On Defending the KJV

I love the King James Bible. I’ve used it my entire life and do not plan on changing. There is so much about it to love: the majestic flow, the time-honored phrasing, and much else. However, I feel that much of the reasoning for and against using the KJV can be quite absurd.

So, here I would like to examine some of these arguments and test their soundness.

Some Poor Arguments for the KJV

1. The KJV is not copyrighted

Actually, it is. Just depends on where you are at. In the United States it is considered public domain. In the United Kingdom, however, it is technically copyrighted. The rights to printing and publishing the KJV are held by the Crown.

I will add here that I personally would feel better about modern translation attempts if they would make their work public domain. I realize there are costs involved in creating a Bible translation but if the goal is producing a better translation of God’s Word why would anyone add restrictions to its use and propagation?

2. Thousands of changes in other translations

It is a common tactic in arguments to use very large numbers to impress a point without justifying the number. My response would be that you need to produce this list. Many of these “thousands” of changes are no very substantive, such as Ye to You or maybe a The to an A.

Another issue with this argument is that it is based on a foundation that will not be agreed on by both sides. It is based on the assumption that the KJV is superior. Someone who is critical of the KJV can simply dismiss this argument by stating that thousands of changes were necessary.

3. Attacking Westcott and Hort

Who cares? These attacks are very dated and really have no bearing on modern translations. Poor texts and translations predate Westcott and Hort and they are not necessarily seen as giants in the field today.

4. Other languages need the KJV

No, people who speak Spanish, Swahili, or any other language do not need the KJV. They need a Bible faithfully and accurately translated into their own language. Using the underlying principles of translation that the KJV translators used is fine, but the source of the translation should not be an English translation. It has to go back and be based on the Greek and Hebrew texts for accuracy.

5. KJV is required for Salvation, Revival, etc.

This is one of the most absurd arguments you will hear. Did no one get saved before 1611? Must you speak English to have a revival?

Is your faith in God or His Book? You cannot have His Book without Him. He is greater. Now, we know Him and His will through His Book, but we must remember that we worship God and not a book. Don’t allow the Bible to come before the God Who gave you His Word.


Some Poor Arguments against the KJV

1. Their are better alternatives to the KJV

This is a biased opinion and cannot be proven empirically. You may try to support this with facts or studies but it boils down to a personal opinion. Not a sound argument and comes off as elitist.

2. The language is archaic, dated, difficult to understand, etc.

Granted, the language of the KJV is not something that is spoken on the average street corner. There are words (“milch kine” for example) that would be quite different in modern English.

However, the language is a large part of the beauty of the KJV. The rhythm and flow of the words and phrases are closer to Shakespeare that they are to Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton or J.K. Rowling. We all run across a new word in an article or book that we have to look up the definition to. That reading the Bible could require a specialized vocabulary is not something that may be avoided as there are specialized words with theological meanings. I don’t see the issue in adding a few more words to that list.

3. There are better manuscripts that are available now that weren’t available in 1611.

I think there are two theories about finding purity. One is to seek it at the source as close to that as possible. The other is to test and purify the substance. I illustrate this by asking where the purest water is found: is it at the source before it may be contaminated or after it has been filtered and any contaminants removed? It depends. Leaning on ancient manuscripts is like trying to go back as close to the source as possible. Trusting in the Textus Receptus and Masoretic Text is like trusting something that has been filtered and processed over time.

The attempts to rewrite Scripture and Christian history based on fragmentary manuscript evidence is almost laughable at times. The so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” made headlines a few years ago. A piece of papyrus the size of a business card excited conspiracy theorists with the possibility that Christianity had covered up that Jesus was married. After further vetting it was uncovered it is likely a forgery. I bring this story up as an extreme example of using fragmentary evidence is used to rewrite overwhelming evidence.

The Textus Receptus and Masoretic Text that the KJV is based on were made from attempts to see the available texts and find a standard. They were made to reflect the text that the Jews and Christians felt was a pure text.

Sometimes the Dead Sea Scrolls come up in this line of argument. There are two ways of looking at more recent find like this compared to the accepted body of thought. One is focus on small differences that may exist from those first century scrolls to the text we use today and assuming those small differences found are more accurate than every other texts we have available. The other is is to focus on how well the vast majority of the text we have matches the those first century scroll and assume that the small differences are variants that are not authoritative. It is a matter of perspective and rarely is there any balance found in those that engage in arguing in this arena.

4. Which KJV? 1611? 1629? 1762? 1769?

At it root, this is reflecting an attack made against other versions. The NIV for example has undergone several revisions. You will see copyright notices noting major changes in 1978, 1984, and 2011. Fans of the KJV like to poke fun at this by showing the ever-shifting language and often controversial changes made each time. KJV opponents won’t see an issue with a continually changing and updating text but like to deflect this argument back because many KJV users are ignorant or sensitive to this charge.

There were minor changes made to the KJV, some of which were simply printing errors. Many spelling updates were made also, including famously incorporating the letter J in the 1629 revision. Almost none of these are substantive, especially compared to revisions made to other translations.

5. It is not the language of the common man

The definition that needs to be made in this argument is what exactly the common man’s language is. What age group? What region? What education level? Spoken or written?

It is common to read a higher level of language than is spoken. Better attention is paid to syntax and structure when writing. Transcripts often do not read as well as the oral communication that was originally delivered.

Is the KJV in the language of the average reader? No, and no translation will be because language is constantly shifting and evolving. The case can be made that the being in a higher or older form of English further cements the meaning and understanding of the words.

I think the better question is, “Is the KJV understandable?”. The answer to that is affirmative.

6. You need to know the original languages to understand the Scriptures.

Not exactly a KJV issue but it often comes up in these conversations. The goal of any translation should be to put the words of scripture into another language that can be fully understood without constantly checking back to Greek or Hebrew.

Is studying the original languages profitable? Yes. Necessary? Should not be.

7. There is no perfect translation

So why criticize the KJV? Oh, you just want to aggravate KJV users…

8. Why don’t other languages have KJV-like translations?

The English language is blessed to have a masterpiece such as the KJV. Other languages, such as Spanish, have struggled with having a reliable translation.

I believe the existence of the KJV is an example of God’s providence. English has been the dominant business language of the world for maybe 200 years. Children in schools across the globe learn English as a second language because it opens so many opportunities. God knew the how widely used the English language would be in our time and so provided a reliable, beautiful translation.

9. We need a another/better English translation.

I did some research. There are around 7,000 languages in the world. 3,300 have at least a portion of the Bible translated into them. About 1,500 have a complete New Testament and only 700 have a complete Bible. As far as I can tell, there are more English translations of the Bible than in any other language. The numbers I found cited were that English has about 450 translations, French has about 50, Spanish has about 50, and Russian has about 20.

When 90% of the world’s languages lack a complete Bible, it is a very poor use of our time to add to the piles of English Bibles.

My suspicion is that many of the modern translations are born out of arrogance or financial concerns. It is arrogant to say that no one before or present can produce a better translation and therefore only these particular translators have proper understanding to do it correctly. As far as finances go, I do not believe every new translation is a cash grab, but I have heard how profitable Bible translations are and how it helps large publishing companies to have their own in-house translations they can use freely in their own works.

Prophecies Concerning Christ

Photo Credit – Pixabay

Recently, I preached a sermon titled “It Is Written” from Matthew 2:1-12 in which I highlighted a few of the many prophecies concerning Christ’s Birth, Sacrifice, and Second Coming. I wanted to make that information more readily available, especially since I know it is difficult to keep up with taking notes or finding the passages when so many are used in a sermon. I have expanded the list somewhat from what was covered in that sermon but it is by no means exhaustive. Those that have tried to find all the Messianic prophecies often number them to be more than three hundred. – MBG


Prophecies Concerning the Birth of Christ

ProphecyVerseNote
Virgin BirthGenesis 3:15The first prophecy concerning Christ’s coming. Note that He is described as the seed or descendant of a woman.
Virgin BirthIsaiah 7:14
DivinityIsaiah 9:6 Immanuel means “God with us”.
Descendant of AbrahamGenesis 22:18Paul states in Galatians 3:8-9 that the “seed” here is Christ.
Descendant of JacobNumbers 24:17
Descendant of JudahGenesis 49:10Meaning also He was of the tribe of Judah
Descendant of JesseIsaiah 11:1Jesse, father of king David
Descendant of DavidJeremiah 23:5-6
Born in BethlehemMicah 5:2Quoted in Matthew 2:5-6
Appearance of StarNumbers 24:17
Gifts from the MagiIsaiah 60:6
Slaughter of the InnocentsJeremiah 31:15Herod’s heinous act is tied to this prophecy in Matthew 2:18
Sojourn in EgyptHosea 11:1Quoted in Matthew 2:15
Living in NazarethIsiah 11:1Quoted in Matthew 2:23. Nazareth means “branch”

Prophecies Concerning the Ministry, Death, and Resurrection of Christ

ProphecyVerseNote
Date of Death PredictedDaniel 9:24-2769 weeks or 483 years from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to Messiah being “cut off”.
Preceded by a ForerunnerMalachi 3:1John the Baptist
Ministry in GalileeIsaiah 9:1
Perform MiraclesIsaiah 35:5-6
Preaching and HealingIsaiah 61:1Christ applies this to Himself in Luke 4:17-21
Rejected by IsraelIsiah 53:2-3
Riding on DonkeyZechariah 9:9
Betrayed for 30 Pieces of SilverZechariah 11:12The value of a slave – Exodus 21:32
Betrayed by a FriendZechariah 13:6
Disciples ScatteredZechariah 13:7
Silent Before His AccusersIsiah 53:7
MockedPsalm 22:7-8
BeatenIsaiah 50:6
CrucifixionPsalm 22:14-17Note vs. 16 – “they pierced my hands and my feet”. Jewish executions were traditionally stoning so this is a remarkable detail.
PiercedZechariah 12:10
Mocked by the CrowdPsalm 22:6-8
ThirstPsalm 22:15
Offered Gall and VinegarPsalm 69:21
Gambling for GarmentsPsalm 22:18
Bones Not BrokenPsalm 34:20
Buried in Rich Man’s TombIsaiah 53:9
ResurrectionPsalm 16:10Used by Peter in Acts 2:27
Salvation Through His SacrificeIsaiah 53:3-6,10-11
Ascension to HeavenPsalm 110:1Used by Peter in Acts 22:33-35
Promise to ReturnJohn 14:1-4

Prophecies Concerning Christ’s Second Coming

ProphecyVerseNote
Will ReturnActs 1:10-11
No One Knows the TimeMatthew 24:36, 42
Dark Times Preceding HIs ReturnMatthew 24:3-14
The RaptureI Thessalonians 4:16-17
Judgement of Believers2 Corinthians 5:10
Return at ArmageddonRevelation 19:11-16
Returning with His SaintsJude 14-15
Returning with AngelsII Thessalonians 1:7
Returning in CloudsMark 14:62I believe the clouds are the shekinah glory
Return to Mount of OlivesZechariah 14:4
Will Rule and ReignIsaiah 9:6-7Note especially verse 7. The details concerning His government were not fulfilled in this First Coming and must refer to His Second Coming.
Will Reign Over All MenZechariah 14:9
Will Reign Over All EarthPsalm 72:8
Millennial Kingdom Revelation 20:1-6Note that it lasts for 1,000 years
Will Judge and RewardRevelation 22:12

Regarding II Chronicles 7:14

Image by SEspider from Pixabay

If we are not careful we can easily misinterpret the Scriptures. One of the easiest ways this happens is by ignoring Scriptural or historical context. This happens often when we focus on a verse or phrase that can have a different meaning when removed from that context.

A perfect example of this is the use among America Christians of II Chronicles 7:14. This verse is printed on posters, shirts, and coffee mugs in any Christian store you walk into. It will be preached on and quoted as a Biblical command that if America would get right with God then He could bless America like He did in the “good ol’ days”.

But is that the true teaching of the verse? I believe if we would examine this verse in its proper context we will see its primary application does not correspond to America at all.

Context

To get a feel for the context of II Chronicles 7:14 we can get a good feel for the context by looking at the events leading up to it. We can trace this by looking at the the preceding chapters of II Chronicles.

  • Chapter 1 – the early reign of Solomon, includes God appearing to Solomon in Gideon when Solomon asked for and received wisdom.
  • Chapter 2 – preparation for building the Temple
  • Chapter 3 – The construction of the Temple
  • Chapter 4 – The making of the furniture and implements for the Temple
  • Chapter 5 – Beginning the dedication of the Temple
  • Chapter 6 – Solomon’s address and prayer at the dedication of the Temple
  • Chapter 7 – Ending the dedication of the Temple, followed by God’s second appearance to Solomon.

So we see that after the construction and dedication of the Temple, God appears to Solomon and speaks in chapter 7 from verses 12 to 22. What is the purpose of the message of this passage? God Himself tells us in vs 12: “I have heard thy prayer”. What prayer? The prayer of Solomon in chapter 6. For what purpose? The dedication of the Temple, as God also says in vs. 12: “and [I] have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice”.

So the passage begins as a response to the dedicatory prayer of Solomon in chapter 6. Here let’s look at a remarkable feature of the next verse of chapter 7 is that they are largely God expressing His response to Solomon’s prayer by practically quoting it:

God in chapter 7

Solomon in chapter 6

“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain,…” – 7:13

“…when the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain,…” – 6:26

“…or if I command the locusts to devour the land,…” – 7:13

“…if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers;…” – 6:28

“…or if I send pestilence among my people;” – 7:13

“…if there be pestilence,…” – 6:28

“If my people, which are called by my name,…” – 7:14

Solomon refers to Israel as as “thy people” or as “thy people Israel” a total of ten times in his prayer.

“…shall humble themselves,…” – 7:14

This phrase has no parallel to chapter 6 in letter but does in spirit.

“…and pray,…” – 7:14

“…if they pray…” – 6:26

“…and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;…” – 7:14

“…if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin,…” – 6:26

“…then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,…” – 7:14

“Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants,…” – 6:27

“…and will heal their land.” – 7:14

“…send rain upon thy land,…” – 6:27

“Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.” – 7:15

“Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. ” – 6:40

Verse 16 finishes the first section of God’s message to Solomon with the promise concerning God’s dedication to the Temple: “For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. “

The final six verses of chapter 7 are God reaffirming the Davidic Covenant with Solomon. That details of that covenant can be found in II Samuel 7:1-12.

To summarize, the surrounding passage of II Chronicles 7:14 is about God responding to King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

  • Who is God addressing in this passage? Solomon.
  • What is God responding to? The dedication of the Temple and Solomon’s dedicatory prayer.
  • Who is the “my people” of 7:14? Israel.
  • Where is the land that God promises to heal in 7:14? The Promised Land.
  • What is that land healed from? The drought, famine, pestilence, etc., that God would send to bring Israel out of their sin and back to Him.

Can these verses apply to America?

In their primary application, no. These verses are clearly linked to Israel. They are not addressed to the church or America.

Why then do we see it so often as a patriotic promise in America? Largely through lazy application of the Scriptures and the commercialization and politicization of Christianity in America.

I see something similar in the use of Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD”. Note that it does not say, “if a nation has God then it is blessed.” It is not a conditional statement at all. It is acknowledging the fact that there exists a people or nation that was chosen by God. This is amplified in the rarely quoted second half of the verse: “…and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” What nation was chosen by God in the days of the writing of the Psalms? Israel.

Another reason this verse may be misinterpreted is through the use of Replacement Theology. This false teaching holds that God has replaced Israel in His plan and promises with either Christianity or another nation such as Britain or America.

Can we still learn from these verses?

Absolutely! Paul wrote in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Though II Chronicles 7:14 was not addressed to us we can still find countless truths in it that can find applicable in our lives.

Here’s a few examples of some truths we can apply from this passage:

When sin caused Israel to turn away from God they were commanded to repent and seek Him. We too are commanded to repent of our sin and seek God, first in our salvation and then when we backslide in our relationship with God.

II Chronicles 7:14 begins with the word “if” which makes it a conditional statement. If man would repent, then God will respond.

Note that God said “my people” needed to get right with Him. Not the wicked. Not the Edomites, Jebusites, Amalekites, or any other nation. If only we applied this today! We try to get everyone else to repent but ourselves!

God doesn’t just seek for us to perform the actions or repentance or service to Him. It is our heart that needs to be affected. It is not enough to speak words in prayer or to flee from wickedness. He wants us to humble ourselves. That is not an action, it is an attitude.