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"?


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 …".

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