By Robert J. Sargent

   The "New King James Bible" of 1979 is promoted as an
"updated" King James Version (1611 A.D.).   Its revisions
are said to be no more than those which occurred in 1613
A.D., when the 1611 A.D. work underwent a few minor
grammatical and spelling changes.   Thus the "New King
James Bible"
(henceforth designated "N.K.J.B.") is to all
extents and purposes the old King James Version (A.V.),
with its archaic (obsolete English) words changed into
modern English along with the absence of all Elizabethan
pronouns and verb endings.
   Because the A.V. has been uniquely blessed of God for
well over 350 years, and because the last 100 years has
seen the rise of many "perversions," it is wise for God's
people to be hesitant in their acceptance of any new
translation.   Nevertheless, our acceptance or rejection of
anything ought not to lie with inbred reactionary or
progressive motives, but with careful and prayerful study
of the facts in the light of Scripture itself.
   This article is the result of such a study.   Its point of view
is from the heart of one who loves the Word of God,
esteems it to be far above all the counsels of men, and
values it more than any other worldly possession.   Its
confidence lies in an Almighty God, Who is abundantly
able to preserve His written Word beyond the passing of
heaven and earth.
   The writer freely confesses he neither owns nor uses a
copy of the N.K.J.B.   For the purposes of settling the issue
in his heart and mind, borrowed copies have been used,
and these have not been fully read through -- merely
perused and compared with the Bible long accepted as the
infallible, inspired, inerrant Word of God, namely the A.V.
   The conclusion reached is that the N.K.J.V. is more than
mere "realignment to a transitory language" (i.e.
English), but that it is in many places quite different to the
A.V., not a few times significantly so.   This leads the
reader to three distinct possibilities:
   1. The N.K.J.V. is the Word of God -- the corollary
being that for 368 years we never quite had the Word of
   2. The Word of God was preserved only in the
Massoretic Hebrew text and the Greek Textus Receptus,
the A.V. and the N.K.J.B. being versions of these in
English -- meaning that only those competent in Hebrew
and Greek can be certain of having the Word of God.
   3. The A.V. is the Word of God providentially
preserved in the English language -- and the N.K.J.B.
only "contains" the Word of God, but is NOT the Word of
   In his promotional remarks for the N.K.J.B. found on
the jacket of the New Testament edition, a prominent [neo- ]
fundamentalist, Dr. Jerry Falwell of Lynchburg, Virginia,

U.S.A. has this to say:
   "This new edition preserves all of the truth and
authority of the original, but makes it much easier to read
and understand.   It protects every thought, every idea,
every word, just as it was intended to be understood by the
original scholars."

   It can only be assumed that this great man, although
participating in the North American Overview Committee
concerned with the production of the N.K.J.B., has never
actually read the very book he is promoting, for his
statement is false!   The N.K.J.B. does not protect every
thought, idea and word of the A.V., but in many places
changes these things far beyond its stated aim of simply
updating it.
   The N.K.J.B. is not the Word of God.   From a purely
human standpoint, it obviously stands head and shoulders
above the rest of the works of men which claim to be
Bibles, in that it is based upon the Textus Receptus (N.T.)
and is translated by men who have expressed their belief
in the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures.
Nevertheless, it has many shortfalls, and these are
outlined as follows:

1. The Translators Of The N.K.J.B. Are Biased
Toward The A.V.

   The Introduction to the New Testament edition of the
N.K.J.B. appears to extoll the A.V. with heart-warming
sentiment.   With phrases such as, "still deeply revered,"
"majesty of the form," "beauty of language," "stately
and reverent cadence,"
one could be excused for believing
the Committees involved were ardent lovers of the A.V.
   Riveted between such statements are the "tell- tale"
signs that such love for the A.V. does not extend to a belief
in its pre-eminence.   In the same Introduction, we also read
things like, "the publishers have felt obliged to follow the
method of the original translators -- to produce a revised
English edition which will unlock the spiritual treasures
found uniquely in the King James Version,"
and, "all
participating scholars have signed a document of
subscription to the plenary and verbal inspiration of the
ORIGINAL autographs of the Bible."

   These are the words of those who feel the A.V. needs
correcting -- not updating!   You can believe what you like
about the ORIGINAL manuscripts because they don't
exist, and never will.
   This is the bottom line of the whole issue at hand.
Did God preserve His Word in the original languages, or,
for all English speaking peoples, in the A.V.?   It makes a
difference!   How often do we hear or read things like:
"That's what the Bible says . . . but, in the Greek it really
, or, "a better translation would be...."?
   We need to face up to some very relevant questions

   a. Is God's Word for all men -- or just for the
   b. Do we need to know Hebrew & Greek to fully
understand the Bible?   If so, how come they are difficult
languages to master?   Is God out to make life difficult?
   c. If we need to rely upon the best Hebrew and Greek
scholars, does this not set up two classes of Christians?
   d. Does the average "3 year of Bible College" Baptist
preacher have the right to correct the Bible on the basis of
the Greek text -- or on what he may have read?

   e. If some verses in the Bible are questionable, can
we really be sure of any?
   f. If we correct any (non-doctrinal) verse on any basis,
are we then blatantly inconsistent for impugning the
modernists when they correct doctrinal verses on the same
   g. If we correct, criticize, or question one verse of the
Bible, what are we in effect saying to baby Christians who
just got saved through the same Book?
   h. Can we not expect the same result when we read
from another "Bible" that says differently, or in some
cases the exact opposite?
   Only those who believe the Mr. Average has never
enjoyed the pure Word of God could say they feel obliged
to "unlock the treasures" of the A.V.

2. The Translators Of The N.K.J.B. Paid Respect To
The Critical Text.

   Although the N.K.J.B. is based upon the same texts as
is the A.V., it is equally apparent its translators showed
some deference to the Critical Text, upon which all other
perversions are based.
   (One of the foundational arguments for the A.V. being
the preserved Word of God is its textual basis.   The modern
perversions such as the R.V., R.S.V., A.S.V., N.A.S.V.,
N.I.V., T.E.V. etc., are all based upon the corrupt
Westcott & Hort Critical Text derived from the Vaticanus
and Siniaticus (Aleph) manuscripts.)
   Three facts are offered as proof:
   a. In the Introduction to the New Testament of the
N.K.J.B., when discussing the two textual families, the
following statement is made.   "Although there are not
massive differences
between the two textual foundations
of the New Testament, the net effect of the Westcott-Hort
type of text is to delete many words, phrases, and verses
that are found in the Authorized Version

Not massive differences!!   The very first correction of the
A.V. based upon the corrupt text (R.V. 1881) contained
36,000 changes!
   b. An edition of the N.K.J.B. (whole Bible, 1982)
contained a vast amount of footnotes, many of which serve
to correct the text of the N.K.J.B.!   Most disturbing is the
constant referral to the Critical Text (Nestle Uland --
abbreviated NU) in the footnotes to the New Testament.   In
the 4 Gospels alone, the footnotes cite 150 variant readings
and 190 omissions from the NU text, along with 60 variant
readings and 40 omissions from other texts.   One can only
wonder at what such footnotes will do to a Christian's
confidence in the Word of God.
   c. A footnote in the N.K.J.B. rendering of I John 5:7
casts some doubt on the authority of the verse.   This is a
standard trinitarian verse which is naturally missing from
all corrupt Greek texts and modernistic perversions passed
off as Bibles.

3. The N.K.J.B. Is Inconsistent When Dealing With
Archaic Words.

   No one denies the A.V. does contain some archaic
words, albeit no more than a dozen.   These words need to
be explained, and that's part of God's purpose in teaching
and preaching His Word.   In most cases, the context alone
is sufficient to give the reader the meaning -- if not, a
good dictionary is all that is required.

   But why "throw out the dishes with the dishwater?"
The N.K.J.B. makes the same error here as do the other
translations.   Everyone seems to want to use the "archaic
problem as an excuse for wholesale correction (viz.
T.E.V.).   Surely an edition of the A.V. with a marginal note
is the best answer.
   Since one of the stated aims of the N.K.J.B. is to
overcome this "problem," we would expect it to be
consistent in doing so.   Not so!
   a. In Daniel chapter 3, the N.K.J.B. uses the
everyday word "satrap" to replace the archaic "gover-
of the A.V.
   b. In the parable of Luke 19:11-27, the word "minas"
replaces "pounds" in the N.K.J.B.
   c. A number of unfamiliar words are found through
out the N.K.J.B.   For example:
   i. "Hades" for "Hell" in Luke 16:23; Rev.
20:13,14 etc.
   ii. "Antitype" for "figure" in I Pet. 1:21.

4. The N.K.J.B. Omits Key Words
From The A.V.

   Remember the words of the well known fundamentalist
who has assured us that "every word is protected."   Check
the following:
   a. Matt. 20:20.
"Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with
her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of
"Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her
sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him."

Worshipping and kneeling are two very different words.
Worshipping is directed toward God and is an attitude of
the heart.   Kneeling is an attitude of the body, and can be
directed toward anyone.   (You don't have to kneel to
worship!)   Even the Greek says "worship" is the correct
   b. I Thess. 5:22.
"Abstain from all appearance of evil" (A.V.)
"Abstain from every form of evil" (N.K.J.B.)
The N.K.J.B. is weaker on separation here, because the
word "appearance" includes things which look wrong as
well as are wrong -- whereas the word "form" tends to
mean only those things which are wrong.

5. The N.K.J.B. Changes The Meanings Of Many
Verses In The A.V.

   In this case, many examples could be given.   Some are
set out below:
   a. II Tim. 2:15.
The N.K.J.B. alters the familiar, "Study to shew thyself
approved unto God"
to, "Be diligent to present yourself
approved to God."

Since when has "study" and "diligence" meant the
same?   Imagine advising our College students to go home
and be diligent!
   b. II Cor. 2:17.
"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God"
"For we are not, as so many, peddling the Word of God"
Corrupt means to make impure; peddle means to sell.   No

dictionary says otherwise.   English hasn't changed that
   c. James 5:16.
"Confess your faults one to another" (A.V.)
"Confess your trespasses to one another" (N.K.J.B.)
Here the N.K.J.B. comes close to the ecumenical R.S.V.
and its Roman Catholic reading, "Confess your sins."   All
Christians have "faults" which are not necessarily sins or

6. The N.K.J.B. Actually Reverses
Meanings Of Some Verses.

   Despite being told in the Introduction to the New
Testament edition of the N.K.J.B. that, "A special feature
of the New King James Bible is its conformity to the
thought-flow of the 1611 version.   The reader discovers that
the sequence and identity of words, phrases, and clauses
of the new edition, while much clearer, are so close to the
traditional that there is remarkable ease in listening to the
public reading of either edition while following with the
  The translators then proceed to change the syntax
to give reverse meanings to well known verses.
   a. Rom. 1:18,25.
"who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (A.V.)
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie" (A.V.)

"who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (N.K.J.B.)
"who exchanged the truth of God for the lie" (N.K.J.B.)
In both these examples, the choice of verbs has changed
the meaning of the A.V.   Suppressing the truth and holding
the truth are two different actions, as are changing and
   b. Phil. 2:6.
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to
be equal with God:"
"Who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality
with God something to be grasped."
The reversal of words here is significant.   The A.V. is clear
that the Lord Jesus Christ is equal with God -- a position
which did not involve robbery.   The rendering in the
N.K.J.B. is weak, and could easily suggest that Jesus did
not hold onto His equality with God.
The reading of the N.K.J.B. follows that of many modern
   c. I Tim. 6:5.
"supposing that gain is godliness" (A.V.)
"who suppose that godliness is a means of gain"
This is a clear reversal of meaning.

7. The N.K.J.B. Shows Some Doctrinal Weaknesses.

   Included in the various translating committees of the
N.K.J.B. were several Arminian theologians, or at least
scholars coming from Arminian denominations such as
Nazarene, Methodist, Free Will Baptist, and Assembly of
   Several verses seem to have an Arminian flavor.   For
   a. Heb. 10:14.
"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that
are sanctified."
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who
are being sanctified."

The term, "being sanctified" would be favorable to the
Holiness movement, whereas in fact the believer IS
   b. Jude 24.
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling"
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling"
Stumbling and falling are two dissimiliar words.   The
revision would be more favorable to those who believe a
Christian can fall from grace (i.e. Arminians).
   c. Gal. 5:4.
"Christ is become of no effect unto you," (A.V.)
"You have become estranged from Christ" (N.K.J.B.)
The rendering of the N.K.J.B. suggests those who seek
justification through the law were at one time not strangers
to Christ (i.e. they lost their salvation).   The A.V. makes it
clear such people were never saved!
   d. I Thess. 5:23.
"be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ"
"be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus
Without going into the interpretation of this verse, the
prepositions "unto" and "at" indicate different time
   Other verses which may be compared are II Cor. 2:10; I
Cor. 16:2 (where the N.K.J.B. downgrades God's
blessings and storehouse tithing), and I Cor. 1:22.   The
omission of italics in I Cor. 14 makes the tongue-speaker's
lot a little easier.
   If the N.K.J.B. is simply an updated A.V. then an
honest comparison of the two ought to give rise to no
changed meanings, no reversed meanings, and no
additions or omissions.
   Because the above has not shown this to be the case, the
only conclusion is that we have two different Bibles.
Granted, the differences may not be as great and
devastating as between the A.V. and the R.S.V. for
example, but isn't the most dangerous lie the one closest
to the truth?
  Isn't the most deadly poison that which is
clothed in purity?

   Truly, the N.K.J.B. contains the Word of God (e.g. John
1:1), but it is NOT the Word of God (e.g. II Tim. 2:15).   My
personal opinion, based upon the facts outlined above, is
that the N.K.J.B. is the "thin end of the wedge" designed
to pry from the hands of Bible believing Baptists the Book
God has blessed and been pleased to use for so long.

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