WHAT ABOUT THE NEW KING JAMES BIBLE? In this article, we want to share with
God's people some of the important facts which led us to reject the NKJV and warn
others about it. We do not believe that the "NKJV makes the KJV even better" as
its publishers cl aim. To the contrary, our study leads us to conclude that the
NKJV vitiates the original, reliable, accurate KJV in a most deceptive manner.
While claiming to have "preserved the authority and accuracy" of the original
KJV, the actual result is a hybrid t ext which incorporates many changes identical
with or similar to the corruptions found in other modern Bible versions.
Why the New King James Bible? Its publisher, Thomas Nelson Company, says its
purpose is "To Preserve the Integrity of the Original in the Language of Today"-"To
preserve the authority and accuracy . . . of the original King James while making
it understan dable to 20th Century readers"-"To update with regard to punctuation
and grammar; archaic verbs and pronouns"; and "Up-to-date accuracy with regard
to words whose English meaning has changed over a period of 3 1/2 centuries."
The completed NKJV text is said to be "Beautifully Clear" and "Highly Readable."
Thomas Nelson Publishers has spent millions to convince Chr istians that the NKJV
is "the" Bible of the present and the future.
Why do we recommend rejection of the NKJV? Space limitations preclude a full
discussion of every reason, but we do urge a careful consideration of the following
facts. It is essential to know that many of the word changes between the original
KJV and the NKJV are not changes which result from removing archaisms, etc. Instead,
many are changes which clearly reveal that, contrary to their agreed basis, the
NKJV translators departed from the original KJV and its underlying Greek text,
the Textus Receptus, in favor of the very same wording found in versions translated
from corrupted Greek texts.
The instances in which the NKJV breaks with the original KJV by substituting
wording identical to that of corrupted modern Bible versions are too numerous
to be considered coincidence. And, since Nelson tells us that the NKJV scholars
spent "months of pra yer, research, and discussion over the handling of a single
word," we must conclude that these changes were neither coincidental nor accidental.
The following references are listed as examples of the way the translators
inserted erroneous words and meanings from corrupted modern Bible versions into
the NKJV text:
Titus 3:10-KJV reads, "A man that is an heretick...reject." NKJV and NIV change
"heretick" to "divisive man"; RSV and NASV to "factious" 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).
Acts 4:27-KJV reads, "Thy holy child, Jesus." NKJV, NASV and RSV change "holy
child" to "holy servant."
Acts 8:9-KJV reads, "bewitched the people." NKJV and NASV change "bewitched"
to "astonished." NIV and RSV change "bewitched" to "amazed."
Romans 1:25-KJV reads, "changed the truth of God into a lie." NKJV, NASV and
NIV read "exchanged the truth of God for the lie" or "a lie."
Romans 4:25-KJV reads, "Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised
again for our justification." NKJV and NASV change "for" to "because of." (Even
the NIV and RSV use the correct word, "for").
2 Corinthians 10:5-KJV reads, "Casting down imaginations." NKJV, NIV and RSV
change "imaginations" to "arguments."
Colossians 3:2-KJV reads, "Set your affection on things above." NKJV, NASV,
NIV and RSV change "affection" to "mind."
1 Thessalonians 5:22-KJV reads, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." NKJV,
NASV and RSV change "appearance" to "form."
2 Timothy 2:15-KJV reads, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God." NKJV
and NASV change "study" to "be diligent." NIV and RSV change "study" to "do your
Old Testament examples include:
Psalm 79:1-the word "heathen" in the KJV is changed to "nations" in the NKJV,
NASV and NIV.
Isaiah 11:3-the entire phrase, "And shall make Him of quick understanding"
in the KJV is eliminated in the NKJV, NASV, NIV and RSV.
Isaiah 66:5-the wonderful phrase, "But He shall appear to your joy" in the
KJV disappears without explanation from NKJV, NASV, NIV and RSV.
Daniel 3:25-the fourth person who was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego, was identified as "the Son of God." The same identification
is given in the text of the NKJV but a footnote reads "or, a son of the gods,"
and both NIV and NA SV actually have the latter reading in their texts.
In other Old Testament portions, the word "evil" in the KJV is replaced by
several different words-doom, disaster, calamity, catastrophe, trouble, adversity,
terrible, harm, wild. In four different places in 1 and 2 Kings, "sodomites" is
changed to "perve rted persons."
The NKJV does not deserve its respected name. It is a perverted version.
Additional examples of significant changes would include the following: Matthew
4:24; 6:13; 7:14; 20:20; Mark 4:19; John 14:2; Acts 17:29; Romans 1:18; Philippians
2:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Timothy 6:5, 10, 20; Hebrews 2:16; 10:14; James 1:15;
1 Peter 1:7.
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, NASV, NIV and RSV, change "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 pe ddle (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.
Dr. Jerry Falwell, a member of the NKJV overview committee, gives this new
Bible his unqualified endorsement, stating that "It protects every thought, every
idea, every word, just as it was intended to be understood by the original scholars."
This simply is not true! As already pointed out, words have been changed and with
those changed words have come changed thoughts and ideas.
Some will argue that the changes noted do not affect any fundamental Bible
doctrine. We strongly disagree. Is not the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures
a fundamental doctrine? Is not every word of the Bible important? Jesus Christ
said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of God" (Matt.4:4). He also said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). Since Christ is concerned about
every word, we should also be con cerned about every word and raise a voice of
protest whenever scholarly sleight of hand is discovered in any modern version,
including the NKJV.
In raising strenuous objections to the changed words of the NKJV text, we
are not referring to those changes which update old English verb forms without
changing the meaning, i.e., removing "est" or "eth" from verb endings. Neither
do we refer to updating the old English pronouns "thee," "thou" and "thine" where
they refer to individuals. We do consider it a tragic mistake to eliminate the
use of "Thee," "Thou" and "Thine" where these refer to Deity. There is a disturbing
trend toward stripping God of His Majesty both in word and deed. The substitution
of the common pronouns 'You" and "Yours" for "Thee," "Thou" and "Thine" which
have historically been used to refer to Deity both in the Scriptures and the Hymns
of the Church, only helps pave the way for further attempts of sinful men to bring
God down to their level rather than exalting Him in every way possible.
The NKJV translators claimed it was one of their purposes to update words
where the meaning of a particular word had changed over the last 375 years. In
2 Thessalonians 2:7, they updated "letteth" to "restraineth"; in Psalm 4:2, "leasing"
is updated to "lying"; In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, "prevent" is updated to "precede";
in Matthew 19:14, "suffer" is updated to "let" (meaning allow or pennit).
In other instances it is difficult to understand how the NKJV scholars thought
they were updating and clarifying the KJV as, for example, when they substituted
"minas" for "pounds" in Luke 19:13; or, "satraps" for "princes" in Daniel 3:3;
or, "black cummin" for "fitches" in Isaiah 28:27.
Many Christians today are purchasing NKJV Bibles for three reasons: (1) Many
pastors and Christian leaders are highly recommending it. (2) They have been assured
by translators and publishers that the NKJV is based upon the same Hebrew and
Greek texts used by the KJV translators. However, as already mentioned, such a
claim is simply not true and can be easily documented by comparing the wording
of the NKJV with the NIV, NASV, RSV and other versions whose translators admittedly
used other Hebrew and Greek texts. (3) The NKJV is supposedly easier to read and
understand but its impurities actually make it doubly deceptive and dangerous.
The duplicity of the NKJV publishers, translators and endorsers greatly increases
the possibility of believers being deceived. The word duplicity is used advisedly.
Webster's Dictionary defines duplicity as, "Deception by pretending to feel and
act one way while acting another." The following duplicity can be fully documented:
The duplicity of the Thomas Nelson Publishers is clearly evidenced by their
supposed concern and stated desire to "preserve the authority and accuracy...of
the original King James" Bible. Yet, Nelson is the largest publisher of Bibles
in the world and publishes eight of the nine modern versions including the iniquitous
Revised Standard Version, copyrighted by the apostate National Council of Churches.
If the Thomas Nelson Publishers were genuinely concerned about the purity of the
Scriptures, would they continue printing the RSV and other corrupted modern Bible
The duplicity of the NKJV scholars is also a matter for concern. Although
each scholar was asked to subscribe to a statement confirming his belief in the
plenary, divine, verbal inspiration of the original autographs (none of which
exist today), the question of whether or not they also believed in the divine
preservation of the divinely inspired originals was not an issue as it should
have been. Dr. Arthur Farstad, chairman of the NKJV Executive Review Committee
which had the responsibility of final text approval, stated that this committee
was about equally divided as to which was the better Greek New Testament text-the
Textus Receptus or the Westcott-Hort. Apparently none of them believed that either
text was the Divinely preserved Word of God. Yet, all of them participated in
a project to "protect and preserve the purity and accuracy" of the original KJV
based on the TR. Is not this duplicity of the worst kind, coming from supposedly
Further duplicity is revealed in the preface of the NKJV and in a 16-page
history of the KJV printed at the end. On page VI of the preface, NKJV readers
are given the following erroneous information: "There is only one basic New Testament
used by Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox, by conservatives and liberals."
This is simply not true! There are two basic New Testament texts-the Divinely
preserved Textus Receptus from which the original KJV was translated and the satanically
corrupted Westcott-Hort Text (and its revisions) which form the basis of all other
modern Bible versions.
NKJV readers are further misinformed as to why there are so many differences
between the original KJV and all the modern versions. On page VI of the preface,
NKJV readers are assured, "...That the most important differences in the English
New Testament of today are due, not to manuscript divergence, but to the way in
which translators view the task of translation." This simply is not true. Many
important differences in the English New Testament of today are indeed due to
manuscript divergence (over 5700 differences exist between the TR and WH Greek
texts) in addition to the divergent views of the scholars who produced the various
On page VII of the preface is another very significant statement concerning
the NKJV footnotes: "Significant explanatory notes, alternate translations, and
cross references, as well as New Testament citations of Old Testament passages,
are supplied in footnotes. Important textual variants in the Old Testament are
footnoted in a standard form. The textual information in the New Testament footnotes
is a unique provision in the history of the English Bible. Terms in the footnotes
such as 'better manuscripts' are avoided. The footnotes in the present edition
make no evaluation of the readings, but do clearly indicate the manuscript sources
of readings which diverge from the traditional text. Thus, a clearly defined presentation
of the variants is provided for the benefit of interested readers representing
all textual persuasions."
As a crowning climax of duplicity and inconsistency, the editors of the NKJV
make the following incongruous statements on pages 1,234 and 1,235 of the King
lames history printed at the conclusion of the NKJV text:
"The tendency of recent revisers has been to remove words and phrases from
the text of Scripture, based on the most recently discovered extant manuscripts.
In using the Greek text underlying the King James Bible, these words and phrases
were retained. And, in those few places where the majority of the manuscripts
did not support a word or phrase, that fact could best be indicated in a footnote.
(The New Testament of the New King James Version shows in its footnotes those
places where the major textual traditions differ from the language of the King
"It was the editors' conviction that the use of footnotes would encourage
further inquiry by readers. They also recognized that it was easier for the average
reader to delete something he or she felt was not properly a part of the text,
than to insert a word or phrase which had been left out by the revisers."
Will the next modem Bible be the "Do It Yourself" version? This would be a
distinct possibility if the advice of the NKJV editors in the two preceding paragraphs
were to be followed. In effect, they are saying, let each reader decide for himself
what portions, verses, phrases and words should be included in God's Holy Word."
NKJV footnotes, far from being helpful, are an invitation to disobey the plain
command of God not to add to or take from His Word. Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation
The preservation of God's divinely inspired Word is clearly set forth in Psalm
12:6,7, "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of
earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve
them from this generation forever. " God has fulfilled His promise through the
Textus Receptus and the King James Version. Those who replace the KJV with the
NKJV will have been duped into accepting a Bible which still bears a respected
name but one which has placed "readability" above purity.
The translators of the original King James Bible had a distinct advantage.
They were able to use their vast knowledge of ancient languages and translation
abilities prior to the time when the deadly virus of so-called "Higher Criticism"
infected the whole field of scholarship. False teachers boldly dissected God's
Word with the "tools of scholarship" in order to reconstruct it according to their
own speculations and presumptions. The result is a pseudo-intellectual aura in
which no one can be sure of anything. It's time to get back to the pure Word of
God where faith prevails and doubt is vanquished!
Believers who will take the time to compare the KJV with the NKJV and then
with other modern versions will see for themselves why the NKJV should be exposed
and repudiated as a polluted version. And, those who will take time to carefully
look at the NKJV footnotes will be doubly concerned and will join in warning others
Our plea to God's people is to reject the NKJV Bible and continue preaching,
teaching, memorizing and meditating upon the pure, unadulterated, Divinely preserved
milk and meat of God's Holy Word-The King James Authorized Version of 1611 upon
which God has placed His stamp of approval over a span of nearly four centuries.
Nothing is more important than the purity of God's Holy Word.
-M. H. REYNOLDS