I have read Acts 10:1-11:18 more than 50 times over the past 25 years. In spite of all those previous readings of this passage, I observed something a few days ago while reading an edition of the KJV that I have never noticed before in Acts 11:12.
What I observed still puzzles me because so far I have not been able to figure out any good reason for why this edition of the KJV (as well as some others) has a clear reference to the Holy Spirit printed the way that it does in Acts 11:12. To understand the issue with how this text reads in this edition, we first have to look at an earlier text in Acts 10 that directly ties to 11:12 in a very close way.
A Clear Reference to the Holy Spirit in Acts 10:19-20 That Is Capitalized
In Act 10, Luke relates at length how God worked in the lives of both Cornelius and Peter to bring Peter to Caesarea to evangelize Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:1-25). As part of God’s remarkable supernatural work to bring about this encounter, Peter testifies to direct divine revelation that was verbally given to him by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:19).
In the Broadman and Holman Publishers 1988 Bilingual edition that has the Santa Biblia and the Holy Bible in parallel columns,1 Acts 10:19 reads this way:
Act 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
The Holy Spirit (Acts 10:19) directed Peter to go with the three men who had come to him from Cornelius and even told him that He had personally sent them Himself (Acts 10:20)! Because to pneuma in this verse is indisputably a reference to the Holy Spirit and not Peter’s own human spirit, editions of the KJV that have the word spirit capitalized here have correctly rendered it so.
A Clear Reference to the Holy Spirit in Acts 11:12 That Is Not Capitalized
As part of his testimony that explained why he went in to uncircumcised people and ate with them (Acts 11:2-3), Peter testified that the Holy Spirit had directed him to go with the men that had come to him. In the B&H 1988 Bilingual edition, Acts 11:12 is printed as follows:
Act 11:12 And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
Notice that verse 12 has “spirit” in it in a statement that is Luke’s recording Peter testifying about precisely the same event that Luke speaks of in Acts 10:19-20. Unquestionably, the word spirit in this verse is a reference to the Holy Spirit yet this edition of the KJV has “Spirit” in Acts 10:19 but “spirit” in Acts 11:12.
Why Is This Difference in Capitalization Present in Some Editions of the KJV?
This difference in capitalization does not (and could not) have anything to do with differences in manuscript readings, such as textual variants, etc. Why then is this puzzling difference present in some editions of the KJV?2
If you have any reasonable ideas for why some editions of the KJV do this, I would appreciate hearing from you.
1Copyright 1988 Holman Bible Publishers.
2Two other editions that I have that have this same difference in these readings are the Riverside Book & Bible House Holy Bible Old and New Testaments in the King James Version (Printed in England by Eyre and Spottiswoode Limited Her Majesty’s Printers, London) and The Gideons International 1977 Edition of The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with Psalms and Proverbs (Copyright 1968 by National Publishing Company Philadelphia, Pa.).