Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Sitting in my great room with the ladies from Bible study, I told them about the customer who came into the Christian bookstore and wanted to purchase a children’s Bible. I took him back to the children’s section, showed him the most popular children’s Bible sold, and he asked what version of the Bible was it based on. He proceeded to rant how he would only purchase a children's Bible based on the King James Version. This customer was a King James Only (KJO) person. I told him to hold on and I went and got another employee to help him. The ladies in my Bible study group had heard me complain many times about the KJO people. But this time, one of them asked me why I didn't just ignore them and also, why did it matter?
Since that day many years ago I have often thought about her question:
"Why does it matter?"
First let me give you a little back ground about the King James Version (KJV) Bible. Before we begin, hear my heart on this; the KJV is a wonderful version of the Bible. If you read from it, fine. Published in 1611, it is still the second most popular Bible version sold. The translators used the Masoretic text (OT), the Textus Receptus (NT) and The Bishop's Bible from 1568 to translate the text from Hebrew/ Aramaic/ Greek to English. 54 translators worked on the translation. The King James Version has been revised 11 times since it was published. Most people who read from a KJV Bible use the 1769 revision.
The KJV translators' purpose was "to deliver God's book unto God's people in a tongue which they can understand." I guess they did do that for the people back in 1611. However, today it can be difficult to read due to the 17th-century English vocabulary and word order. We just don't talk like that anymore.
Newer versions of the Bible are much more readable. Having a Bible in everyday language helps the reader understand what they are reading. And isn't that the point?
Now, let me explain what King James Only (KJO) people are.
The KJO people believe the only true Word of God is the King James Version Bible. They say if you read from any other version of the Bible you are not reading God's Word. They say newer versions of the Bible:
have removed the deity of Jesus
have removed the "blood" of Christ
None of these statements is true!
I follow a Bible forum and there is a KJO man on there who posts a lot of memes. So these memes are ones that he posted on the forum. The KJO people who came into the Christian bookstore where I worked would often say these same kinds of things to me.
This is not fact! This one is rather humorous. What's up with the "copyright" thing? The KJV was revised 11 times which sort of makes their point ridiculous. It tells us the KJV is easy to memorize and then gives us 2 Peter 2:3 which doesn't make much sense to me in the KJV. What on earth does "make merchandise of you" mean? Ha!
"The KJV is the perfect word of God without error." No, there is no perfect translation. This one tells you to be saved and then to find a King James Believing Church!
Let's look at some of their false claims about reputable newer Bible versions:
The Newer Versions are Missing Verses:
You aren't missing verses. The short of it is, earlier and many more manuscripts have been discovered since the KJV was translated in 1611. There are 17 New Testament verses and 2 NT passages which were not in the earlier manuscripts. The New Testament Greek manuscripts discovered match 98% to the later manuscripts on which the KJV was based. Scholars have examined all of the manuscript evidence (thousands) and concluded these verses were probably added centuries later for clarification. None of these verses impact any Christian doctrine. The newer versions of the Bible are based on the entirety of the manuscript evidence and do not contain these verses since scholars believe they were added later by scribes. My NASB Bible has them, but has brackets around them and says "Early manuscripts do not contain this verse."
Scholars know about these verses. They have disclosed them. There isn't some conspiracy to remove God's Word.
Even though we have no original manuscripts we know we have the sacred text in the original languages as relayed by the writers.
We are sure.
We know God preserved His Word for us.
And that is an enormous miracle! It blows your mind when you think about it!
Since we can't read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; scholars have to translate the original language manuscripts to English for us. They have to hold two things in tension when translating words - what did the word mean to the original writers and what word best fits that meaning today all the while staying true to the text itself.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has an excellent post about the King James only allegations.
Here it is.
I also wrote a blog specifically on the subject of the NOT missing verses in which you can read the "missing verses" and the passages are listed:
1. I want you to note in the meme above that the KJO used the ASV and GNB in the comparison chart which are not popular newer versions. (Popular versions of the Bible today are the NIV, ESV, KJV, NKJV, NLT, NASB, HCSB. Any of those are good versions for Bible reading and study.)
2. And they included the NWT - New World Translation - This is the Bible used by Jehovah's Witnesses. The reason this is significant is they are lumping mainstream Christianity with the Jehovah's Witnesses. The KJO do this frequently and I quite frankly find it very offensive. The Jehovah's Witnesses have several different core beliefs. Most importantly we differ on the deity of Christ. The KJO people view Christians in the same camp as the Jehovah's witnesses. Wrong.
Newer Versions Remove the Deity of Christ:
No they don't.
This is the one verse the KJO refer to when they make the false claim the newer versions remove the deity of Christ. In this particular verse scholars have determined it is a certain corruption in the KJV. The evidence shows the word "God" did not show up in 1 Timothy 3:16 in manuscripts before the 5th century. A scribal error that apparently was just a pen stroke and it changed the Greek word. Therefore, translating teams today do not perpetuate this error.
But what about this claim by the KJO that the newer versions remove the deity of Christ? I read from the NASB, ESV,and NIV and I believe in the Trinity. How could that be? Because just like the KJV, our newer version Bibles tell us that. Or as one man in the comment section of this meme post said, "If the NIV is a conspiracy to undermine the deity of Jesus, how is it that most NIV readers are Trinitarian?"
Again, I think the KJO people are confusing Christians with the Jehovah's Witnesses who do not believe in the deity of Jesus. My Christian friends who read the NIV believe in the Trinity. Just saying.
Newer Versions Removing the Blood of Christ:
No they don't.
Basically it is for the same reason as the "missing"/ added-later-for-clarification verses talked about above. The words "through the blood" are found in later manuscripts. These words are not in the Alexandrian family of manuscripts and only about 200 of the 600 Byzantine manuscripts have these words in them.
BUT the blood atonement is found in many Scripture verses. It is an essential belief of Christians. See Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:12, 9:14, 9:22, 10:29, 12:24; 13:20; Revelation 1:5...
Even if you point this out to KJO people, they will say translators do not have the right to remove words in even that one verse and quote Revelation 22:19 to which we reply they have no right to add words and quote Revelation 22:18. Here's the thing again, people who read the newer versions read about the blood of Christ and believe in the atoning sacrifice.
If you want to read an excellent article about this, see - http://truediscipleship.com/through-his-blood-of-colossians-114-king-james-onlyism/
They start out insulting us by asking how old we are. Saying the reading level of the KJV is on the 5th to 6th reading level is a flat out lie that comes from some woman's book which contains hundreds of faulty statements and twists the facts. Any [idiot] like us can tell the KJV is harder to read! It is actually on a 12th grade reading level. I know I go around saying, "Howbeit" all of the time. Not! And then this lectures us by telling us to not be lazy and to throw out our modern "per-version". When I read this you could hear my blood boil. Starting with offending us and lying about the reading level and end by offending us some more - trash, just trash.
The KJV can be difficult to read. One of the reasons is it uses several words most of us wouldn't have a clue what they mean. I'll give you just a few:
sackbut (Daniel 3:5)
neesing (Job 41:18)
cieled (2 Chronicles 3:5; Jeremiah 22:14, Ezekiel 41:16, Haggai 1:4)
suretiship (Proverbs 11:15)
Here are some more you could look up - Go to www.Biblegateway.com and enter the word and King James Version.
scall, amerce. crookbackt, glede, wen, tabret,...
And the awkwardness of phrasing can be challenging too.
Since the KJV was published - the English language has evolved/ scholarship of the ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek has developed/ the volume of manuscripts discovered and compared has grown significantly/ and much earlier manuscripts have been discovered.
The King James Version is a wonderful version of the English Bible. But so is the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the New International Version (NIV), and the New Living Translation (NLT).
If you read from one of these popular versions of the Bible, don't be intimidated by KJO people telling you that you are not reading from God's Word. You are.
The King James Only people will say the King James Bible is the only true Word of God.
This is flat out not true.
I agree with James R. White when he said, "I oppose KJV Onlyism, not the King James Version itself."
As I worked on this post and researched the various claims, re-read a book on the subject, interacted with the KJO guy on the forum; it was not lost on me what an incredible amount of time has been wasted on the King James Only Debate. Incredible amount. And that must surely grieve God. Precious time wasted. Time that could be used to further His kingdom.
And back to my friend's question, "Why does it matter?'
It does matter. In Bible Version Wars - Cease Fire! I explain why this debate is so harmful. I share some of the comments made by the KJO guy on the Bible forum. I think they will shock you.