Why I Don't Recommend the KJV


Posted by Matt Postiff June 2, 2017 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Translation 

The KJV-only doctrine and practice has come to my attention several times lately. Frankly, I wish I could put the entire question to bed once and for all and finally help Christians, pastors, and churches who are caught up in this false teaching to be delivered from it.

Be sure to know that if you like the KJV or have grown up with it and want to continue using it, that is your privilege. But you cannot force that preference on others who can rather benefit from a modern English version that is more readable, more accurate, and more understandable.

Following are some briefly-stated reasons why I cannot recommend the KJV.

If you cannot justify a belief from the Bible, then you need to remove it from the doctrinal statement.

  1. Doctrinal statements that include the KJV as the only acceptable translation do not and cannot back up their claims from Scripture. Every statement in our doctrinal statement should be able to have a parenthesis after it with one or more verses from Scripture. If you cannot justify a belief from the Bible, then you need to remove it from the doctrinal statement. Never have I seen a statement like "The KJV is the only acceptable translation in the English language (citation of a Bible verse). There is no verse that can be put inside the parentheses to justify that belief.
  2. We should know that KJV-onlyism cannot be justified from Scripture because the apostle Paul did not have a KJV; nor did the apostle John. The KJV did not come into existence until one thousand and five hundred years AFTER the New Testament was completed. KJV-onlyism cannot be a doctrine that all Christians have always held. If Paul didn't believe it or have to believe it to be faithful to God, neither do I.
  3. Archaic vocabulary is a big reason I do not recommend the KJV. The verb "wot" is used in 10 verses in the KJV. It means nothing to an English reader today. It should be translated "know." Nine verses use "wont" which is not the same as "want." It means something that "used to be" or something that was usual or customary. No one today uses the word "wont." "Agone" is used once and, as it is not a word in the English language today, it should be translated as "ago." Who knows what "anon" means? What about besome, betimes, bethink, bewray, bolled, bowels, or choler? Why is the word "college" used in 2 Kings 22:14 and 2 Chronicles 34:22 and what does it mean? One online glossary I found has over 70 such words; one had over 300!
  4. The KJV is old. This is not a sufficient reason in and of itself to discontinue use of the KJV. But it is important to realize that the KJV in common use today comes from 1769. The English language has changed since then; manuscript evidence has been found since then; and translation and language tools have improved since then. We can do better today.
  5. The translation was made by men and as such is fallible. All translations can be improved.
  6. The KJV translators themselves would most certainly tell us to continue working on and improving the translation that we use. Read their preface and you will understand what I'm talking about (if you can understand it)
  7. The KJV we have today is not the KJV. The 1611 KJV would be almost unreadable for most who claim the KJV as their only translation. It was updated by Benjamin Blayney in 1769 to the form we have today. I have a replica 1611 KJV in my office, and it would be a chore to translate from that every morning in my reading time.
  8. The KJV-only doctrine in its most dangerous form elevates this single English translation to the level of inspired Scripture. Not only is this a departure from the orthodox doctrine of Bibliology in which only the original manuscripts partake of direct inspiration, it also generates other serious problems. For instance: does every language have such an "inspired" text like the KJV? Which text is it? How do you know?
  9. The KJV in the New Testament is based on one edition of Erasmus' Textus Receptus. Which edition of his text is the right one is an important question that must be asked. But it is almost irrelevant, because there are errors in the TR, just like there are in any single manuscript.
  10. Those who hold KJV-onlyism are typically, though not always, very divisive. I do not want that cancer doing damage in the church that I pastor, nor in other churches in our circles. Scripture tells us to note those who cause divisions and avoid them (Romans 16:17).
  11. The KJV-only doctrine often promotes fear or anger among its followers that all other translations are perversions that are purposefully attempting to remove parts of God's word, or deny the deity of Christ, for example. And while some so-called translations may do so (like the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation), there is no need to be fearful or angry at all non-KJV translations. There are several excellent translations that should not elicit reactions of fear or anger. Such emotions are not becoming of Christians.

So, I recommend to put your KJV away, and get a NKJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NET, or HCSB. And read it often!

Read a little more on this issue at a prior post.

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