The King James Bible
I prefer the King James Bible. As a pastor/teacher it is the translation I will use. Why?
The main reason is the doctrine of preservation. The King James Version is based on better manuscripts. The King James Version is based on the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament which is the Hebrew version of the Old Testament used by Jews in Jesus’ day. All other modern translations use a combination of the Masoretic Text and the Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. It is abbreviated LXX which is the Roman numeral for seventy.
There are differences between the LXX and the Masoretic Text. However, God declares that He will preserve His Word.
Psalms 12:6-7 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
A Hebrew jot is a small letter of the Hebrew alphabet. A tittle is a tiny mark that designates letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It would be like Jesus saying not one dot of an i or the cross of a t will pass from the law until all is fulfilled. However, when a scholar uses the LXX to correct the Masoretic text, he is saying that there is an error.
A Hebrew scribe was incredibly meticulous when copying a Bible text. He had to wash and get a new pen every time he wrote the covenant name of God! He would count the number of words on each page to determine if it matched the original. If there was an error he did not have an eraser. He threw the thing out and started over. The King James Bible is a translation of the accepted Hebrew manuscript of the Hebrew speaking people.
When we come to the New Testament the King James Version is based on what is called the Received Text. This text has been used since the very early days of the church with many copies and portions extant. (Extant means they are still available.) There are no originals, however the originals were copied and we have a lot of evidence that the Received Text was used early on.
All other modern translations are based on a text that never existed until the past century. It was complied by some scholars from different texts. They did not use the Majority or Received Text as the source for this text. Within the last one hundred years several texts have been ‘discovered’ that are much older than many of the copies of the Received Text that are extant. For this reason, the scholars declared the older to be better. However, these older copies do not agree with each other nor do they contain the entire New Testament. They also contain books that the early church recognized to be pseudographia. (Pseudographia are writings from an unknown source that claims to be someone else. It is like someone writing under a pen name.)
Why would these older copies still be around? My answer is that they were not regularly used by the church, but were recognized to be false so the shepherds kept them to compare. It would be like a pastor having a copy of the Koran or the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation in his office. He would never think of preaching from these but he has them to compare.
Once again the doctrine of preservation is the reason for my using the King James Version. Think with me…
If God’s Word were not the Received Text and these ‘older and better’ manuscripts were not found until the late 19th or early 20th Century then God’s people were using a Bible that had errors. That goes against what God promises in His Word.
Many people object to using the King James Version because they say it is hard to understand. My answer – get a dictionary to look up hard words. You are commanded to:
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Some object to the Old English and say the Bible needs updating. However, when you read the words of the King James Bible, there is no doubt that you are reading the Bible. It does not sound like the morning newspaper. There are some advantages to the Old English. One of them is the fact that the King James Version is the only version that keeps the singular and plural pronouns distinguishable. In Greek and Hebrew there are singular and plural pronouns. In modern English, we lose the ability to distinguish between the two. So when you see ‘you’ or ‘ye’ in the Bible, you know it is a plural pronoun. God’s Word is referring to more than one person. When you see ‘thee’, ‘thou’ or ‘thine’, it is singular.
Here is an example of a place where this is important and it adds meaning to the text:
Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
In the first part of the sentence, Jesus is addressing Simon but he uses the plural pronoun ‘you’. He is saying Satan has desired to sift all the apostles as wheat. Notice, please that Jesus says he has prayed for ‘thee’. He is praying for a singular. In this instance, he is praying for Peter so that his faith will not fail then he is to strengthen his brethren. No other modern translation retains this meaning for the English reader. You would have to be able to read the Greek to discern this.
There are many objections to the King James Version and smarter men than me have raised some of them. These are the main reasons I prefer it and believe it to be the best translation in English of the preserved Word of God. With that said I would not break fellowship with a brother because he prefers another translation. It has been my experience that most people think the newer versions are simply updated language. They are not. They are based on a different text than the King James Version is based on. If you were Satan, wouldn’t you want to corrupt the Word of God? Wouldn’t you want to place doubt in people’s minds about there being errors in the Word of God? Wouldn’t you want to say, “Yea, hath God said…?”
I began my study of this issue when I noticed in a New International Version a line drawn with a notation stating that the oldest and best documents did not contain the last twelve verses of Mark and a large portion of John 8. Either God’s Word is preserved or it is not.