The Legitimacy of New Bible Translations

The Holy Bible is the recorded word of God and a gracious gift that communicates His love, judgments, and teachings. We read in the beginning how clearly His words were understood by the first man and his wife. When confronted by the serpent in the garden, the woman had no trouble recalling the exact instructions the Heavenly Father had given her. Unfortunately, the serpent’s wiles quickly began trying to twist, distort and corrupt the pure, holy words of God.
        “And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” In one evil phrase, turning God’s words, Satan gently led man to condemnation. John proclaims to us that Jesus Christ was the Divine Word. Yet, the knowledge of this did not hinder the fallen angel in attempting to use His own scripture against him as he quoted in the 4th chapter of Matthew, “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Matthew 4:6 KJV)
        Let us not forget that it was also scripture that our Saviour used to resist temptation and rebuke the devil, “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7 KJV)
        God gives His pure word. Satan tries to corrupt. God’s word endures. This has long been the story. Fortunately, we can rest upon one of many solid promises that come from God our Father, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Ps 12:6-7 KJV)
        Through centuries this battle over God’s words has raged. The bible warns us that as long as God preserves, man will pervert. Paul wrote to prepare the people for such deceptions, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:6-8 KJV)
        God’s power can keep the truths that the prophets and apostles have instructed. We find help in knowing that God proclaims, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt 24:35 KJV)
        God’s written word has long been an area of great battle. God inspired men of old to record His words that they may be studied, learned, and adhered to. According to God’s promise, that word has been passed down to us today. Our dilemma now is this: we are faced with the question, “Where are God’s words?” Again we here from the serpent, “Yea hath God said?”
        You can enter a Christian bookstore today and purchase the “Word” of God in over fifteen different English versions. Some would have you think they are all the same, or that they are all the Word. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We must examine what we read and ensure, by God’s leadership, that it is the word of God. At the worst, we have so-called bibles that avoid “offensiveness” by proclaiming the Father as a “Father-Mother”. Such heresies as this are easily spotted and avoided by the knowledgeable bible reader. More subtly (like the serpent), however, we have those that omit necessary words and passages while adding in others in a devious departure from the Word.
        Searching for the true word brings us to the King James or Authorized Version of the bible that came to us in the year 1611. It is understood that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. The translators of the King James Bible used, for the Old Testament, the Hebrew Masoretic Text, and for the New Testament, they used the Textus Receptus. The translation was done for the purpose of providing a common man’s English translation that was true to the originals and contemporary with the language of the most influential country of the time. Great pain was taken to preserve the language of the originals.
        What about the originals? It is a fact that we do not have the original writings of any of the authors. What we do have are copies of these originals that date at the earliest to many years after even the last books of the bible were written. It would be more correct to state that, instead of copies, we have copies of copies of copies, etc.
        Paul instructed Timothy that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Tim 3:16 KJV) This has been true ever since the Pentateuch was penned by Moses. How do we ensure that our copies are just as profitable? God made provision of this in His command, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deut 4:2 KJV)
        That this command was kept is shown by the incredible agreement among the scriptures, though their authorship stretches over centuries and many dozens of hands. This is a testament of God’s promise to preserve His word.
        The Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus are the manuscripts that reflect the majority of the manuscripts that have been kept in these languages for the centuries before us. One of the testimonies of their accuracy is the agreement within this vast host of manuscripts.
        Dr. Thomas Holland writes, “It becomes even more astounding as one recognizes that the Traditional Text has been with us throughout the history of the New Testament Church, and that this text is represented in various locations throughout the world. Yet this text has few variances within the bulk of its witnesses.”
        The writings of the Textus Receptus are also supported by the writings of early church fathers Ignatius, Polycarp, Chrysostom, and the 3 Cappadocian Fathers, the Syrian New Testament, the majority of old Latin bibles and Ethiopic & Gothic Bibles. It was also used in the translation of other early versions: German (Die Heilige Schrift), Spanish (Reina/Valera Version), French (Louis Segond Version), Italian (Giovanni Diodati Version), Dutch (Luther’s Bible). The reformers used bibles translated from the Traditional Text. The manuscripts mainly originated from that great city Antioch where Christ’s people were first referred to as Christians.
        Around 700 A.D. a language began that is now referred to as Old English; by 1100 A.D., it had adapted and changed into what is now called Middle English; and by the year 1500, it had reached the form we now know as Modern English. With so many speaking this language and thirsting after the word of God, it had become necessary to translate an English bible. William Tyndale translated the first English bible with the Textus Receptus. Following were the Coverdale’s Bible in 1535, the Matthew’s Bible in 1537, the Great Bible in 1539, the Geneva Bible in 1560, and the Bishop’s Bible in 1568. (The Geneva Bible was the first that used a committee.) All of these translations used the Textus Receptus, and those that included the Old Testament used the Hebrew Masoretic Text.
        This brings us back to the Christian bookstore. Where do all of these new versions originate, and is there really a difference? As we have stated that the manuscripts used by the translators of the King James Bible were in the majority, we should understand that, at various times, other manuscripts have been discovered that have differed from the readings of the majority. These are referred to in general as the Alexandrian Text, which is the minority text. The Alexandrian Text, with only a few Greek manuscripts disagrees as much (or more) among themselves as they do with the majority text. In the Biblical definition of things, this is itself evidence that the Alexandrian Text is not the instrument God used in preserving His word. Since God is not the Author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), we can conclude that God is not responsible for this line. Unfortunately, however, they have been used and relied upon for translating the word of God.
        You must understand that there is a difference between these manuscripts and the majority. Which, in turn, makes a difference between the versions of the bible translated from them and the King James Bible. For the most part modern versions of the bible use for their Old Testament the Septuagint and for the New Testament these minor texts of Alexandria. Other manuscripts used are the Latin Vulgate, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and other minority texts. Many of the manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts weren’t discovered until the last century. They have been found locked away, discarded and hidden. It is believed that some were intended for destruction due to heresy. They are referred to as the Alexandrian Line because the majority of them originated from there, that region of the world that has historically been a place of idolatry, heresy, godlessness, and confusion.
        It would be lengthy to address all the manuscripts and the problems associated with each, but we can provide a few examples. Some would tell you that since these are older they are more correct. However, they are missing: Genesis 1:1-46:28; 2 Kings 2:5-7,10-13; Psalms 106:27-138:6; Mark 16:9-20; John 7:53-8:11 and Hebrews 9:14. These same people would say that these other versions are only updating the archaic words of the King James Bible. Remember that, we have already stated that the KJV was written with the same Modern English that we use today. There may be a few words that outdate us, but they are not beyond the understanding that a simple dictionary can bring us. What these versions do, however, as they translate from these corrupt manuscripts, is corrupt Bible truths such as the deity of Christ, the Holy Trinity, the virgin birth, and blood atonement. Notably left out scriptures include: Mark 16:9-(resurrection) & John 7:53-8:11 (woman in adultery). We remember from Deuteronomy that God warned of adding or taking from His word. Therefore, with such vast difference, all of these versions can’t be right. Look at a couple of examples:
        John 1:18
        18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. KJV
        John 1:18
        18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. NIV
      1 Tim 3:16
        16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the
             Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. KJV
        1 Tim 3:16
        16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached
             among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. NIV
        These differences are due to the difference in the manuscripts that were translated. We could not take the time to list all the examples. However, it is easy to see that there is a vast difference in these versions and the King James Bible. These versions don’t just take out thee’s and thou’s. They take out “Jesus Christ”, “Lord”, and whole passages, which are the supporting columns of our doctrinal truths.
        In ancient days, there were heretics that corrupted the pure word of God. Their efforts were battled and subdued by the truth and Christ’s disciples. Now, centuries later, their work is revived and hailed as some of the greatest modern discoveries of our time. Could there be a reason they were not in use for those hundreds of years as opposed to the manuscripts that were so widely spread and empowered by the blessings of the Holy Spirit?
        The “scholars” responsible for these new translations scoff at those who believe the King James Bible to be the pure word of God. Their argument is that God’s words are not contained in one volume. They give logical arguments of the weakness of human translators and scribes to be able to avoid error. According to them, due to these centuries of error, the word of God is scattered among many different versions and manuscripts that must be studied by those educated enough in the original language to determine their accuracy.
        Jesus our Lord described such vain thinkers in His day as a “…generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37 KJV)
        Words have been very important since man was first formed. They are the basis for our understanding, our salvation, and even our condemnation. As we have often reminded ourselves of God’s promise to preserve, we ask where these scholar’s argument stands according to that promise. According to them, He is powerful enough to create and destroy worlds, and He is powerful enough to inspire His word. However, His power fades when that word is transferred to a scribe, a printing press, or a few centuries. We know that we did not have to wait until 1947 to have the preserved word of God. Yet, according to them that is exactly what they have recently discovered.
        They attack the King James Bible for being too hard to understand. Peter explained, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16-17 KJV) The word is a thing hard to be understood. Many of Jesus’ disciples left walking with Him because of their lack of understanding. Do we say that Jesus should have changed His word or do we proclaim as Paul that we should, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15 KJV)
        As a Bible-believer, it is rather interesting to see some of these trouble spots among scholars and scholarship. Many of the views and beliefs of modern scholars are hailed and tolerated. All too often, those of us who believe the Biblical teaching of preservation are ridiculed and scoffed. It is not heresy to believe in Biblical preservation, and to have a Bible, which you believe is that preserved word from God. However, it is heresy to deny the miracles of scripture, the virgin birth, the death and resurrection of Christ. The bibles that do this are tolerated while the tactic and methods of KJV supporters are vilified. (Holland: 12 Lessons pg. 152)
        The argument can go on, and a great wealth of evidence can be presented on both sides. However, in my heart, the answer comes down to the difference in the arguments themselves. If you believe in the King James Version, you can stand on a preserved word of God. Did God inspire the Bible with error? Of course not, since God is not a God of error. Did God preserve the Bible with error? Again, the verses would tell us no because the context of Psalm 12 says the preserved word is pure. Both inspiration and preservation start with God and end with inerrancy. Preservation is a process of God taking what He gave and keeping it for all generations. The Bible-believing Christian believes his Bible was both inspired by God without error and preserved by God without error. It was infallibly given and remains that way today (1 Peter 1:23). It is, therefore, not only the work of man, but also the very word of God.
        If you trust in the modern versions, you must admit that there is no preserved word of God. So I find myself looking to Psalm 118:8, which reads, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (KJV) It is my confidence that God has preserved His word in my King James Version of the Bible.

Respectfully submitted,

Bro. Andrew Stokes