NTTC MATTHEW 6:33: Is it “the Kingdom” or “the kingdom of God”?

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 120 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Major Critical Texts of the New Testament

Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society

TGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House


Textual Critic: a scholar whose goal is to reconstruct from extant manuscripts either the autograph or the initial text of the NT from which all existing copies originated. The methodology is the same in either case. The critic uses mental, and computer-based toolsets to decide between variant readings among the manuscripts. There are different schools of thought, which tend to prefer either the early manuscripts with more difficult readings or the later manuscripts exhibiting what has been called the Majority Text.

Textual Criticism: the art and science (some would say only art) of determining the original text from variant readings exhibited by extant manuscripts. At present, a good deal of scientific methodology seems to be used as statistics, and computer processing is heavily employed. At the same time, however, TC is also faith-based (at least among conservative theologians), and the results are arguably impossible to verify. Faith plays a role in the belief by many that God has preserved His word somewhere among extant Greek manuscripts, which makes conjectural emendation unnecessary and unacceptable. As to verification, logic and the genealogical relationships between texts that can be constructed are often very convincing, but sometimes a decision is somewhat tenuous. Some critics would claim that no decision can really be verified, but many theories are accepted today without physical verification, on the strength of reasonable probability.

Matthew 6:33 New King James Version (NKJV)

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 English Standard Version (ESV)

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

[CE] TR NA/UBS: τὴν βασιλείαν [τοῦ θεοῦ] καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ
“the kingdom of God and his righteousness” —— L W Θ 0233 f,13 33 Maj syr (KJV, NKJV, NRSV, ESV, NLT, CSB)

Matthew 6:33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

33 But be you seeking[85] first the Kingdom[86] and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


Matthew 6:33 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


Matthew 6:33 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.


[BRD] WH: την βασιλειαν και την δικαιοσυνην αυτου
“the kingdom and his righteousness” —— א (it) cop,bo Eusebius (RSV NASB NIV NJB NET UASV)

Variant: την δικαιοσυνην και την βασιλειαν αυτου
“the righteousness and his kingdom” —— B (none)

Variant: την βασιλειαν των ουρανων και την δικαιοσυνην αυτου
“the kingdom of the heavens and his righteousness” —— Clement (none)

Variant: την βασιλειαν του θεου
“the kingdom of God” —— 245 (none)

In short, the kingdom is found in the earliest Alexandrian manuscripts א and B, as well as (itk) copsa, bo, Eusebius, which the later scribes expanded to include the kingdom of God in L W Θ 0233 f,13 33 Maj syr, and Clement the kingdom of the heavens.

Note: א and B are not entirely in agreement because they disagree in word order. However, it is true that they both have “the kingdom,” but it’s not an entirely clean comparison.

א “the kingdom and his righteousness”
B “the righteousness and his kingdom”


Metzger says that the minority of the committee observes, “the reading that best explains the rise of the other readings is that supported by א (B) itl al, inasmuch as the addition of τοῦ θεοῦ [of God] (or τῶν οὐρανῶν [of the heavens]) after βασιλείαν [kingdom] seems to be an altogether natural supplement, which, if present originally, would not have been deleted.”[1] Agreed, if either of these readings were in the original, why would the later scribes delete them? Since there is no explanation for this, the kingdom is significantly more likely to be the original reading. The committee should have stayed with this initial sense of what and why the kingdom was original.


However, Metzger says, “a majority of the Committee was impressed by the prevailing usage of Matthew, who almost never employs βασιλεία [kingdom] without a modifier (the instances in 8:12; 13:38; 24:7, 14 were regarded as special exceptions), and explained the absence of a modifier in several witnesses as due to accidental scribal omission.”[2] Again, this argument is the very reason the kingdom is the original reading because later scribes had this reason for adding of God or of the heavens. The likelihood of an accidental omission in both א and B is highly unlikely. Generally, when it comes to the testimony of later manuscripts such as L W Θ 0233 f,13 33 Maj syr, Metzger and his committee would not have given more weight to them than the evidence of the Alexandrian manuscripts א and B, yet here they thought it was “In view of these conflicting interpretations, it was thought best to include the words in the text but to enclose them within square brackets.”[3] This is the inconsistency that shows up in the NA text at times.

[1] Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 15–16.

[2] IBID, 16.

[3] IBID, 16.

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