Updated: Jul 17, 2020
For the believer in Christ, any position on Bible translations should begin with biblical doctrine, that is, what the Bible says about itself. Often in the discussions on Bible versions, these foundational doctrines can be forgotten. So let’s review what the Bible says about itself and how these doctrines should shape our position on the KJV. First, the Bible tells us that God directly breathed out the very words of the Bible, not just the thoughts, to chosen men through the Holy Spirit. We call this the doctrine of inspiration:
II Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
II Peter 1:21 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.
Second, since God is all-knowing, all-powerful and absolutely holy, He breathed out the words of Scripture absolutely without error. We call this infallibility or inerrancy:
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth,
purified seven times.
Third, the Bible tells us that God entrusted the care of these inspired words, first to the nation of Israel, then to born-again believers in this church age:
Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
I Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not
imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of
Fourth, to assure us that His Word would not be lost due to the weaknesses of fallible, sinful men, the Bible tells us that God promised He, Himself, would oversee the preservation of His word for every generation. Therefore we call this the preservation of the Scriptures:
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
I Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the
gospel is preached unto you.
Psalm 119:89 LAMED For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. 90 Thy faithfulness
is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
Since we then, as saved children of God, have been entrusted with the words of God, we are stewards of a great trust. As stewards, we have one primary responsibility, faithfulness.
I Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
What does faithfulness regarding God’s Word mean? It means we accurately deliver the words of God which we have received to the current and next generation.
II Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the
same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
II Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith
and love which is in Christ Jesus.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it
was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend
for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
So we can see by these statements from Scripture that both accuracy and clarity must be considered when we make or receive any translation. As stewards, our responsibility is primarily to God in faithfully transmitting the words He gave to us, and secondarily to men in communicating those words as clearly as possible. The above doctrines guide our convictions in the issues we are discussing. Because we believe God has preserved His Word through every generation using believers, we hold to the TR/Majority text, because that is the text that has been continuously used by God’s people down through the ages. We reject the critical text because it was rejected by God’s people for centuries and was pieced together largely by unbelievers after laying unused for over a thousand years. Because we believe that God deliberately spoke every word without error, we strive to connect the English reader as closely to the underlying Greek and Hebrew words as possible. As we pointed out in our last article, that is the reason for the “quirks” people often complain about in the KJV. Things like “thee’s” and “thou’s”, the unusual syntax and italicized words were all deliberate measures put in, not because of the English of the 1600’s, but because of the stewardship believers have to faithfully transmit the words of God from one generation to the next. We can discuss about the clarity of individual words, but no translation comprehensively connects the English reader to the Greek and Hebrew words God gave like the KJV. Any argument to replace the KJV with a new translation, even from the TR, would have to prove both that the KJV no longer accurately represents the words God gave us and that the new translation, in all facets of its word choices, syntax and format is comprehensively superior to the KJV in such accuracy. Quite frankly, the case has not been made at all that this is the case. In all of the newer translation, even from the TR, there seems to be a tendency to move the reader further away from the original Greek and Hebrew texts rather than closer to them.
However, there is another doctrine that is often overlooked in the discussion of Bible translations. The principles of free-market capitalism have created a consumer mentality in American society. We mentioned one aspect of this mentality which affects the Bible version debate in our last article, but we would like to address a different aspect at this time. In a consumer-driven society, the customer sits as the great judge to which every organization or business appeals. In order to survive, a business must attract more customers to its product than any other business. Great skill, time and expense are devoted to finding out what the buying public wants and how to offer it to them at a price they will pay. Unfortunately, we have come to view the church in the same framework. Churches and their leaders have a natural desire for people to decide to trust in Christ for their salvation. We desire those who have thus been saved to join and be discipled in our local churches. Ideally, the more people we lead to Christ and disciple, the more people we will have helping in the work and funding of the church. Thus we will increase our outreach in our local, national and global communities. These are godly desires. However there is a subtle temptation to view these markers as the measure of our success in the ministry. Successful servants of God will be blessed with regular converts, regular increases in their attendance, members and resources. Wall Street uses different terms but the goals for an increased “customer” base are the same. So when we experience stagnation in our attendance, the number of salvations we see and so forth, we have been tempted to look at successful business models for help. But in doing so we are overlooking a fundamental difference. God is not a product to advertise and sell. God is not a service seeking to expand a client base. God is our sovereign creator whom we have offended with our sin and against whom we have committed treason. God gave us life and we chose death. God gave us a beautiful and perfect world and we destroyed it. God doesn’t need us to accept Him. We need God to accept us!
Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is
kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose
face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I
saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another
book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things
which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead
which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they
were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the
lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of
life was cast into the lake of fire.
Since God is fundamentally different from a business or product, His program for the church is fundamentally different also. God’s “business model” for His church is to confront society with its sin against a holy Creator. The church’s responsibility is to make sure people know they have been justly sentenced to an eternal Hell because of that sin. We must show them through God’s law that all their efforts to escape Hell on their own will absolutely fail. Only after people understand these truths are they ready to hear of the loving salvation God offers us through Christ. Once the church has accurately and faithfully broadcast that message, the responsibility shifts completely, from the church to the unbelieving world. They have the choice to accept or reject God’s offer of forgiveness. The blame for rejection or acceptance of the gospel lies solely with the lost person. God inspired Paul to put it this way:
II Corinthians 2:15-17 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 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.
Notice what happens when we preach the gospel and people are saved - we are a sweet savor unto God. He is pleased with us. Notice what happens when we preach the gospel and people reject it, confirming their destruction in Hell - we are a sweet savor unto God. He is pleased with us. God is not pleased in the rejection and definitely not pleased with any soul ending up in Hell (II Peter 3:5), but He is pleased in our faithfulness to the gospel. Paul defined success as faithfully preaching the whole message of the gospel, regardless of whether or not it resulted in a soul trusting Christ. We see this from the verse preceding the above passage:
II Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,
and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
Paul had a passionate desire for people to trust Christ and escape Hell, but he did not make the decision, what the marketing world calls “closing the sale”, a marker of his success. When we evaluate our ministry methods, tools and approach by how well they “close the sale”, we will end up corrupting the Word of God for that purpose also. That is what Paul is saying in verse seventeen. The word corrupt is the corruption that occurs when we try to sell something. We work to make it attractive to the customer. Sales professionals often hide what is undesirable and emphasize what is desirable. They do not simply present the product as it is and let the customer make the choice. They try to influence the customer to make the decision, often sacrificing accuracy for customer appeal. But as the pillar and ground of the truth, (I Timothy 3:15), the church of the living God has one focus - faithfully give the words God has breathed out to this generation and the next. The very philosophy that pressures us to ignore accuracy over pandering to the comfort levels of our generation, is an outgrowth of a market driven approach to ministry. Inevitably it will lead to unfaithfulness in our stewardship of the words of God and a weakening of the power of the gospel. These important Bible doctrines ought be enough for any Christian to see why now is not the time to abandon the KJV.