found its way into the text, by the Byzantine scribes. It seems it must have been a tradition of the superstition known to those scribes even in the third and fourth centuries. It is apparently inserted to explain the verse John 5:7

[NET] The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get into the water, someone else goes down there before me.”

There's no reason for the oldest manuscript families to have removed the verse as there is nothing embarrassing and problematic in it, to state the superstition or tradition. The only fact we learn from such later additions of interpolation is the habit of some careless scribes (particularly the Byzantine) to harmonize, trying to justify and edit the text according to their own minds and prejudices, and that it serves as a good example to figure out their habit of interpolation or corruption. While the information about the tradition of angel stirring the water might be true or a pure conjecture of the mind, the text deserve to be in the margins and commentaries.

To quote from Metzger and Ehrman's The Text of the New Testament, It's Transmission Corruption and Restoration, 2005, chapter 7: Causes of error in Transmission of the Text, p 258:

Errors of Judgment : Though perhaps several of the following examples might be classified under the category of deliberate changes introduced for doctrinal reasons, it is possible to regard them as unintentional errors committed by well-meaning but sometimes stupid or sleepy scribes. Words and notes standing in the margin of the older copy were occasionally incorporated into the text of the new manuscript. Since the margin was used for glosses (i.e., synonyms of hard words in the text) as well as corrections, it must have often been most perplexing to a scribe to decide what to do with a marginal note. It was easiest to solve any doubt by putting the note into the text being copied. Thus, it is probable that what was originally a marginal comment explaining the moving of the water in the pool at Bethesda (John 5.7) was incorporated into the text of John 5.3b-4 (see the King James Version for the addition). Again, it is altogether likely that the clause in later manuscripts at Rom. 8.1 "who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit" was originally an explanatory note (perhaps derived from verse 4) defining "those who are in Christ Jesus." As was mentioned in Chapter 1, some manuscripts are provided with marginal helps, designed to assist the reader of the fixed Scripture lessons appointed by the ecclesiastical calendar (the Lectionary). As a result, lectionary formulas, such as εῖπεν ό κύριος, occasionally crept into the text of nonlectionary manuscripts (e.g., at Matt. 25.31 and Luke 7.31).


If you like short answers, I would say 0% since it was not found in the earliest MSS. There would be no incentive for a scribe to remove a verse which fits in perfectly with verse 7. That goes for the NIV editors as well.

The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

There would, however, be an incentive to add a verse above based on prevailing traditions and notations to explain what the man meant by saying that the water was stirred up.

It is a pretty cool addition, and I realize that people love their conspiracies theories, but let’s be reasonable. Whether is is there or not, does not affect the story or biblical truth in general.

  • 2
    Most removed verses were probably accidental - skipping a line, that sort of thing - so there doesn't need to be an incentive to do so. But you're right about added verses usually needing some incentive.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 3:16

John 5:4 isn't in the earliest New Testament manuscripts. Here is Bruce Metzger's comment:

  5:4      omit verse {A}

Ver. 4 is a gloss, whose secondary character is clear from (1) its absence from the earliest and best witnesses (𝔓66, א B C* D Wsupp 33 itd, , the true text of the Latin Vulgate syrc copsa, , geo Nonnus), (2) the presence of asterisks or obeli to mark the words as spurious in more than twenty Greek witnesses (including S Λ Π 047 1079 2174), (3) the presence of non-Johannine words or expressions (κατὰ καιρόν, ἐμβαίνω, [of going into the water], ἐκδέχομαι, κατέχομαι, κίνησις, ταραχή, δήποτε, and νόσημα—the last four words only here in the New Testament), and (4) the rather wide diversity of variant forms in which the verse was transmitted. -- 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.) (p. 179). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

  • It may well be that the translators excuse themselves on such grounds as that a few manuscripts, which they deem to be "older," do not have the verse--but, then, why do they include the "gloss" of 1 John 5:7-8 (the Johannine Comma)? Those who analyze these "revisions" soon conclude that there was a theological agenda behind them. Personally, I dare not trust these modern revisionist translations.
    – Polyhat
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 2:52
  • @Polyhat - Please identify a modern version, in keeping with your assertion above, exclude John 5:4 but include 1 John 5:7, 8a. I am unaware of any! This suggests your assertion is unsupported by the facts.
    – Dottard
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 10:34

The Revised Standard Version and some others omit this fourth verse with the reason given that it was insufficiently supported by earlier text.

However, John 5:3 and 7 could not be properly understood without this verse.

Also, at the excavation site of the pool of Bethesda, archaeologists found a faded fresco on the wall depicting an angel and water - so there is at least support for what this verse says.

  • Reference of the fresco? Include in the answer.
    – Michael16
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 12:09

E.W.Bullinger is pretty good at noting textual issues in The Companion Bible. He offers no note of concern about authenticity .

Verse 4

For an angel. The water was intermittent from the upper springs of the waters of Gihon (see App-68 , and 2 Chronicles 32:33 , Revised Version) The common belief of the man expressed in John 5:7 is hereby described. All will be clear, if we insert a parenthesis, thus: "For [it was said that] an angel", &c.

at a certain season = from time to time. Greek. kata ( App-104 . kairon .

into. Greek. en. App-104 .

troubled. Greek. tarasso. Compare John 11:33 ; John 12:27 ; John 13:21 ; John 14:1 , John 14:27 .

whole = well or sound. Greek. hugies. Seven times in John. Compare John 7:23 .

he had = held him fast. See note on "withholdeth", 2 Thessalonians 2:6 .



  • I would question the objectivity of your first sentence on the basis that Bullinger was secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society and apologist for the Textus Receptus.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 0:31

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