Part 2. Claims about NKJV Alterations and Corruptions.
An often heard example of ‘alterations to scripture’ is the word hell. Below is a common argument:
The NKJV removes the word “hell” 23 times! And how do they make it “much clearer”? By replacing “hell” with “Hades” and “Sheol”! Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines Hades: “the underground abode of the dead in Greek MYTHOLOGY“. By making it “much clearer” – they turn your Bible into MYTHOLOGY! Not only that, Hades is not always a place of torment or terror! The Assyrian Hades is an abode of blessedness with silver skies called “Happy Fields”. In the satanic New Age Movement, Hades is an intermediate state of purification!
Who in their right mind would think “Hades” or “Sheol” is “up-to-date” and “much clearer” than “hell”?
KJV: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
NKJV: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
KJV: “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
NKJV: “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Hell is removed in 2 Sam. 22:6, Job 11:8, 26:6, Psalm 16:10, 18:5, 86:13, 116:3, Isaiah 5:14, 14:15, 28:15,18, 57:9, Jonah 2:2, Matt. 11:23, 16:18, Luke 10:15, 16:23, Acts 2:27, 31, Rev. 1:18, 6:8, 20:13,14.
One of the biggest problems I have with the KJV only position is that the original text is rarely consulted to resolve the issue. Currently, we have thousands of manuscripts available today that were not available to the KJV 1611 translators. The primary source for the KJV translation was the Septuagint and the Latin Bible (commonly known as the Vulgate). Most of the modern translations such as the NKJV depend on the thousands of manuscripts written in the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. To determine whether the NKJV or other modern translations are accurate, we should draw from the resources that are closest to the original.
Let’s examine the argument above. Critics argue that the NKJV is influenced by Greek mythology and this has corrupted the translation. However, the New Testament was written primarily in Greek. The apostle Paul and almost all of the civilized world at that time spoke Greek. The Roman Empire united conquered nations under a common government and a common language. That language was Greek.
If we look at the Greek word used in Matthew 16:18 we see that it is the word ‘hades’. The KJV translates three different words into the English word ‘hell’:
Sheol – used in the Old Testament in reference to the grave or a pit.
Gehenna – used in reference to eternal judgment and punishment.
Hades – New Testament word used in reference to the grave.
When you look at the KJV’s use of the word hell, it is impossible to tell which word is referenced. There is a big difference in meaning between these Greek words, therefore modern translators made a clear distinction as to which words were going to be referenced. It is not a corruption of scripture to clarify which words the apostles or prophets used when writing the scriptures.
The word “devils” (the singular, person called the “devil” is) is NOT in the NKJV! Replaced with the “transliterated” Greek word “demon” (ditto NIV, RSV, NRSV, NASV).
An example of this can be found in Matthew 8:16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, (NKJV)
It is ironic that this critic is offended that the Greek word is used as the source when the Greek text should be our comparison. The word used is ‘daimonion’ which is accurately translated into the word ‘demon’. The word devil comes from the Greek word ‘diabolos’. It is a completely different word and is almost always a reference to Satan. Regardless of personal preference, the word of God uses the word ‘daimonion’ or demon.
Note: in this example, regardless of translational preference (KJV or NKJV) the doctrine has not changed and the intent of scripture, if taken in context with the whole of scripture is consistent across all of the literal translations.
In 2 Timothy 2:15, the NKJV (like the NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV) remove that “obsolete” word – “study”! The only time you’re told to “study” your Bible. AND THEY ZAP IT! Why don’t they want you to “study” your Bible? Maybe they don’t want you to look too close – you might find out what they’ve ACTUALLY done to your Bible! The “real” KJV is the only English Bible in the world that instructs you to “study” your Bible!
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)
2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)
Let’s examine this passage. The Greek words found in this passage are as follows:
spoudazo – be diligent, make haste, or exert one’s self
paristemi – to present
seautou – yourself
dokimos – accepted, pleasing
theos – God
ergates – workman or laborer
anepaischuntos – no cause to be ashamed
orthotomeo – to cut straight
logos – word
aletheia – objective truth
The word study is not in the original text. It has been added by the KJV translators for the purpose of clarity. The NKJV renders a passage that is literal and closer to the original text, however, the KJV is not inaccurate either. The clear intent of this passage is to know the word of God and divide it accurately. This, of course requires study and both translations clearly communicate this. The KJV added this word for clarity and the NKJV did not. It is a false statement to say that the NKJV ‘zapped’ a word out of the scripture. It is more accurate to say that the KJV added a word.
So that there are no misunderstandings, let me take a moment to clarify why words are added to scripture. It is impossible to translate from Greek to English word for word. It is impossible to translate any language word for word into another language. Anyone who has studied Spanish, French, Greek or any other language should understand this. The best you can do is to choose your words carefully so that you communicate the intended thought as accurately as possible. For the sake of understanding, implied words are added to clarify a thought. When the scriptures warn us not to add to the Word of God and not to take away from it, this does not mean we cannot transliterate the Word of God. To alter a passage to support ones belief would violate the integrity of scripture and fall into God’s warning. To exclude passages we don’t agree with or have trouble with would be to take from the Word. To interject words or ideas into scripture to make it say something God did not say would add to His word and violate the integrity of scripture and the warning God gave.
Adding the word ‘study’ does not alter the intent or context of this passage but this remains true to the original meaning. Not adding the word ‘study’ does not violate the scripture but remains true to the literal translation of the passage. This is clearly a personal preference but does not change any doctrine or intent of scripture. Both renderings are completely accurate and if the passage is examined the meaning is crystal clear in both the NKJV and the KJV versions.
That “obsolete” word “virtue” is replaced with “power” in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, 8:46! How does anybody confuse “virtue” with “power”?
The word ‘virtue’ in the KJV or ‘power’ in the NKJV comes from the word ‘dunamis’ which means, strength, power, or to exert or put forth. KJV only supporters often confused with the word virtue found in 2 Peter 1:5
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
In this passage, the word virtue comes from the Greek word, ‘arete’, which means moral goodness or purity. As you can see, virtue and power come from two completely different words and the NKJV accurately differentiates between the two. Power is an accurate translation of the word ‘dunamis’ found in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, and 8:46.
One of the most absurd changes ever made is changing the word “servant” to “slave”! The NKJV in Romans 6:22, reads: “But now having been set FREE from sin, and having become SLAVES OF GOD. . .” The NKJV, in 1 Corinthians 7:22, calls the Christian, “Christ’s slave”. Talk about a contradiction! John 8:36 says, “If the Son therefore shall make you FREE, YE SHALL BE FREE INDEED.”
I am sorry that many critics do not like to be called ‘slaves of God’ but this is what the Bible says. The word ‘slave’ is the word ‘douloo’ which means, to make a slave of, or to reduce to bondage. If you read 3 verses prior to the one in question, the Bible says,
19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
The comparison Paul is making is that you were once slaves of sin, but now you are slaves of righteousness. Remember, you were bought with a price and you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:20). The word ‘servant’ comes from the word ‘doulos’. It is a similar word and a similar meaning with one exception, doulos means to give ones self up for the will of another. In Matthew 25:21 Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
There is a very important principle to understand with the use of these two words in scripture. When you die to yourself and surrender yourself to Christ, by faith you receive salvation and the new life God has created for you. Your salvation and your life in Christ is a free gift but it was not without cost. When you lay down your life, you are willingly receiving citizenship in God’s kingdom and the commandments of God that come with it. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
Notice the principle here, you are rewarded if you fulfill your call willingly. You are then submitting yourself to the will of another – Jesus Christ. You are willingly making yourself a servant and will hear, “Well done, enter into the joy of your lord”. If you are unwilling, you are still required to obey. Why? You are bought with a price and you are not your own. You are still required to obey because you have been purchased by the shedding of God’s own blood. You do not have the right to disobey God’s commands or His calling. Anyone who lives in disobedience is in rebellion against God. Anyone who obeys grudgingly has only done their duty. However, the one who serves God cheerfully from their heart and obeys out of a love for God has a reward. Do not forget that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Obedience without love is merely duty.
In order to “harmonize” with the satanic New Age Movement (and of course the NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV!), the NKJV changes “end of the WORLD” to “end of the AGE”! And in it’s no longer the “WORLD to come” but “AGE to come”. The New Age Movement teaches a series of ages (hence the name: New AGE). See Matthew 12:32, 13:39, 13:40, 13:49, 24:3, 28:20, Mark 10:30, Luke 13:30, 20:34,35, 1 Cor 1:21.
This is quite a jump in logic. Using the word ‘age’ does not equate to the New Age. This is another example of using one English word to represent multiple Greek words. The word ‘world’ or ‘age’ in Matthew 12:32 is the Greek word, ‘aion’. The word ‘aion’ means, unbroken age or a period of time. Compare this to Matthew 4:
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
The word ‘world’ used here comes from the Greek word, ‘kosmos’. Kosmos means, arrangement of stars, the universe, or earth.
There is a distinct difference between these two words. Matthew 13:39 states “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.” The word age (or aion) is the age of rebellion. Satan is allowed a specific period of time in which to test and tempt mankind, but that time is limited and at the end of this age, God will reap the harvest and end the age of rebellion. Satan may have a claim over the kingdoms of this world (or kosmos), but that claim will end at the end of this age (or aion).
The comparison to occultism and the New Age serves no other purpose than to stir up emotions and manipulate others into thinking they are fighting a conspiracy.
And to REALLY show their sympathy with the satanic New Age Movement – BELIEVE IT OR NOT – in Acts 17:29 the New Age NKJV changes “Godhead” to “Divine Nature”! ( ditto NIV, NASV)
This is a self-condemning statement. If referring to the divine nature is evidence that the NKJV is succumbing to the satanic New Age movement, why does the KJV use the exact same phrase in 2 Peter 1:4?
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
If there were really a slandering of truth, it would be understandable for people to get upset. In each example given by KJV Only critics, if you reference the manuscript evidence they fall completely flat. Christianity should be putting their focus on teaching sound doctrine rather than desperately trying to conjure up hostility against those who don’t hold to traditions. Jesus even warned that we can nullify the commands of God by exalting traditions beyond rational bounds. We must be careful not to turn personal preference into a measurement of good and evil. Just because we don’t like something does not make it a sin. I know from past experiences that traditions die hard and can easily be mistaken for truth instead of preference.
Genesis 24:47: The “old” KJV reads: “I put the earring upon her face”. But the NKJV has different plans for beautiful Rebekah: “I put the nose ring on her nose”. Where did it get the ridiculous idea to “cannibalize” Rebekah? Just take a peek at the NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV!
I am not sure how a nose ring equals cannibalizing, but we will go to the text and see why there is a difference. In this passage, the word for earring / nose ring is ‘nexem’. The word nexem means, ring, nose ring, or earring. Both earring and nose ring are accurate to the Hebrew word, however if we examine the culture of Abraham and Isaac’s day, nose rings were common jewelry. Because of the study of this ancient culture, the NKJV and other translations selected nose ring as the most likely to be an accurate rendering of this word.
Note: in this example, regardless of translational preference (KJV or NKJV) the meaning has not changed and the account is not altered regardless of which type of jewelry you prefer.
Ezra 8:36: The KJV reads, “And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants. . .” The “much clearer” NKJV reads, “And they delivered the king’s orders to the king’s satraps. . .” Who in the world thinks “satraps” is “much clearer” than lieutenants?
Once again, it is unfortunate that many critics don’t like the word used in scripture, but satraps is accurate. The Hebrew word used here is ‘achashdarpan’, which means, satrap, a governor of a Persian province. A lieutenants is a generally referring to a military officer. This is a derivative of a Persian word referring to a political governor. This may not be clear, but if we are ‘being diligent to rightly divide the word of truth’ we will search out the meaning of unclear words.
Psalms 109:6: removes “Satan”. (NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV).
This is one of the many examples that show that many critics hunt for perceived faults, but never study the scriptures. Let’s read this passage in context. Psalm 109:
2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful Have opened against me; They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause.
4 In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer.
5 Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love.
6 Set a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is judged, let him be found guilty, And let his prayer become sin.
This passage is David’s prayer for God’s deliverance. Those who he thought were friends were actually deceivers. He showed them love, but they sought for an opportunity to destroy him. They stood beside him and became his false accusers, therefore, God will set a wicked judge over them and an accuser will stand by their side. When you compare verse 4 with verse 6, it becomes clear that either this KJV only critic is dishonest or has not bothered to study. The word ‘accusers’ in verse 4 is the exact same word ‘accuser’ in verse 6. Why didn’t the KJV translate the same word in both places? The name ‘Satan’ means accuser or adversary. On six different occasions the KJV ‘changes’ the word ‘Satan’ into the word ‘adversary’ or ‘adversaries’. The context of scripture makes it clear whether a passage is referring to the name of Satan or referring to an adversary or accuser. The context reveals which is the accurate translation and the context of this passage makes it clear that accuser is an accurate rendering of this word.
Matthew 7:14: change “narrow is the way” to “difficult is the way”. There’s nothing “difficult” about the salvation of Jesus Christ! Jesus says in Matt. 11:30, “For my yoke is EASY, and my burden is light.” THE EXACT OPPOSITE! Boy, you talk about a contradiction!
The word ‘narrow’ in this passage is the word ‘stenos’ which means, narrow or strait. Notice that this word is ‘strait’ not ‘straight’. A strait is a narrow path or a difficult situation. One dictionary definition reads,
Strait: A position of difficulty, perplexity, distress, or need. Often used in the plural: in desperate straits.
The word ‘difficult’ in this passage is the Greek word ‘thlibo’ which means, to press hard upon, to press (such as pressing grapes), trouble, afflict, distress. Jesus taught from the beginning that the Christian walk would not be easy. Paul said that we are pressed from every side. Jesus said that we will be persecuted, brought before judges and even killed for His name sake. Jesus said in Luke 19:23-24 that anyone who desires to follow Him must die to self, take up his cross and follow Me. The cross is a symbol of suffering. Consider these passages:
2 Corinthians 4:
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed —
18 ” If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
1 Peter 4:
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
There are many, many such passages that forewarn us that this life will not be easy. Does this contradict with Matthew 11:30, “for My yoke is easy and my burden is light”? Absolutely not. A yoke is a harness that binds two oxen or mules together. They can then pull as one unit to accomplish more. The symbolism is that we have surrendered ourselves to become a servant of Christ, yet we are not alone. We are yoked together with Christ. The work is ours to do, but He carries the bulk of the load. His work and His ways lift much of the burden off our shoulders as we learn to depend on Him. This does not mean that the Christian life is a cake walk, but it does comfort us to know that He carries our burdens.
Acts 12:4: change “Easter” to “Passover” (NIV, NASV, RSV, NRSV)
The word is ‘pacha’ or Passover. It refers to the day that the Israelites were set free from the bondage of Egypt. The Jews did not celebrate Easter and still do not celebrate Easter. Even the early church did not call it Easter during infant stage of the church.
2 Cor. 2:17: With all the “corruptions” in the NKJV, you’d expect 2 Cor. 2:17 to change. IT DOES! They change, “For we not as many which CORRUPT the word of God” to “For we are not, as so many, PEDDLING the word of God” (ditto NIV, NASV, NRSV, RSV)
The word ‘corrupt’ that is used in the KJV is the Greek word, ‘kapeleuo’ which means, to be a retailer, to peddle or to make money by selling. Bilking others in the name of God does indeed corrupt the word of God, but the accurate word is peddling.
Continue to note that in these examples, regardless of translational preference (KJV or NKJV) the doctrine has not changed and the intent of scripture, if taken in context with the whole of scripture is consistent across all of the literal translations.
2 Cor. 10:5: change “imaginations” to “arguments”. Considering New Age “imaging” and “visualization” is now entering the church, this verse in the “old” KJV just won’t do. (NIV, RSV)
These stretches in logic hurt the KJV only argument much more than they help. The word ‘imagination’ is not a dirty word nor is it sinful to user your imagination. Being a man of vision is not wrong nor is it wrong to stir a child’s imagination. Putting trust in your imagination or visualization as though it had power in itself is a form of idolatry, but using your mind to imagine or to visualize a plan is healthy and these skills are created by God and given to mankind for a purpose. Ideas or actions only become sin when they are taken outside of God’s intended design. The author of this argument is making a false claim that imaging is the same as the New Age movement’s doctrine of visualization. The word ‘imaginations’ in this passage in the KJV comes from the Greek word ‘logismos’ which means arguing and reasoning in a way that is hostile – in other words, arguing is such a way that conveys hostility toward Christianity. Arguments are an accurate rendering of this word.
Hebrews 4:8 & Acts 7:45: “Jesus” is changed to “Joshua”. (NIV, NASV, RSV)
This is yet another example of poorly studying a passage before jumping into an argument. This passage is an apostle using an Old Testament example to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. This passage is teaching that Joshua did not lead Israel into her rest but spoke of another day that would be fulfilled in Christ. Both Jesus and Joshua are translated from ‘lesous’ which is the word used here. If someone takes just a few minutes to look at both of these passages, they will clearly see that they both refer directly to Joshua and the time Israel inherited the Promised Land. Based on the context of the scriptures around it, this word is clearly translated into Joshua.
I am sure there are many, many more examples available to examine. However, if we take the time to study we will find that most disputes are due to tradition, personal preference in wording, and either dishonest or a lack of understanding concerning the manuscripts by which we receive our Bible. Let me stress again the importance of realizing that the differences rarely if ever alter doctrine. If we take the Bible as a complete revelation, the doctrine is never altered. If someone prefers the KJV, I would not intend to discourage them. Many scholars have thrived on the KJV and many scholars thrive on other literal translations. Keep in mind that the old time great preachers and teachers did not rely on the KJV itself, but they also took time and care to diligently study the intent of scripture. Charles Spurgeon spent 30 or more hours a week preparing sermons and researching the Hebrew and Greek meanings behind the English words. In our modern day, we are blessed with easy access to computerized concordances and other materials. I can do in a few hours what took scholars of old many hours to research.
We can know how to love God and understand His word without being scholars, however, we will miss so many rich treasures if we neglect to delve in deep and find the meanings of the text behind our translation.