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. Marie says:

    Dear Sir/Ma’am, Thank you for having this explanation regarding the King James Bible! I grew up in the 60s with KJ. In high school(70s) I found the NASB and loved it. Few years later Dr Archer Gleason was part of the “team” for the NIV. Now that is the Bible I use. Our church, a small Faith Baptist, uses only KJV. Some actually have said more or less that any other version is totally wrong and act as though from the devil!! I say nothing. Just quietly keep my NIV to myself. So thank you for your point of view and explanation! I already receive your emails and Decision magazine. I pray daily that God guides, strengthens, and protects your ministry. That hundreds of thousands of souls are won through your work. God bless you! Thank you!

  2. Michael says:

    I believe the big argument on which translation is the best pulls us away from what’s really important which is trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and turning to Him in repentance. If a bible teaches Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Salvation is by grace through faith then I believe it’s the word of God. Amen.

  3. margaret nyakonyu kunina says:

    Love and enjoy king james version wiil start reading different versions

  4. Byabagambi Herbert says:

    Should i avoid the NIV bible cause of its likely questionable publishers. My christians prayer mates have rejected and say it lacks many biblical verses.

  5. Maggi Mullennix says:

    I have read and reread and have had so many questions answered. Thanks for all the information. Now, when I read the Bible I will understand it better. Thank You .

  6. kulo says:

    I found that this article is useful to me and I believe my faith will grow stronger.

  7. Baia says:

    This is enlightening! Thank you!

  8. A Banks says:

    This article was a good reminder as to how easy it is to let “little” things sidetrack God’s Word. I actually was led, as a young child, that any version other than KJV was man changing God’s Word. Well, KJV was very hard for me. One day, as a young adult, reading a child’s copy (Precious Moments) of the Bible to my daughter, I began to “understand” the Word. So, I read the “Precious Moments” version for myself. That was my beginning to LOVE reading God’s Word. Today I read through the Bible over and over, the NIV version. But, I am determined to soon read the KJV, cover-to-cover because in my heart it is the one I truly trust. I often, when reading NIV, will check the KJV, to “verily” the passage. I really love reading NIV.

  9. glenn dixon says:

    I found this article helpful as i have a freind that will only look aT KJV , which i find hard to read.

  10. Linda Ables says:

    Thank you! There are so many versions, I had become concerned that I would be misled and miss God.
    You saved me a lot of time and research as I respect and recognize you as a true man of God.