Q: #1. Someone told me that the King James Version of the Bible is inerrant and infallible, and all other versions of the Bible are corrupt. Does this mean I should read only the King James Bible?
A: Let me take this in two parts. First, as Christians, we believe that the “autographa” or original manuscripts (no longer in existence today) were free from error. The versions of the Bible we have today are based on copies from these original manuscripts. When a version is written, it is generally done so using the best manuscript evidence available at the time. As these copies have come down from the originals over time, there have been mistakes here and there that have occurred because fallible man is involved in copying or translating what God originally stated.
Problems can also occur because different translations translate a word from the Greek or Hebrew in a different way. In addition, there are some words in Hebrew or Greek that don’t have a comparable word in a different language. For instance, the Greek language (used in the New Testament) has several different words to express “love” (primarily phileo and agapao), while the English language uses only one word. As a result of this, we sometimes miss the full meaning of what was intended.
For example, see (Jn 21:15-17), where it uses the English words “love / lovest” seven different times. These verses make a lot more sense when you look at them in Greek, and see that two different Greek words, describing two different types of “love” are being used: (“phileo” and “agapao“).
God promised in (Isa 40:8)(1 Pet 1:23,25)(Mt 5:18) that he would preserve His word, and He has done just that. The Bible is the most tested, scrutinized, proven and enduring book in history. While there may be differences in different versions of the Bible, we can rest assured that God’s word is preserved.
That being said, we need to realize that the King James Bible is a “version,” just like all the other versions. As such, it is not “error free,” but contains errors both in translation, and in copying, which we will look at below.
First, I need to say that I LOVE the KJV version of the Bible. I believe it is a wonderful and accurate word for word translation. I am NOT writing this study to in any way denigrate the KJV Bible. I am writing because there is a (rather vocal) minority of Christians (who call themselves KJV only) who believe that the King James Bible is the means by which God has preserved His word, and it is totally free from ANY errors. (Sadly… some even go as far as to say you aren’t even a Christian if you read another version.) In saying this, they are making the KJV Bible equal to the original manuscripts, without error, and this is just not true….
Therefore, the point of this study henceforth will be to show the KJV Bible is “not” inerrant or infallible. It does contain “minor” errors, and in this, it is equal to all other “versions” of the Bible. Let’s look at 10 of these “errors.”
First, the King James Bible uses the word “brass” 120 times in the Old Testament when it wasn’t invented until about 500 B.C. (near the time when the last book of the OT was written). (Other translations correctly use “bronze,” which was invented about 3500 B.C.)
I think most of us also know that the Holy Spirit is not an “it” as the KJV says in (Rom 8:16,26)(1 Pet 1:11)(Jn 1:32).
Virtually all scholars agree that the Greek word used for “Easter” in (Acts 12:4) should be translated as “Passover.” (The Greek word used for “Easter” [“pascha“] is translated as “Passover” everywhere else in the KJV New Testament.)
In (Jn 8:24)(Jn 13:19)(Jn 18:6), the KJV (and some other versions) actually makes a pretty big error when it translates Jesus’ words as “I am He,” when “He” is not found in the best MSS (manuscripts). In doing this, it is taking away from Jesus’ claim to deity, where He calls Himself “I AM” (see: Ex 3:14).
In (Jn 5:2), (Jn 19:13) and (Jn 19:17), the KJV Bible (and a few other versions) says that the words “Bethesda,” “Gabbatha,” and “Golgotha” are “Hebrew” words, when they are actually “Aramaic” words.
In (Rev 22:19), the KJV (and NKJV) uses the words “book of life” when they should be “tree of life.” This is explained at gotquestions.org this way: “The error arose when Erasmus, in compiling his Greek text, was forced to translate the last six verses of Revelation from the Latin Vulgate into Greek. The “tree” became a “book” because a scribe had accidentally replaced the Latin lingo (“tree”) with libro (“book”). All translations that follow the Textus Receptus, such as the KJV, thus incorrectly say “book” instead of “tree” of life.”
In (Rev 8:13), the best MSS say that “angel,” as used in the KJV (and NKJV), should instead be translated as “eagle.”
(Acts 27:40) in the KJV version says this of those on the boat “And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea…” This is a horrible mistranslation. Instead, it should read as the NKJV, and other versions say, “And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea…” They didn’t “take up” the anchors (they didn’t want extra weight on the boat), they “let them go” or “cut them off.”
In (Phil 4:2), the KJV uses the Greek male name “Euodias,” for someone who is female. The correct name should be “Euodia” (a female name), which is used in all other versions.
In (Mt 23:24), did the “blind guides” “strain at a gnat” (KJV) or “strain out a gnat” (all other versions)?
The King James Bible has also undergone NUMEROUS changes and corrections since it was first printed in 1611. The KJV Bible we have today is not only different from the 1611 version in the corrections made, but the Old English language it was written in is SO different from our KJV today that it is hard to believe it is the same Bible at times. I want to show just a few of these changes that have been made from the 1611 version to the version we use today. The verses I will be using from the 1611 version will be exactly as they appear from the copy I have sitting here with me. I am not misspelling them. 🙂
*** Note: Keep in mind, if the 1611 KJV was infallible, and the KJV we have today is infallible, how could there be differences?
(Ex 14:10) And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lift vp their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them, and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel lift vp their eyes, and beholde, the Egyptians marched after them, and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out vnto the Lord.
(Corrected KJV today)
(Ex 14:10) And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lift up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they are sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
Which verse is the correct, infallible word from God? Let’s look at a few more.
(Ps 69:32) … And your heart shall live that seeke good.
(Corrected KJV today)
(Ps 69:32) … And your heart shall live that seek God.
(Jer 49:1) … Why then doth their king inherit God…
(Corrected KJV today)
(Jer 49:1) … why then doth their king inherit Gad…
(Ezek 24:7) … she set it vpon the toppe of a rocke, she powred it vpon the ground to couer it with dust:
(Corrected KJV today)
(Ezek 24:7) … she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it NOT upon the ground, to cover it with dust; (caps emphasis mine)
(2 Tim 4:13) The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou commest, bring with thee, but especially the parchments.
(Corrected KJV today)
(2 Tim 4:13) The cloke that I left as Troas with Carpus, when thou commest, bring with thee, AND THE BOOKS, but especially the parchments. (caps emphasis mine)
(Mk 5:6) But when hee saw Iesus afarre off, he CAME and worshipped Him.
(Corrected KJV today)
(Mk 5:6) But when he saw Jesus afar off, he RAN and worshipped Him. (caps emphasis on both verses mine)
There are plenty of other differences as well, but I just wanted to make the point with these that both cannot be infallible if there are obvious differences between the two. The KJV we have today is the result of numerous corrections made over time as these errors have been discovered.
It should also be noted that:
The original 1611 King James Bible contained Apocryphal books which have clearly been demonstrated to have major errors in doctrine, history, and geography.
The original 1611 KJV writers used over 4000 marginal notes offering alternate interpretations of the words they used.
There have also been a number of well documented errors that were quickly corrected when discovered in subsequent reprintings of the KJV Bible. Here are a few:
(1632 Version) (Ex 20:14) “Thou shalt commit adultery” (leaving out the “not”)
(1717 Version) (Lk 20 heading) “Parable of the Vinegar” (instead of vineyard)
(1716 Version) (Jn 5:20) “Go and sin on more” (instead of sin no more)
(1562 Version) (Mt 5:9) “Blessed are the placemakers” (instead of peacemakers)
(1763 Version) (Ps 14:1) “the fool hath said in his heart there is a God”
(instead of there is “no” God)
So… should people read “only” the King James Bible because it is infallible and inerrant? No! Should they read it because it is one of the best word for word translations available today? Yes!
However, many people have a difficult time understanding the KJV Bible. I find it pointless to try and read a Bible version if you aren’t understanding what it is saying. Isn’t the point to gain an understanding of God’s Word? I have stated a number of times that I have a learning disability. When I surrendered my life to Christ, I had such a difficult time understanding (I was 32 years old) that I had to use a Children’s Bible. From there I went to a paraphrase (the Living Bible), then to the NIV, and finally to a Parallel Bible that I still use today (Parallel Bibles have different versions side by side). I love the KJV Bible now, and it is much more understandable now that I have a foundation of the basics that I learned from easier to understand Bibles.
I just hate it when I see some “KJV Bible only” advocate tell these people who can’t understand the KJV that they need to pray for understanding, or just keep trying and it will get easier, or the Holy Spirit will help them. Do you know what that is saying to the person?? “If I was right with God, I WOULD understand.” “I am too STUPID to understand…” “Maybe I don’t have the Holy Spirit since I can’t get it…”
Friend, my advice is to find a version you “can” understand, and grow in your love and desire for God’s Word. Some versions you might want to check out are: (the New American Standard Bible: NASB) (the New International Version: NIV) (the New King James Version: NKJV) (the English Standard Version: ESV). You can read different versions online by going here. Once you find a version you like, and can understand, you can order a physical copy of it from a number of Christian retailers online. For more on finding a good Bible, go here.