There are Christians who will argue that the King James Version of The Bible is the only version of The Bible that we should read. That any other version is merely a pagan paraphrase. What I intend to argue in this post is that such a stance is unjustified. There is nothing wrong with reading other versions of The Bible whatsoever. In fact, there are reasons why we should probably prefer other versions of The Bible than the King James version. First, let me be clear; I am not bashing the King James Version here, nor am I saying that it’s a translation that we should avoid. The purpose of this post is to refute the fallacious view that we should only read the KJV and shun all others.
1: It’s Easier To Understand Modern Translations
Language changes over time. Words that used to mean something 60 years ago for example, do not mean the same thing anymore. For example, the word “gay” used to be synonymous with “cheerful”. Nowadays, it’s synonymous with “homosexual”. The longer the time span, the more drastic the differences. Due to the evolution of language, we often simply cannot understand what the author is expressing in certain passages of scripture. To give a few examples, 1 Samuel 5:12 reads, “The men that died not were smitten with the emerods.” What is an emerod? Luke 17:9 says, “Doth he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.” I trow not? Psalm 5:6 says “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing.” Does God dislike realtors? There are many examples of this. Would God’s holy Word not be more intelligible if this were translated into our native language? There’s nothing in God’s Word that even remotely suggests that we should only read God’s word in 1611 English. And in fact, when I move on to my next point, most people don’t and/or never will have the opportunity to read The Bible in 1611 English. So, why are KJV-Onlyists insisting that we cling to this one single translation.Its' very important that we understand God’s Word. If a more modern translation is more intelligible to a person, would it not be better for him to read that translation and understand what God wants him to understand than to try to extract it through all the thees, thys, thous, arts, and iths? If you want my personal opinion, the easiest to understand translation is the New Living Translation. But I like the New International Version as well.
2: Many people throughout history and across the globe haven’t had the King James Version.
When we want to share the word of God with non-English speaking people, we do not tell them that they need to learn 1611 English. We translate it from Greek into their common language. It seems ridiculous to think that non-English speaking people in other countries of the world would have to learn English, and then learn Archaic English in order to read God’s Word. Why can’t Japanese speakers read The Bible in Japanese? Why can’t Mexicans and people from Spain read God’s Word in Spanish? Why can’t people living in France read God’s Word in French? I see no reason to think that they can’t. However, using the logic of the KJV-Onlyist, that’s the conclusion you’re forced to. That’s the logical implication of KJV-Onlyism. The logic of KJV-Onlyism says you must learn 1611 English before you can properly read and study God’s Word. After all, we're only to supposed to read the KJV, right?
But moreover, until the year 1611, NO ONE had the KJV (King James Version). The original Bible was written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (The New Testament). When the apostles preached God’s Word to people, they didn’t use the KJV because the KJV didn’t exist yet! Were they not properly reading God’s Word? This is beyond ridiculous. I think this point alone demonstrates that no one is required to read the KJV.
3: We Do Not Use The Original KJV
The original KJV was overwhelmed with errors. There were literally thousands of corrections between 1611 and 1769. We do not use the 1611 version, we use the 1769 version. If you say that we must use the 1769 edition instead of the 1611 edition, then what that means is that you are conceding the point that we need to appeal to the updates that scholars offered between 1611 and 1769.
But, if that’s the case, then why wouldn’t we appeal also to the updates that modern scholars offer based on the evolution of the English language?
4: All translations of The Bible say basically the same thing, just in different ways.
Not only did Christians not have the KJV for 1,600 years, but all of the English translations of The Bible say basically the same thing just in different ways. Read the following sentence. If you were to read the different versions of the following statements, would you be unable to discern what I said?
1: “It was a Saturday afternoon. I went to the grocery store to stock up on groceries with my wife. We then came home and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner.”
2: “It was 3:00pm on the seventh day of the week. I took a trip to the market to stock up on groceries with my wife. We returned home and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner.”
3: “It was a Saturday afternoon, my wife and I took a trip to the market to stock up on groceries. Afterwards, we returned home and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner.”
4: “It was Saturday in the afternoon. I went to the grocery store with my wife. While we were there, we stocked up on groceries and went home. We then had spaghetti for dinner.”
Now, this statement is said in different ways. But, were you unable to discern the content of the message? No. You got the message that I wanted to convey. Bible translations are exactly like this. I know so because there’s a website called Bible Hub which lists a particular verse you look up in many of the available translations. The website Bible Gateway does the same thing. They all basically the same thing even though they’re phrased somewhat differently. So, whether you read John 3:16 in the KJV, the NLT, the NIV, the ESV, or whatever, what you understand from reading is that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son, if you put your faith in Him, you won’t perish but will gain eternal life. That’s the message you get regardless of what version you’re reading.