Textual Tuesday – Mt 9:13b

Christopher ThomasMatthew, The GospelsLeave a Comment



Matthew 9.13b
Textus Receptus/Byzantine Text:


I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13 KJV)
Nestle Aland 27:


I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. [The Critical Text omits ‘to repentance’] (Matthew 9:13 NIV)
Manuscript/Patristic Support:







The omission of the words ‘to repentance’ in the Nestle-Aland Text is supported by Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Bezae. These same manuscripts also omit the words ‘to repentance’ in Mark 2.17. The inclusion of ‘to repentance’ in the Byzantine Text is supported by Chrysostom,[i] Basil,[ii] and Gregory Nazianzus.[iii] It is also the universal reading of the Byzantine Text.
Doctrinal DifferenceThe Alexandrian Text clearly downplays the fact that repentance is inextricably associated with the Gospel call, and that, in fact, without repentance, there is no real believing in the Gospel. It could well be that this omission was influenced by the prevalence of antinomian teachings of Alexandrian Gnostics like Basilides whose licentious errors we have already detailed in chapter six of this book,[iv] as well as by the prevalence of the teaching of other Alexandrian Gnostics like Carpocrates (who with Basilides taught wife-swapping).[v] In any case, the deletion of the words ‘to repentance’, both here and in Mark 2.17, appears to be systematic.



[i]                   Chrysostom, NPNF110, The Homilies of St John Chrysostom, ‘Homily on Matthew 9.9’.

[ii]                   Basil of Caesarea, NPNF208, The Letters, ‘To a fallen virgin’.

[iii]                   Gregory Nazianzen, NPNF207, ‘Orations on the Holy Lights’, Select Orations.

[iv]                  We noted in footnote 41 of chapter six of this book the following words of Irenaeus:

“Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives, and are indifferent about eating meats sacrificed to idols, maintaining that God does not greatly regard such matters. But why continue? For it is an impracticable attempt to mention all those who, in one way or another, have fallen away from the truth.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 28, Section 2.

[v]                   ‘Capocrates and Carpocratians’, from the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc02/htm/iv.vi.cxxxv.htm).

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