The New King James
By M. H. Reynolds, Editor, Foundation Magazine
WHAT ABOUT THE NEW KING JAMES BIBLE?
In this article, we want to share with God's people some of the important facts
which led us to reject the NKJV and warn others about it. We do not believe that
the "NKJV makes the KJV even better" as its publishers cl aim. To the contrary,
our study leads us to conclude that the NKJV vitiates the original, reliable,
accurate KJV in a most deceptive manner. While claiming to have "preserved
the authority and accuracy" of the original KJV, the actual result is a hybrid t
ext which incorporates many changes identical with or similar to the corruptions
found in other modern Bible versions.
Why the New King James Bible? Its
publisher, Thomas Nelson Company, says its purpose is "To Preserve the Integrity
of the Original in the Language of Today"-"To preserve the authority and
accuracy . . . of the original King James while making it understandable to 20th
Century readers"-"To update with regard to punctuation and grammar; archaic
verbs and pronouns"; and "Up-to-date accuracy with regard to words whose English
meaning has changed over a period of 3 1/2 centuries." The completed NKJV text
is said to be "Beautifully Clear" and "Highly Readable." Thomas Nelson
Publishers has spent millions to convince Christians that the NKJV is "the"
Bible of the present and the future.
Why do we recommend rejection of the
NKJV? Space limitations preclude a full discussion of every reason, but we do
urge a careful consideration of the following facts. It is essential to know
that many of the word changes between the original KJV and the NKJV are not
changes which result from removing archaisms, etc. Instead, many are changes
which clearly reveal that, contrary to their agreed basis, the NKJV translators
departed from the original KJV and its underlying Greek text, the Textus
Receptus, in favor of the very same wording found in versions translated from
corrupted Greek texts.
The instances in which the NKJV
breaks with the original KJV by substituting wording identical to that of
corrupted modern Bible versions are too numerous to be considered coincidence.
And, since Nelson tells us that the NKJV scholars spent "months of prayer,
research, and discussion over the handling of a single word," we must conclude
that these changes were neither coincidental nor accidental.
The following references are listed
as examples of the way the translators inserted erroneous words and meanings
from corrupted modern Bible versions into the NKJV text:
Titus 3:10-KJV reads, "A man that
is an heretick...reject." NKJV and NIV change "heretick" to "divisive man";
RSV and NASV to "factious" man. (The one who holds to heresy is to be
rejected, not the one who exposes false doctrine. The new versions confuse who
is in mind here).
Acts 4:27-KJV reads, "Thy holy
child, Jesus." NKJV, NASV and RSV change "holy child" to "holy servant."
Acts 8:9-KJV reads, "bewitched the
people." NKJV and NASV change "bewitched" to "astonished." NIV and RSV change
"bewitched" to "amazed."
Romans 1:25-KJV reads, "changed
the truth of God into a lie." NKJV, NASV and NIV read "exchanged the truth of
God for the lie" or "a lie."
Romans 4:25-KJV reads, "Who was
delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification." NKJV
and NASV change "for" to "because of." (Even the NIV and RSV use the correct
2 Corinthians 10:5-KJV reads,
"Casting down imaginations." NKJV, NIV and RSV change "imaginations" to
Colossians 3:2-KJV reads, "Set
your affection on things above." NKJV, NASV, NIV and RSV change "affection" to
1 Thessalonians 5:22-KJV reads,
"Abstain from all appearance of evil." NKJV, NASV and RSV change "appearance"
2 Timothy 2:15-KJV reads, "Study
to shew thyself approved unto God." NKJV and NASV change "study" to "be
diligent." NIV and RSV change "study" to "do your best."
Old Testament examples include:
Psalm 79:1-the word "heathen" in
the KJV is changed to "nations" in the NKJV, NASV and NIV.
Isaiah 11:3-the entire phrase,
"And shall make Him of quick understanding" in the KJV is eliminated in the
NKJV, NASV, NIV and RSV.
Isaiah 66:5-the wonderful phrase,
"But He shall appear to your joy" in the KJV disappears without explanation
from NKJV, NASV, NIV and RSV.
Daniel 3:25-the fourth person who
was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, was identified
as "the Son of God." The same identification is given in the text of the NKJV
but a footnote reads "or, a son of the gods," and both NIV and NASV actually
have the latter reading in their texts.
In other Old Testament portions, the
word "evil" in the KJV is replaced by several different words-doom, disaster,
calamity, catastrophe, trouble, adversity, terrible, harm, wild. In four
different places in 1 and 2 Kings, "sodomites" is changed to "perverted
The NKJV does not deserve its
respected name. It is a perverted version.
Additional examples of significant
changes would include the following: Matthew 4:24; 6:13; 7:14; 20:20; Mark 4:19;
John 14:2; Acts 17:29; Romans 1:18; Philippians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1
Timothy 6:5, 10, 20; Hebrews 2:16; 10:14; James 1:15; 1 Peter 1:7.
A striking word change involves
changing "corrupt" to "peddling" in 2 Corinthians 2:17. The KJV correctly says,
"For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God...." But the NKJV, NASV,
NIV and RSV, change "corrupt" to "peddling." Is there any great difference
between peddling (selling, or making a gain of) the Word of God and corrupting
(adulterating) it? Of course there is, and one does not have to be a Greek
scholar to decide which word is correct. When this warning was given in the 1st
Century, was there any way for people to peddle (make a gain of) God's Word? Of
course not-they were suffering for it. The warning clearly refers to corrupting
God's Word, something that was common then as it is now. Only in our day has it
ever been possible to pe ddle (make a gain of) the Bible. With its huge profits
from the sale of many different Bible versions, the Thomas Nelson Publishers is
both corrupting and peddling God's Word.
Dr. Jerry Falwell, a member of the
NKJV overview committee, gives this new Bible his unqualified endorsement,
stating that "It protects every thought, every idea, every word, just as it was
intended to be understood by the original scholars." This simply is not true! As
already pointed out, words have been changed and with those changed words
have come changed thoughts and ideas.
Some will argue that the changes
noted do not affect any fundamental Bible doctrine. We strongly disagree. Is not
the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures a fundamental doctrine? Is not every
word of the Bible important? Jesus Christ said, "Man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"
(Matt.4:4). He also said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words
shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). Since Christ is concerned about every
word, we should also be concerned about every word and raise a voice of protest
whenever scholarly sleight of hand is discovered in any modern version,
including the NKJV.
In raising strenuous objections to
the changed words of the NKJV text, we are not referring to those changes which
update old English verb forms without changing the meaning, i.e., removing "est"
or "eth" from verb endings. Neither do we refer to updating the old English
pronouns "thee," "thou" and "thine" where they refer to individuals. We do
consider it a tragic mistake to eliminate the use of "Thee," "Thou" and "Thine"
where these refer to Deity. There is a disturbing trend toward stripping God of
His Majesty both in word and deed. The substitution of the common pronouns 'You"
and "Yours" for "Thee," "Thou" and "Thine" which have historically been used to
refer to Deity both in the Scriptures and the Hymns of the Church, only helps
pave the way for further attempts of sinful men to bring God down to their level
rather than exalting Him in every way possible.
The NKJV translators claimed it was
one of their purposes to update words where the meaning of a particular word had
changed over the last 375 years. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, they updated "letteth"
to "restraineth"; in Psalm 4:2, "leasing" is updated to "lying"; In 1
Thessalonians 4:15, "prevent" is updated to "precede"; in Matthew 19:14,
"suffer" is updated to "let" (meaning allow or pennit).
In other instances it is difficult
to understand how the NKJV scholars thought they were updating and clarifying
the KJV as, for example, when they substituted "minas" for "pounds" in Luke
19:13; or, "satraps" for "princes" in Daniel 3:3; or, "black cummin" for
"fitches" in Isaiah 28:27.
Many Christians today are purchasing NKJV
Bibles for three reasons:
(1) Many pastors and Christian
leaders are highly recommending it.
(2) They have been assured by translators and publishers that the NKJV is
based upon the same Hebrew and Greek texts used by the KJV translators.
However, as already mentioned, such a claim is simply not true and can be
easily documented by comparing the wording of the NKJV with the NIV, NASV, RSV
and other versions whose translators admittedly used other Hebrew and Greek
(3) The NKJV is supposedly easier to read and understand but its impurities
actually make it doubly deceptive and dangerous.
The duplicity of the NKJV
publishers, translators and endorsers greatly increases the possibility of
believers being deceived. The word duplicity is used advisedly. Webster's
Dictionary defines duplicity as, "Deception by pretending to feel and act one
way while acting another." The following duplicity can be fully documented:
The duplicity of the Thomas Nelson
Publishers is clearly evidenced by their supposed concern and stated desire to
"preserve the authority and accuracy...of the original King James" Bible. Yet,
Nelson is the largest publisher of Bibles in the world and publishes eight of
the nine modern versions including the iniquitous Revised Standard Version,
copyrighted by the apostate National Council of Churches. If the Thomas Nelson
Publishers were genuinely concerned about the purity of the Scriptures, would
they continue printing the RSV and other corrupted modern Bible versions?
The duplicity of the NKJV scholars
is also a matter for concern. Although each scholar was asked to subscribe to
a statement confirming his belief in the plenary, divine, verbal inspiration
of the original autographs (none of which exist today), the question of
whether or not they also believed in the divine preservation of the divinely
inspired originals was not an issue as it should have been. Dr. Arthur Farstad,
chairman of the NKJV Executive Review Committee which had the responsibility
of final text approval, stated that this committee was about equally divided
as to which was the better Greek New Testament text-the Textus Receptus or the
Westcott-Hort. Apparently none of them believed that either text was the
Divinely preserved Word of God. Yet, all of them participated in a project to
"protect and preserve the purity and accuracy" of the original KJV based on
the TR. Is not this duplicity of the worst kind, coming from supposedly
Further duplicity is revealed in
the preface of the NKJV and in a 16-page history of the KJV printed at the
end. On page VI of the preface, NKJV readers are given the following erroneous
information: "There is only one basic New Testament used by Protestants, Roman
Catholics, and Orthodox, by conservatives and liberals." This is simply not
true! There are two basic New Testament texts-the Divinely preserved Textus
Receptus from which the original KJV was translated and the satanically
corrupted Westcott-Hort Text (and its revisions) which form the basis of all
other modern Bible versions.
NKJV readers are further
misinformed as to why there are so many differences between the original KJV
and all the modern versions. On page VI of the preface, NKJV readers are
assured, "...That the most important differences in the English New Testament
of today are due, not to manuscript divergence, but to the way in which
translators view the task of translation." This simply is not true. Many
important differences in the English New Testament of today are indeed due to
manuscript divergence (over 5700 differences exist between the Textus Receptus
and Westcott-Hort Greek texts) in addition to the divergent views of the
scholars who produced the various translations.
On page VII of the preface is
another very significant statement concerning the NKJV footnotes: "Significant
explanatory notes, alternate translations, and cross references, as well as
New Testament citations of Old Testament passages, are supplied in footnotes.
Important textual variants in the Old Testament are footnoted in a standard
form. The textual information in the New Testament footnotes is a unique
provision in the history of the English Bible. Terms in the footnotes such as
'better manuscripts' are avoided. The footnotes in the present edition make no
evaluation of the readings, but do clearly indicate the manuscript sources of
readings which diverge from the traditional text. Thus, a clearly defined
presentation of the variants is provided for the benefit of interested readers
representing all textual persuasions."
As a crowning climax of duplicity
and inconsistency, the editors of the NKJV make the following incongruous
statements on pages 1,234 and 1,235 of the King James history printed at the
conclusion of the NKJV text:
"The tendency of recent revisers
has been to remove words and phrases from the text of Scripture, based on the
most recently discovered extant manuscripts. In using the Greek text
underlying the King James Bible, these words and phrases were retained. And,
in those few places where the majority of the manuscripts did not support a
word or phrase, that fact could best be indicated in a footnote. (The New
Testament of the New King James Version shows in its footnotes those places
where the major textual traditions differ from the language of the King James
"It was the editors' conviction
that the use of footnotes would encourage further inquiry by readers. They
also recognized that it was easier for the average reader to delete something
he or she felt was not properly a part of the text, than to insert a word or
phrase which had been left out by the revisers."
Will the next modem Bible be the "Do
It Yourself" version? This would be a distinct possibility if the advice of the
NKJV editors in the two preceding paragraphs were to be followed. In effect,
they are saying, let each reader decide for himself what portions, verses,
phrases and words should be included in God's Holy Word." NKJV footnotes, far
from being helpful, are an invitation to disobey the plain command of God not to
add to or take from His Word. Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18,19.
The preservation of God's divinely
inspired Word is clearly set forth in Psalm 12:6,7, "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
forever." God has fulfilled His promise through the Textus Receptus and the
King James Version. Those who replace the KJV with the NKJV will have been
duped into accepting a Bible which still bears a respected name but one which
has placed "readability" above purity.
The translators of the original King
James Bible had a distinct advantage. They were able to use their vast knowledge
of ancient languages and translation abilities prior to the time when the deadly
virus of so-called "Higher Criticism" infected the whole field of scholarship.
False teachers boldly dissected God's Word with the "tools of scholarship" in
order to reconstruct it according to their own speculations and presumptions.
The result is a pseudo-intellectual aura in which no one can be sure of
anything. It's time to get back to the pure Word of God where faith prevails
and doubt is vanquished!
Believers who will take the time to
compare the KJV with the NKJV and then with other modern versions will see for
themselves why the NKJV should be exposed and repudiated as a polluted
version. And, those who will take time to carefully look at the NKJV
footnotes will be doubly concerned and will join in warning others about it.
Our plea to God's people is to reject the
NKJV Bible and continue preaching, teaching, memorizing and meditating upon the
pure, unadulterated, Divinely preserved milk and meat of God's Holy Word-The
King James Authorized Version of 1611 upon which God has placed His stamp of
approval over a span of nearly four centuries. Nothing is more important than
the purity of God's Holy Word.
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