Introductory Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Introduction: A new believer walks into a Christian book store. He is excited about the faith and wants to read the word of God. He has been told that to grow as a disciple he must study the word. So what Bible does he choose? Most Bible sections of book stores look like they belong at the tower of Babel. Why are their so many different versions? What version should he choose? We will break down this decision into 3 considerations: Accuracy, Clarity, and Beauty.
Why does every publisher have their own copyrighted version? Before we begin I want to acknowledge a problem that exists in American Bible translating. Why are there so many versions? Bluntly stated, publishers can only make money off of a copyrighted version, and a certain amount of words must be changed (regardless of accuracy) for the book to be copyrighted. Sickening, right? With so many cultures and people that do not have the scriptures in their language it would seem to be more expedient to the cause of Christ to put more effort into non-English translations. Yet there seems to be less money in that endeavor. This may not be the case for every new translation but it is undoubtedly the case for most. 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
What about other (non-KJV) Formal Equivalent Bibles?
Why is accuracy important? Doctrine! Consider the below changes:
NASB: The NASB calls Jesus the “only begotten God” in John 1:18.
ESV: The ESV, as well as many other (non-KJV) translations change the phrase “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself” in Daniel 9:26 to “anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.” This text is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. To say that he has nothing for being cut off is a slap in the face to what Christ accomplished on the cross. He was cut off for his elect, as the KJV truly speaks. This is just one of many examples.
The ESV also completely removes 5,000 words and 18 verses.
The ESV has been through many editions through a short amount of time. These editions have had many substantial changes. How is that the preserved word of God?
NKJV: Here is a list of omissions in the NKJV: hell 22, blood 23, repent 44, heaven 48, God 51, Lord 66
What ever happened to not adding to or taking from God's word? Many other references of verse changes and doctrines affected could be cited but I trust the above will suffice.
- Newer versions change “Faith of” to “Faith in” in such verses like Romans 3:22, Galatians 2:16,3:22, Phil. 3:9. There are at least 3 different views among Primitive Baptists concerning the interpretation of that phrase. Yet all Primitive Baptist views are God centered and not man centered. Changing the phrase into “Faith in” immediately makes it man centered instead of God centered.
- Newer versions change“are saved” to “being saved” in 1 Corinthians 1:18. The gospel is the power of God to those who are saved (born again) and not those who are in some kind of sanctifying salvation process.
- There are many other changes concerning other subjects such as the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ and the divinity of Jesus. Compare the KJV to other translations with these verses: 1 John 5:7, 1 Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 7:14. Many other verses could be cited.
- Reading Level
- Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Indicator – Grade Level Average: KJV 5.8, NIV 8.4, NASV 6.1, NKJV 6.9 - New Testament alone: KJV 4.32, ESV 8.22
- This reading level takes into account word length and sentence length.
- Newer bias standards from Christianbook.com: KJV 12, NIV 7-8, NASV 11, NKJV 7, ESV 10, Message 4-5
- This newer standard also takes into account so-called archaic words.
- Consider the inconsistency of the NASB being better than the KJV in the newer grade level standards. The NASB is said to be very hard reading and most newer, “readable” translations compare themselves with the readability of the KJV. So which is it? Is the KJV harder to read than the NASB? Or is the KJV a standard that newer Bibles reach for in their readability? Consistency, thou art a jewel.
- I admit that there are some out of date words. One big complaint is the thees and thous. Let me give you a secret in understanding their mystery. Thee and thou is singular, ye and you is plural. Wow. You just learned a great mystery.
- This is important. It rightly translates the singular and plural Greek words into their English equivalence. Consider studying this rule in the following verses: Exodus 2:22, Luke 22:31, Revelation 2:10.
- Those in 1611 didn't use thee and thou in their common conversation. You can check the “Translators to the Readers” in the front of your KJV to prove this fact. The translators didn't necessarily use their vulgar English, they used perfect English. This perfect English perfectly gave the English equivalent of Greek words.
- All newer versions use some archaic words. Consider the ESV in 1 Timothy 6:10. It uses the phrase “many pangs.” How many people know the definition of the word pang and use the word in everyday conversation? Many more examples can be provided.
- Bible reading prescribes using a dictionary. Many common Bible words are not used in vulgar speech. How many people use propitiation in normal conversation? How about justification?
- Being consistent. It is interesting that many people who claim that the KJV has archaic words have no trouble understanding songs with the same words. What if we changed “Be thou my vision” to “Be you my perception”? Sounds ridiculous, right? You understood it before, right?Then why the double standard for the KJV? This principle also could be applied to those are advocates for old confessions. Some to whom are always changing the word of God because of archaic words would most likely violently fight if their favorite personal confession was questioned, or criticized because of an archaic word. With this said, I would add that I am not a hater of old confessions The old English confessions have been a source of encouragement to me and I have greatly benefited from reading them. They have their proper place and are profitable for us to read. Yet my point still stands. Why the double standard?
- The KJV is G-Rated. Most modern versions should be considered perverse. I, as a pastor and father, can read the KJV in front of my wife and kids, and can read them in front of congregations with mixed audiences. Can you do that with other versions?
- NIV changes the G rated word “know” to a more explicit wording. Check Genesis 4:1
- “ Lie Carnally” is changed in most modern versions. Check Leviticus18:20.
- NIV goes way too far in Ezekiel 23:20. They should be ashamed.
- Living Bible actually curses in 1 Saul 20:30 and is too descriptive concerning using the bathroom and the issue of a woman.
- The KJV has the best Candace. In other words, it is easier to memorize and it seems to just roll off the tongue. Consider the difference of where we have already quoted other Bibles on Ephesians 1:4.
- Also consider the difference in the beauty given through the KJV for Psalm 23 and its watering down in the NIV.
- NIV: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- KJV only advocates are often accused of making schisms in the body of Christ. In view of the differences that can exists in a single verse depending on which version you are reading, what do you think causes more division and confusion? One standard or disagreeing “authorities”? Try opening all the different versions in a congregation and reading them out loud together. Unity is not found with mixed authorities.
After all things considered, all other versions have been put back on the shelf and only One Book remains, the KJV. The Bible not being “readable” isn't the reason for the spiritual dearth in America. The lack of spirituality is caused by luke warm, apathetic, and lazy Christians. The Bible doesn't need to be rewritten or made common, it just needs to be read.
Information found in these study notes are derived from the following sources:
Crowned with Glory by Dr. Thomas Holland
The Bible Answer Book by Dr. Sam Gipp
An Understandable History of the Bible by Dr. Sam Gipp
One Book Stands Alone by Dr. Douglas Stauffer