One of the most common criticisms of new translations from those who prefer the King James version is the claim that the blood of Jesus is being removed from the pages of the Bible. Often it is made to sound as if a huge conspiracy is afoot to demolish the sacred beliefs of Christians through the very book which we cling to. But is the claim true or is the missing blood a myth?
One of the simplest ways to discover the answer is to do a simple word search on virtually any Bible program. I use the Lifeway WordSearch 10. Doing this we find that the word blood appears 447 times in the King James version of the Bible. The English-Standard-Version has 431 appearances. Only 14 less. (Hold the jubilant “I told you so” a moment longer.) The New King James has even less, only 424 references to blood. The New Living Translation, Second Edition seems the greatest culprit with only 303 mentions of blood. 134 less references to blood! What should we say about this? Is the blood missing from these alternate versions? In light of the above facts, we have to answer yes. But there are two things to remember.
First is that many times a different phrasing is used. Take for example the story of the woman with the issue of blood. The newer translations express that fact differently. For example, in the NLT2 of Matthew 9:20 we read, “Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him.” Or the NIV2011 version says, “a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.” You see the blood is still there it’s just worded differently.
Or consider the word “lifeblood.” The NIV uses lifeblood twice in Genesis where the KJV says blood, chapter nine verses four and five. The blood is still there, it just won’t come up on a word search for blood. Or the use of the word murder for bloodshed. Most of the so-called examples of missing blood fall into this kind of different phrasing category.
The second thing to see is that usually the changes in the use of the word blood have nothing to do with The Blood of Christ. That after all seems to be the real bone of contention. That somehow removing the word blood affects what we believe about Christ or his sacrificial, cleansing work of atonement. But is just isn’t true.
Consider the Gospel of John. The King James Version has six references to blood. The NLT 2 has five. Those five are the ones that refer to Christ’s blood. The only one missing is chapter one verse thirteen which refers to human blood in the KJV. The other five all speak of Christ’s blood and all five are present in the New Living Translation, Second Edition. They are chapter 6:53,54, 55, 56, and 19:34.
Or take The Book of Acts. The KJV has blood 12 times, the NLT 2 only eight appearances. But three of the four missing references have to do with the blood of men: Adam in 17:26, Anyone is 20:26, and Stephen in 22:20. Only in chapter five verse 28 is the reference to Christ and it is rendered death. But there the Pharisees who don’t believe in who Christ was are speaking. Obviously, we shouldn’t expect them to speak of the blood in an affirming way. The change in wording does nothing to the truth of power of Christ’s blood. Again, this is the pattern throughout the new translations. The missing blood is a myth.
Take again verse 20:26. Just two verse below in verse twenty-eight we read;
Acts 20:26-28 (NLT2) I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.”
It is the blood of men that has been removed not the blood of Christ.
Now this essay isn’t meant to tell anyone which version of the Bible to use or read. All have their weaknesses and strengths. It is intended to keep you well-informed. The argument about missing blood is a myth.