By   •   June 1, 2004   •   Topics:


Is the King James Bible the only reliable Bible?


The work of Bible translation is very complicated, and misunderstanding easily arises. We do not have the original Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament or the original Greek New Testament as written by inspired men of God. What we have is an Old Testament in Hebrew/Aramaic and thousands of Greek manuscripts of part or all of the New Testament painstakingly copied and passed on to us through the centuries.

There are differences in the Greek manuscripts such as minor issues of punctuation, spelling, word order, certain verses included in some manuscripts and not in others, etc., but none of these differences affect any of the major doctrines of our Christian faith.

Some people prefer the King James translation because they have been familiar with it, often from childhood. Others prefer modern translations because they are more easily understood. Also, modern translators have the advantage of using many older Greek manuscripts of the New Testament discovered since the King James translation was made. Most scholars consider these older manuscripts more reliable than the few later manuscripts available to those who translated the King James Bible.

It is also helpful to remember that, while King James “authorized” a particular translation for the Church of England in the 17th century, it is no more authoritative for us today than any other translation. It was highly criticized in its day by those who preferred earlier translations, and it went through a number of revisions. The King James Version most widely used today is the 1769 revision.

People sometimes pick up two translations and expect them to be word-for-word the same. When they find words “missing” or changed, they think something sinister has happened. In reality, both can be perfectly faithful translations of the original language. The basic structures of languages differ from one another, and translation is not just a matter of taking a Greek sentence and finding English words to match. A helpful resource on this topic is the book “How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.

Do not get caught up into a divisive and fruitless controversy over which of many good translations is best. Instead, consider using a number of them in your study and reading, and join in prayer that all peoples in all countries of the world might soon have the Word of God in their own language.

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  1. Robert M says:

    This is a well-thought out article. Thank you!

  2. Tim sturm says:

    The kjv of 1611 has no errors. Written during the church age of Philadelphia.

  3. James Johnson says:

    Very good article. I have difficulty understanding the KJV Bible at times. I have been reading the ESV Bible and it is more understandable to me.

  4. Carrie L Jones says:

    Thank you Mr. Billy Graham for your life of work for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  5. James Johnson says:

    Thank you for your work in spreading God’s Word.

  6. William Douglas Jr says:

    A very enlightening article about the various versions of the Bible. Thank you for your help.

  7. Edgar Jacks says:

    King James Bible, having read the work of Bible students and church men who have studied all the versions. I am convinced that the King James Bible is the word of GOD. Period!

    1. Tim sturm says:

      You are correct, Edgar

  8. Antchineche Ayele says:

    It is comforting to know that God’s word will remain faithful to those who earnestly seek Him…..because revelation is given by God alone. I know if we focused on seeking God wholeheartedly through the scriptures, He will be found by us. Jeremiah 29:13

  9. Richard Castillo says:

    Thank you for writing this article. It has helped me make a decision that I should have made quicker because it is indeed fruitless, I will use the new king james version. It has lots of corrections and it is easy to understand. When I first came to Christ I used the King James version. Then I switched to the NIV because it was easier to understand but I always had the okj version to use as reference and still do when I can but the nkjv is great. I am also a recovering addict and the NKJV comes in that style with comments that help me understand how God’s word works in my life, again thank you and GLORY TO GOD.

    1. Chelsea says:

      Praise God for your recovery!!! I believe God will use whichever version of His Word that we “understand” and read and study to grow us closer to Him. I pray for the people who always want to start arguments about which version is “right.” Keep your eyes and heart on Him always! He is going to use you in ways you could NEVER imagine and you are going to help so many people who are addicts! The journey will be tough at times but keep going!!! Much love to you Richard!! 🙂

  10. Jeri Macdermot says:

    I have had many concerns about the end of Revelation where it say thou shalt not add nor shalt thou take away. What does that really mean?

    1. BGEA says:

      Jeri, that verse is speaking about the Word of God, the Bible. It’s saying that we should not add to it or take away from it. There’s no need to add to it because God has already revealed everything in it that He wants us to know and understand. And taking away from it would be leaving out part of His words to us.

    2. Linda Burton says:

      I’m with you Jeri. I don’t care for the changes that have occurred in new translations. I’m staying with the NKJ version. I think the pure Cambridge edition I’ve read is as close as we can get.