Why I Use The King James Bible
Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Today, there are many different English translations of the Bible. There are close to 300 complete English translations of the New Testament and at least 23 abridged New Testaments. There are more than 135 English translations of the complete Bible with close to 100 abridged Bibles.
These English translations include the NIV, the NASV, the Jerusalem Bible, Today’s English Version, Good News for Modern Man, The Good News Bible, The New American Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, the New King James Version and the Revised Version to name a few, as well as the King James or Authorized Version. These translations differ in content and wording, which causes confusion among English speaking people concerning which Bible is to be used.
A question that must be addressed is why do they differ as they do? The use of modern words and phrases is easy enough to understand, but why do they differ in content? Many words and verses, which are in the King James Version, do not appear in most of the new translations. Why is that?
Our Bible, as we know, was not originally written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and a small amount of Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek. None of those original manuscripts exist today. What we have are hand written copies of the manuscripts. These are complied to form the text of the Bible in the original languages. These are then translated into English. The reason for the differences in the translations (and we will deal with the New Testament because the Old Testament is less affected) is that there are different Greek texts behind the translations. The King James and New King James are translated from what is called the Received Text or Textus Receptus and the others are translated from what is called the critical text. These differences are causing confusion in our churches among believers.
There are however, many English-speaking believers today who are not confused. I am one. I have done my homework. I have researched the matter. As a pastor I am very much aware of the fact that I will personally give account to the Lord Jesus Christ as to how I lead my church as well as for each word that I speak. I unashamedly and without hesitation, continue to declare to you that the old King James Version is the correct English Bible. I recommend that you use it and no other for English study and teaching.
Why only the KJV? There are a number of very important reasons beyond the obvious blessing of God having used it that lead me to this conclusion. These have to do with the critical doctrines of inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and preservation.
DID GOD VERBALLY INSPIRE THE BIBLE?
Most who claim to be fundamental Christians would state clearly that they believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible in the original manuscripts.
God says that He did inspire the Bible.
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.”
God gives some indication as to how this was done.
2 Peter 1:19-21, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
A study of the origin of the Bible brings us to this conclusion. God inspired some 40 different writers over a period of some 1600 years to record His words exactly as He wanted them written down. Beginning with the writings of Moses which start with God’s revelation of the very beginning of time, through John’s writing of the Revelation of the end times, God gives us the whole story of this life from beginning to end along with a glimpse of the life to come. God specially inspired those who penned His Word so that they wrote down exactly the words He wanted recorded. Therefore, the Bible is inerrant and infallible because it is the very word of God.
Did God verbally inspire the Bible? Yes He did. How do I know He did this? I know because He says that He did it. This brings us to preservation. Do we have those inspired, inerrant, infallible words intact today? Yes we do. I know that we do, and I will deal with how I know shortly.
DID GOD PROMISE TO PRESERVE HIS WORDS SO THAT WE HAVE THEM TODAY?
In the Old Testament He gives this promise.
God gave His Words in written form and also promised to preserve those very words to or from each generation. Psalm 12:6-7, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (I believe the antecedent of the pronoun “them” in verse 7 is the noun subject of verse 6, “words.” Therefore, God’s promise here is to preserve His words.) Isaiah 59:21, “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”
In the New Testament the Lord Jesus reaffirmed this promise.
He said, “…the scripture cannot be broken;” (John 10:35). “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33). “…Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Most who claim to be fundamental Christians would state clearly that they believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible in the original manuscripts. However, since the originals no longer exist, some of these same believers do not believe that we have God’s verbally inspired word intact today. They believe that it has been lost and that what we have is only portions of what He inspired. They believe that we still have the message but not the exact words. They do not believe that God preserved His words or that He said that He would.
Is this a logical conclusion? When we think it through it does not make sense. Why would God supernaturally inspire the writers of the originals to write down verbatim, what He wanted recorded and then not preserve it for future generations when the originals wore out and were destroyed? If we believe He inspired His Word, we must believe that He has preserved His Word. If we believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible we must believe that God has preserved His Words so that we have His exact words today.
Has God preserved His Words (not just thoughts and ideas but exact words) so that we have them today? Yes He has.
In John 10:34-35 as the Jews were about to stone the Lord for “making himself God,” the Lord defended Himself by making an appeal to the Scriptures and to the authority of that Scripture. He took them to Psalm 82:6, which is not what we think of as a legal part of Scripture and demands, “is it not written in your law?” and quotes the passage. When He cites this passage, then, as written in the “law” of the Jews, He does it, not because it stands in this Psalm, but because it is a part of Scripture. In other words, He ascribes legal authority to all Scripture. He then drives His appeal to Scripture home by stating, “and the scripture cannot be broken.” His meaning is clear. It is impossible for the Scripture to be annulled, or its authority to be withstood, or denied. This means that the flawless authority of Scripture extends to the very form of expression of its most casual clauses.
The Lord demonstrated the inerrancy of the Scriptures by making such appeals as He did to them. Does this not also attest to the fact of preservation? By Him appealing to the exact words of Scriptures as He did to that generation, is He not also asserting that He had preserved His words for them so that they, in fact, had His exact words as He gave them in the originals? And since He promised that none of His words would pass away until all be fulfilled and since all have not yet been fulfilled, I must believe that He has preserved all of His words so that I have them available to me today in a form that I can readily access. I do not have to wait for scholars to scientifically reconstruct them by sorting through all the old manuscripts trying to decide which word is correct and which word is in error.
My question is this, since the originals no longer exist for comparison, how can the textual critic possibly know if a word or many words are in error? If he is to restore the exact words given by God, would he not have to be inspired in the same manner as the original author? Yet none of the textual critics ever seem to make this claim.
If we believe that God did inspire the original authors so that they wrote down the exact words He wanted recorded for us, does it not also follow that He has preserved those exact words through the centuries for each generation and has allowed none of them to be lost? If we accept this then we do not need to be sifting through all the extant manuscripts trying to scientifically reconstruct the original. God’s original words have never been lost to His believing churches.
We have the text that has been received by them through the centuries. It is called the Received Text. Those of us who believe this can hold that text or an accurate translation of that text and proclaim without hesitation that we have intact the verbally inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. Those who believe the critics can never honestly do that.
HOW HAS GOD PRESERVED HIS WORDS?
He providentially preserved the Old Testament through the priests and scribes.
All the books were probably assembled by the time of Ezra (Nehemiah 8:1-8). The Lord Jesus attested to the Old Testament cannon in His earthly ministry. A Jewish sect known as the Masoretes actually preserved it for us.
God providentially worked through these people to preserve His Old Testament words. From the second to the eleventh centuries, this sect, concerned that the demise of the oral tradition would make the Hebrew Scriptures incomprehensible, set out to produce a standardized copy of the Hebrew Old Testament. This they did, preserving for Jews and Christians alike the Old Testament text, which God had given.
They were very meticulous. They established the content of the text from the best of the Old Testament manuscripts, which were at their disposal. They then copied with extreme care. One of the tests they administered to eliminate scribal errors was to number the verses, words, and letters of each book. They counted the number of verses in the original and divided by two to ascertain the middle verse. In the same way they ascertained the middle word and letter. They repeated this process for the copy. If the two corresponded, the copy passed the test; if the two did not correspond, they searched for the error. If they could not locate the error, they destroyed the book. Such tests, for which the Masoretes were famous, helped guard against errors of addition or omission.
God providentially preserved the New Testament through the believers in the churches.
The Greek text of our New Testament is called the Received Text or Textus Receptus. It is called the received text because it is the text that the believing churches continued to receive as the Word of God down through the centuries. It is the text that came from the original manuscripts written by the inspired writers of the New Testament.
During the 1st century following the resurrection of Christ, beginning about 55 AD God moved men to pen His Words of the New Testament. The result was a group of 27 letters and books, written in Greek called the original autographs. John was given the last one about 96 AD which is called the Revelation. These letters and books were passed around the new churches. Copies were made of the originals. The originals finally were worn out and had to be destroyed. The copies were copied and recopied through the centuries in the believing churches by the believer priests and distributed throughout the world. As a copy was worn out it was carefully recopied and then destroyed. With all this copying by hand there was the possibility and probability of errors being made in a given copy. This is certain because all the remaining manuscripts do not agree perfectly.
Over 5,000 of these Greek manuscripts have survived to this day. The great number of them supports what is called the Byzantine textual tradition, Byzantine because it came from all over the Greek-speaking world at that time. These Byzantine manuscripts make up what is called the Traditional Text.
The Textus Receptus was compiled from a number of Byzantine manuscripts by numerous editors from the early 1500s when it was first put into print and no longer had to be hand copied. The Traditional Text or the Textus Receptus (as it later became known) was the text used by Tyndale and in turn by the translators of the English Authorized (King James) Version of 1611.
If there were copyist errors in the manuscripts how do we know that we have the exact words and all of the exact words and only the exact words that God gave in the New Testament? We know this the same way we know that God created the world. The world is here. God said that He created it. We believe Him, thereby we understand that it is so. Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” It is a matter of faith.
How do we know that we have God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word in the New Testament? We have the text that has been received by believers since the beginning of the New Testament era. God said that He would preserve His words. Jesus said that His words would not pass away. We believe God, thereby we know and understand that we have His Word intact today. It is called the Received Text and it has been translated into English in our King James Bible.
We believe that God providentially guided believers in compiling the Textus Receptus so that none of His words were lost, and that His exact words are what it contains. We further believe that God providentially guided the translators so that they rendered an accurate translation of His words in the King James Bible.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MODERN TRANSLATIONS?
They are based upon the Critical Text New Testament.
Until the mid-1800s, the accepted Greek New Testament was the Traditional Text. This text was the New Testament of the Reformation and early Protestant churches throughout the world. During the 19th and 20th centuries, however, another form of Greek New Testament has come into the forefront. The traditional Greek text of the New Testament has been abandoned and a new text has been scientifically constructed through a process called textual criticism. It is this new text that is used for most modern New Testament translations. This Critical Text, as it is called, differs widely from the Traditional Text in that it omits many words, verses and passages that are found in the Received Text and translations based upon it.
This Greek New Testament was derived from a small handful of Greek manuscripts from the 4th century onwards. Two of these manuscripts, which many modern scholars claim to be superior to the Byzantine, are the Sinai manuscript and the Vatican manuscript. These are derived from a text type known as the Alexandrian text (because of its origin in Egypt); this text type was referred to by the textual critics Westcott and Hort as the ‘Neutral text’. These two manuscripts form the basis of the Greek New Testament, referred to as the Critical Text, which has been in widespread use since 1881. In recent years there has been an attempt to improve this text by calling it an ‘eclectic’ text (meaning that many other manuscripts were consulted in its editing and evolution), but it is still a text which has as its central foundation these two manuscripts.
The problem with these Alexandrian manuscripts, particularly these two oldest, is that they differ greatly from the traditional text. The Vatican manuscript differs from the traditional in 7,578 words, and the Sinai manuscript from the traditional 8,972 times. Worse, the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts disagree between themselves more than three thousand times in the Gospels alone. A nineteenth century textual critic said this, “It is in fact easier to find two consecutive verses in which these two MSS. differ the one from the other, than two consecutive verses in which they entirely agree.” Yet, twentieth century scholars have chosen, on the basis of their own reasoning, to abandon the Traditional Text in favour of a text based on these two Alexandrian manuscripts.
Much is said about these manuscripts being very old. The contention being that because they are closer in date to the originals they would naturally be more apt to be correct. However, we must first ask why they still existed when others of their time had disappeared. Obviously, they were not considered to be valuable copies of the precious Word of God.
One was discovered in the archives of the Vatican. It had been stuck back and not used for many centuries. It is now kept in the Vatican Library at Rome and is called Codex Vaticanus. The other was discovered by the celebrated German scholar, Dr. Tischendorf, in the year 1844. In his search for old treasures he visited the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, and when there he saw a basket of waste paper with which the monks were going to light their fire. He dived into this basket and drew out some parchment leaves of a very old Greek Bible. Upon inquiry he found that there were many similar leaves in the Monastery. He began trying to get possession of them. He finally had to get the influence and help of the Emperor of Russia to secure the whole copy. Some leaves are now in the Court Library at Leipsig; but the greater part was deposited in the Royal Library of St. Petersburg.
Most modern translations omit words, verses and passages.
There are many words, verses and passages which are omitted from the modern versions but which are found in the Traditional or Byzantine Text of the New Testament, and thus in the Textus Receptus. The Critical Text differs from the Textus Receptus text 5,337 times, according to one calculation. These problems between the Textus Receptus and the Critical Text are very important to the correct translation and interpretation of the New Testament.
The omission of words adversely affects doctrine and faith.
Proponents of the Critical Text often argue that none of the textual ‘variants’ is particularly important and no doctrine is affected by these problems. They proclaim that we do not base doctrine on any one verse. This is true as far as it goes. But the problem is basically twofold. First we do not always have many verses for any given doctrine, which are plain and clear to the understanding. The doctrine may be inherent in all of Scripture, but explicitly stated only once or twice. The omission of one verse will not destroy belief in the entire doctrine. But it makes teaching that doctrine to believers and documenting it to unbelievers more difficult.
On another point, those who believe that no doctrine is affected are wrong. One major doctrine is very greatly affected: the inerrancy of Scripture. If inerrancy is not based upon the words of Scripture, it has no basis at all. It cannot be based upon the original authors’ thoughts, nor even on the thoughts of God Himself, for these are beyond man’s ability to know. Inerrancy must be based upon words, God’s words, as set forth by His servants. The Scriptures will remain inerrant, no matter what man does to them; but man’s belief in their inerrancy, and thus in their authority over his life, is damaged by the new version’s high-handed view of translation and their liberal, ‘reasonable’ textual critical methods.
Another problem is found in the teaching or preaching of a passage of Scripture that is partially or completely omitted from the translations based upon the Critical Text. If a man is writing a systematic theology, in which he will draw from all over the Bible for information, it is true that he will find no doctrine completely destroyed. If, however, he is writing, or preaching or teaching from a single passage, and that passage is one adversely affected by the Critical text, he will find that the proponents are wrong: he will find it does make a difference. If the preacher uses a complete translation and his hearers one of the others, there will be confusion among the hearers and an increasing lack of trust toward both the preacher and the Bible itself. If the teacher uses an incomplete translation such as the New International Version, both he and his hearers are robbed of the teachings of the omitted verses, often without even being aware of it.
Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
WHY USE THE KING JAMES BIBLE?
It is translated from the Texts God has providentially preserved through the centuries.
We have the text that has been received by believers since the beginning of the New Testament era. God said that He would preserve His words. Jesus said that His words would not pass away. We believe God, thereby we know and understand that we have His Word intact today. It is called the Received Text and it has been translated into English in our King James Bible.
It is an honest and accurate translation of God’s preserved Word.
As a translation it is not in itself the final authority on God’s Word. God did not speak in English and promise to preserve those words. He spoke in Hebrew and Greek and has preserved those words. The original language is the final authority. But because the King James Version is an accurate and honest translation of those words it is, in fact, the verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God.
You do not have to believe that the translators were inspired in the same manner as the original authors in order to believe this. That is an erroneous position that puts advocates of the KJV on dangerous ground and leads to serious problems. If the KJV 1611 English words were verbally inspired as were the Hebrew and Greek words there would be no need for the italicized words. There would have been no need for subsequent editions, which have continued, to update spelling and punctuation. There would have been no need to remove the Apocryphal books, which were included in the original. There would be no possibility of changing words that have changed in meaning. It would be wrong to substitute other words that make the meaning easier to understand today.
It is clearer and more easily read than the new versions.
It has passed the test of time.
This translation has stood the test of more than 400 years of use, misuse, abuse, condemnation, criticism and ridicule, and yet is still blessed and used of God as no other translation has ever been. I believe I am safe in saying that no other translation of the Bible has influenced, either directly or indirectly, more people than the KJV. It is the Bible our nation was founded upon. It is the Bible that has been used of God to challenge more missionaries than any other. Our modern missions movement, which began in the eighteenth century with William Carey, has been led by English speaking people. Those people have used the KJV more than any other English translation.
Do you have the complete Bible? If you are using one of the modern translations, even the New King James, you are missing some of what God has given to you. The modern translations are God’s word where they follow the true text as long as they render a true translation of it, but in many cases they do not.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHICH TRANSLATION WE USE?
I believe it does matter. It is dangerous to tamper with God’s Word. Revelation 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
We need to consider this warning carefully. If we use a translation that omits words from the text when the full text is available are we not guilty too of taking away from the words of this book?