THE GREAT OMISSION
If you are a "KJV-only" advocate and think that the King James Version is the only Word of God and that everything else is of the devil, then what you are about to read will be a shock to you.
Several years ago I went into a bookstore on the campus of a Bible School where the founder and pastor is a staunch King James-only advocate. There is a prominent sign near the entrance that asserts that they are 1611 King James Version adherents. This founder has preached and published writings that the 1611 KJV is the Word of God and even the Greek manuscripts can be corrected with it. Even some other KJV-only advocates teach that the translators of the 1611 KJV were inspired by God to precisely preserve the Word of God in the English language.
While browsing inside the bookstore, I asked a store clerk if they had any copies of the 1611 King James Bible for sale. He said they did not sell any. They only sold the ones that are readily available in any other Christian bookstore.
I already knew that the preface (as well as the Apocrypha) had been omitted from the copies available today. (I call this the Great Omission.) So, I ordered a copy from another source. I read the preface that was written by Miles Smith, one of the translators. I soon learned why that defender of the 1611 KJV doesn't sell copies of it in his bookstore.
What the translators themselves had to say in the preface to the 1611 version completely destroys the teaching that they were inspired by God as were the writers of the original manuscripts and that the King James Version is the only Word of God in the English language and all other versions are of the devil.
I visited a church more than twenty years ago in which the pastor was a staunch KJV-only advocate. He stood in front of the congregation holding up his Bible and said, "This is Jesus. I love Him," and passionately kissed his copy of the Bible several times.
I felt sorry for the poor fellow. He was a so-called "pastor" and did not know the difference between the real, living person of Jesus Christ and a translation of the written Word. Jesus is the Word, but He is not a written translation of the Word. Anyone who has been born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and has a close walk with Jesus knows what I am saying is true.
The Lord saved me in 1980, and not having any denominational or sectarian preference, I bought a copy of the New International Version (NIV). I read that copy so much over the next year that it fell apart. So I bought another copy and studied it and read through it several times over the next four years.
God used that not-so-literal translation (which some Christians denounce as being of the devil) to teach me all of the basic fundamentals of the faith. If that translation was of the devil, then why have I had a close walk with Jesus for all these years, and why do I accept and teach much more conservatively than even the KJV-only advocates? (This can be readily seen in the more than 100 tracts, articles and booklets that I have written.)
The King James Version is used by me for more than 90% of the quotations in my writings and preaching. There is not a more beautifully written translation that I know of in the English language. (And I have read several.) But, dearly beloved, the teaching that the KJV is the only Word of God is false. I am in agreement with what the translators of the KJV said themselves in the preface of the 1611 edition concerning this matter.
Beloved, the truth will make you free. If you have made this time-honored translation of the Holy Scriptures an idol, then you can be set free from your idolatry. May Jesus Christ be glorified. Amen.
First, it is necessary to understand that at the time of the writing of the 1611 King James Version there were already several English translations in existence and being used in England, America and other countries. Some of these were Wycliffe (1380), Tyndale (1525-30), Coverdale (1535), Matthew's Bible (1537), Great Bible (1540), Geneva Bible (1560), and Bishop's Bible (1568).
Second, if you believe that the KJV is the Word of God and everything else is of the devil, then my challenge to you is to live it! If Christians would apply the truths that can be gleaned from even a loose paraphrase like The Living Bible (and I don't read it or recommend it), then they would be miles ahead of 99% of the Christians in this country, including the KJV-only advocates.
The following points were made in the preface of the 1611 King James Version titled The Translators To The Reader. (I changed archaic spelling to be more in conformity to the present-day King James Version that is so widely used):
1. Understandable translations are needed.
"Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which means the flocks of Laban were watered. Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue [language of the common people], the unlearned are but like children at Jacob's well (which was deep) without a bucket or something to draw with...."
2. The Septuagint prepared the way for Jesus, even though it was not perfect.
"When the fullness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world...it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of...Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek....This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching....""It is certain that that translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostle-like men? Yet it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient), rather than by making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church...."
3. No condemnation of other translations.
"...We are so far off from condemning any of their labors that prevailed before us [previous translators of previous versions] in this kind, either in this land or beyond sea, either in King Henry's time, or King Edward's (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation in his time) or Queen Elizabeth's of ever-renowned memory, that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God, for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserve to be had of us and of posterity in everlasting remembrance."
4. Even ignoble translations are the Word of God.
"...We do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest [most common, lowest quality] translation of the Bible in English...containeth the Word of God, nay, is the Word of God."
5. An imperfect translation is the Word.
"No cause therefore why the Word translated should be denied to be the Word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it."
6. The faulty Septuagint was used by the apostles.
"The translation of the Seventy [Septuagint] dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither does it come near it, for perspicuity, gratuity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it (as it is apparent, and as Saint Jerome and most learned men do confess), which they would not have done, nor by their example of using it, so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the Word of God."
7. A defense of many changes and corrections in the making of the 1611 KJV.
"...We must answer a third cavil and objection of theirs [the KJV's translators' contemporary critics] against us, for altering and amending our translations so oft....For to whom ever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?"
8. The purpose of the King James Version was to make one good out of many good ones.
"Truly (good Christian reader) we never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one...but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one...."
9. A defense of adding marginal notes. [The 1611 original had numerous marginal notes that offer different possible translations of words or phrases.]
"Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, less the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that shew of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be so sound in this point....It hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain), but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence....Variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is not so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded."
10. Not in bondage to words.
"Another thing we think good to admonish thee of (gentle reader) that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way....For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? Why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously?....We have...avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old ecclesiastical words, and betake them to other, as when they put washing for baptism, and congregation instead of church...."
Following is my reply to a Christian who is a KJV-only advocate:
I bought a copy of G. A. Riplinger's book several years ago. I read enough of it to determine that it is unreliable.
The article I wrote on the KJV is a clear refutation of your arguments. Apparently you did not carefully read it.
I have a copy of the original 1611 KJV and have found that almost none of the KJV-only advocates use the original version, they use a version that has many corrections made to it, in addition to the omission of the entire Apocrypha (which, of course, is not part of the Scriptures, even though the KJV translators included it).
I don't have anymore to say about this except the following:
1. The vast majority of KJV-only advocates that I have met over the past 25 years are as carnal as a billy goat.
2. The vast majority of the KJV-only advocates that I have met over the past 25 years do not apply much of the clear teaching of the New Testament to their life.
3. If most KJV-only advocates read the Preface written by one of the translators of the 1611 version (which has been omitted in recent editions of the KJV), and were intelligent, rational and honest, they would abandon their false claim that the KJV is the only Word of God in the English language.
4. If you believe the KJV is the only Word of God in the English language (contrary to the claims of the KJV translators) then live it.
May the Lord richly bless you with spiritual blessings.
In Christ Jesus,