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KJV:  Does it need correcting? 

Gary Googe Feb 05

I guess you know that the KJV term is used to refer to the King James Version of the Bible.  In that title it always serves to remind us that the King James Bible is simply a VERSION of the Bible, nothing more and nothing less than that.  Only the original text in the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic is perfect.  That can’t be rightly said about any translation.  The church was not without a Bible until the 1611 KJV. I know that to some people the question in the heading of this article is a foolish one.  But let’s see if we can look at this subject with some honest objectivity.  Unfortunately, I know there will be some who are so firmly set in their traditional thinking that they won’t be willing to do that.  I hope you won’t let yourself be one of them.  

As you may know, there are other articles on this subject on our website.

 Bible:  What are we to think of the King James Version (KJV)? 

KJV: Which verses demand the Greek text to be understood?

If you haven’t read them, I hope you will soon.  Certainly, there are times when being completely objective about a matter can be difficult for all of us.  

Below is a list of a few passages to serve as examples of the point I want to make in this article.  We’ll begin with one of my favorites because of what it says and not just because of how it is translated in the King James Version of the Bible.  However, if all I had to read about this was a KJV of the Bible, we today wouldn’t even know what the verse is talking about.  Therefore, there’s no way under those circumstances that we could appreciate it as we should.  Here’s the first I want to mention about all this.

Philippians 3:20

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

Question:  Is our conversation as believers in Heaven? Is this what this verse is talking about? What immediately comes to your mind when you see that word, conversation? Is this verse talking about a conversation as we typically use that word today? I know what comes to my mind when I read that, and I highly suspect I know what comes to yours.  But what is there in the Greek text of this passage of Scripture that helps us understand what is being said? It is the Greek word POLITEUMA.  And what does that word mean? It is where we get the English word politics, but it means citizenship! Therefore, this verse is telling us our citizenship as believers is in Heaven, not “our conversation.”  What a wonderful piece of information this verse is giving us? But would we know that if we didn’t look outside the KJV for more information about it? No way! In this case, we can’t even go elsewhere in the Scriptures to help us with our understanding of what is being said in that verse as it is written in the KJV.  In technical terms this word is what is called a hapax legomenon which means this is the only place in all the Bible where this term POLITEUMA is used.  Therefore, if we didn’t have some other resources outside the KJV Bible to help us with our understanding of the meaning of this passage, we could look at it for a thousand years and never figure it out.  Even looking at the context in which it is stated wouldn’t help us.  In other words, if we strictly lived by the “KJV only” philosophy, we’d never know the meaning of this wonderful verse.  It would remain unknown to us all.

A second verse of many for our consideration is found in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; [Emphasis added]

There are some who would claim this is talking about a falling away theologically, a falling away from following the teachings of the Scriptures.  Even though that certainly will happen in the last days of our present Dispensation of Grace, that’s not what this verse is talking about.  The Greek word in this case is APOSTASIA.  As you can see, it is where we get the English word apostasy.  It has a definite article in front of it in the text of this passage, so it is talking about a specific event.  Eleven times in the King James Version of the Bible this same verb form of this word is translated to departOnly here is it translated as “a falling away.”  But in this case, the Greek word helps us, but it is also the context of the passage that also helps us understand what we’re being told.  If we didn’t have the context, we’d be better off to just leave it as it is in the KJV.  But because of the context we should realize it is best translated as so many other passages are in the KJV with the word, departure.  So, let’s look at it again, but in its context.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

Here this “gathering together unto him” is speaking of the Rapture, the sudden departure of the Body of Christ from the face of the Earth to meet the Lord in the air, as discussed in other passages like 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the Tribulation period] shall not come, except there come a falling away [APOSTASIA = departure (speaking of the Rapture)] first, and that man of sin [the one often spoken of as the anti-Christ] be revealed, the son of perdition [APOLLUMI = destruction or ruin];

4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. [Emphasis added]

Please note that Paul is encouraging these people.  He’s helping them see that those who are believers when this man comes and is made known, members of what is spoken of as the Body of Christ will first be removed.  They will suddenly depart from the Earth.  They will all be removed by this event we speak of as the Rapture and not have to live in that period called the Tribulation.  

These people to whom Paul was writing in this passage had become fearful of current events, thinking the antichrist and the suffering that will come to people in that time was then upon them.  He says what he says here to console them, assuring them they won’t even be here on Earth then to have to experience that.  But, again, without a look at the Greek text and the context of the passage, we wouldn’t know this.  Having only the KJV we would not have a right understanding of this passage.

A third and very important example is the use of the word will as we see it in the King James Version and some other versions of the Bible.  While I use the KJV nearly every day, there are some problems with it, as you’ll find to be the case with ALL translations of the Bible.  Here’s another example of that.

1 Timothy 2:3-5

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [Emphasis added]

That’s a wonderful passage of Scripture with several very important doctrinal principles we all need to know and believe.  But let’s note verse four.  In that verse you see the word will used.  One could read that and think that God is going to save all men without exception and that they will all come to the knowledge of the truth.  Then in the next verse we have more information to relate to this.  It says there is one God, and one mediator between God and men.  There, too, one could conclude that because God has provided a Savior for all men, all men will be saved.  Is that what we’re to understand from this passage? To get a correct understanding of what is being said, we need to first address this word, will.  In the Greek text from which this is translated we find the word THELO.  It is a word that means wish or desire.  Therefore, what the verse is telling us is that God desires or wishes for all to be saved, not that they all will be saved.  We also find in this passage [verse 3] that God has provided a Savior for all.  But does this mean everyone without exception is going to eventually be saved to end up in Heaven? No, it does not!  For every generation of all history God has lovingly and graciously offered man a means to salvation.  But to gain that salvation God has required man to express faith in what He has provided as the way to salvation.  What the object of that faith is to be has changed from time to time historically.  Today God demands faith in what we sometimes refer to as the cross-work of Jesus Christ.  That includes His death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection from His grave.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Faith in this which He did for us provides immediate and permanent salvation for anyone who believes it. But notice another passage about this.  Here we are told that man’s works will not save him.

Romans 4:4-5

4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Obviously, everyone is not going to be saved.  Salvation only comes to those who accept God’s provision for it.  It is faith in Jesus Christ that brings about the imputation of divine righteousness for man’s salvation.  But only to those who choose to believe in this which He did for them is it provided.  If there’s no belief and faith expressed, there’s no salvation provided.  So, while God desires all to be saved, only those who put their faith in God’s provision for it WILL be saved.  Like the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter also speaks of God’s desire for the salvation of all.  But nowhere does he tell us all people will be saved.

2 Peter 3:9

9 The Lord is not slack [BRADUNO = slow] concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing [THELO = wishing or desiring] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [METANOIA = a change of mind]. [Emphasis added]

It has always amazed me how some people, including preachers foolishly put down and belittle the importance of the original languages of Scripture.  Some try to convince us the King James Version of the Bible is all that anyone ever needs.  That is simply not true!  If one is serious about getting to the truth, somewhere or somehow, they’re going to need some assistance with English translations of the Bible.  

Even though I’ll always have a lot to learn, I’m so grateful for the many people God has used to bring me to the understanding I now have of the Bible.  Some of that took place in classrooms where there was someone teaching Greek or Hebrew.  It has certainly been quite a journey.  But as challenging as that was, it has been a wonderful journey!  I wouldn’t take anything for it.

A fourth and last item I’ll use to make my point about the King James Version of the Bible is the word ghost.  Time and time again we have references to the Holy Ghost.  Now, honestly, what do most people think of when they hear or read that word? I think you know they don’t think of God.  Instead, they think of what people typically refer to as a ghost, as with Halloween.  Don’t they? Of course, they do! How many times do we see the term Holy Ghost in Scripture? I’d hate to have to count them.  But is this the best term to use to translate the Greek text in these passages? It is not!

Now we should all know that there’s no such thing as ghosts.  But we have passages like this one.

Matthew 14:22-29

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. [Emphasis added]

Here again, the Greek text serves to help us as it always does.  Interestingly enough, the King James Bible translators translated the Greek word, PNEUMA in verse twenty-six, with the word spirit.  The word in the Greek text there is PHANTISMA which is where we get the word phantom.  You would think they would have at least translated it with the word phantom or ghost.  But here they translate it with the word spirit.  Again, what confusion! Strange indeed! Or at least it is for us today living with twenty-first century English.  I won’t speculate as to why they translated this with the word, spirit, but fortunately we have the Greek text to help us to gain a correct understanding.


Therefore, in answer to our question, the King James Version being a translation of the Bible can definitely stand some correction.  If we don’t apply some spiritual common sense to this, we’ll forever remain in the dark about some things.   The “King James Only” people may be sincere in their beliefs, but I, too, have from time to time found myself to be wrong about some things.  Haven’t we all? But, as it is with so many things, ignorance sometimes prevails.

Sometimes people speak of the King James Version as “the authorized version.” What does that mean? Whoauthorized” it? King James I! Does that mean he had some kind of special divine authority for this authorization?  If he did, where did he get it? And by whose authority was it authorized as the Word of God? Only by virtue of the fact that King James I was King of England! That is all!  It is clear that we have confusion stacked on more confusion about all this.  Anyone is free to create a translation of the Bible and we are all responsible for what we come to believe from it.  Furthermore, what we believe God is telling us through the Bible is extremely important.  Therefore, accuracy in the Scripture IS very important.  In all my many years of learning and teaching things from the Bible I have strived to do that.  I hope you will do the same.  I hope you’ll avoid the false teaching and the false assumptions that are out there about a lot of things.  Never let anyone tell you the KJV is anything more than a version and a translation of the Bible.  I’ve enjoyed it all my life, but it does need to be corrected from time to time.

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