Is the King James Bible the Best Version?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
Another person has died and stands before Jesus Christ.
“Oh it’s so good to be here!” they yell and run toward Him.
“Stop.” The Son of God puts out His hand, not letting them get any closer.
“I never knew you.” Christ replies.
Confused, they begin pleading their case.
“But I had a seminary degree…I was the pastor of a church…Jesus, I fought for you! I was committed to you! I had more works than anyone I knew! I helped people achieve their dreams by what I taught! I even spoke in tongues!”
“I’m sorry. I never knew you. Yes, you told people you knew me as you talked about me, but we never had a personal relationship. You never believed me. You only believed in what you did for me.”
“No! Please! I followed you better than anyone! I baptized hundreds! I repented every single time I sinned! I confessed all my sins all the time! I even visited the Holy Land! Jesus, I never missed a chance to let people know about how hot and torturous hell is! I preached repentance and faith–together! I pointed out all the idols in everyone’s life and set a wonderful example of conservatism! I showed my entire congregation how to live! I even put those nasty sinners in their place as I preached from the one true word of God, King James only!”
“I’m so sorry. I never knew you, and you never knew me. Goodbye.”
On average, two people die each second. Around 50 people will stand in front of Christ before you finish reading this paragraph. For those who have believed in Him for forgiveness they will get to enter into eternity with Him. For those who haven’t, they will not. What’s really sad is a lot of devout church-going folks will be turned away. They placed all their eggs into their own basket and not in Jesus Christ’s.
“I” is their reasoning for being allowed into heaven rather than “He.” That won’t work for God.
Perhaps the most tragic are those who have placed their faith in a book called the Bible in lieu of Christ Himself. I don’t want to be misunderstood. The Bible is an extremely valuable piece of literature, but even that statement upsets those who praise biblical sacred writings above Jesus. By their own stubbornness, they simply cannot fathom God being bigger than words on a page. Or, that God is older than words on a page.
“We gotta have God’s word!” they’ll shout. “And it has to be the King James! Who could possibly know Him if we don’t study the most authentic holy word?!”
These individuals believe without being able to read the KJV in black and white, and red in some versions, the world couldn’t possibly understand who our Creator is. When someone asks them about Jesus they talk about their Bible and not Jesus. That, or they talk about a pastor who preaches from the King James Bible but fail to mention a word about who saved them.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about! I would reach out to wise counsel if I were you! You’d do well to find a pastor who knows the King James and he will steer you right! Be careful!”
These people won’t be saved if they never believed Jesus. I’m not grouping them all together and saying they’re not saved, but many have believed a book instead of Jesus. There’s a huge difference.
Muslims worship their religious book on the same level as their god. They literally see the Quran as we see Christ. You could be killed for destroying it when Islam is walked out in its purest form based on the words in the Quran. The word Islam means submit. It does not mean peace. For Christians, this cultish behavior of book worshiping is no more prevalent with any version of the Bible than with the King James translation. I’ve never seen anything like it with any other version.
Here are some common phrases I’ve had spout at me over the years:
“1611 or you ain’t going to heaven!”
“I’m a true Bible believing Christian! King James only!”
“You need to be quoting from the King James or else you’re sending people to hell! False prophet!”
“Blood will be on your hands for changing the word of God! That’s exactly what you’re doing when you don’t quote from the King James!”
“Don’t add to God’s word or take away from it! You’ve been warned!”
“Well my Bible says this because it’s the King James Version so it’s right!”
“Nope! False teacher! You gotta have the Authorized King James!”
“You’re only a Christian if you’ve believed in the KJV!”
King Jamesism infects many people. Why is this? The Bible wasn’t even compiled into an actual book until 400 years after Christ, and King James’ translation wasn’t complete until 1,200 years after that. So how are we going to place all our faith into an English king who lived 1,600 years after Jesus, 3,000 miles away from the area Jesus lived, in text written in Early Modern English, yet, the original biblical manuscripts were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and then Greek?
Do you see it?
Further, rumor has it King James wasn’t a Christian but had the Bible translated so he could become famous. It’s also scuttlebutt that he struggled with homosexuality. Not that this sinful tendency would mean he wasn’t a Christian, but just to give some background on him to those who fall at the feet of King James Only.
So if not King James, which version of the Bible is the most accurate? Which one is 100% perfect? The answer is simple: Only the original manuscripts from the hands of the authors, not any single Bible.
The printing press wasn’t invented until the 1400’s. Before this, woodblock printing was used, and from the time of Jesus–and earlier–people known as scribes would make copies of literature by hand. Scribes made transcripts of the original biblical manuscripts. Then another scribe after that scribe. Then another scribe after him. Then another. Handwritten copies of copies, of copies, of copies. This was the only way to mass-produce Scripture.
As the decades and centuries went on, sometimes scribes would make mistakes in their transcripts. Not that the first manuscript was wrong, but them copying it was, and then the next scribe making a copy of the mistake was. Like the telephone game–only with written words–the older the transcripts of the pages of the Bible, the more accurate.
These are called earlier transcripts.
Since 1611, when King James had the Bible translated into English, earlier transcripts of Scripture have been found, therefore replacing subsequent text. This is why King James’ Bible is not the Holy Grail of Literature. It’s good, but not perfect. It has flaws in the translated text just like every Bible does.
This truth should cause the body of Christ to stop with the faction of King James Only. We must repent of making a law out of translations and allow the Spirit to teach us from within.
Some people become furious in church, or walk out, all because the words on the pastor’s screen don’t match their King James perfectly. Others want a word-by-word translation but a “word level” from Greek to English will read in a chopped up manner. Certain Greek words cannot be expressed in English.
For example, Eskimos have about 50 different words for snow. We have one word. For the Bible, there are Greek words in which we English speakers have the same unpacking issue. Now apply this to translating Scripture in any language, let alone English, with approximately 800,000 words. Scholars have done their best but it’s impossible to have scalpel precision. This is why we can’t get mad when people read from different English translations. We all need to chill.
What’s more is, if you translate Greek into a phrase level, rather than a word level, it’s even more difficult because we don’t have an English equivalent for certain Greek phrases.
For the scribes–the ones down the line making copies of the Bible–first, they were not writing in English. Second, they sometimes made mistakes. They were human just like you and me. However, that doesn’t mean the Spirit who inspired the first writings made mistakes. That same Spirit–God’s Spirit–guides each Bible reader today! The Holy Spirit is older than any written word! He is eternal!
Through His guidance many who read the Bible will believe Him, yet others will refuse. For them, no matter how much they read or memorize they’ll never be born again by their own choosing. They don’t think they need to be forgiven and that their works are saving them. They sure can quote Scripture verbatim, especially from the King James, but Jesus does not know them.
Juxtapose, countless Christians will never read a single word in the Bible yet they’ll be welcomed into heaven with open arms. They trusted Jesus to forgive them of their sins, once, and they knew their greatest works were like filthy rags in comparison to Christ’s.
Disturbingly, some inaccurate text translations have had catastrophic consequences. In one version of the Bible the words the flesh were changed to sinful nature. Yet in the original manuscripts the words the flesh didn’t mean sinful and didn’t mean nature. It also didn’t mean our physical flesh. It means the flesh. That’s it.
These two words together is like an indescribable English word for a version of snow for Eskimos. Our language can’t express it with pinpoint accuracy. It doesn’t exist in our native tongue. Therefore, we need to just let it be and allow the Holy Spirit to extract the context in unspoken ways.
But in an effort to do what only the Spirit could, we translated the flesh into something it’s not. We changed it, trying to make it more understandable, yet it did not work! Instead, this caused a multitude of Christians to believe a lie about themselves! That we have two natures and we’re at battle with our body! No way! Oh how the devil loved this! Friend, the flesh is not us!
The publishers have since changed sinful nature back to the flesh after much advice. But as you can see, this minor English tweak–IN THE INFALLIBLE BIBLE–caused a myriad of God’s reborn children to think they have a sinful nature and that their physical bodies are sinful too. Wrong.
Poor interpretation of a foreign language is to blame. Only unbelievers have a sinful nature, not us. We have God’s nature (see 2 Peter 1:4). Our bodies aren’t sinful either but beautiful and amazing instruments. They are tools which can be used in any way, righteously or sinfully, by what we decide on a moment by moment basis. But our flesh isn’t sinful. Our flesh is holy, blameless, and God’s idea. The flesh isn’t, but our flesh is (see Genesis 1:27, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
For years, what I didn’t understand was that God’s Spirit doesn’t speak to me in King James English. There’s an entire world out there and the majority of humanity does not use thee, thou, shalt, cometh, speaketh, brethren, so on and so forth. I mean no disrespect if you prefer to talk or read in this manner, but God’s Holy Spirit speaks to each human’s spirit in a language they can understand.
Do you think we’ll all be speaking King James English in heaven? I don’t think we will, so we must stop pounding this version into the heads of so many with militant force.
Those who struggle with legalism have been taught the KJV or the New KJV is the only Bible we should read, which is incorrect. If we think about the King James Only mantra even deeper, what did Christians do before it was available–or unbelievers for that matter? If we digress even further what did the early church do for the first 400 years without a canonized Bible at all? They were lucky to have one transcript of one letter, and 70% were illiterate.
This proves a relationship with God has always been about the Spirit, not anything physical. Is this making sense? If legalistic demons pester a person over “the power of the word” then it’s probably got their mind spinning. But the truth will set you free!
The truth is the Word always has been and always will be! The Word is a person not a book! The Word is Jesus! Jesus is everything God wanted to say to us from the beginning of time! The Bible simply records those words and events! Just look at this!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1,2)
The beginning is Creation! Genesis chapter one! This was the start of anything physically existing! John is about to say the Word became flesh! JESUS! JESUS IS THE WORD IN HUMAN FORM, NOT A BOOK!
Mike Kapler, a friend of mine and author of Clash of the Covenants, he recently posted on Facebook the same point:
The Word did not become pages published in a book, the Word has always been in existence and He became flesh. Grace and truth is realized through Him, not our theology nor our opinions about the pages. You can be filled with a plethora of Bible knowledge and cite verses out of context to infinity and beyond without ever discovering the eternal Source of Life. Scripture doesn’t give life, it merely points us to the One who does.
The Source of Life whom Mike mentioned informed the unbelieving Jews of this same thing only they were hung up on some Scriptures of the Old Testament. Rather than admit their oracles all pointed to Jesus, they hated Him and His exegesis. Christ rebuked them for their hard hearts:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39,40)
Today there are hundreds of versions of the Bible, yet there’s no life in any Bible. The Bible has been translated into more than 2,000 languages, yet there’s no life in any specific language. Life is in faith in Christ alone, by grace. Life is in realizing our need for His forgiveness, one time.
How can we know which version of the Bible to use? If every version has translation flaws, which one is the most accurate? Friend, it’s the one you’ll read. Don’t worry, the true Word, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, He will always guide your heart as you read. The stuff that doesn’t sit right with you He’ll make clear, eventually. If you still don’t understand certain passages on this side of heaven, in the twinkling of an eye, when you meet Him face to face you’ll grasp it.
Every book in the Bible was inspired by His Spirit as it was written by each human author. God used 40 different people over the course of 1,500 years–all with different styles, temperaments, and personalities. Their written words will help you know more about the character of God and your character too, saint. The reality is, if you’ve believed in Jesus, you already know Him in full in your heart. The Bible simply backs up your supernatural knowledge in words you can read.
In every version there’s a consistency. Each translation points to Christ from beginning to end. The Old Testament reveals Creation, the Fall, and our need for a Savior. It records God’s broken relationship with Israel. It encapsulates the shadows of Jesus and what only His blood could permanently do. The New Testament reveals the Messiah Himself! It lays out the New Covenant! It teaches us that God is now available to live inside of all who will believe in His Son! Ultimately, it uncovers what will happen when time ends as we know it! We win! We get to live on forever with God in a place that cannot be described in any language!
So today, my friends, know this: The best version of the Bible is Christ in you. He’s our true teacher. Trust Him to guide you with His Spirit. Read the Bible to enforce what you’re learning. It’s a marvelous resource! It will help you mature in great ways! But always remember that Jesus is the reason the Bible exists. Put your confidence in Him, not simply words on a page, because He loves you, those pages do not.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for your written words. We’re so blessed to have the Bible. It’s amazing to me how I get to live in this era of technology. I can search words in the Bible at ease and find passages in a snap. But I’m even more thankful for Jesus. He is the real Word. It is His Spirit who guides me as I read. Thank you so much for letting Him live in me. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Dad, like me, I know a lot of them are having a hard time separating your Spirit from the Bible, but we must begin there. Teach them through your grace that if they never read another sentence from the Bible you love them just the same. You’re never disappointed in them, and you live in them–that is, for all who have believed Jesus. And for those who have shunned the Bible because they’re afraid of it, or because legalism was shoved down their throat, ease their minds today. You love them deeper than my words can describe, yet your Bible does a masterful job at explaining this. Teach them how to read the Bible in context and with confidence, through your Spirit within. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Check out my other bestselling books here!