|Photo by Billy Hatham 2010|
Imagine being able to hold the Word of God in your hand! Indeed, you can do just that. The Authorized King James Version (KJV) Bible is God's Word. It is God's love letter to all mankind, containing Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It does not contain God's Word or describe what God said; rather, it is the Word of God, written during a period of 1,500 years by about 40 authors inspired by the Holy Spirit to record His Word for all eternity (2 Timothy 3:16).
The authorized KJV Bible has appeared on Norton Anthology's list of "the world's best literature" for decades, and it is the most widely published, best-selling book of all time. The Bible is even the most commonly stolen book -- go figure! I guess Bible thieves overlook the "Thou shalt not steal" commandment! (Exodus 20:15)
Since God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone tablets and gave them to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 25:12), He has gone to great pains to preserve His inerrant Word unchanged (Matthew 5:18). Throughout the centuries, great Christians like Martin Luther. John Wycliffe, and William Tyndale have suffered persecution and imprisonment so that the Bible would be preserved, translated into different languages, and made available to all. The result is that by reading the Bible, everyone who wants to know can understand God's will and plan for their lives (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10).
God's plan of salvation is that Jesus Christ -- God the Son -- came to earth in human form (John 1:14) but without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), was crucified, and died as a perfect sacrifice to pay for all our sins, past, future and present (John 1:29). He then defeated death and the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55), rose on the third day, and ascended into Heaven, where He sits at God the Father's right hand (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Mark 16:19; Hebrews 12:2).
Everyone who acknowledges and turns away from their sins, asks God for forgiveness, believes in Jesus' finished work of salvation, and accepts Him as their personal Savior with simple, childlike faith will not die eternally in hell, but will live joyously forever in Heaven (John 3:16, Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
Once we are born again (John 3:1-8), the Holy Spirit enters our heart (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30), teaching us the truth of God’s Word if we pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and apply ourselves to learning it (2 Timothy 2:15).
That truth will light the path of our Christian walk (Psalm 119:105), helping us to make the right choices (Proverbs 3:5-6), keeping us from sin (Psalm 119:105), and bringing us closer to Christ. Before we were saved, God’s Word seemed to us to be foolish, but when we are born again, we realize that it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).
As the Christmas season begins, many of us might want to give a Bible to a loved one, or even choose a new Bible for ourselves and a reading plan to go through all the Scripture in 2015. Depending on the reader’s background, spiritual maturity, and life circumstances, we might be tempted to choose a “modern” version perceived to be more “relevant” or “easier to read.” My personal preference for everyone, regardless of these factors, would be the KJV.
Why read the KJV Bible, and not one of the more contemporary versions? The KJV Bible, published in 1611, is the signed, sealed and delivered official Word of God in the English language. It was authorized by King James and commissioned by God Himself, as He brought together a team of more than 50 of the world's best scholars to translate His Word into English, the world's most widely used official language. Rather than seeking their own fame, glory or profit, these scholars were humble, dedicated to the Lord and to spreading His Word to all people, even if they had to pay for it with their own lives.
The Old Testament of the KJV Bible was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew Text, and the New Testament was translated from the Majority Text. The latter is also called the Received Text or Textus Receptus because most (99.92%) of the 5,686 existing Greek texts are in agreement with it.
Most modern English Bible revisions are based on a Greek text not agreeing with the Majority Text. Two men instrumental in authoring these new versions, Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, intentionally omitted or changed portions of the Greek text to suit their own beliefs, or rather doubts, regarding many key Bible truths.
They did not believe literal six-day creation (Genesis 1), the many miracles of Jesus described in the Gospels, His substitutionary sacrifice for us (2 Corinthians 5:21, etc.) the power of His shed blood to wash away our sins (Revelation 1:5; 7:14; 1 John 1:7, Colossians 1:14 ,etc), or the existence of Heaven and hell as real places (John 14:2; Acts 7:55-56; Luke 16:20-31; Mark 9:43-44, etc.).
The newer English versions are actually revisions, not translations, of God's Word. Jesus warns of the dangers of adding to, taking away from, or changing His Word in any way, and the punishment for those who do so (Revelation 22:18-19; Proverbs 30:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 5:18).
Apart from this most important reason to stick with the KJV Bible, there is the poetic beauty of the text that reflects its inspiration from God. If you compare Psalm 23, for example, beginning with "The Lord is my shepherd..." in the KJV Bible with that of any other version, you can easily appreciate the majestic, musical quality of the KJV. The profound influence of the KJV Bible on English literature is evident in the masterpieces of famous authors including John Bunyan, John Milton, Herman Melville, and William Wordsworth.
One of my personal favorite reasons to read the KJV Bible is that Jesus promised to prepare a place for us in Heaven, and in the KJV, He promises each of us a "mansion" (John 14:2). How can that compare with the "room" mentioned in the modern versions?
A common objection to reading the KJV Bible is that it is "hard to understand." Actually, studies comparing the language used in the different versions show that the KJV is the easiest to read because it uses more action words and contains no "fluff" or wordiness.
A standard readability test (Flesch-Kincaid) shows that the KJV Bible is at a 5th grade reading level, whereas the English Standard Version (ESV), for example, is at an 8th grade reading level. The average number of words per sentence is 9 in the KJV and 19 in the ESV, and the KJV turns out to be easier to read than the ESV in terms of sentence and vocabulary complexity and use of short and simple sentences.
True, the KJV contains “thee” and “thou,” (but so does Shakespeare, and we can get used to that very quickly). It also contains words that we seldom use today, like “fornication,” and doctrinally specific words like “propitiation.” These are easily understood with a good Bible dictionary or study Bible. I have the KJV on Kindle for use when we travel, and if you highlight a word, the Kindle automatically provides a definition!
But by far the most important reason to avoid the new versions is that they delete verses altogether; they delete key portions of other verses; and they frequently omit the Name of Jesus, Christ and Jesus Christ, as we shall see next week. Faith comes by hearing (and reading) the word of God (Romans 10:17), so may we believe what God has spoken, and not in men’s revisions designed to suit their own agenda.
© 2014 Laurie Collett