Is The New King James Version As Good As The King James Version (1611)?
By Jerry Jackson
The King James Bible (Authorized Version) has been used of God for over 400 years. While other Bibles may have been around, they were not popularly used by anyone. However, in these past two hundred years, Satan has sustained a dreadful, focused attack upon the Word of God, both in Hebrew and Greek and in the English. Satan knows that if he can only deprive the believer of the Word of God, he will be helpless to ward off Satan’s attacks. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Psalm 11:3)?” “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17)…"
We are certainly aware of these things and have stood against the RV, RSV, ASV, NIV, and the countless number of other lookalikes on the market today. But I am seeing a trend to look kindly upon the New King James Version, as a mere update of the “old faithful” Authorized Version. Churches are still standing for the Authorized Version on paper and in the pulpit, but individual members are guilty of reading from and even carrying to church the New King James Version. This is dangerous ground! If the individual members do not stand strong for the truth, the church as a whole will not stand for long. This is like a large tree, whose roots have been damaged by someone digging all around them. The tree may look good and healthy for a time, but eventually, the faulty roots will tell as the tree dries up and begins to rot.
Wait a minute! Isn’t the New King James Version (NKJV) just as good as the King James Version (AV)? Are there really any major differences, outside of the updated language? After very little study, the answer comes as a resounding “YES!” There are major differences between the NKJV and the AV. These differences should be enough for every individual to ditch any copied of the NKJV that he may have at his house.
In a brief summary, here are some of the changes that have been made by the NKJV.
The NKJV Confuses More Than It Clarifies
The following section comes from an article found on the following website: http://www.av1611.org/nkjv.html
“Among the first changes that greets the reader of the NKJV is the removal of the much maligned ‘thee, thou and ye’. The Preface to the NKJV states, ‘. . .thee, thou, and ye are replaced by the simple you. . . These pronouns are no longer part of our language.’ But ‘thee, thou and ye’ were ‘NO LONGER part of the language’ during 1611 either. (just read the intro to the 1611 King James, there are no ‘thee', ‘thou’ and ‘ye’). In fact, Webster's Third New International Dictionary, says of ye: ‘used from the earliest of times to the late 13th century. . .’ (p.2648) And yet the 1611 King James was published 400 years later in the 17th century!
“So why are they there?
"The Greek and Hebrew language contain a different word for the second person singular and the second person plural pronouns. Today we use the one-word ‘you’ for both the singular and plural. But because the translators of the 1611 King James Bible desired an accurate, word-for-word translation of the Hebrew and Greek text - they could NOT use the one-word ‘you’ throughout! If it begins with ’t’ (thou, thy, thine) it's SINGULAR, but if it begins with ‘y’ (ye) it's PLURAL. Ads for the NKJV call it ‘the Accurate One’, and yet the 1611 King James, by using ‘thee’, ‘thou’, ‘ye’, is far more accurate!
“By the way, if the ‘thee’s’ and ‘thou’s' are ‘. . .no longer part of our language' - why aren't the NKJV translators rushing to make our hymnbooks ‘much clearer’? ‘How Great Thou Art’ to ‘How Great You Are’, or ‘Come Thou Fount’ to ‘Come You Fount’. Doesn’t sound right, does it? Isn’t it amazing that they wouldn’t dare ‘correct' our hymns - and yet, without the slightest hesitation, they’ll ‘correct’ the word of God!”
The NKJV Changes The Meaning Of Many Verses
We should not be afraid to study this subject for God has commanded us to study, hasn’t He? If you are using the NKJV, God has NOT commanded you to study. 2 Timothy 2:15, in the AV, say, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In the NKJV, this same verse says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Study” and “be diligent” are not the same thing at all. This undermines the doctrine of personal responsibility for our walk with God and our knowledge of His Word.
The translators of the NKJV should have been fearful of corrupting the Word of God, don’t you think? “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17a)…" The translators of the NKJV didn't fear the corruption of the Word of God because that warning doesn’t exist in the NKJV! “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God…" The word “corrupt” means "to alter, to mar, to infect". The word “peddle” means "to sell illicitly, to hawk, to distribute." These two words do not mean the same thing, even giving the benefit of the doubt! This undermines the need for doctrinal purity because it only condemns the “peddling” of the word of God, not the “corruption” of the word of God!
The AV tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” This verse teaches us to avoid anything that might even look wrong, especially to those who are lost. The NKJV says, “Abstain from every form of evil.” The meaning of this verse is totally lost in the NKJV. This undermines the doctrine of personal holiness, which God expects from every truly born again person.
We have given three examples to show how the NKJV changes the meaning of many verses in the AV. We will not take the time to show more, but the Bible does tell us that these three examples should be enough to show us the error of using the NKJV. “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established (2 Corinthians 13:1 [AV]).”
The NKJV Reverses The Meaning Of Many Verses
The introduction to the 1979 edition of the NKJV tells us that, “A special feature of the New King James Bible is its conformity to the thought-flow of the 1611 version. The reader discovers that the sequence and identity of words, phrases, and clauses of the new edition, while much clearer, are so close to the traditional that there is remarkable ease in listening to the public reading of either edition while following along with the other.” So, each and every verse of the NKJV should have the exact same meaning as that found in the AV for this to be true. Let’s check and see if this is the case.
AV: “...who hold the truth in unrighteousness…"
NKJV: “...who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…"
AV: “...Who changed the truth of God into a lie…"
NKJV: “...who exchanged the truth of God for a lie…"
1 Timothy 6:5
AV: “...supposing that gain is godliness…"
NKJV: “...who suppose that godliness is a means of gain…"
Once again, we have three witnesses to the truth that the NKJV reverses the meaning of many verses in God's Word. Is this really the kind of “bible” that we should want to read and use in our personal Bible reading? NO!
The NKJV Weakens Major Bible Doctrines
Even if we could stomach the changes already discussed, we come to the breaking point at the major doctrines of the Bible. If, as we have been told, the NKJV is only an update of the AV, we should be able to find no difference in the doctrinal teaching of the NKJV. However, that is not the case.
The Deity of Christ
AV: “All things were made by him…"
NKJV: “All things were made through Him…"
AV: “...by him all things consist.”
NKJV: “...in Him all things consist.”
AV: “...hath glorified his Son Jesus…"
NKJV: “…glorified His Servant Jesus…"
AV: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
NKJV: “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
1 Corinthians 1:18
AV: “...unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
NKJV: “...to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
2 Corinthians 2:15
AV: “...in them that are saved…"
NKJV: “...among those who are being saved…"
How many major Bible doctrines have to be belittled or denied before we finally get the idea that the NKJV is not merely an updated AV? The NKJV is nothing more than another perversion of the truths of God's Word. The only difference being that the NKJV is much more cleverly masked as a “Bible” than are the other myriads of “translations” on the market today.
Beware of the NKJV! It is not God’s Word, and it will do you harm! If you own one, do not give it away to someone else. Get rid of it!
Let us be true to the Word of God, by identifying it (AV), by reading it, and by living it!