OBJECTIONS TO THE
NEW KING JAMES VERSION CONSIDERED
Written by Ron Hutchison

Anyone who has done any reading concerning Bible translations knows that there is an ongoing debate between some who use the King James Version and some who use modern versions of the Bible. There are some who advocate a "King James Only" position. That is, they believe the only faithful translation of God's word is the King James Version of 1611. Thus, they reject every other translation. There especially seems to be objection by the "King James Only" folks to the New King James Bible.  The King James Only folks leave the impression in their writings that if you use a version other than the King James Version (including the New King James Version), you are a heretic and a modernist and not worthy of the fellowship of God's people.

As I write this article I want to assure the reader that I respect the King James Version. I used it in my preaching and teaching for 20 plus years. However, we must face the fact that the King James Version is not perfect just as all other English translations available to us today are not perfect. For the past ten years or so I have done most of my preaching and teaching from the New King James Bible, but  I still teach and preach the same gospel that I have for the past thirty plus years. I will admit that the New King James Bible is not perfect. There are areas where it is not as accurate as the KJV and that will be pointed out in this article.  However, there are many places where improvement has been made over the KJV in accuracy and understandability. I also want to make clear that I am not defending those renderings in the NKJV that are not in harmony with the original Hebrew/Greek, just as I do not defend the KJV or any other English translation in the places where they are not in harmony with the original Hebrew/Greek.  As I said before, every translation in the English language is imperfect in some way because they are produced by imperfect people. The fact is, we must learn where these translations differ from the original language and deal with them as best we can. But we must guard against binding where God has not bound in trying to bind one English translation upon everyone.    

We all realize that the English language has changed since the last revision of the King James Bible in 1769. In order for God's word to be understandable to people in their own language, translations and revisions of translations [updating of the language and changes made because of a better understanding of the original languages and new discoveries in other fields such as archeology] may be needed from time to time.  Not only is there a need for accurate revisions of present translations, but in this writer's opinion an accurate translation directly from the Hebrew and Greek would be of great help to the world today.

I have been using the New King James Version for study and purposes of comparison with the King James and the American Standard Version since it first came out. I originally purchased the New Testament because I was in the process of preparing sermons on the version issue. When the New King James Version came out I thought that it would probably have some of the same problems that all of the other new versions that I had been studying had. Thus, my original intention was to review it and point out the errors in it. However, the more I reviewed it the more I found that it was a good translation. It corrected some of the problems the King James Version has and updated the language and sentence structure so it is easier to understand. It is certainly not a perfect translation, but no translation is perfect, including the King James Version of 1611/1769. They are imperfect because they are translated by imperfect men.

One thing I would like to point out is that I have found that some of the objections to the New King James Version are not objections concerning mistranslation, but objections due to tradition. "It just doesn't sound right, so I'm going to stick with the King James," some say. If one desires to "stick with the King James" I certainly have no objection to that. The King James Version has certainly proved itself to be reliable concerning the plan of salvation and how to live the Christian life. But to say "I'm going to stick to the King James Version" and then to say "YOU must stick to the King James Version or I'm not going to fellowship you" are two different things. I would simply ask, does the Bible teach that we can bind one translation on everyone and choose not to fellowship a person if he doesn't use that translation? There is a difference between using a reliable, yet imperfect translation (which all folks who use the King James Version do) and using an unreliable translation that teaches false doctrine [for example, compare the New International Version's Calvinist renderings, e.g. "sinful nature" etc...].

There have been objections presented concerning the New King James Version. Some of them are legitimate and need to be considered in future revisions. However, many of the objections are invalid and based on tradition, on what a person likes, a misunderstanding of what the original words really mean, or a misunderstanding that words have changed meaning. So, I have undertaken the task of reviewing these objections and considering whether they are valid.
 

Objections Considered

Objection 1: That copyright. Once again men with good intentions have done a very bad thing. To place a "copyright" upon God's word is unacceptable in our opinion...This is a sad arrangement made between the translators and publishers. The translators needed money for the work and instead of doing things God's way and allowing for free will offerings from God's people to cover their needs, they solicited money from a publishing house who, in turn, required copyright control over the use and sale of the translation.

Answer: What does this have to do with the accuracy of the NKJV or whether one should use it? This is personal opinion (as the objector admits) and in my personal opinion not worthy of consideration as an objection to the NKJV.


Objection 2: There are some very bad changes made to the text. For example, the King James reading of Genesis 2:7 says, "Man became a living soul." The New King James changes this to "Man became a living being." Hebrew scholarship gives sufficient reason for leaving the word "soul" in the text. But more importantly it is definitely better doctrine to teach that man became a living soul since that is what differentiates man from beast. Fish are living beings. Monkeys are living beings. But man is a living soul.

Answer: The Hebrew word translated "soul" in the KJV and "being" in the NKJV is nephesh. According to Strong it means, "a breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstract) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):--any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature. . . ." The KJV translates this word as "creature" (Gen. 1:21, 24; 2:19 and other passages where it is actually speaking of animals), "life" (Gen. 9:4,5 and other passages), persons (Gen. 14:21), mind (Gen. 23:8) etc... It is used of the whole person in many places." According to the above definitions, the rendering in the NKJV is not a mistranslation. The Bible points out the differences in men and animals in many other passages (cf. Gen. 1:26-27 etc....) In an article entitled The Origin of the Soul, Bert Thompson and Eric Lyons state:

"Biblical teaching regarding man acknowledges that he is composed of two distinct parts--the physical and the spiritual. We get an introduction to the origin of the physical portion as early as Genesis 2:7 when the text states: 'Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (nephesh chayyah).' It is important to recognize both what this passage is discussing and what it is not. Genesis 2:7 is teaching that man was given physical life; it is not teaching that man was instilled with an immortal nature. The variety of terms employed in our English translations has caused some confusion as to the exact meaning of the phrase 'living soul' or 'living being.' Some have suggested, for example, that Genesis 2:7 is speaking specifically of man's receiving his immortal soul or spirit. This is not the case, however, as a closer examination of the immediate and remote contexts clearly indicates. For example, the apostle Paul quoted Genesis 2:7 in 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 when he wrote: 'If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living soul.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.' The comparison/contrast offered by the apostle between the first Adam's 'natural body' and the last Adam (Christ) as a 'life-giving spirit' is absolutely critical to an understanding of Paul's central message (and the theme of the great 'resurrection chapter' of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15), and must not be overlooked in any examination of Moses' statement in Genesis 2:7."

In light of the teaching in 1 Corinthians 15 and the context of Genesis 2, there is no doubt in my mind that the NKJV is correct in its rendering. I would ask the objector what evidence he has that "Hebrew scholarship gives sufficient reason for leaving the word 'soul' in the text." I would be glad to consider any evidence he may have.

 

Objection 3: Footnotes like that of Daniel 3:25 provide some terrible information that can leave the undiscerning Bible student with great doubts. In this text, Nebuchadnezzar admits to seeing four men in the fiery furnace, though only three had been thrown in. The King James records his statement that the fourth looked like, "the Son of God." But the New King James footnote says that he actually might have said that the fourth looked like, "a son of the gods." This is terrible.

Answer: Nebuchadnezzar, being a pagan and a worshiper of many false gods and not knowing the One true God may have said "a son of the gods." Notice the following statement:

"The Chaldeans believed in families of gods: Bel, the supreme god, accompanied by the goddess Mylitta, being the father of the gods; thus the expression he meant: one sprung from and sent by the gods" (Commentary on Genesis, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown).

Knowing something of the background of the religious beliefs of the Chaldeans, one can see how Nebuchadnezzar may have come to the conclusion that the NKJV footnote records. But be that as it may, the alternate reading is not in the text of the NKJV.

 

Objection 4: One such little error is found in the John 4:24 reading of the New King James Bible. The King James correctly says, "God is a Spirit." The New King James makes the little change of dropping the article "a" and reads, "God is Spirit." This, again, is terribly wrong. God is A Spirit. To say "God is Spirit" is to lend oneself to pantheistic theology that "God is all and all is God".

Answer: The Greek simply says, "spirit the God." The word could be rendered "a spirit" or simply "spirit." I don't understand how the NKJV translation of this phrase "lends oneself to pantheistic theology." The verse is simply stating the nature of God - He is spirit rather than flesh.

 

Objection 5: We refer the reader to other bad changes such as removing the commandment to "study" from 2 Timothy 2:15. How many millions of Christians were reared on "Study to shew thyself approved unto God.."? The New King James dilutes this to, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God." Why? Why change such a precious Bible verse and water it down like that? We are truly at a loss for words when we see such careless disregard for precious and meaningful verses like this.

Answer: The NKJV is correct in its rendering of this word. The Greek word is "spoude" and means: "to use speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest:--do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavor, labor... (Strong)." Vine says it means, "earnestness, zeal," or sometimes "the haste accompanying this," Mark 6:25; Luke 1:39, is translated "diligence" in Rom 12:8; in Rom 12:11, AV, "business" (RV, "diligence"); in 2 Cor 8:7, AV, "diligence," RV, "earnestness;" both have "diligence" in Heb 6:11; 2 Pet 1:5; Jude 1:3; in 2 Cor 7:11,12, RV, "earnest care," AV, "carefulness," and "care." This translation does not "water down" but rather corrects the KJV rendering. In 1611 the word "study" may have meant "be diligent" but it no longer carries this idea today. The need to study the Scriptures can be gleaned from other passages as well as the fact that we are charged in this verse to "rightly divide the Scriptures" showing the need to study the Scriptures. One can hardly "rightly divide the Scriptures" if he does not know them. And one cannot know the Scriptures if he does not study them.

 

Objection 6: The NKJV does not use the solemn forms of "thee," "thou," "thy," and "thine" in reference to God. The use of "you" and "your" brings God down to man's level.

Answer: The conclusion stated in the last sentence simply is not valid. If not using "thee," "thou," etc... in reference to God brings God down to man's level, then why doesn't using "thee," "thou," etc... in reference to man and even to Satan bring man and Satan up to God's level? The so-called solemn forms of pronouns are used in the King James Version in reference not only to God but to man and Satan. Read Luke 4:8 for example. Here the King James Version has Jesus using the word "thee" in reference to Satan.  Surely if not using these so-called solemn forms of pronouns in reference to God brings God down to man's level, then using them in reference to Satan puts Satan up on God's level. The fact is, that the Greek makes no difference and uses the common pronoun in reference to God, Satan and man. It is binding where God has not bound to insist that a translation use the so-called solemn forms of pronouns to indicate respect and reverence for God.

While the words "thee," "thou," "thy," and "thine," do not show reverence, they do clarify some passages as to who is being spoken about or who is being spoken to. The words "thee" and "thou" are second person singular pronouns and the words "ye" and "you" are second person plural pronouns. I read somewhere (I don't have the exact source before me) that the King James translators did not use these words because they were in common use in their day, but because it allowed them to be more accurate and exact in their translation of God's word.  While it is apparent in the Hebrew and Greek language when second person singular/plural pronouns are used, it is not apparent in  modern English. Let me give one example: In John 3 we have the record of Nicodemus coming to Jesus and Jesus teaching him about the necessity of the new birth.  In verse three Jesus told him, "...unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (NKJV).  Nicodemus did not understand the new birth, so Jesus explains it further in verse 5.  Now notice what Jesus said in verse seven: "Do not marvel that I said to you. 'You must be born again'" (NKJV).  Since modern English does not make a distinction in the second person singular/plural pronoun using the word "you" for both, there is something that can be easily missed in this passage. The first "you" in verse seven is singular, indicating that Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. The second "you" is plural, indicating that Jesus is not just saying that only Nicodemus must be born again but that all people must be born again in order to enter into the kingdom.  The KJV, in using thee and ye makes it clear who is being spoken to and who is being spoken about.  It says, "Marvel not that I said unto thee (singular), Ye (plural) must be born again." The rule in old English is this: when a pronoun begins with "t" it is singular. When it begins with "y" it is plural.  Thus, the distinction in the Greek language is carried over into the rendering of the KJV and there is no doubt who is being spoken to and who is being spoken about. I have not checked every passage where the second person plural/singular are used to see if the KJV is consistent in it's renderings, but I suspect it is consistent.

The way people determine the difference between the second person singular and the second person plural in modern English is by context.  When one studies his Bible he is usually able to tell by the context or by the general teaching of the Bible concerning the same subject whether the singular or plural is being used. For example, when one reads the context of John three in the NKJV, it is not hard to determine that Jesus is teaching that all people must be born again.  Look at verses 3 and 5 and the phrase, "one must be born again."  He did not say, "YOU must be born again" only talking about Nicodemus, but "ONE must be born again."  So, we know from the context that in order to enter the kingdom one (anyone) must be born again. However, it is not always this easy to determine from the context when the singular/plural personal pronoun is being used. Look at Exodus 16:28: "And the LORD said to Moses, how long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws." The word "you" is plural. If one did not know this, he may conclude that God is speaking only to Moses. The plural shows that God was addressing the people of Israel rather than Moses alone. However, even in Exodus 16 when one reads the context, he may be able to determine that God is addressing the people of Israel (see verse 29 where it is clear that God is addressing the people of Israel. Did God just give the Sabbath to Moses or to all the Israelites?). 

You will have to determine for yourself if making the distinction between second person plural/singular pronouns is good reason to reject the NKJV and use the KJV. I will say that in all my years of preaching (30+) I don't remember this coming up in a Bible class or being ask about those passages that are usually pointed out by the KJV only people to be impossible to understand without the ye and thee of the KJV.  I also do not know how many people who use the KJV realize the significance of "thee" and "ye." Yet, through all these years, people have studied their KJV Bibles and have become and continue to be faithful Christians despite this lack of knowledge.  If it is true that one can become a Christian and live the Christian life without understanding the significance of "thee" and "ye" in the KJV, then it is also true that one can become  a Christian and live a faithful Christian life using a translation that does not make the distinction between second person singular/plural pronouns.

If you decide to use only the KJV because it may be more accurate in it's renderings of personal pronouns, you need to study your Bible and see if it authorizes you to withdraw fellowship from everyone who does not make that same choice.

Since all translations are imperfect, one often has to weigh accuracy in one area against accuracy in another area.  As can be seen in this study, the NKJV is more accurate in some areas and the KJV is more accurate in others. Is it better to use a translation that shows the difference between second person plural and second person singular pronouns, or is it better to use a translation that corrects mistranslation and updates sentence structure and language so that passages are rendered correctly and made more understandable?  Each person will have to answer this question for themselves.  Whatever your answer, please consider seriously whether or not the Bible gives you authority to withdraw fellowship from everyone who does not make the same decision you do.

 

Objection 7: The Greek word porneia is translated "sexual immorality" instead of "fornication" in some places and is translated "fornication" in other places. This is inconsistent. The term "sexual immorality" is not specific enough.

Answer: I agree with this point. Certainly there should be consistency in translating the word porneia. However, when I think of sexual immorality I do think of all kinds of unlawful sexual intercourse which is what the word porneia means. However, those less familiar with the Bible might not come to that conclusion. I do not believe this is such a terrible translation that one should reject the translation as a whole but one would hope that the word would be translated as "fornication" or perhaps "unlawful sexual intercourse" in a future revision.

 

Objection 8: Why change mansions in John 14:2 of the KJV to dwelling places in the NKJV?

Answer: The Greek word means "a place of dwelling or abiding (Strong)." All three copies of the NKJV that I have retain "mansions" with "dwelling places" in the footnote.

 

Objection 9: Why the change from active of "save yourselves" in the KJV in Acts 2:40 to the passive of "be saved" in the NKJV? The ASV has the active. Is not Peter telling them they are to be active -- not passive -- in this stirring exhortation? Indeed he is!

Answer: The word translated "save yourselves" in the KJV is aorist passive imperative. It is rendered correctly in the New King James Version. It is in the passive voice in the Greek and thus should be rendered by the passive voice in English. The command to "be saved" places responsibility upon a person to submit to what is necessary to be saved by God.

 

Objection 10: Why the change from "unto death" in the KJV of Revelation 2:10 to "until death" in the NKJV? Is not the Lord stressing faithfulness among the suffering saints at Smyrna even up to the point of death and not just till natural death?

Answer: The Greek word is achri. Bagster says the word means: "used as a prep., with respect to place, as far as; to time, until, during;..." Berry defines it as: "even to, until, as far as, whether of place, time, or degree..." Thayer says it means: "until a certain time, for a season, until the day that." He then makes a comment under "c. of Manner and Degree:" and says Rev. 2:10 means "to the enduring of death itself." Robertson in his Word Pictures in the New Testament states: "Keep on becoming faithful (present middle imperative of ginomai), 'keep on proving faithful unto death' (Heb.12:24) as the martyrs have done (Jesus most of all)." Vincent in his Word Studies of the New Testament states: "Not faithful until the time of death, but faithful up to a measure which will endure death for Christ's sake. 'It is an intensive, not an extensive term.'" I like "unto death" better, but just because I like that translation better does not mean that "until" is wrong. As one can see when he reads the definitions of the lexicons, "until" is one of the ways this word can be translated. 

 

Objection 11: The NKJV uses paraphrase in some passages.

Answer: This may be true, but so does the KJV (see the phrase "God forbid" in several passages as an example. The literal rendering of this phrase is "may it not be." The NKJV translates it "certainly not." The word for God is not in this phrase in the Greek. It is a paraphrase in the KJV). If we are going to reject the NKJV because it uses paraphrase in some places, then to be consistent, we must reject the KJV too. (Another example of paraphrase in the KJV is "God save the king" (1 Samuel 10:24). The literal translation is "may live the king." The KJV translators paraphrased it because "God save the king" was a phrase used in their day. However, the word "God" is not in that phrase in the Hebrew. The KJV rendering is not a literal translation. To be consistent if we reject the NKJV because it uses paraphrase we must reject the KJV. [Note: for another example of a paraphrase in the KJV see objection 19 in this article].

 

Objection 12: In Titus 3:10 KJV reads, "A man that is an heretick ... reject." The NKJV changes "heretick" to "divisive man." The one who holds to heresy is to be rejected, not the one who exposes false doctrine. The new versions confuse who is in mind here.

Answer: Vine says the word translated "heretick" in the KJV: "primarily denotes capable of choosing; hence, causing division by a party spirit, factious..." Hence, according to the definition this person would be a "divisive man" and the NKJV is correct. Note: Although division might result from someone exposing false doctrine, the person who exposes the false doctrine is not responsible for the division. The division is caused by the one who teaches false doctrine. Thus, he would be the "divisive man" rather than the one who exposes the false doctrine.

 

Objection 13: In Acts 4:27 the KJV reads, "Thy holy child, Jesus." The NKJV changes "holy child" to "holy servant."

Answer: Concerning the word translated "child" in the KJV and "servant" in the NKJV, Vine states it "signifies (a) a child in relation to descent, (b) a boy or girl in relation to age, (c) a servant, attendant, maid, in relation to condition." This is not a mistranslation. The context must determine the rendering. The NKJV translators evidently considered the context to be indicating Jesus' condition rather than descent or age.

 

Objection 14: In Acts 8:9 the KJV reads, "bewitched the people." The NKJV changes "bewitched" to "astonished."

Answer: Of the word translated "bewitched" in the KJV, Vine says, "it does not mean to bewitch, as in the case of the preceding verb, but to confuse, amaze." He further states: "Like the noun, this is used with two distinct meanings: (a) in the sense of amazement, the word should be invariably rendered 'amazed,' as in the R.V., e.g., in the case of Simon Magus (for A.V. 'Bewitched'), Acts 8:9 and 11. It is used, in the Passive Voice, of Simon himself in the 13th ver., R.V., 'he was amazed,' for A.V. 'wondered.' Amaze is preferable to 'astonish' throughout." According to what Vine says the KJV is wrong and there is another translation that is preferable to the NKJV rendering. However, when one looks up the word amaze in a thesaurus the first synonym given is "astonish." Thus, the NKJV is correct in its rendering here.

 

Objection 15: In Romans 1:25 the KJV reads, "changed the truth of God into a lie." The NKJV reads "exchanged the truth of God for the lie."

Answer: There are two differences in this verse, the word "changed" in the KJV is rendered "exchanged" in the NKJV, and the phrase "a lie" in the KJV becomes "the lie" in the NKJV. In regard to the first Vine defines the word translated "changed" in the KJV as: "to change one thing for another, or into another.... denotes (a) to exchange, meta, with, implying change, and allaso, Rom. 1:25, of exchanging the truth for a lie." The NKJV is correct in it's rendering of this word. In regard to "a lie" versus "the lie," the Greek has the definite article before the word lie, so the NKJV is correct here also.

 

Objection 16: In Romans 4:25 the KJV reads, "Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification." The NKJV changes "for" to "because of."

Answer: I too had questions concerning the NKJV's rendering of the word "for" as "because of" in this passage. However, when one examines the Greek one will find that the NKJV is correct in it's rendering of this word. The Greek word is "dia" and Thayer says this word in the accusative case can be rendered: "on account of, because of." Whatever the problems may be in understanding what the Holy Spirit means by "delivered because of our offenses and raised because of our justification" the NKJV is more literal than the KJV in this passage and renders the word correctly.


 

Objection 17: In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the KJV reads, "Casting down imaginations." The NKJV changes "imaginations" to "arguments."

Answer: Vine says concerning the word translated "imaginations" in the KJV, "a reasoning, a thought, is translated 'thoughts' in Romans 2:15, suggestive of evil intent, not mere reasonings; 'imaginations' in 2 Cor. 10:5 (R.V. marg., 'reasonings,' in each place). The word suggests the contemplation of actions as a result of the verdict of conscience." Thayer defines the word as: "a reckoning, computation. 2. A reasoning; such as is hostile to the Christian faith, 2 Cor 10:5." After reading these definitions you be the judge as to which rendering is best.

 

Objection 18: In Colossians 3:2 the KJV reads, "Set your affection on things above." The NKJV changes affection to "mind."

Answer: The Greek word translated "affection" in the KJV and "mind" in the NKJV is phroneo. Thayer defines this word as: "to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek or strive for..." Vines says it means, "to think, to be minded in a certain way: (b) to think of, be mindful of." The NKJV is correct in its rendering of this word.

 

Objection 17: In 1 Thessalonians 5:22 the KJV reads, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." The NKJV changes "appearance" to "form."

Answer: Vine defines the word translated "appearance" in the KJV as: "properly that which strikes the eye, that which is exposed to view, signifies the external appearance, form, or shape...." He further states: "It has a somewhat different significance in 1 Thess. 5:22, in the exhortation 'Abstain from every form of evil,' i.e., every sort or kind of evil (not 'appearance,' A.V.)..." Again the NKJV is correct in it's rendering.
 

 

Objection 18: In Psalm 79:1 the word "heathen" in the KJV is changed to "nations" in the NKJV.

Answer: This is not a valid objection. Strong defines this word like this: "goy, go'-ee; appar. from the same root as H1465 (in the sense of massing); a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (fig.) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts:--Gentile, heathen, nation, people." Hence the word could be translated Gentile, heathen, nation or people depending on the context.

 

Objection 19: In Isaiah 11:3 the entire phrase, "And shall make Him of quick understanding" in the KJV is eliminated in the NKJV

Answer: This is not true. The phrase is there, it is just translated differently. For, "and shall make Him of quick understanding" the NKJV has "his delight." The Hebrew word (yes one word in Hebrew) is paraphrased by the KJV translators as "and shall make Him of quick understanding." The Hebrew word is "ruwach," which according to Strong means "a prim. root; prop. to blow, i.e. breathe; only (lit.) to smell or (by impl. perceive; fig. to anticipate, to enjoy.)..." The ASV renders this verse, "And his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah..." The "Literal Translation of the Bible, by Jay P. Green Sr. one of the most literal translations one can find, renders the word ruwach as breathe. "And he is made to breathe in the fear of Jehovah." The KJV is a paraphrase, the ASV and NKJV are better, but not literal translations, translating it figuratively as "delight."

 

Objection 20: In Isaiah 66:5 the wonderful phrase, "But He shall appear to your joy" in the KJV disappears without explanation from NKJV.

Answer: This again is not true. The phrase is translated like this: 'That we may see your joy.' The word translated "appear" means "to see" according to Strong.

 

Objection 21: A striking word change involves changing "corrupt" to "peddling" in 2 Corinthians 2:17. The KJV correctly says, "For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God .... "But the NKJV changes "corrupt" to "peddling." Is there any great difference between peddling (selling, or making a gain of) the Word of God and corrupting (adulterating) it? Of course there is, and one does not have to be a Greek scholar to decide which word is correct. When this warning was given in the 1st Century, was there any way for people to peddle (make a gain of) God's Word? Of course not -- they were suffering for it. The warning clearly refers to corrupting God's Word, something that was common then as it is now. Only in our day has it ever been possible to peddle (make a gain of) the Bible. With its huge profits from the sale of many different Bible versions, the Thomas Nelson Publishers is both corrupting and peddling God's Word.

Answer: Vine defines the word translated "corrupt" in the KJV as: "primarily signifies to be a retailer, to peddle, to hucksterize (from kapelos, an inn-keeper, a petty retailer, especially of wine, a huckster, peddler, in contrast to emporos, a merchant); hence, to get base gain by dealing in anything, and so, more generally, to do anything sordid for personal advantage." Whatever the person who made this objection may think concerning whether or not 1st century people could peddle (make a gain of) God's word, the NKJV is correct in its rendering of this passage.

 

Objection 22. In Matthew 7:14 the KJV says, "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life..." The NKJV says, "Because narrow is the gate and DIFFICULT is the way which leads to life," Is the way unto eternal life difficult? No, that is false teaching. The way unto eternal life is "strait," as the KJV says, meaning "constricted, restricted, distressed, narrow, restrained."

Answer: The objector seems to be mixing up the words translated "narrow" and "strait." They are two different words in the Greek. The word translated "strait" in the KJV is translated by the word "narrow" in the NKJV. The word the NKJV translates as "difficult" and the KJV translates as "narrow" is the Greek word thlibo. Strong says the word means: "to crowd (lit. or fig.):--afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble." Vine says of the word, "to press, ...hemmed in, like a mountain gorge..." Thayer says it means, "to press, press hard upon; prop a compressed way, i.e. narrow, straightened, contracted, ; metaph, to trouble, afflict distress;..." The way that leads to life certainly has it's trouble, affliction, tribulation and distress. The way to eternal life is difficult (Matthew 13:21; John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12). How could someone think that is false teaching? The NKJV translates the word "strait" correctly as "narrow."

 

Objection 23. In Matthew 20:20 the KJV says, "Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshiping him..." The NKJV says, "Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, KNEELING DOWN..." This is a wicked change. To kneel is obviously not the same as worship. "Worship" was in Tyndale's translation of 1526. It was in the Matthew's Bible of 1537. It was the Geneva of 1537. It was in the Authorized Version of 1611. Even the English Revised version of 1881 and the American Standard Version of 1901 retained the word "worship." It was the modernistic Revised Standard Version of 1952 which changed to "kneeling." Now the NKJV editors follow this same wicked error.

Answer: Strong says this word means, "(to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (lit. or fig.) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):--worship." Thayer says it means, "by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication." In the New Testament the word carries the meaning of prostrating or kneeling down to worship, offer homage or respect or to make request of someone. The context has to determine how the word is translated. I do not believe the NKJV is a mistranslation. I also do not believe that the rendering somehow detracts from the Deity of Jesus. They knelt down with great respect before Jesus to make supplication or request of Him. It doesn't seem to me that they were there to worship Him in the sense of holding a worship service, but to ask for something in a respectful way.

 

Objection 24. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 the KJV says, "... but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." The NKJV has, "... but to us who are BEING SAVED it is the power of God..." This unnecessary change corrupts the doctrine of salvation and conforms to the heretics who teach that salvation is a process.

Answer: The Greek word translated "are saved" in the KJV and "are being saved" in the NKJV is a verb, present, passive, participle, dative, plural, masculine. The present participle indicates an action in progress. Despite the belief of the objector the NKJV is correct in its rendering.

 

Objection 25. PHILIPPlANS 2:6 KJV - "Who, being in the form of God, thouught it not robbery to be equal with God." NKJV - "Who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." This unnecessary change conforms to the doctrine of heretics who teach that Christ was not God.

Answer: Thayer says the word translated "robbery" in the KJV means, "the act of seizing, robbery; a thing seized or to be seized, booty; to deem anything a prize, -- a thing to be seized upon or to be held fast, retained Phil. 2:6; ..." Vine says the word means, "to seize, carry off by force,..." Vine further says, "it may have two meanings, (a) in the Active sense, the act of seizing, robbery, a meaning in accordance with a rule connected with its formation; (b) in the Passive sense, a thing held as a prize." According to these two authorities the meaning could be either what the KJV says or what the NKJV says, depending on whether the translators viewed it in the active sense or the passive sense. I admit I don't have the answer to this and I don't think we can be dogmatic about it either way. However, the objection to the NKJV seems to be that the rendering somehow teaches that Christ is not God. I don't see it. The NKJV affirms that Jesus was in the "form of God" and that He was on an "equality with God." That surely teaches that He is God.

 

Objection 26. In John 5:24, the Old King James reads "and shall not come into condemnation." The New King James reads "and shall not come into judgement. The careful Bible student will notice that "condemnation" and "judgement" are not the same words. To use the word "judgement" is to change the meaning of the verse, and it is a change for the worse. The Bible teaches that every person, whether saved or lost, is going to be judged. The lost man will appear at the White Throne Judgement to be judged for his sins and for his rejection of Jesus Christ, Rev. 20:11-15. The saved man will appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ to be judged for his works, I Cor. 3:11-15; II Cor. 5:10. The Christian is not condemned, but is judged. The rendering in the New King James is false and heretical. One wonders why they did not change condemnation to judgment over in Jude 4? They are not very consistent, are they?

Answer: The Greek word translated "condemnation" in the KJV and "judgment" in the NKJV is krisis. Vine's Word Studies defines this word as "(a) denotes "the process of investigation, the act of distinguishing and separating" (as distinct from krima, see krima above); hence "a judging, a passing of judgment upon a person or thing;" it has a variety of meanings, such as judicial authority, John 5:22,27; justice,  Acts 8:33; James 2:13; a tribunal, Matt 5:21,22; a trial, John 5:24; 2 Pet 2:4; a judgment, 2 Pet 2:11; Jude 1:9; by metonymy, the standard of judgment, just dealing, Matt 12:18,20; Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42; Divine judgment executed, 2 Thess 1:5; Rev 16:7; (b) sometimes it has the meaning "condemnation," and is virtually equivalent to krima B3(a); see Matt 23:33; John 3:19; James 5:12, hupo krisin, "under judgment." Notice that Vine says the word "sometimes ... has the meaning 'condemnation,'" but he does not give John 5:24 as an example of that. Again, I think it is important to point out that the objector compares the NKJV with the KJV rather than comparing it with the Greek. The KJV is a translation of the Greek into English. Thus, it is not the standard to judge other translations. The Greek is the standard since the New Testament was originally written in Greek. The reason the NKJV translators didn't change the word in Jude 4 is because it is a different Greek word. It is krima rather then krisis. Vine defines krima as "the sentence pronounced, a verdict, a condemnation, the decision resulting from an investigation..." Again, the NKJV is correct.

 

Objection 27. Five verses down from John 5:24, the Revisors changed the word "damnation" to "condemnation". Does it give a better understanding of the verse? No! It is merely an attempt to tone down the harsh, straight forward language of the Old King James.

Answer: The objector is referring to John 5:29. The word translated "condemnation" in the NKJV is the same word that is used in John 5:24. It is krisis. In my opinion, it would have been better to translate it as "judgment" as the American Standard Version does. However, Vine points out that the word can also mean "condemnation" and evidently the NKJV translators thought that fit the context better. But what is the difference between "damnation" and "condemnation?" Webster defines "damn" as, "to condemn as guilty; to condemn to an unhappy fate; doom..." "Damnation" is "condemnation!" In my opinion, one of the improvements of the NKJV over the KJV is that it does not use words that are considered today to be profanity. The KJV uses words that may not have been considered to be curse words when it was translated, but have come to be considered to be curse words today. The same objector that objected to the word condemnation also objected to the use of the word "illegitimate" in the place of "bastard" in Hebrews 12:8. When you look up the word "bastard" in the dictionary you will find it defined as, "a person born of parents not married to each other, illegitimate child." What is a bastard? It is an illegitimate child. This is not a valid objection. When I was growing up, my mother and father taught me that I was not supposed to say certain words, because they were "cuss" words. Among those words were "damn" and "bastard." Both of those words are still considered to be profanity today and I have always had trouble using those words when reading from the KJV. Why hold on to words like that when the original Greek words can be rendered in such a way as to not use what is considered profanity today and be just as accurate?

 

Objection 28. Also check Phil. 3:8, where the revisors changed the word "dung" to "rubbish" Again, these words are not the same.

Answer: The Greek word is skubalon which Strong defines as, "what is thrown to the dogs, i.e. refuse..." Vine defines it as follows: denotes "refuse," whether (a) "excrement," that which is cast out from the body, or (b) "the leavings of a feast," that which is thrown away from the table. Some have derived it from kusibalon (with metathesis of k and s), "thrown to dogs;" others connect it with a root meaning "shred." Judaizers counted Gentile Christians as dogs, while they themselves were seated at God's banquet. The Apostle, reversing the image, counts the Judaistic ordinances as refuse upon which their advocates feed, Phil. 3:8." "Refuse" which is the word that the ASV uses and "rubbish" are almost identical in meaning. They both carry the meaning of that which is to be thrown away or rejected as trash. That is certainly in harmony with the definition given by Strong and Vine. Again, the NKJV is correct in its rendering.

 

Objection 29. I Tim. 6:10 in the Old King James reads, "for the love of money is the root of all evil." The New King James reads, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Again, one should observe that "root of all evil" and, "a root of all kinds of evil" are not the same. Quite definitely, here is a direct attack on God's Holy Word. There is no reason, outside of devilment, to change one word in this verse. This is strictly a private interpretation done to change the truth which is found in the Old King James, namely, "THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL"!

Answer: There are two changes in the NKJV. First, the KJV has the definite article "the" in front of the word "root." However, the Greek does not have the definite article. Thus, the NKJV is correct in its rendering. Second, the NKJV added in italics the phrase "kinds of." The fact that this phrase is in italics shows that the translators understood those words were not in the Greek. However, they were added because the translators thought it would make the sense of the passage more understandable. The NKJV rendering agrees with something we all know. All evil is not motivated by the love of money. It is "a root" not "the root' as the KJV rendering indicates. Murder is evil. However, murder can be motivated by passion or jealousy both of which may have nothing to do with money. Thus, the NKJV rendering agrees with what we all know about evil and money. Not all evil is motivated by the love of money. The KJV rendering indicates that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Something we all know not to be true. The NKJV rendering is again correct.

 

Objection 30. In 1 Timothy 6:20 the KJV reads, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called." The NKJV says, "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge."

Answer: The difficulty here would seem to be between the words "science" and "knowledge." The fact is, there would be no way to differentiate the words for "science" and "knowledge" in Greek. Even the King James Version translates this word, gnosis, as "knowledge" 28 times. The literal meaning of the word is "knowledge." Strong defines this word as "knowing [the act] i.e. knowledge." The NKJV translation is correct.

 

Objection 31.  In Hebrews 3:16 the KJV reads: "For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses." The NKJV changes the whole meaning by rendering the verse like this: "For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?" The NKJV teaches that all of the Israelites who came out of Egypt rebelled. We know that this is not true, Joshua and Caleb and probably some of the Levites did not rebel.

Answer:  The ASV renders the verse like this: "For who, when they heard, did provoke? nay, did not all they that came out of Egypt by Moses?" agreeing with the rendering of the NKJV.  It is true that Joshua and Caleb did not rebel. Some have expressed an objection to the KJV's use of the word "some" because it seems to go to the other extreme by implying that it wasn't all that many who rebelled.  Whether that's true or not, the answer to the difference between the KJV and the NKJV/ASV lies in the Greek language and where the accent mark should be on the word that is translated "some" in the KJV and "who" in the NKJV/ASV.  If the accent mark is placed on the first syllable of the word, the word is interrogative and should be rendered "who."  If it is placed on the second syllable of the word, then it is an indefinite pronoun and can be rendered "some" or "certain" as in "certain ones." But the fact of the matter is, since there were no Greek accents in the original writings, no one knows for sure where the accent mark should be placed. It therefore must be rendered in the best way that fits the context.  Robert Milligan, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews explains it like this:   

"The original manuscripts of the New Testament were written without any accents and also without any marks of punctuation. . . . but accents were not generally used by Christian writers till after the middle of the fifth century; and it was not until about the beginning of the tenth century that the custom of using them became universal. And so also of the system of Greek punctuation.  It too was gradually introduced with sundry changes and modifications.  About the middle of the fifth century, Euthalius, a Deacon of Alexandria, divided the New Testament into lines (stichoi), each line containing as many words as were to be read without any pause or interruption of the voice.  In the eighth century, the comma (,) was invented; and the Greek note of interrogation (;) in the ninth.  But it was not till after the invention of the art of printing, about the middle of the fifteenth century, that the present system of Greek punctuation was universally adopted by Greek scholars.

It is obvious, therefore, that no authority is to be attached to these marks of accent and punctuation, except so far as they are supported by the conditions of the context and the well-known laws and principles of the Greek language.  And it may therefore be still a question whether the word tines in our text should be accented on the first or on the second syllable. 

What, then, is the proper meaning of this word? Is it an interrogative or an indefinite pronoun? Is it equivalent to who or to some?  That it should be rendered who in the seventeenth and eighteenth verses, is conceded by all: for here, indeed, the context will admit of nothing else. But is it not almost, if not quite, as obvious, from the scope of the author's argument, that it must have the same meaning in the sixteenth verse? Having, in the verses immediately preceding, solemnly warned his brethren against the dangers of apostasy from Christ, and having illustrated the whole matter by a general reference to the fortunes of their fathers in the wilderness, and also by God's subsequent warnings and admonitions through David, our author now makes a more sweeping and definite application of Old Testament history. Lest any should attempt to avoid the force of his general argument, on the ground of its seeming indefiniteness; and should be disposed to take refuge in the vain hope that through some of the less enlightened of their brethren might fail, they themselves would nevertheless escape -- fearing this, the Apostle makes another more definite and heart-searching appeal to the well known facts of the Old Testament history.  He reminds his readers by an appeal to their own knowledge of the facts, that it was not merely a few of the most ignorant and superstitious of their fathers that fell in the wilderness on account of their disobedience; but that it was in fact the whole redeemed nation who came out of Egypt under Moses.  The few exceptions, consisting of Joshua, Caleb, Eliezer, and perhaps a few more of the Levites, are purposely and with strict rhetorical propriety kept in the background; and the great mass of the people who had been once enlightened and consecrated to God, are brought forward as persons doomed to destruction, in order to make a more vivid and lasting impression on the minds and hearts of the Hebrew brethren.  For who, says the author, were they that having heard did provoke? Were they the children and servants of your fathers? Or were they a few of the most ignorant and depraved of that generation? Nay indeed, were they not all of the six hundred thousand who came out of Egypt by Moses? The force of this appeal could not be avoided: and it must have made a very deep impression on the mind and heart of every Hebrew Christian who read this Epistle."

Clark, Barnes, Robertson, Vincent, Coffman, etc... agree with Milligan's conclusions.  The fact is, the translation of this verse hinges on whether the translators understood the word to be an indefinite (KJV) or an interrogative (NKJV/ASV).  It seems to me that the interrogative is more in harmony with the context and the way the word is used in verses 17 and 18 where both the NKJV and the KJV renders it as an interrogative. 

As far as the fact that Caleb and Joshua did not rebel, Coffman comments:

 "The statement that 'all they' rebelled is hyperbole, exaggeration for the sake of emphasis; and, while it is true that Caleb and Joshua refused to be with the majority and survived to enter Canaan, 'the exception was so small that the apostle had no scruple in saying that they all provoked God in their disobedience,' as Barnes put it. The exception was so small that the names of only two have come down through history as repudiating the majority" (Commentary on Hebrews, Coffman.  page 84).  

Thus, apart from the context of the passage, there is no way to know whether the KJV or the NKJV is right.  We cannot be dogmatic either way because there is no way to tell. The verse has to be rendered in whatever way best harmonizes with the context.  It is my conviction that the NKJV does that.

Conclusion

We have examined 31 objections in regard to the NKJV made by those who believe the KJV is the only version one should use (King James Only folks) or those who question the NKJV although they may not take the radicial position of King James Only. In my opinion, only three were valid (See objections 2, 7 and 10) but not one of them if believed would lead to one losing his soul. There are probably other objections that I have not seen. However, these seem to be some of the main ones.

It has been my experience that most people who object to the NKJV object simply because there are some things rendered differently than what they are used to reading in the KJV. Friends, just because something is rendered differently than the KJV doesn't make it wrong. The question is, does it agree with the original languages? Is it translated correctly? I think you can see from this study that the NKJV does make some improvements over the KJV. It is easier to understand in some places. It is more literal and accurate in some places. It is easier to read and comprehend because, for the most part, it uses the language we use today.

I have often heard preachers who object to the New Versions (and I also object to some of them) say that if a modern translation was produced that was both reverent and accurate they would not object to it. However, some of those same preachers are vehemently against the NKJV which (in my opinion) is as accurate and reverent as the KJV.

The Greek that the New Testament was originally written in was the common language of the day. God gave His word in the language of the common people. Certainly, one could conclude from this that He would want His word to be given in the common language of every nation under heaven. If you want to use the KJV to preach, teach, read and study from that is your right and I support you in that. But you bind where God has not bound if you teach that anyone who uses anything other than the KJV is sinning and not worthy of fellowship with faithful Christians. [Note: this is not to say that one cannot object to translations available today and point out their errors, unreliability, and unacceptability, but the emphasis in the last sentence is upon binding the KJV only.] If that is true, there are a lot of people in the world who have heard the gospel in their own language (through translations other than the KJV in their native languages), and who have obeyed it and who (in your view) are sinning by using another translation. If you take the King James Only route you are condemning everyone who does not read English because they can't read the KJV.

Let me plead with those of you who are King James Only people to not cause division where God has not spoken. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Repent of binding where God has not bound.

Here is a question that you need to consider: Do you know anywhere in God's word where He has bound a certain version on people? I can't find it. If you know where it is, please let me know the  book, chapter, and verse that teaches it. Of course, we realize that some of the modern translations pervert God's word (the NIV is a good example) and must be rejected. However, we need to be comparing the new translations to the original languages to see if they are correct rather than to the KJV.

[Note: we have not discussed the textual basis of the KJV, NKJV (Received Text) versus the text most new versions of the Bible use (i.e. Nestles-Aland). There are also those who are claiming that the Majority Text (which is more like the Received Text) is the most accurate text. This discussion does not enter into our study of the KJV versus the NKJV because they are both based on the same texts.]

I would be glad to consider any other objections you may have concerning the NKJV. Please email me at the address on the main page and we will add them to this page.


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