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The KJV Controversy

(an Overview)

See also under point V. Anderson's KJV Folly

Thou shalt not revile the Gods, . . . . (Exodus 22:28, 1611 KJV)1

I. Introduction

The KJV controversy is a massive subject, in which, literally thousands of arguments may be used by advocates of the KJV translation to "prove" their point. D. A. Waite, in his book, Defending The King James Bible (copyright 1992), has at the end of his book (on pages 284-307) a list of "OVER 900 TITLES DEFENDING THE KING JAMES BIBLE" (including a "suggested gift" for each title). The reason this arsenal of "evidence" exists is because, not only are they arguing over the entire text of Scripture, that is, any word(s) or verse that may not have been translated the way they believe they should have been, but they are also contending over several different English translations and different Greek manuscripts. This provides for them an enormous amount of words to contend over. They are among those who are "doting about questions and strifes of words" (1 Timothy 6:4 KJV; NKJV "obsessed with disputes and arguments over words").

Typically, the KJV is set up as the standard, and therefore, anything that doesn't line up with the KJV is consequently erroneous. Peter S. Ruckman (Bible Baptist Bookstore, P. O. Box 7135, Pensacola, FL 32514, ph. # 904-477-8812), who is on the far right of this controversy, wrote in his booklet entitled About the "New" King James Bible (copyright 1983, revised 1987),

Now the New "King James" Bible, like every English translation since 1884, had to compare itself with the original Authorized Version of 1611, for this is the STANDARD that God set up whereby to judge all translations. (p. 15, italics and capitals in the original)

Contrary to Ruckman's claim (which is a lie), God sets up no such standard. Scripture (Hebrews 4:12-13) sets no such standard. Yet, men do (Colossians 2:8), and they judge according to their own measure.

In Matthew 7:1-2 Christ said,

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (KJV)

Typically, KJV advocates acclaim the original 1611 KJV. And, they impugn all other English translations, including the NKJV. In their rejection of the NKJV, their folly is more easily manifested.

Not only are verse comparisons given, which are dealt with, in part, below, but fault is found by some (e.g. Terry Watkins, New King James Counterfeit, tract) based on the triquetra symbol (found on many, not all, NKJV Bibles) claiming that this symbol is a Satanic symbol. Using this same kind of measure (Matthew 7:1-2), these KJV advocates should reject their own 1611 KJV.

In the 1611 KJV there are two Suns each having a face on the very front cover, and on the first page of the New Testament. Since when does the Sun have a face? Is not this imagery consistent with the worship of the Sun? Would this not then be a Satanic idolatrous symbol or picture?

Also, following Catholic tradition (which is demonic, 1 Timothy 4:1-3; Colossians 2:8), the 1611 KJV has an Easter calendar (28 pages from the page with "To The Most High and Mightie Prince, Iames . . ."). In the pages following this calendar, there are several "Holy days" listed, some of which include Christmas (a Catholic/pagan "Holy day"), different saints, "Epiphinie," "the purification of the blessed Virgin," and "the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin." Five pages from the Easter Calendar, at the bottom of the page are two naked Cupid (Roman god of love) looking beings with wings. Also, at the beginning of the New Testament, at the bottom of the pictorial page there is a Cupid looking head with wings. Using the same kind of measure some use, the 1611 KJV should also be rejected.

In fact, the 1611 KJV is far worse, because between the Old and New Testaments lies (in more ways than one) the Apocrypha. This group of books is filled with false doctrine contradicting much of what is taught in the Old and New Testament (Please see our report on the Apocrypha). Right smack in the middle of the 1611 KJV is a group of books that teach a great deal of false doctrine (some of which are clearly "destructive heresies", 2 Peter 2:1). KJV advocates, who praise the original 1611 KJV Bible (with its Apocryphal writings) and condemn the NKJV because of its triquetra symbol, are hypocrites, especially when they set the 1611 KJV up as the standard.

II. Verse Comparisons

Another sample of faulty measuring (Matthew 7:2) can be seen in some of the examples KJV advocates give as they compare the KJV with the NKJV. Now, at times, the KJV does do a better job at giving a more literal translation (e.g. "pisseth against the wall" 1 Samuel 25:22, 34; 1 Kings 14:10; 16:11; 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8; "eat their own dung and drink their own piss" 2 Kings 18:27; Isaiah 36:12; "effeminate" 1 Corinthians 6:9). But, the NKJV also has its share of more literal translations. For example, in John 4:24 the KJV reads, "God is a Spirit." The NKJV reads, "God is Spirit." Since there is no indefinite article ("a") in the Greek, and there is no reason to insert it, the NKJV is more literal (following the Greek in a more exacting way).

Moreover, in several passages (Luke 20:16; Romans 3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13: 9:14; 11:1, 11; 1 Corinthians 6:15; Galatians 2:17; 3:21; 6:14) the KJV translates the Greek phrase "μὴ γένοιτο" as "God forbid!" The Greek word for "God" is not even there.2 The first word (μὴ) means "no". The second Greek word (γένοιτο) means "may be" (in this context). The NKJV translates it, "Certainly not!" [The NASV translates this, "May it never be!"] In Hebrews 10:23 the KJV translates "faith," but the actual Greek word is "hope" (ἐλπίδος) as the NKJV has it. In Acts 19:37 the KJV has "robbers of churches" where the Greek word is actually "robbers of temples" (ἱεροσύλους).3 Both the KJV and the NKJV have their share of "better translations" when compared one with the other.

A. Terry Watkins(Dial-The-Truth Ministries, 5990 Willow Ridge Road, Pinson, AL 35126, ph. # 205-680-9206)

But, some comparisons fall before the KJV itself when compared to itself. For example, Terry Watkins gives on his web site (; and in tract form) under the title, "The New King James Counterfeit" several verse comparisons comparing the KJV with the NKJV (and other translations). One comparison reads as follows:

In 2 Timothy 2:15, the NKJV (like the NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV) remove that "obsolete" word - "study"! The only time you're told to "study" your Bible. AND THEY ZAP IT! Why don't they want you to "study" your Bible? [Here lies an "evil surmising," 1 Timothy 6:4 KJV; NKJV "evil suspicion"] Maybe they don't want you to look too close - you might find out what they've ACTUALLY done to your Bible! The "real" KJV is the only English Bible in the world that instructs you to "study" your Bible! (emphasis in original)

The Greek word in question here is σπούδασον (spoudason). Please note every other time the KJV translates this word. In Galatians 2:10 it's "forward," Ephesians 4:3 "Endeavoring," 1 Thessalonians 2:17 "endeavored," 2 Timothy 4:9 & 21 "diligence," Titus 3:12 "be diligent," Hebrews 4:11 "labor," 2 Peter 1:10 "diligence," 1:15 "endeavor," 3:14 "be diligent." The KJV itself testifies that the word can be translated exactly as the NKJV translates it in 2 Timothy 2:15 ("Be diligent"). In fact, nowhere else does the KJV translate this word "study." It is only translated "study" in 2 Timothy 2:15.

Another faulty measure (Matthew 7:2) by Terry Watkins can be found in his contention over the word "virtue."

That "obsolete" word "virtue" is replaced with "power" in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, 8:46! How does anybody confuse "virtue" with "power"? Simple - by being "bosom-buddies" with the NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV!

The Greek word in question here is δύναμιν (dunamin). The KJV translates this same word as "power" 71 times (e.g. Luke 5:17; 24:49; Acts 4:7)! The KJV itself testifies that it can well be translated "power."

Another example given by Terry Watkins is that Revelation 2:13 says "Satan's seat" in the KJV, but the NKJV (and NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV) reads, "Satan's throne." Here again, the KJV bears witness that this is a legitimate translation. The KJV translates the same Greek word, θρονος (thronos), as "throne" 50 times (e.g. Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 1:4; 3:21; 4:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10; 20:4; etc.)!

Another argument used by Watkins is that the NKJV [and NIV, NASV, NRSV, RSV] translates Acts 4:27 & 30 as "holy servant" (speaking of Christ) rather than "holy child" (KJV). Again, the KJV testifies that this is a legitimate translation in Matthew 8:6, 8, 13; 14:2; Luke 1:54, 69; 7:7; 12:45; 15:26 in which the same Greek word, παις (pais), is translated "servant." In fact, in Matthew 12:18 it is translated "servant" (KJV) and it is speaking of Christ.

1 Timothy 6:20 is also cited by Watkins, in that, the KJV gives the translation "science" where as the NKJV [and NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV] gives "knowledge." Yet, the KJV translates the same Greek word, γνωσις (gnôsis), as "knowledge" 28 times (e.g. Colossians 2:3; 1 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 1:5, 6; 3:18) never again translating it "science." Once more, the KJV testifies that the NKJV translation is quite appropriate.

B. Mr. D. A. Waite (The Bible For Today, 900 Park Ave., Collingswood, NJ 08108; ph. # 609-854-4452)

A few really pitiful examples of verse comparisons from a formidable KJV advocate can be found in D. A. Waite's book entitled, Defending The King James Bible (copyright 1992). On page 150-151 Waite claims the NIV denies a literal fire in hell.

The Denial of Literal Fire in Hell.

"Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:44) "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:46)

. . . both of these verses are omitted in their entirety. Both verses teach clearly that hell is a place of unquenchable, literal fire. This is certainly a matter of doctrine and theology. (bold in original)

It is true that the NIV omits these two verses, because it follows here the Greek texts B and Aleph. But, it is not true (i.e. it is a lie) that the NIV "denies a literal fire in hell." In this very same context, in Mark 9:48 the NIV reads, "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." By the same measure, Waite ought to reject his own KJV, for the KJV itself "omits" "hell" from Ezekiel 31:15 (see Ezekiel 31:15 NKJV "hell"; KJV "grave").

On page 157 and 158 of this same book, under the subtitle "The Denial of Redemption by Divinely Provided Blood" Waite writes,

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Greek Texts: -B/ALEPH

English Versions: (-3) -NIV, -NASV, -NB

The italicized portion is ELIMINATED in the Greek texts and English versions specified above. Since Christian Science and liberals make a distinction (as in early church times) between the human "Jesus" and the Divine "Christ," the cleansing "Blood" might be considered as merely human blood rather than having its source in God Himself. It's the "Blood of Jesus Christ" not merely the "blood of Jesus" that "cleanseth us from all sin"! This is certainly a matter of doctrine and theology. (bold in original)

It appears that the Greek texts and English translations cited here are deficient in this case, but to say what Waite says beyond this is foolishness and using a measure the Scriptures do not use. Hebrews 10:19 reads, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," (KJV). There is no "Christ" mentioned in this verse! To use the same measure Waite uses (Matthew 7:2), in Hebrews 10:19 God Himself is leaving room for the error of "Christian Science and liberals!"

Also on page 157-158 under the subtitle, "The Denial of Salvation and Redemption Only in Christ," Waite writes,

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47)

Greek Texts: -B/ALEPH

English Versions: (-3) -NIV, -NASV, -NKJV-FN

The italicized portion is ELIMINATED in the Greek texts and English versions specified above. This is, perhaps, one of the CLEAREST theological errors in these three versions. To make salvation only a matter of "believing" rather than solely, as Christ said in this verse, "believing on Me," is truly "ANOTHER GOSPEL"! If you were trying to lead someone to Christ with the NIV or NASV, using this verse, they could "believe" in anything and still have "everlasting life" --whether in Santa Claus, in the Easter Bunny, in the Tooth Fairy, in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, or in any of the false world religions! This is SERIOUS THEOLOGICAL PERVERSION! This is certainly a matter of doctrine and theology. (bold in original, FN = footnote)

The above is a graphic example of a "perverse disputing" (1 Timothy 6:5 KJV; NKJV "useless wrangling"). To use the same measure (Matthew 7:2) Waite uses here, then he must also accuse God for the same error ("serious theological perversion" and "another gospel"), because in the gospel of Mark Christ says (without saying "on Me"), "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16 KJV)

C. How about the "Easter" passage in Acts 12:4?

In Acts 12:4 the KJV translates the Greek word πασχα (pasca) as "Easter." Πασχα (pasca) is the Greek word for "Passover." The KJV bears witness to this fact 28 times (e.g. Matthew 26:2; John 2:13; Hebrews 11:28; etc.). In fact, the only time the KJV translates this word "Easter" (and not "Passover") is in Acts 12:4. Why? The answer to that question is gone with the KJV translators themselves (Ecclesiastes 1:11). But, for whatever reason they may have given, it is not Biblically justified.

Some argue that the holiday mentioned was pagan in this context, thus we have "Easter" (e.g. The problem is, the text (Scripture) says no such thing, and in fact, Acts 12:3, the verse just prior to Acts 12:4, declares plainly that it was during "the days of unleavened bread." This identifies the time as the time of the Passover. The days of unleavened bread and the Passover go hand in hand, as Luke 22:1 exemplifies.

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew near, which is called the Passover. (see also, Exodus 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:5-6; Numbers 28:16-17; 2 Chronicles 30:21; 35:17; Ezra 6:22; Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

The Works of Josephus (the Jewish historian) likewise testifies to this fact.

As this happened at the time when the feast of unleavened bread was celebrated, which we call the Passover, (The Works of Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, book 14, chapter 2, section 1)

Now, upon the approach of that feast of unleavened bread which the law of their fathers had appointed for the Jews at this time, which feast is called the Passover, (The Works of Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, book 17, chapter 9, section 3)

D. The 1611 KJV Compared To The Present KJV

It might be expected that the present KJV would have, perhaps, more modern English than the 1611 KJV, since the 1611 is older. On the contrary, at least in the use of the term "ye" or "you," the 1611 is more contemporary. In John 18:29; 1 Corinthians 7:5, 35; 14:8; 2 Corinthians 9:4; 11:1; Galatians 3:10; and 1 John 2:13, the 1611 KJV uses the common "you" whereas the present day KJV uses "ye."

In addition, in the New Testament alone, the KJV of today does not follow the 1611 several times over. For example, in Matthew 6:3 the present KJV has "hand" where there is no "hand" in the 1611. In Acts 5:34 the 1611 has "the" where there is no "the" in the present KJV. In Acts 8:32 the 1611 has "the shearer," where the present KJV has "his shearer." In Acts 15:23 the present KJV has "they" where the 1611 has no "they." In 2 Corinthians 5:1 the 1611 has "hand," singular, while the present KJV has "hands," plural. In 2 Corinthians 11:26 the 1611 has "journeying" while the present KJV has "journeys."

Moreover, in the New Testament, in a few instances, in comparison to today's KJV, the 1611 follows more exactly the Greek (the Received Text and other Texts). For example, in Matthew 9:33 the 1611 has the article ("the") in keeping with the Greek, whereas the present KJV does not. In John 16:25 the present KJV adds "but," where the 1611 and the Greek have no "but." In Romans 7:2 the present KJV has "her husband" whereas the 1611 has "the husband" following the Greek. In Ephesians 6:24 the present KJV has "Amen" following the Majority Greek Text whereas the 1611 has no "Amen" following the Received Text, which also agrees, in this case, with the Critical Text. In 1 Timothy 1:4 the present KJV adds "godly" whereas the 1611 has no "godly" in keeping with the Greek. And, in 2 Peter 2:5 the present KJV has "sacrifices," plural, whereas the 1611 has "sacrifice," singular, in keeping with the Greek.

Although the 1611 KJV is acclaimed as the "STANDARD" (e.g. Ruckman), the 1611, several times over, does not follow the Greek Text (Received Text and other Texts) as closely as the present KJV. For example, in Matthew 16:16 the 1611 leaves out the definite article, whereas the present KJV follows the Greek leaving it in with "the Christ." In Mark 5:6 the 1611 translates the Greek word εδραμε (edrame) as "came" whereas the present KJV translates it more literally "ran." In Mark 10:18 the 1611 reads, "no man good," whereas the present KJV more literally reads, "none good." There is no "man" in the Greek. In Luke 1:3; 2 Timothy 4:8; and 2 Peter 2:1 the present KJV translates the Greek word "all" where the 1611 leaves it out. In John 7:16 the 1611 likewise leaves out "and said," where the present KJV includes a translation of these two Greek words, και ειπεν (kai eipen). In John 15:20 the 1611 has "the Lord" where the present KJV has "his Lord" in keeping with the Greek. In 2 Timothy 2:19 the 1611 has "the seal" where the present KJV has the demonstrative "this seal" which follows the Greek more literally. In 1 John 3:22 the 1611 has the singular "commandment" whereas the present KJV has the plural "commandments" in keeping with the Greek. In Acts 10:9 the 1611 translates the Greek word δωμα (doma) as "house" where the present KJV translates it more literally as "housetop." Elsewhere, the 1611 translates this same Greek word as "house top" or "house tops," and never again as house (Matthew 10:27; 24:17; Mark 13:15; Luke 5:19; 12:3; 17:31).

In 1 Corinthians 12:28 the 1611 has "helpes in governmets" where the present KJV follows the Greek accusative with "helps, governments." In 1 Corinthians 15:6 (printed as verse 5) the 1611 has "And that" where the present KJV has more literally "After that." Yet, the 1611 translates this same Greek word, επειτα (epeita), as "After" in verse 7 of the same chapter.

In 1 Corinthians 8:12; 9:6 (twice); and 2 Peter 2:6 (Received Text) the 1611 leaves out the word "also" because it does not translate the Greek word και (kai) whereas the present KJV follows the Greek and includes "also" in the translation. Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 9:5, at the end of the verse, and in Revelation 5:13 (twice) the 1611 is lacking the word "and" because it does not translate the Greek word και (kai). The present KJV includes "and" in these passages as it follows the Greek in a more exacting way. Also, this same kind of thing is found in Jude 25 where the 1611 again does not translate the Greek word και (kai), therefore there is no "both" where the present KJV has "both" in its translation of και (kai). [Depending on the context, the Greek word και (kai) can be translated as "also," "and," or "both."]

The worst omissions found in the 1611 New Testament can be found in 2 Corinthians 11:32; 2 Timothy 4:13; and 1 John 5:12. In 2 Corinthians 11:32 the 1611 does not translate the Greek word δαμασκηνων (damaskênôn), thus leaving out the phrase "of the Damascenes," whereas the present KJV follows the Greek and includes these words. In 2 Timothy 4:13 the 1611 does not translate the Greek words και τα βιβλια (kai ta biblia), thus leaving out the phrase, "and the books," whereas the present KJV follows the Greek and translates these words. And, finally, in 1 John 5:12 the 1611 does not translate tou qeou (tou theou), thus leaving out the phrase "of God," whereas the present KJV follows the Greek and includes these words.

In light of the above, the KJV advocates, if they are to be consistant, ought to reject either their own KJV Bibles or the 1611.

III. Manuscripts and Translations

A main part of this controversy involves "textual criticism" which is an effort in establishing a proper view of discerning between variant readings among the many Greek manuscripts (New Testament books and passages) that are available. There are three main camps in this field, and it is in no way an exacting science. The three main camps are the Critical Text approach (Westcott and Hort), the Received Text (Textus Receptus) approach, which KJV advocates acclaim, and the Majority Text approach (Hodges and Farstad).

The Critical Text approach places much weight on two main manuscripts that they espouse to be supposedly "older", and there are several differently reasoned out arguments for picking any particular passage or reading in any particular situation. Most modern English translations (e.g. NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV) follow the Critical Text approach (at least, in general). The Received Text approach places authority on the Greek text from which the KJV (and NKJV) was translated, and at least in part, it is argued that time itself bears witness that this is the text to follow; because it was used by so many for so long (about 400 years). The Majority Text approach simply places authority on the text that has the most Greek manuscripts that read exactly the same for that particular passage.

Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; and Revelation 22:18-19 all strongly imply that someone could add to or take away from God's word. Yet, at the same time, the Lord maintains that He will (and does) preserve His Word (Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 12:6-7; Isaiah 30:8-9; Matthew 24:35; Luke 21:33). Christ goes so far as to say,

Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18 KJV)

There may be questions in the mind of man regarding a particular passage whether or not a word, phrase, or verse should be regarded as Scripture (when considering the different manuscripts available), but the truth of the matter is, this does not change the fact that God has preserved His Word. It is man's responsibility to fear God (Proverbs 2:1-12; 9:10; Job 28:28) and attempt to discern what is correct.

KJV advocates maintain they have this all figured out, because they set the KJV up as the standard. Therefore, the Greek manuscripts that the KJV followed (The Received Text)4 and the subsequent translation thereof, sets an exacting standard down to the very last word. This kind of thing would be nice if Scripture itself bore out such a standard, but the truth is, it does not.

IV. Scripture's Standard?

Based on the texts we have today, there is testimony to a "not-so-exacting" standard when it comes to either following the original language, or "exactness" in translation. For example, in the Greek Luke 3:36 has "of Cainan" (τοῦ Καϊνάν) which is not found in the Hebrew text (Genesis 11:12) regarding the same genealogy, but it is in the Greek OT text (LXX).

Similiarly, Luke records Jesus reading a passage out of Isaiah that does not exactly follow what we find in the Hebrew text.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19 KJV)

Now, compare this with the Old Testament passage in Isaiah.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, (Isaiah 61:1-2a KJV)

As can be seen, the wording is not the same. Luke adds "recovering of sight to the blind." This phrase is not in the Hebrew, but it is in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint, abbreviated LXX). Yet, this passage in Luke does not agree totally with the Greek (LXX) either. The phrase "to set at liberty them that are bruised" does not exist in the LXX. Moreover, instead of the phrase "to set at liberty them that are bruised," the Hebrew has, "the opening of the prison to them that are bound." The wording is not the same! So, Luke 4:18-19 follows neither the Hebrew nor the Greek in any kind of an exacting way.

If you believe the Word of God, you know that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV), and therefore, what Luke recorded was accurate and correct. Yet, both the Hebrew and Greek texts differ from what Luke records. In fact, Luke does not have "God" at the beginning of the passage, and adds an entire phrase that is not even found in the Hebrew, but is in the Greek. So, we have differences in the two passages. Yet, despite these differences, the words in Isaiah and in Luke are all the inerrant Words of God. This may blow the brain circuits of some, but nonetheless, this is what is found in holy writ.

Another example of variance can be found in Luke 3:4-6.

As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (KJV)

Now compare this with the passage in Isaiah (Esaias, KJV).

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: (Isaiah 40:3-5 KJV)

As can be seen, the wording is not the same. Luke follows the Septuagint closer than the Hebrew with "make his paths straight" ("make straight the paths of our God" LXX), as opposed to "make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (the Hebrew), and with "valley shall be filled" (LXX), as opposed to "valley shall be exalted" (the Hebrew). Luke also has "all flesh shall see the salvation of God" which is consistent with the Greek (LXX), whereas the Hebrew reads, "all flesh shall see it together." Yet, when the LXX is compared with the Greek in Luke, it can be seen that Luke 3:4-6 does not follow the LXX exactly either. So, Luke again, concurs with neither the Hebrew or the Greek (LXX) in every word. And, unlike Luke 4:18-19 where Luke adds a phrase that is in the LXX but not in the Hebrew, here Luke completely leaves out "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed" which is found in both the Greek and Hebrew! As can be seen, there is no exacting standard in quoting the Old Testament!

Another example can be found in Acts 8:32-33.

The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. (KJV)

Compare this with the passage in Isaiah (which has been translated from the Hebrew text).

he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: (Isaiah 53:7-8 KJV)

Note Acts records, "In his humiliation his judgment was taken away," whereas we have recorded in Isaiah, "He was taken from prison and from judgment." In this phrase, Acts follows the LXX and not the Hebrew. In fact, the wording in Acts is very nearly identical with the LXX. Yet, even in this, Acts does not follow the LXX word for word. Acts adds two to four Greek words (depending on the Greek manuscript) that are non-existent in the LXX (αυτον [auton], αυτου [autou] 2x, and δε [de], all four are in the Majority and Received Texts). Therefore, as we saw in Luke, Acts 8:32-33 is not completely consistent (i.e. word for word) with either the Hebrew or the Greek (LXX).

Finally, the above three examples (Luke 4:18-19, Luke 3:4-6, and Acts 8:32-33) are only three of many other examples in which variation can be found when comparing New Testament quotations of the Old Testament. The above three are the clearest examples, because in these passages, the book is identified, and it is clearly referring to a specific written passage.

Other examples could be given, but they may not be so specifically and clearly identifiable (in the text itself) with a particular passage. Typically, with a small amount of research (perhaps simply a cross reference) the Old Testament passage can be found. And, when it is, it very often does not follow the Old Testament passage word for word. This could be due to the same reason the above three examples manifest variations (a reason God knows, and we do not). Or, it could be because the New Testament author simply chose not to quote the entire passage. Or, it could be that the quote is not meant to be a word for word exact quote. Or, it could be because the New Testament author is quoting something verbally spoken, similar to what is written, but nonetheless spoken (not written), therefore, the wording may not be exactly the same.

In fact, the New Testament does quote "Old Testament" statements of which we have no written record (e.g. Matthew 2:23; Matthew 27:9-10). Nevertheless, for whatever reason, the New Testament provides many statements that do not match verbatim Old Testament passages (e.g. Matthew 2:6/Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:18/Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 3:3/Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 4:4/Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 12:18/Isaiah 42:1-4; Matthew 13:14-15/Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:35/Psalm 78:2; Matthew 15:8-9/Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 21:5/Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 26:31/Zechariah 13:7; Romans 9:27-28/Isaiah 10:22-23; Romans 9:29/Isaiah 1:9; Romans 11:9-10/Psalm 69:22-23; 1 Corinthians 14:21/Isaiah 28:11-12; etc.). This is not to say that the New Testament does not also exemplify a word for word quotation. It does (e.g. Matthew 2:15/Hosea 11:1; Matthew 27:35/Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34/Psalm 22:1; Hebrews 1:5/Psalm 2:7; etc.). But, much of the time, the wording is not identical to what is found in the Hebrew Old Testament.

V. Conclusion

As the above illustrates, Scripture itself is not so exacting when it comes to quoting, or perhaps translating, Scripture. Even when it comes to having the same wording that exists in either the Hebrew or the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), even in this, there is a lack of word for word sameness. The kind of stringent exactness that KJV advocates place upon other translations, and the standard of one translation above all, is a standard unparalleled in the Word of God.

So, how is this variance properly understood? First of all, anyone familiar with linguistics, or who knows more than one language, should understand that translation (going from one language to another) is not an exacting science. Secondly, if and when there is a question, it is our responsibility to cry out for wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 2:1-7; James 1:5) that we might discern and find the answer to the question at hand. In specific, the Lord does not give an answer to this present dilemma. So, does this mean we have no stronghold? No, "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence" (Proverbs 14:26 KJV; 18:10). We can stand on the solid Rock (Matthew 7:24-25; 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 2:8; Psalm 18:2; 28:1; 62:2; 71:3; 92:15) of the Word of God that we do know.

When it comes to variant manuscripts, for the large majority of the Scriptures, there is no variant reading whatsoever in the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). Thus, most of the time, no question arises. If and when there is a question at hand, it can be studied out (Proverbs 2, even if you do not know the original languages) and usually be safely discerned. When it comes to a particular translation, the safest approach (that we have seen) is to find a translation that follows a more word for word literal bent toward translating (like the KJV, NKJV, NASV) as opposed to a concept to concept translation approach (like the NIV or NLT). A more literal approach keeps the interpretation of the translators down to a minimum. Usually, the preface of a particular version reveals the translation theory behind it.

In conclusion, the above may be quite difficult for some to accept, because, like Scripture, it does not set in cement a solid standard in dealing with this issue. Indeed, God has preserved His Word. But, what that means to some, is not what God means in His truth. Certainly, there may be some ambiguity regarding variant manuscripts, and even some ambiguity regarding some particular translation, but the bottom line to this whole issue is found in Psalm 119:89. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" (KJV). Down here, "we know in part" (1 Corinthians 13:9).


1. In the Hebrew text this is found in Exodus 22:27, and for "Thou shalt not revile the Gods" (1611 KJV, Exodus 22:28) it reads, אֱלהִים לא תְקַלֵּל ('elohiym lo' teqallâl). For more on the true Gods, see He Is Holy Gods.

Also, elsewhere the 1611 translates lower case "gods," e.g. in Genesis 31:30, 32; 35:2, 4; Exodus 12:12; etc., but in Exodus 22:28 they translate "Gods" with a capital "G," as they do also in Genesis 3:5; 1 Samuel 4:8 [current KJV also]; Daniel 4:8-9, 18; which all refer to the true Gods.

1611 also has "God" [capital "G"] for a god other than the true God. This can be found in Deuteronomy 3:24 [current KJV also]; 32:12; Psalm 81:9 [2x]; Isaiah 44:10, 15, 17 [2x]; Daniel 4:8 [compare to Daniel 1:2]; 11:38 ["a God whome his fathers knew not"]; Habakkuk 1:11; Malachi 2:11; Acts 7:43; 2 Corinthians 4:4 ["God of this world"]; Philippians 3:19 [current KJV also].)

2. KJV likewise adds "God" in the phrase "God save the king" in 1 Samuel 10:24; 2 Samuel 16:16; and "God save king Adonijah" in 1 Kings 1:25. The word for God is not there. What is there is הַמֶּלֶךְ יְחִי (yechiy hamelekh), more literally, "May the king live."

3. ἱεροσύλους (ierosulous) is a compound word. The first part = "temple" (KJV) as in Acts 3:8, ἱερόν (ieron). The second part = "robbers" as in 2 Corinthians 11:8 where the verb form is found in which Paul wrote, "I robbed" (KJV), ἐσύλησα (esulêsa).

4. The KJV does not actually follow the Received Text in Luke 23:34 on the word "lots." It follows the Critical Text. The Received Text has the singular "lot" (κληρον [klêron]). The Critical Text has the plural "lots" (κληρους [klêrous]). The KJV translates "lots."

Likewise, neither the KJV nor the NKJV follow the Received Text in Luke 24:19. Both translate "of Nazareth" which is what the Critical Text reads, τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ (tou Nazarênou). The Received Text reads, "the Nazarene," τοῦ Ναζωραίου (tou Nazôraiou).

Likewise, the NKJV does not follow the Received Text in 2 John 7. The NKJV reads, "have gone out," which follows the Critical Text εξηλθον (exêlthon), more literally, "went out." The Received Text has εισηλθον (eisêlthon) "came into" (KJV "are entered into").

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