Should We Use the New King James Bible?
The Apostle Paul once said of the Devil, "We are not ignorant of his devices." Thanks to Paul, history and our own experiences, we still may make that claim. He has many wiles, sleights-of-hand, and weapons, one of which being his attack upon, and misuse of, the Bible.
Satan has burned Bibles and outlawed Bibles. Through false teachers he has corrupted (II Cor. 2:27) and wrested (II Pet. 3:16) the Scriptures. He has chained Bibles to pulpits and to ancient, unrecognizable languages. But despite his continued onslaughts, Gods Word is not bound nor defeated. In 1611 James of England published his Authorized Version which became, and still is, the recognized Word of God in the English-speaking world.
But the god of this world, Satan, refused to admit defeat. In the last century, he moved scholars to promote a new Bible with an altogether different text. The Westcott and Hort, Alexandrian, Western text became standard for nearly all the recent flood of Bible versions, yet that text is corrupt, denying several key doctrines, especially the deity of Christ. Although gullible, liberal minds have swallowed this "device" of the Wicked One, fundamentalists, primarily Baptist, have clung to their Authorized (KJV) Bibles of 1611.
For years it was an easy matter to discern the "good" from the "bad," but things have changed in recent months. Satan has a new tool to rob you of your Bible. It's called the New King James Bible.
Thomas Nelson, Inc. has done a lot of promotion of their latest Scriptural break-through. In this promotion they have outlined several purposes which they hoped for and think they have attained. A study of these is well worthwhile, before anyone unwittingly accepts their product.
A Better Translation
In the introduction of the New King James (NKJV), the publishers imply that they didnt want a new translation, just a better one. This is impossible! Any change of translations makes a new translation. They knew this, calling their Bible the New King James rather than the Better King James Version.
Now, let us permit the reader to determine if this is not a completely different version. In the course of this article please compare translation. We plan to note a dozen references, but the list could be greatly multiplied. Carefully read and note the differences. Take for example Phil. 3:14, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (KJV), and "I press toward...the upward call..." (NKJV). Do these sentences contain the same thought? No! Is the second a better translation? No! Berrys Interlinear literal translation agrees with the KJV against the NKJV.
One stated purpose of the NKJV is to clarify disputed passages in Gods Word. Which makes Eph. 5:18 clearer: "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess..." (KJV), or "...with wine, in which is dissipation..." (NKJV)? Does the NKJV improve Luke 19:13, "...he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds," (KJV) when it replaces "pounds" with "minas?"
How often have you met a lost person, a hypocrite, who claimed to believe in Jesus or God, but who denied the power thereof? The KJV convicts these folk by demanding that we "believe on (i.e. trust in) Christ," but the "helpful" NKJV substitutes, "believe in Jesus" in such places as Jn. 3:36; 5:24; 6:35,47. Clarity? They have aided the cause of Satan in blinding the minds of the unbelieving.
Avoiding Modern Paraphrasing
Let the spiritual man judge whether the NKJV doesnt contain its share of paraphrase. Jn. 5:24 says in the KJV, "shall not come into condemnation," while the NKJV says "...into judgment." True condemnation implies judgment, but judgment doesn't always mean condemnation, which is the execution of punishment upon the judged. Romans 4:25 says Jesus "was delivered for our offences" (KJV), but the NKJV mutilates a beautiful and important doctrinal precept saying, Jesus "was delivered up because of our offenses." Christ died to pay for the sinners guilt, not as an unfortunate result of it as the NKJV implies.
To Delete Antiquated Word-Endings
The people of 1611 spoke with "eths" and "ests" completing many of their verbs, but today we dont. That is true, and it is even true that the eloquent preacher sometimes stumbles over a pronunciation or two. Yet no thinking or reading person will for long misunderstand the meanings of those words in Gods text of 1611. Their removal is unnecessary.
To Delete "Thees" and "Thous."
Once again, we may not use these words, but only the smallest child does not know their meaning after reading them for a few minutes in the old KJV.
To Replace Archaic Words
An archaic word is one which is no longer in common use. The critical argument of archaic words is one of the worst "red-herrings" in all the Bible world. There are no archaic words in the Bible. As long as the KJV exists and continues to be widely read, the vocabulary it uses will refuse archaism. It is true that there are a handful of words in its pages that are rarely spoken outside of a Bible study, but they are not the problem that the critics of Gods Word make them out to be.
95% of the time the little-used words of the Bible are explained through the context. Take for example Acts 23:5 and the word "wist." Any thinking reader can discern that it means "knew."
Christians ought to be leaders and trendsetters. There is no rule that we must cater to societies slang. If all of Gods people used the few "archaic" words of the Bible, others would use them as well, and there would be no problem.
This is claimed to be a primary reason for the NKJV, but it certainly does not give call for the vast number of textual changes unrelated to the supposed archaisms.
To Retain theological Wording
The NKJV revisors are not so much interested in removing difficult words as to play theological word games. They remove some easily understood words and then deliberately retain other more difficult words. Beautiful words like "justification," "propitiation," and "atonement" are still in this "improved" text. Although old-fashioned saints love these words, we admit that some more modern and simple words could be substituted quite adequately at times, if one so desired. Good pastors must define these words and willingly do so. It is part of their responsibility as teachers, not some distant textual revisors.
As an example of the NKJV "Password" game think of the word "baptism." How does the dictionary define it? Half a dozen ways? But what is the true translation of the Greek word "baptizo?" Immersedipplunge! Why didnt the NKJV make that proper translation for the sake of clarity? To keep their pedo-baptizing buddies happy. To cover the truth, and continue to confuse the minds of men. (Of course we do not advocate the changing of words like "justification," "propitiation," "atonement," and "baptism." Editor)
Another example is the troublesome word "tongues" (Acts 2:4 and elsewhere). "Glossolalia" in Greek means "language" or "tongue;" a real human means of communication. Why wasnt this word updated for the sake of clarity in the NKJV? Because clarity was only secondary to a couple of unstated purposes weve yet to name.
To Unite Christians Under One Bible
Unthinking readers may be impressed by this noble desire, but the thinking soul realizes that this is not only impossible, but its a sham. The Modernists have their "Bibles" the RSV, NIV, NEB, etc. The Neo-Evangelicals, Neo-Fundamentalists, and Neo-Pentecostals have their "Bibles," the LNT, ASV, NASV, TEV, etc. The Catholics have their "Bibles," the NABV, NJB, etc. A new Bible wont unite anyone. Only fundamentalists use the KJV of 1611, and true fundamentalists will continue to do so no matter how many "better" KJVs people produce.
These and a few others are the stated goals of the NKJV and Nelson Publishers. Now we come to the unstated goals and those inspired by Satan.
Remove the Stigma of the Old KJV
In their zeal for souls and the acceptability of Christianity among the religions of the world the KJV revisors apparently, consciously or unconsciously, desired to remove a verse or two of the more obnoxious aspects of the Bible. "Lets not talk about bastards" (Heb. 12:8), they thought to themselves, "nor whoremongers" (Eph. 5:5; Heb. 13:5). "And since damnation is such a harsh word and often associated with cursing, lets tone it down with condemnation (Jn. 5:29). There is certainly no reason to offend people unnecessarily." But this didnt bother Paul. He was not ashamed to preach all the truth. Some people need to be offended into right thinking, because without doubt God is offended by our sins. Come on, lets tell it like it really is. There is far too much playing down and redefining sin.
In one promotional packet of the NKJV it is said that Thomas Nelson & Co. met with church leaders and asked them if there was sufficient grounds for a revision of the 1611 edition. "Based on near-unanimous support...Nelson authorized the work to begin immediately on a New KJV." Notice the word "authorized." Perhaps we should call this the Authorized King Nelson Version.
What was the purpose of this meeting? Wasnt it to survey the market and see whether or not Christian leaders would promote this new version in their pulpits and to their audiences? Wasnt it an attempt to see if the project would be financially profitable? This is the true purpose behind the NKJV! It is money! If Nelson was interested in the spread of Gods Word, they could cut the cost of those Bibles to speed distribution and make them available to people of every income.
Nelson is interested in money not truth. Tell us Thomas Nelson, which Bible that you publish is really Gods Word: The Revised Standard Bible, Todays English Version, the New American Standard Bible, the King James Version or the New King James Version. They are all different. Are you willing to cease publication of all out the NKJV? Of course not! Your interest is monetary, not truth. You wish to cover all the theological Bible bases.
This is the true reason for Thomas Nelsons publication of the NKJV. But what about Satan and his purpose? The NKJV falls right into his latest system of "devices." As far as he is concerned, there are probably three goals that he is seeking and probably reaching through this new version.
130 scholars were involved in this revision work. They were drawn from "fundamental" Baptist groups, Neo-Evangelical Pentecostal groups and even from liberal modernistic groups. All of them amicably united in this work, contrary to II Cor. 6:14-18; Rom. 16:17 and I Thess. 3:6. Another victory for compromise and ecumenism.
In the introduction of the NKJV great stress is placed upon the beauty of the 1611 edition, and rightly so. Two-thirds of the way through that article mention is made of the importance of the Textus Receptus Greek being used as the translation source. This, too, is true and is of far more importance than beautiful literary style. Then at the close of the article two paragraphs are used to give tacit praise to Westcott and Hort along with their corrupt Greek texta text which is diametrically opposed to the Textus Receptus and the KJV. The work of Westcott and Hort should be clearly condemned and exposed by any publisher who truly is interested in the promotion of Gods Word. Readers of the NKJV should be given the truth about Westcott and Hort and why their text was rejected, but as Nelson and Co. publish W/H Bibles too, this couldnt be done.
Further Division of Gods People
A century ago Satan divided Bible scholars into two camps, those of the Textus Receptus and those of the Nestle, Westcott and Hort text. The true fundamentalist always knew where he stood. Now, Satan has successfully divided the Textus Receptus people. "Which KJV do you read, Old or New?" Since there is no accord as to the meaning of the Greek, can we read two different Bibles and still be agreed in doctrine? It is doubtful! Once again Satan is dividing and attempting to conquer.
~K. David Oldfield