Is There No Condemnation or Not? blog
We read in Romans 8:1 the following words;
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
That seems to be pretty clear that there is no condemnation for any who is in Christ Jesus. However, if you are reading from the King James Version Bible translation you read something different. It reads;
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
That seems strange to me that there is such a difference and it is no small difference. The first translation makes the reality of no condemnation based on whether or not one in “in Christ.” The second one seems to make no condemnation based upon whether or not you are not walking in the flesh but are walking according to the Spirit. One is unconditional and the other is conditional.
The problem is one of which documents in the Greek New Testament are the translators looking at. What most people do not understand is that there are literally 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts. Some of those manuscripts contain the extra words and some do not. So, which ones should be believed or relied on?
Much of it comes down to what was happening at the time after the printing press was developed. This happened in Europe sometime between 1440 – 1450 AD. In the 1600s there were two groups seeking to have the Greek New Testament printed. One group was being led by a man named Erasmus and the other was a team of translators.
In order to be the first to get their version of the Greek New Testament Erasmus had only one manuscript to work from and it was dated from the 1200s. In reality, it was not even a complete New Testament manuscript because some of the last chapters in Revelations were missing. So, Erasmus literally translated those words back into the Greek and moved forward.
The others had more manuscripts and did a lot of comparing and contrasting to try and determine which ones were more reliable. So, how did they do that?
The idea is that if you have a manuscript that is older then there is more of a chance that it would be more reliable because it had not been copied as many times. So, for example, there are two manuscripts called Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. They are named this because one was found in a monastery on Mt. Sinai and the other is held in the Vatican. One of these is dated from the 3rd century AD and the other from the 4th century AD.
So, somewhere after the 4th century, someone added the words to the manuscript that Erasmus used that the older ones did not contain. This is what we would call a “scribal error.” Someone felt that the blanket statement that there is no condemnation for anyone in Christ would open the door to people thinking that they could live as much of a sinful life as they wanted and that there would be no condemnation, so they added the qualifier.
The problem is that there are so many verses in the Bible which teach us that God’s love for us in unconditional. Also, there are many verses that teach us that all of our condemnation or punishment for our sins has been taken care of by the finished work of Christ on the cross.
God has unconditional love for us from which “nothing in all of creation can separate us.” He has placed on Jesus the sins of the world and has said that all of our sins and transgression will be remembered no more.
Now here is where it gets weird. There are believers that truly believe that the King James Version of the Bible is the only real and true translation. The problem is that the KJV version, which in its day was incredibly valuable is not based on the most reliable of the ancient Greek manuscripts. Someone added the extra words and that version was copied over and over again.
But if one goes back before the 1200 AD manuscript one does not find those words. Which is why almost every modern-day translations of the Bible that seek to be a word for word translations ALL do not include the words about no condemnation being based on those who walk in the Spirit and not the flesh.
When this happens you suddenly have a salvation that is now based on whether or not you can maintain walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Now you have a salvation that is conditional and is up to me. When true salvation, or should I say our justification, is solely based on the work of Jesus and not on my works.
Are my works important … of course, they are! If I do walk in the flesh and not the Spirit, I will not experience the condemnation of God but rather the loving discipline of my Father.
Salvation is a free gift from God and not a result of my works. It is free, and it is by the grace and mercy of God because of the finished work of Christ on the Cross. So rejoice, my friends, because there is truly no condemnation for all who are in Christ Jesus.