“Do I have to use the King James Version?”
By the MBT Discipleship Team
Many disciplers face this question during discipleship. Few people who come to Midtown from other churches or having been recently saved will arrive at Midtown with a faith-based view of the Bible.
The prevailing view will be to try on a few versions to see which one fits best and then go with that. After all, they all say the same thing, just in a slightly different way right? Obviously, a discipler at Midtown sees the fallacy of such thinking but it is an issue that has to be addressed at times and the purpose of this article is to provide general direction as to why we hold the position that we do.
Let’s identify 7 basic issues that support our position on the King James Bible as our sole teaching and governing standard at Midtown.
7 Reasons why we use the King James Bible
1. The Preservation Issue.
Psa 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Psa 12:7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
As it relates to the issue of Bible versions, few question or debate the issue of inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16) but the debate centers on preservation. And fundamentally speaking, this is where the divide occurs between those who possess a “faith-based” view of the Bible as opposed to a “critical” view.
The faith-based view takes God at His word in Psalm 12:7 where He gives the promise to preserve His word whereas the critical view acknowledges that God did inspire His word but since we do not have the original manuscripts, we have an imperfect Bible that requires the expertise of human scholarship. So in order to get as close as we can to what God wanted us to know requires the critique of scholars who have studied the original languages that the Bible was written in (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).
It must be understood that the promise of Psalm 12:7 and others (Ps. 119:89, Mat. 5:18, 1 Pet. 1:25) is that God, not man, would preserve His word. It must also be understood that the promise did not include the preservation of His word in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
2. The Purity Issue.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 Cor. 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
The two basic views of Bible (faith-based or critical), are also rooted in two avenues to the Bibles available to us today.
Now, it would be irresponsible to minimize the question posed by the serpent, the devil (Rev. 12:9), in Gen. 3:1. The purpose of the question was to cast doubt and corrupt the word that God have given to Adam and Eve at that time. For those who take the position that all Bibles are essentially the same, just worded slightly different are unknowingly confessing their ignorance of Satan’s interest and involvement in the corruption of God’s word. God was careful to tell us that the words He would preserve are “pure” and “purified” (Psa. 12:6; Pro. 30:5). At this point, it is undeniable that there is a preserved Word of God that is pure as well as a presentation of God’s word that has been corrupted:
• Pure, Purified, Preserved Manuscripts.
Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Old Testament Text
The traditionally correct text of the Hebrew Bible was established by a group of Jewish scholars, the Masoretes. The Masoretes guarded and handed down the Hebrew Scriptures from generation to generation.
Rom 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
The oracles of God are the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 7:38; Heb. 5:12). The Old Testament of the King James Bible is based on the Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text and was the stand alone standard for translating the Old Testament for 400 years.
Textus Receptus (Received Text)
The underlying text of the King James Bible is the Textus Receptus (received text). It agrees with more than 95% of the Bible manuscripts in existence (the other 5% accounts for the differences between the King James Bible and modern versions which use the Textus Receptus and Vaticanus and Sinaiticus). It also known as the Traditional Text – because it was viewed as reliable and true by the early churches.
Prior to the 20th century, all English Bibles since Tyndale's first New Testament (1526) were based on the Textus Receptus. This includes: Miles Coverdale's Bible (1535), Matthew's Bible (1500-1555), The Great Bible (1539), The Geneva Version (1560), The Bishops' Bible (1568), and the King James Version (1611). [STORY OF OUR ENGLISH BIBLE, by W. Scott]
• Critical, Corrupt, Counterfeit Manuscripts
The Ben Asher “Masoretic” Old Testament Text
The Ben Asher Masoretic Text was based on a small handful of corrupt older Hebrew manuscripts (Leningrad Manuscript). There are somewhere between 20,000 – 30,000 changes from the Traditional Masoretic Text. This is the main Hebrew text that is used to translate the Old Testament for major bible versions such as the NKJV, NASV, and NIV.
Nestle/Aland Greek New Testament
The Nestle/Aland Greek text followed the textual critical work of Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort of 1881 and three other editions. It has undergone 26 editions in 81 years (3.1 a year). The basis for the text of Westcott and Hort was the Vatican Manuscript (B) which was stored in the Vatican library not being used and the Sinaiticus Manuscript (Aleph) which was discovered by Constantine von Tischendorf in 1844 in a wastepaper basket at St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai preparing to be used for burning.
An interesting fact is that the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts contradict each other in over 3,000 places in the gospels alone. Another commonly used argument in favor of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus is that they are more reliable and accurate because they older. However, they are NOT older than the earliest versions of the Bible (the Peshitta, Italic, and Waldensian), all versions which agree with the Textus Receptus. These ancient versions are some 200 years older than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus; so the "older is better" argument does not hold up. This is validated given that the early church fathers had access to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus but deemed them to be full of errors and unreliable.
“We have a clear choice between one of two diverging pathways, the road of faith or the road of human reason and unbelief. Do we begin with the Word of God or do we begin with the word of men? This is the question and it has in the first instance little to do with texts, but with the faithfulness of our God. ... For it to be of any use, textual study must be grounded upon what the Bible already says about itself. If we do not begin with the Word of God, we shall never end with it!” (David Norris, The Big Picture).
3. The People Issue.
The King James Translators
Alexander McClure spent 20 years researching the men used to translate the King James Bible. His researched clearly revealed that these were as David Cloud states, “Scholars of the highest caliber.” Alexander McClure concluded, “It is confidently expected that the reader of these pages will yield to the conviction that all the colleges of Great Britain and America, even in this proud day of boastings, could not bring together the same number of divines equally qualified by learning and piety for the great undertaking.”
They were diverse in certain areas of doctrine but were all believers and were humble and dependent in approach. Miles Smith, one of the translators, said they, “were greater in other men's eyes than in their own, and sought truth rather than their own praise” and that they, “craved the assistance of God's Spirit by prayer" as they proceeded in their work.
Bible historian, Gordon Campbell, has observed:
“The population from which scholars can now be drawn is much larger than in the seventeenth century, but it would be difficult now to bring together a group of more than fifty scholars with the range of languages and knowledge of other disciplines that characterized the KJB Translators.” (Bible – The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 Oxford, Gordon Campbell, Oxford University Press 2010.)
Westott and Hort
Westcott denied the historicity of Genesis 1 to 3. He wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, March 4, 1890: "No one now, I suppose, holds that the ﬁrst three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a literal history -- I could never understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think they did" (2,b, (1), 1st ed., p. 191).
Hort concurred with Charles Darwin's false evolutionary theory. He wrote on April 3, 1860, "But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with .... My feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable" (2,b,(1), 1st ed., p. 189).
Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort are the fathers of modern Bible versions.
4. The Peace Issue.
Footnotes like, “Mark 16:20 Verses 9–20 are bracketed in NU-Text as not original. They are lacking in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, although nearly all other manuscripts of Mark contain them” or “many mss. do not contain this verse,” are regularly found in modern versions and subtly call into question the trustworthiness of God’s Word.
Regarding the frequent omission of names of Deity, Jack Moorman has tabulated the omissions in two of the most popular versions:
Jesus 73 36
Christ 43 44
Lord 35 35
God 33 31
Other Names 30 30
Total missing names 214 176
5. The Profit issue.
For nearly four hundred years now we have been printing millions of copies of KJV's without requesting permission from anyone. Over eight-hundred million copies of the Authorized Version have been printed without anyone paying royalties. This cannot be said of any of the new translations.
The translators of the King James Bible were not paid for their work. Only the 12 who did the final revision received anything, and their wage was a small weekly stipend for basic expenses as they met in London for the nine months required to complete that portion of the work.
6. The Principle Issue.
Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
If this is true, how can God judge anyone without having provided a perfect standard for man to follow?
7. The Perfection Issue.
The average position on the bible for many churches reads something like this, “We believe the Holy Scriptures to be the verbal, inspired words of God, authoritative, and without error in the original manuscripts.”
By default, the admission is, we do not have the perfect word of God today.
God promised to preserve His words (Psa. 12:7) not the original manuscripts. If we do not have a perfectly preserved Word of God then God is a liar!
1. The issue is as clear and simple as it can be complex and complicated. The volume of information to read through can be large and this is where it can get complex and complicated.
For some people, a relatively brief discussion based on the 7 issues in this article will be enough for them to get it while others might need more time and more information. For that person, pray, be patient and consider pointing them to the “Why KJV” series on the website. There are also a host of great books on the issue (For Love of the Bible, David Cloud, Why We hold to the King James Bible, David Cloud, Final Authority: A Christian's Guide to the King James Bible, William Grady…).
2. Be as clear about your love for them as you are in your position on the King James Bible. We should never communicate to any brother or sister in Christ that they are somehow inferior because they are using an inferior text.
3. Be fair and reasonable. There is truth in modern English bibles. People can and do get saved out of them and there are many men and women who love and serve the Lord as much as we do without using a received text based Bible. We can honor and celebrate that without compromising our faith-based view of the Word of God.
The reality is and will always be, that most Christians in America will not spend one hour of their Christian life examining the issue.
4. If they are using the King James Bible for discipleship purposes only but are reading another version for personal devotions or Sunday services, during discipleship, take advantage of opportunities during your teaching time to show them why different isn’t always just different. Sometimes, different is erroneous and heretical.