Fasting
and the NIV

by Martin A. Shue


Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Matt. 17:21

Fasting to many is simply going without food. However, fasting is much more than that to the Christian. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines fasting as “the laying aside of food for a period of time when the believer is seeking to know God in a deeper experience.” You see in these times of fasting we are to be seeking God, if not then we are doing little more than dieting. It is recorded throughout the Bible of how men and women and, in some instances, animals fasted. Fasting has played an important role throughout history. Most often you will find fasting linked with prayer. Because it is through our time spent praying while we are fasting that we draw closer to God. What I want to do in this essay is look at several scriptures dealing with fasting. Since we will be discussing several scriptures we will only be using the New International Version to see how it compares with the King James Version. If you currently read or have a copy of the New International Version (NIV) please get it and follow along. Don’t just take my word for it look it up for yourself. Allow me also to point out that what we find true about the NIV will basically be true of the other modern versions. So if you have your Bible and are ready, let’s get started.

The first scripture we want to look at is the one listed at the top of the page - Matt. 17:21. Here a certain man has brought his son unto Jesus’ disciples but they are unable to heal him. He then takes him to Jesus who immediately heals the little boy. Now His disciples are confused and asked Him later why they could not heal the boy. To this Jesus replies,

“Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Then Jesus gives them the remedy to the situation in Matt. 17:21. Let’s stop here and see just how both Bibles translate this verse.

New International Version (NIV)- Completely Omits This Verse

King James Version (KJV)- “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

You read that correctly! The NIV completely omits this verse from its text. What a travesty that the NIV would omit such a great verse. This is how we are to gain power over our adversary. What a great truth those that read the NIV are missing. Nevertheless, let’s continue on and have a look at this same instance as recorded by Mark. The occasion we are talking about is also found in Mark 9. The verse in particular we are discussing is Mark 9:29. It reads as follows:

NIV- He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

KJV- And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Here in Mark they have included the verse they omitted in Matthew. However, as you noticed they omitted “and fasting”. Now we must pause and ask ourselves, “why would the NIV omit fasting?” What I want to do in this essay is show you that these two examples are no accident and that the NIV methodically removes fasting from its text. Something or rather somebody does not want the believer to know the importance of fasting.

Acts chapter ten is a wonderful chapter to those of us who are Gentiles. In this chapter we find the story of a man named Cornelius. Briefly, Cornelius had seen in a vision an angel of God which instructed him to send men to Joppa to inquire of Simon Peter. Immediately Cornelius called two of his servants and a soldier and sent them on their way to Joppa. In the mean time Peter had went up on the top of the house he was staying in to pray. While there he fell into a trance and saw a great sheet “knit at the four corners” being let down from Heaven. Inside this sheet were “all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.” Then God told Peter to rise, kill and eat. But Peter refused saying, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” God then told him not to call common what He had cleansed. This was done “thrice”. By this time the men that Cornelius had sent were there to see Peter. The men lodged with Peter that night then on the morrow they went on their journey to Caesarea. Cornelius met Peter having gather together all his kinsmen and near friends to hear what Peter had to say. After Peter speaks Cornelius begins to tell Peter why he sent for him. This is where I want us to stop and see what Cornelius said. It is found in Acts 10:30.

NIV- Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me

KJV- And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

Here again we find that the NIV omits the fact that Cornelius was fasting. One can only wonder why?

Now I want us to turn our attention to I Cor. 7:1-5. Here Paul is writing regarding the relationship between a husband and wife. The verse in particular that I want us to look at is I Cor. 7:5.

NIV- Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

KJV- Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Once again we see that the NIV has systematically removed fasting from this verse.

One final verse I want us to look at is II Cor. 11:27. Paul here is listing the many dangers and perils he has encountered. Then in verse 27 he says the following:

NIV- I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

KJV- In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

Now notice to what extent the NIV goes to in order to remove fasting from this verse. By removing fasting they are redundant in saying, “I have known hunger and thirst” then repeating themselves by saying, “and have often gone without food;”. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t knowing hunger the same thing as going without food? The KJV gives the correct reading by saying, “in hunger and thirst, in fastings often”. Here Paul makes a clear distinction between hunger and fasting.

With fasting being such an important part of the Christians life it is hard to imagine why the NIV has removed fasting from these verses. Again the argument will be made that there are other places in the NIV were one can find the teaching of fasting. To this I will agree but that is no excuse for accepting a Bible that omits fasting in the verses above. So many are willing to accept a Bible if they can find a particular doctrine just “somewhere” in that Bible. Many today care little for the words of God they are satisfied as long as the meaning or concept is still there. Beloved, this should not be our attitude toward the Word of God. This is why many are deceived by the modern versions and care little for the thousands of omissions, errors, and alterations. Jesus had a completely different view of this when He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Again Jesus speaking He says, “He that is of God heareth God's words:” Its God’s words not just the concept or meaning that we are to be concerned with. We want a Bible that is faithful to God’s words and a Bible that contains ALL of God’s words. For Jesus said it best, “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”(Luke 4:4) The Bible that is faithful to the words of God and that contains all of the words of God is the King James Version.

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. I Peter 1:24-25