A Serious KJV Question and Other Matters

Bible (3)

A Serious KJV Question and Other Matters

Question and Comments


I began seriously studying the Bible in 1974. I struggled for many years trying to understand to understand the 1611 King James Translation; because the churches I belonged to during the first 5-6 years of my walk with Jesus.

I tried to convince many people God speaks to each individual in a language they can understand. A friend of mine for more than 35 years adamantly insists in KJV only. We’ve had hundreds of conversations during those years.

Granted, he has spent 1,000s o hours studying KJV, & has much knowledge. Paraphrasing; “knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”

Our debate one day became so heated that I angrily stated, “That is a doctrine straight from Hell!!”. Satan would love to have everyone believe that 1611 British English is the only accurate translation of God’s Word; knowing that the vast majority could not correctly understand what they read.

The apostle Paul explained his approach to witnessing & teaching to a variety of people: Jews, Romans, & so on. I Cor. 9:20-23 is a key statement to buttress defenses of valid modern translations, & contemporary Christian music.

There are antithetical translations which should [be] ignored, & so-called contemporary Christian music which violates Truth.

I Cor. 19-22: (NAS) 19 “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews; to those under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the law;

21 to those who are without law, as without the law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those win those who are without the law.

22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.”

This section of scripture speaks to many contentious issues including, but not limited to, translations, songs & music used in serving Jesus, what to wear, keeping in mind modesty, & eschewing clothes which might tempt others to lust, as well as a plethora of other aspects of living our lives in a manner of obedience to God’s Word. In this way we are a pleasing fragrance to God, being true servants which brings Jesus joy.

Answer and Comments 

Dear John (I’ll use this name for the present purposes),

I believe that you have seen a very important principle or several of them. Thus, I would agree with your reasoning and conclusions.

First, as you have discovered, the time-honored Authorized Version (AV) or King James Version, published in 1611, was an acceptable translation for the time. It used the best Greek text available at the time, but it also failed to use older and much more accurate Greek manuscripts that have come to light since that time. Today, there are well over 5,000 Greek manuscripts or portions of manuscripts and this allows us to determine what the original text was with much, much more accuracy.

One of the best examples of this would be 1 John 5:7 which is found in only four (4) very late manuscripts and in no other. I’m prepared to explain more about this but probably it is sufficient to merely point this out.

Second, as you discovered, much of the language is archaic. I have a list of 450 words that are no longer used in the way they were 400 years ago. Many people can’t even pronounce these words much less understand them. It would be a shame if the interpreter would need to carry a specialized dictionary of 400-year-old words to make sense of the KJV!

Third, you are also right in stating that it is a disservice to people when we require them to learn KJV English in order to understand the New Testament. Is it really being loving to force the man on the street to try to understand the meaning of unintelligible verses in order to grasp the meaning of God’s own infallible Word? “Love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10).

Fourth, we are not to be so bound to a traditional translation that we block an understanding of the Word of God for ourselves and for others.  Paul wrote, “We write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end” (2 Corinthians 1:13). God’s Word (through Paul or any other inspired writer) was meant to be understood; we should not erect barriers  between it and the spiritually-needy person!

John, I appreciate your commitment to the Spirit-inspired, infallible, authoritative, and inerrant Word of God! Let’s look forward to the day when others will have a hunger and thirst to understand that Word and actively use a good standard version that will communicate it clearly!



Comments are closed.