Written and Posted in Christian Love
[This is an actual letter which we expanded upon for the WWW.]
Permission is granted to reproduce this in its entirety only.
Please also see our critique of Gail Riplinger's scholarship and KJV Onlyism
Dear KJV Only Advocate:
Greetings in Jesus' name.
We're sure you must have been wondering if we'd ever write you back! We have several reasons for the delay, but the primary one centers around the apparent futility of it. By this we mean that you seem unmovable, as we are, regarding this divisive subject, which you brought up and made an issue, that is, the KJV is the only reliable English Bible.
First, please note that we do not try to defend the sole use of the NIV (or any version) as the only reliable English Bible. This should be apparent by looking at our ministry catalog. It is our opinion that the best method is to study several different translations and have a Greek-English interlinear handy if possible. We have received great blessings from reading versions such as The Amplified Bible, The Wuest translation and Young's Literal.
I used to read the KJV for the first five years after I was saved. (By the way, I was saved by reading a Bible that wasn't the KJV! As a former Catholic, I would never have trusted any translation other than a Catholic Bible, so that is what I read and got saved through!) When I finally switched from the KJV to the NIV, my comprehension of the Word of God soared. What I struggled to understand from the KJV was now easily understood!
While reading the KJV, I had come across "unicorn(s)" (Num. 23:22; 24:8; Deut. 33:17; Job 39:9,10; Psa. 22:21; 29:6; 92:10; Isa. 34:7) and knew they were fictitious animals and it momentarily cast a shred of doubt over me about the inspiration of the Bible! Thank God this did not stop me from continuing in the Scriptures!
The bottom line in all of this is that one must be able to understand the Word of God. In regard to this, there are at least 827 words and phrases in the days of King James that have changed their meaning or are no longer used in our modern, everyday English language, i.e., suffer, filthy lucre, quick, lunatick, wax, charity, gay clothing, etc.! This is just a partial listing.
The King James Bible Word Book by Ronald Bridges and Luther A. Weigle, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, states the following on the inside jacket:
"Did you know that in the King James Version of the Bible the word 'advertise' means 'tell,' 'allege' means 'prove,' and 'conversation' means 'behavior'? That 'communicate' means 'share,' 'take through' means 'be anxious,' and 'prevent' means 'precede'? That 'meat' is a general term for 'food,' and 'anon' and 'by and by' translate Greek words which mean 'immediately'?
These words -- and many like them -- made perfect sense to readers when the KJV was published in 1611. But today, after nearly four centuries of changes in English, few readers know what such words mean. And most readers miss the riches of the all-time favorite King James Bible" [emphasis ours].
A clear example of this shines forth by comparing the KJV to the NIV and NKJV. Heb. 2:18 in each translation reads:
"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (KJV).
"Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (NIV).
"For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (NKJV).
How many people do you think in our modern day readily know what "succour" means? Though this made sense in the 1600's, its meaning is hidden from us today.
Another example of KJV obscurity is found at 2 John 10 which reads:
"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed"(KJV).
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him" (NIV).
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him" (NKJV).
These are only two examples of many passages that could be contrasted and which would reveal the obscure way the KJV cites eternal truth! If one would add all the obscure passages up, how great of a distorted overall picture would he have in the end?
Another relevant fact about the Shakespearian language of the KJV is vividly expressed in the following:
"The plain truth of the matter is that the version that is so cherished among senior saints who have more or less come to terms with Elizabethan English, is obscure, confusing, and sometimes even incomprehensible to many younger or poorly educated Christians. The words of Edwin H. Palmer are not too strong: 'Do not give them a loaf of bread, covered with an inedible, impenetrable crust, fossilized by three and a half centuries. Give them the Word of God as fresh and warm and clear as the Holy Spirit gave it to the authors of the Bible. . . . For any preacher or theologian who loves God's Word to allow that Word to go on being misunderstood because of the veneration of an archaic, not-understood version of four centuries ago is inexcusable, and almost unconscionable' " (The King James Version Debate: A Plea For Realism, D. A. Carlson, Baker Book House, 1979, pp. 101,102) [emphasis ours].
The comprehension factor alone should cause one to lay down this oblique translation in favor of a reliable, understandable, modern translation of God's Word so that the original meaning, which is crucial in our spiritual battle, won't be greatly hindered by archaic words and obsolete phrases! This is indisputable fact.
Furthermore, the modern KJV edition that you read from is probably not the 1611. It's probably the Blayney edition of 1769. The 1611 edition of the KJV underwent various changes in 1613, 1629, 1638, 1762 and 1769. With this in mind, which edition of the KJV do you like the best? Why do you favor that particular edition over the other editions?
Also, if one claims the original 1611 KJV is the only inspired, infallible Word of God, he is claiming that Purgatory is true, since the Apocrypha was included in the 1611 version and it teaches Purgatory (2 Maccabees 12:45). (Perhaps the KJV 1611 edition should have also included Grimm's Fairytales with the Apocrypha.)
If you want to argue that the NIV left words out such as the blood of Christ, how do you know that the KJV didn't add these words? You must at this point go to the Greek source to answer. Certainly, there is a difference here. But which source is right? (By the way, words that are omitted in the NIV are footnoted in.)
But did you know the KJV has important omissions also? Consider Jude 25:
"To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen" (NIV).
"To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen" (KJV).
Comment: Please note that the KJV left out the words, "through Jesus Christ our Lord." If I were to turn the tables on your camp, I could say from Jude 25 (and also John 14:14 which we'll soon examine) that the KJV must be part of a New Age conspiracy or that the KJV's Textus Receptus (TR) is corrupted and contaminated since it conceals the mediatorship (and deity) of the Lord Jesus Christ! But to argue in this fashion would be extreme and unfair, even though many who hold to your position apparently don't think so!
But what about John 14:14? Jesus taught:
"You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (NIV).
"If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (KJV).
Comment: Similar to Jude 25, this passage seems to omit a word in reference to the Lord Jesus which would bring Him glory and honor and even suggest His deity. (Please note the KJV does not footnote these omitted words, unlike the NIV!) Why is this important word omitted in the KJV? One might be wondering: "Should we pray to Jesus Christ as well as praying through Him to the Father?" Clearly, first-century Christians did both. Regarding the former, Stephen, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, prayed directly to Jesus, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).
This is a good point to make with the Jehovah's Witnesses who deny the Lord's deity. (By the way, the Hagin-Copeland crowd likewise denies praying directly to Jesus.)
Another similar problem for the KJV Only camp, which exalts the TR, comes from a comparison between the KJV and Young's Literal, which were both based on the TR! Acts 16:17 reads:
"The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation" (KJV).
". . . who declare to us a way of salvation" (Young's Literal).
Comment: The KJV (and the NIV) are both wrong according to the actual Greek rendering! The Greek does not have the definite article which would yield "the way of salvation." Young's Literal translation is exactly as its name indicates -- a literal Greek to English rendering of this verse based on the TR -- "a way of salvation." This rendering is much more consistent with the immediate context where we see a demon speaking through a girl describing Paul's message to the people. Demons want us to believe that there are multiple ways to God, Jesus just being one of the many ways. John 14:6 shows how narrow the road is. See also Matt. 7:13,14.
In response to the definite article being unjustly added or omitted, Dr. Robert Young wrote in the preface to the revised edition of his translation of the Bible:
"For example, in Mat. 2. 4, Herod is represented as enquiring "where Christ" should be born. But "Christ" is the surname of the man Jesus, who was quite unknown to Herod, who could not consequently ask for a person of whose existence he was ignorant. The true explanation is, that King James' Translators omitted the definite article which occurs in the original. The correct translation is, where "the Christ" should be born. Herod knew of "the Christ," the Messiah, the long promised Saviour and King of the Jews, and his enquiry was, where He was to be born, whose kingdom was to be over all. The simple article clears up the whole. There are about two thousand instances in the New Testament where these translators have thus omitted all notice of the definite article, not to say anything of the great number of passages where they have inserted it, though not in the original" [bold emphasis not in original].
Also note Jn. 3:16 in Youngs, regarding the continuous tense for believe:
"For God did so love the world, that His son -- the only begotten -- He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during."
This translation, with the verb tenses, opens up the clear meanings of Scripture, hidden to people who only read the KJV.
Again, regarding the superiority of the TR, please know there are other English translations based upon it such as the New King James and Young's Literal translation which was just cited. But they do not have the archaic English words that the KJV does, as previously cited. Hence, these other versions greatly enhance the reader's ability to comprehend the Word of God! How can you justly reject these English versions if you are arguing from the point of view of the superiority of the TR?
We have a reprint copy of the 1611 KJV translation. Notice the following verses cited exactly as seen there:
"Betooke themselues vnto praier, and besought him that the sinne committed, might wholy bee put out of remembrance. Besides, that noble Iudas exhorted the people to keep themselues from sinne. Forsomuch as they saw before their eyes the things that came to passe, for the sinne of those y were slaine. . . . And also in that he perceiued that there was great fauour layed vp for those that died godly. (It was an holy, and good thought) wherupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be deliuered from sinne" (II Maccabees 12:42,45).
(Can you justify putting the Apocrypha next to Scripture, as the 1611 KJV edition did? How many do you think were deceived into thinking Purgatory exists based on this obvious 1611 KJV error?)
Another verse from the 1611 edition of the KJV is Rev 21:8. Please note how hard it is to read:
"But the feareful, and vnbeleeuing, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all lyars, shall haue their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death."
In our personal library, we have a book written by Ralph Earle titled, Word Meanings in the New Testament, published by Baker Book House. He comments on the words "now full" as used in Mark 4:37 of the KJV:
"The Greek does not have the aorist tense, suggesting completed action (see the Blass-Debrunner Grammar), but the present infinitive of continuing action. So a better translation is 'already filling up' (NASB) or 'nearly swamped' (NIV). If the boat had been 'now full' (KJV), it would have been at the bottom of the lake!" (p. 37).
Earle also comments on the KJV rendering in Romans 8:16 of "itself" (on page 179):
"The KJV reads: 'The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.' The RSV changes 'itself' to 'himself.'
Orthodox Christianity has always held to the deity of Jesus Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit. Modern liberalism has frequently denied both. The KJV rendering here would seem to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit, calling Him an 'it.' Even if one is reading the KJV in the pulpit he should always change 'itself' to 'himself.' By doing so we affirm our faith in the Holy Spirit, not as an impersonal influence, but as a living Person who dwells in our hearts.
The question may well be raised: Why does the KJV use 'it' in referring to the Spirit? The simple answer is that the Greek word for 'spirit,' pneuma, is neuter. Hence it is necessary for grammatical reasons that the pronoun referring back to a neuter noun as its antecedent should also be neuter in form. But not in meaning! This is just one of many examples of an accidental disharmony in the grammatical usages of two different languages. As every student of foreign languages knows, the precise distinction between masculine, feminine, and neuter to which we are accustomed in English is little known outside our language. We have to translate the thought, not just the mechanical form of the word. Paul believed in the personality of the Holy Spirit! This very verse is the declaration of a personal function: The Spirit witnesses" (p. 179) [emphasis ours].
I have a ministry which includes reaching out to the Jehovah's Witnesses. They use the KJV against true Christians because it erroneously states, as already cited, in Rom. 8:16 (and 8:26) that the Holy Spirit is "itself" instead of "himself." They claim the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force and use the KJV to support this in their argumentation against the Trinity! Hence, this mistranslation in the KJV has helped to promote this heresy. This is fact, not mere conjecture!
Finally, Earle comments on the words "Father, Word and Holy Ghost" in 1 John 5:7:
"Anyone who uses a recent scholarly version of the NT will see that these words on the Trinity are not in verse 7. This is because they have no basis in the Greek text. Under Roman Catholic pressure, Erasmus inserted them from the Latin Vulgate. They are not a part of the inspired Bible" (p. 452, emphasis ours).
Who was this (Desiderius) Erasmus to whom we just referred?
"Erasmus, Desiderius (c. 1466-1536), . . . Augustinian Monk from 1486 to 1491" (Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, Elgin Moyer, Moody Press, 1982, page 133) [emphasis ours].
Even more descriptive of Erasmus is the following:
"Why does it not point out that Erasmus, unlike Luther and Calvin, never left the Roman Catholic church?" (The King James Version Debate: A Plea For Realism, D. A. Carson, 1979, Baker Book House, p. 74) [emphasis ours].
The Mormons also use the KJV in their endeavors to exalt the Book of Mormon (BOM). In the book of Acts, there are three accounts of the Apostle Paul's conversion experience. Seemingly, as it is worded in the KJV, there are contradictions between these accounts of his salvation experience (Acts 9:7 cf. 22:9). They use this seeming contradiction (which really is no contradiction at all) to discredit the Bible in their indirect attempt to exalt the BOM. So again, the KJV's obscured wording has been a snare to some.
So, as you can see there are multiple problems which you cannot Scripturally and adequately resolve with your KJV only view. This is an incredibly divisive issue in the body of Christ today. Some of the few people we encountered who know that eternal security (or perseverance of the saints) is a "license for immorality" and are willing to stand against it, let themselves be unsettled over this issue, to the great detriment of God's kingdom. This should not be!
I have also heard it stated that an advocate of the modern English translations of the Bible, during a debate format on TV, was rendered physically incapable of speaking when given the opportunity to present his case. This event has been used by some coming from your view to "prove" that the KJV is the only reliable English translation available. This, however, can certainly not be proved by such! Please ponder the following Scripture:
"I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house" (Ezekiel 3:26).
Note: Ezekiel had the truth, yet he was physically incapacitated at that moment to verbally proclaim it! His incapacity for the moment must not be construed to mean he was speaking wrongly or did not know the truth.
Please know we feel we were forced to defend our position about the KJV which stems primarily from a strong desire to comprehend the Word of God through the use of reliable translations of the Bible. This letter should be enough to convince you that the KJV Only position, which seems to be of ultimate importance to many people, is based on inconsistency, ignoring the facts and jumping to unprovable conclusions! Unfortunately, besides hindering many from properly comprehending the Word of God to their own spiritual harm, more divisions in the already severely fragmented Body have resulted over this issue.
God bless you.
Following Jesus To The End,
Dan and Cheryl Corner
[This is an actual letter which we expanded upon for the WWW.]
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