INTRODUCTION TO THE KING JAMES ISSUE

 

INTRODUCTION

TO THE KING JAMES ISSUE

Scripture says that Satan is a roaring lion who seeks to spiritually devour (1 Peter 5:8).  He employs various “schemes” or “devices” to lead us astray (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11), thus we are not be ignorant of these tactics that would deceive us and make our lives ineffectual for our God.  We are convinced that one of the ways our enemy seeks to lead us astray is through the current debate on Bible translations.

There is a particular opinion in the contemporary religious world, especially held by Fundamentalist Baptists but also embraced by others who hold to the inspiration of Scripture but who have become partisans who hold tenaciously to the King James Version of the Bible.  This translation was  issued in 1607 and revised several times.  These KJV-Only proponents assert that any other translation is corrupt and a work of the devil.  Generally they are not aware of the principles of Biblical translation from the Hebrew or Greek, they are ignorant of the families of Greek manuscripts, and they seem to be unconcerned about the hundreds of archaic terms found in this version of the Scriptures that is now about 400 years old.

You may wonder whether this issue is worth examining.  Indeed it is!  Let me give you an example.  I know of one family man who was conservative in lifestyle and doctrine.  He responded to one of my outreach efforts in distributing literature at the local home school convention, and we agreed to have him travel to Fort Worth to meet with me and be in the meeting on the Lord’s day.  He believed in home schooling his children, held to modest clothing, opposed the humanistic and worldly influences in the churches, and he seemed to be open to further truth.  After meeting with us one single day, he refused to respond further, even through writing.  I am convinced that his allegiance to the King James Version of the Scriptures may have “turned him off” against further truth. 

On another occasion, I was put in contact with another very conservative family—one that believed in home schooling and was in opposition to the world.  This likable family man came to Christ through baptism (I was led to believe) and I had several sessions with him and his fine family.  The problem: he also radically clung to the King James Version of the Bible—and only the KJV.  Even though I used only the KJV when studying with him, he chose to go his own way, evidently because of the translation issue.

In both of these cases, very conservative and devoted men (and their wives) chose to turn away and were unwilling to study further and grow because Satan had convinced them that the KJV was the only Bible worthy of using!  I came to see that the enemy of our soul has many devious means to lead people astray to their own destruction!  I could see that even a choice of a translation can have disastrous spiritual effects.  Satan knows how to employ even a seeming devotion to His Word can prevent one from learning further truth!

What is my own position on Bible translations?  Let me list a few points here that would summarize what I believe:

1.      God revealed His word in such a way that the Scriptures are inspired, inerrant in the original autographs, and authoritative to our belief, practice, and lifestyle (John 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

2.      God can use even inferior translations of the Bible and reveal truth in this means.  For example, a form of the Septuagint translation (LXX), a Greek translation of the Hebrew old covenant writings, was employed by Paul and the Hebrew writer.  Even when there are mistranslations, enough of the truth is conveyed to be able to call the translation God’s Word.

3.      This would indicate that even inferior translations today can be used of God to convey truth to the sincere seeker.  In past generations, people were saved through the use of the KJV, in spite of the fact that there were mistranslations and archaic (old and outdated) language.  People have not only been saved but also have learned God’s will and grown in holiness with the use of the KJV.

4.      The sincere seeker of truth, who loves God’s truth above personal preference and tradition, will want to use a translation that more accurately conveys that truth to the modern reader.  If this sincere seeker learns that manuscript evidence supports a reading, he will want to accept this.  If he discovers that older and more accurate manuscripts support a given modern translation, he would want to use and promote that translation rather than an older and inferior translation of the Bible.

5.      If a modern translation of the Bible not only uses better manuscripts but also puts the Word of God in a better and more easily understood English, the sincere seeker will want to use that translation—so that he can better understand the pure words of God.  Further, he will want to promote that more recent translation for the benefit of the unchurched people who have no background in the Scriptures.  In other words, he will want to take every impediment from the sinner or the new convent so that the person can better grasp the truth of God for himself.

6.      No one translation is perfect and flawless.  Every translation has problems.  Further, there will always be the need for revisions to better reflect further manuscript evidence and to better convey the truth in contemporary language.

7.      It is probably better for Christians meeting together to use similar accurate translations, for this would facilitate public reading of Scripture, public teaching of Scripture, and memorization of Scripture.

These are a few of the principles that come to mind at this time.  With this before us, I encourage you to read some of the articles that we have included in the “Bible Translation” category.  May God bless you in your search for the truth of God!

Richard Hollerman

 

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