Romans 13:9, (DRB):

For Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Some translations have the phrase "you shall not bear false witness", while some others have not.

According to textual criticism, what is the accurate text? With or without the phrase "you shall not bear false witness"?


2 Answers 2


At Rom 13:9 the manuscript evidence is almost evenly divided as follows:

  • NA28, UBS5, NA4, W&H, Byzantine text (R-P), Greek Orthodox 1904, Majority Text (Z-H) all have Οὐ κλέψεις, Οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις = You shall not steal, You shall not covet. (This is the slight majority of MSS.)
  • The Textus Receptus has κλέψεις, οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις, οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις = Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet (the bolded phrase has been added).

For a list of the various MSS which do and do not have this extra phrase, see UBS4 or UBS5 (that list is long).

Bruce Metzger, in his Textual Commentary of the GNT says: Under the influence of Ex 20:15-17 and Deut 5:19-21 several witnesses (א, P, 048, 81, etc) insert οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις. The course of transmission, other readings arose in various witnesses through omission (perhaps because of homoeoteleuton) rearrangement of the order of the commandments (the chief manuscripts of the Septuagint vary among themselves and the Hebrew).

Which ever reading is adopted, the sense of what Paul is saying is not altered at all as he follows his brief list with a catch-all phrase, "and any other commandment that there may be …".


I personally trust the Nestle-Aland/UBS (NU) manuscripts a bit more than the Textus Receptus (TR), as the TR is based on only a handful of late Greek manuscripts. The NU is based on a diverse collection of both early and late texts, and when discrepancies are found, the NU tends to defer to the earlier texts while still allowing the Majority Text to hold some level of sway in the translation.

The TR includes the line in question, while the NU does not.

You see Jesus' teaching on this matter in his interaction with the rich man in Matthew 19:18-19, Mark 10:19, and Luke 18:20, and in all of these cases, "do not bear false witness" is included.

When Paul summarizes this short list of a handful of the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:13-17, Deuteronomy 5:17-21) by quoting Jesus (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:7) as saying "Love your neighbor as yourself," it becomes apparent that regardless of which source text is accurate in this instance, the intended message is unaffected. In fact, Jesus was possibly, or probably, quoting Leviticus 19:18, which also commands the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves.


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