Comparisons of Bible Versions
by Pastor Steve Youngblood
Among many confessions that come from the heart and mouth of a Christian, perhaps there is none that is of more importance than the following: "Every word of God is pure" (Prov.30:5). Prior to salvation, the believer may have exhibited an attitude of careless indifference or defiant rebellion towards God's revelation. However, once an individual has experienced God's saving grace in salvation he receives a new love, taste, passion, and concern for the Word of God, as spoken of in Psalm 119:140: "Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it."
The new convert soon discovers that there are numerous translations available on the market, all claiming to faithfully reproduce the original intentions of the biblical authors in modern English. Not being aware of textual criticism and the history of Catholic/Protestant translations, the neophyte usually chooses one translation as his main source based upon a pastor's endorsement or a popular media-personality's preference. Oftentimes, the decision is merely based on the fact that the new believer likes the way a certain version "reads," and feels comfortable with its style.
For some, years may pass before they ever discover the numerous discrepancies between the various Bible versions, especially the differences between the King James Version and all others. The average church member of this generation has been bombarded by religious advertising to believe that the KJV is archaic, antiquated, outmoded, and even faulty. The newer versions are exalted as paragons of faithfulness and purity to the oldest and best manuscripts, of which the KJV translators supposedly did not have access to, thus leading the consumer to purchase a modern translation that contains the Word of God in easy-to-understand English.
Perhaps through the influence of a friend, booklet, or one's own personal comparisons of the various translations, an individual eventually begins to comprehend that the differences between the KJV and other translations involve more than archaic English. Many have been surprised to discover not only that words or phrases have been deleted from modern versions, but that entire verses have been omitted in some cases.
Have you ever personally looked into this issue? Have you ever done a comparison of modern versions with the KJV? Would it bother you if you were given demonstrable proof that the NIV, NAS, and other translations omit important words, phrases, and verses that affect Bible doctrines? Many evangelical Christians are totally apathetic when shown obvious discrepancies and errors in the newer versions. Such disinterestedness is appalling in the life of a professing Christian who claims to follow Christ in the pathway of discipleship, especially considering that Christ himself said that "...the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). Even more, our Lord said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). May God raise up in our generation an army of believers who are thoroughly persuaded that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God," and unflinchingly hold to verbal inspiration rather than conceptual inspiration!
How many words or phrases would have to be deleted from your Bible before you would become uncomfortable or upset? Would you be disgruntled if you were to discover that someone had taken a pair of scissors and cut five words out of your Bible? How about ten words? Or one hundred words? To better understand the issue being discussed, consider your own home. Assuming that you owned a brick home, how many bricks would have to be removed before you would begin to be upset? Would it bother you if a thief stole one of the bricks from the front of your house? How about ten bricks, or one hundred bricks? It is possible that even if one hundred bricks were removed, your house would still stand and be recognized as a home, but its structure would be seriously weakened, would it not? Would it be of any consolation for a building contractor to inform you that all of the modern homes were being built that way, and were actually superior to the older homes that had no bricks missing? An honest observer would have to admit that, although the home that was missing bricks was still liveable, it was clearly deficient in structural soundness, and that it was inferior to homes that were not missing any bricks! And so it is with modern Bible versions when they are compared to the KJV, which is based on the vast majority of Greek manuscripts that support the Textus Receptus. The modern versions are based on a few contradictory and corrupt manuscripts that are replete with additions, omissions, and changes. Consider the following omissions, and see if honesty does not demand the admission that modern versions are corrupt and inferior to the KJV.
- KJV: "And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son."
- NAS: "...until she gave birth to a Son."
- NIV: "...until she gave birth to a son."
- NAB: "...until she bore a son..." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
- NWT: "...until she gave birth to a son."
(Note: The New World Translation (NWT) is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)
It is obvious by way of comparison that the modern versions are missing a "brick" or word, "firstborn." Does it really matter that this one word is missing from the cited verse? Is the meaning of the text changed by this "little" deletion? And why do the NIV and NAS agree with the translations that the Watchtower Society and Roman Catholicism endorses?
James R. White, author of The King James Only Controversy, would have us believe that this omission is simply an example of "parallel influence" (p.217), wherein previous copyists of Bible manuscripts were "influenced" to take the word "firstborn" from Luke 2:7 and insert it into Matthew 1:25! White, with tongue-in-cheek, seeks to defend the deletion of "firstborn" from the NIV and NAS by telling his readers that the word is still in Luke 2:7 in these same translations. Never mind the fact that our forefathers in The Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith believed that the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek were "immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages."
White's "defense" flippantly bypasses the problem of "firstborn" being deleted from the NIV and NAS by asserting that the word is an addition to the Textus Receptus, a serious verdict for anyone who believes Proverbs 30:6: "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." If White is correct, then the KJV contains an error in Matthew 1:25! Such should be a matter of great concern to any Christian who believes that every word of God is pure and inspired. However, if White is wrong (and he is!), then the modern versions are corrupt, and come under the judgment of God, as revealed in Deuteronomy 4:2: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it..." White's smokescreen is nothing more than a mere waving of his magical wand to hoodwink those who are not familiar with the different manuscripts that the newer versions are based on!
Let us come together and reason about the deletion of "firstborn" in the newer versions. It is obvious that this omission favors the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary had only one child, while the KJV reveals that Jesus was the first of several children that she and Joseph had together. Matthew 13:55,56 makes it clear that Mary and Joseph had other children after Jesus was born first. The deletion of "firstborn" also makes room for the Roman Catholic teaching of Mary's perpetual virginity. James White would tell us that the deletion is no big deal since the word is recorded in Luke 2:7 in the modern versions. Again, would it bother you to discover that one brick had been removed from your home? Perhaps the thief will return five, ten, or twenty years later and remove the other brick (Luke 2:7). What are we to do if modern scholarship discovers some new manuscripts down the road, and tells us that "firstborn" in Luke 2:7 was a copyist's error or interpolation?!
Some may be surprised to realize that the bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses agrees with the NIV and the NAS against the KJV? Why is this? The answer is found in the Foreward of the NWT, wherein it is stated that their translation is based on the Greek text revised by Westcott and Hort. By-and-large, the manuscripts being used by translators of the modern versions are based on the same manuscripts that Westcott and Hort revised to produce the Revised Version (1881). Prior to 1881, all Protestant translations in the English language were based on the Textus Receptus (excluding Wycliffe's translation).
White moves about among evangelical circles, and is considered by some to be a leading advocate for the legitimacy of the modern translations that are based on the Nestle/Aland Greek text, but his nonchalant attitude towards the omission and/or deletion of words from various manuscripts reveals a serious shortcoming in logical reasoning. His vindication for the omission of "firstborn" in the modern translations is to simply state that it is still found in Luke 2:7, apparently thinking that such an argument would hold weight with his readership, many of whom would be fooled by such a slipshod assertion that seems plausible. However, such an attitude towards the Word of God does not represent the mindset of Bible believers who hold to innerancy, but of those who are neoevangelical in their thinking. If it does not matter whether a word, phrase, or sentence is deleted from the Greek text, then we have no authoritative standard, and should be honest enough to admit that we believe in the doctrine of errancy, i.e., that the Bible has errors. Such a view places the Christian in a precarious position, for he must ultimately rely on the so-called scholars and textual critics to pontificate concerning what words or phrases are inspired, a field that has revealed itself to be constantly fluctuating in its determinations of the true biblical text.
In the light of Rome's history of suppressing the Word of God from the laity, it is interesting to see her in this present era now producing copies of their Bible (NAB)"in cooperation with our separated brethren...with the approval of Church authority" (from the Preface). If you can't beat them, then try joining them! Our Protestant forefathers would be flabbergasted to realize that their modern-day counterparts are now working hand-in-hand with Roman scholars, and using the same corrupted Greek texts to produce Bibles for both groups! Undoubtedly, truth is stranger than fiction!
- KJV: "...whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment."
- NAS: "...everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court."
- NIV: "...anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment."
- NAB: "...whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
- NWT: "...everyone who continues wrathful with his brother will be accountable to the court of justice." (Note: The New World Translation is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)
This verse demonstrates the great importance of basing one's theology and practice upon the proper Greek text, and its corresponding translation. The modern versions base their translation of Matthew 5:22 upon two primary manuscripts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, which happen to contradict one another in innumerable instances, and repeatedly conflict with the Textus Receptus. Any honest student of the Bible would have to admit that there is a significant difference between the KJV and the other translations cited above.
If the modern translations give the true writing of the apostle Matthew, then what are we to think of the attitude of the Lord Jesus as revealed in Mark 3:5, wherein we read that he "looked round about on them with anger"? Is he guilty before the court and subject to judgment?! It would appear from the NAS and NIV that the Lord of glory violated his own teachings given in the Sermon on the Mount! Obviously, the anger of Christ was a holy, righteous, and unblemished anger, far removed from the anger of mere men who are usually motivated by improper attitudes and motives. The Bible also reveals in other places that anger can be free from the blemish of sin if it emanates from the heart of an individual who is motivated by godly zeal. Eph. 4:26 states: "Be ye angry, and sin not..." Would anyone be willing to fault Moses for his attitudes and actions when he descended from Mount Sinai and broke the tablets before the people? Exodus 32:19 tells us that "Moses' anger waxed hot." There are times when anger is proper, right, and necessary, especially when it relates to the desecration of holy things by wicked and profane men. This writer thinks that it would be inappropriate for true Bible believers to display a flippant attitude towards the very topic being discussed, i.e., the innerancy of Scripture.
Referring back to our previous illustration mentioned at the beginning of this article, would it bother you if a thief stole three bricks from your house? Or if you had a bag of gold kept in the vault of a local bank, would you care if one of the employees reached into that bag and took out three golden nuggets for his own use? Well, if you think the way certain men do about the omission of certain words from the biblical text being no great matter, then you would have no problem with a few bricks or gold pieces that were found missing from your property. However, if you would be irate at losing three bricks from your house or three golden pieces from your bag, then how much more should you be upset when "scholars" steal words from your Bible and say that they have not undermined the integrity and authority of God's revelation!
After all of the smoke has cleared from the air concerning the omission of "without a cause" in Matthew 5:22, we are still faced with a serious question that demands a verdict: Did the apostle Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, write the three words that are recorded in the KJV, or did he not?! This is not a trifling matter that is to be decided on the basis of one's preferences or predilections. The issue must be determined on the basis of the majority of Greek manuscripts that were preserved by the hand of Providence, not upon two corrupt manuscripts that were rejected by our Protestant ancestors. Those who hold to the superiority of the modern versions are the ones who must explain the omission in their translations, and explain how it can be reconciled with the actions of men like Moses, Phinehas (Num.25:8), Nehemiah (Neh.13:25), and David (1 Sam. 17:26), who exercised a holy anger towards sin and the desecration of God's Law, let alone the anger of the Lord demonstarted in Mark 3:5 and in the cleansing of the Temple.
- KJV: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
- NAS: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."
- NIV: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
- NAB: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
- NWT: "Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you." (Note: The New World Translation is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)
Here is an amazing contrast between the KJV and the other translations! An elementary mathematician would readily spot the significant deletion of sixteen words from the text. Again, as will be repeated throughout this article, the difference is found in the different Greek texts which are being utilized in the translation process. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the golden calves that are idolized by modern "scholarship" as the final authorities in trying to determine what the original authors of the holy scriptures actually wrote, although these same textual critics are often men who scoff at the notion of innerancy, believing that the original penmen of Scripture, as well as scribes who later copied the extant manuscripts, were susceptible of errors in reporting history, numbers, geography, etc. A good example of this can be seen in Bart D. Ehrman's book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: "My thesis can be stated simply: scribes occasionally altered the words of their sacred texts to make them more patently orthodox and to prevent their misuse by Christians who espoused aberrant views" (p.xi). Although Ehrman does not comment upon Matthew 5:44 in his book, he would undoubtedly hold that certain scribes added the sixteen words found in the KJV text, and deny that heretical scribes may have been the ones responsible for the deletions found in the minority manuscripts. Liberal scholarship turns the truth upside down, and makes illogical assertions such as are found in the title of Ehrman's work. Instead of it being a matter of heretics corrupting the scriptures for their own personal ideologies and doctrines, we are now told that it was actually a case of corruption by the orthodox! The sad thing about the whole matter is that many leading evangelical spokesmen endorse the modern translations, and give hearty approval to those who write in defense of their corrupt renderings!
Again, what is the Bible reader to do when he discovers the discrepancy between the versions found in Matthew 5:44? Whether he likes it or not, he is forced to become a textual critic himself, often relying upon subjective inclinations and doubtful deductions to determine which translation contains error. For this is the only plausible conclusion he can come to, since both translations cannot be right. One is right, and one is wrong! Both cannot be wrong unless you do not believe in divine preservation. Either Matthew wrote the words recorded in the KJV, or he did not write those words. If the KJV rendering is correct, then the modern translations contain serious error in deleting the words originally given by the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, if the modern translations give the true reading, then the KJV contains seriour error in adding to the words of the living God. This is the crux of the matter! We must not put our heads into the sand by asserting that both sides contain truth, for we are not dealing with an ordinary book that simply comes from human inspiration. We are dealing with a special book that claims to be given by the inspiration of God. Let us handle God's Word with reverence, not with careless indifference.
Do not be deceived by those who would seek to soothe your conscience over the omissions found in this verse by saying that you can find those missing truths in other portions of God's Word. Such chicanery is a smokescreen used by liberals to deceive the masses from considering the possibility that their carving up of the Bible just might be the activity of one lurking in the shadows, who delights in stealing God's Word (cf. Matt. 13:19; Gen. 3:1).
- KJV: "For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
- NAS: "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
- NIV: "For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
- NAB: "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Note: The New American Bible is a popular Catholic translation)
- NWT: "For I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners."
(Note: The NWT is the "bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses)
Many leading evangelicals in our generation are teaching their students and/or church members that repentance is not a part of the gospel. Should we be surprised at such a position when the new translations that are being used in seminary classrooms and pulpits have deleted Christ's calling of men to repentance from sin in Matthew 9:13?! The two words that are missing, "to repentance," are full of weighty importance in revealing just exactly what Christ is calling sinners to! The KJV translation makes it clear that Christ is not calling men to positive thinking, moral reformation, political causes, financial schemes, or to a simple "acceptance" of him as their religious leader. He is calling them to forsake their sin! The omission of these two words takes the "bite" out of the humbling effect that is produced when men and women realize that a holy God demands godly repentance and forsaking of sin in order to experience true salvation. Modern man finds such a thought to be most unpalatable!
We need to pause and ask ourselves, "Does it matter whether our gospel invitations to those who are lost includes a call to repentance, or not?" Consider the following:
- The message of John the Baptist was "repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2)
- The message of Christ himself was "repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)
- The message of Peter was "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ..." (Acts 2:38)
- The message of Paul before the heathen philosophers at Athens was this: "...but now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30)
- The message of Paul to both Jews and Gentiles was "that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:20)
- The message of Paul while ministering in Ephesus was "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21)
The Great Commission that Christ gave to his church included the preaching of repentance, for he said "that repentanceand remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations." In light of the above passages that set forth repentance as integral to a proper gospel call, all who hold to the Word of God as their final authority should feel unsettled in their mind when they realize that the new translations omit "to repentance" in Matthew 9:13. The deletion of these two words fits very nicely into the theology that is disseminated by the Watchtower Society through local Kingdom Halls that deny the total depravity of men. When people feel that they have some innate goodness or power to work out their own salvation, then they will find it convenient to throw overboard any words or message that is offensive to their personal feelings or theology. Multitudes of professing Christians who are enamored with their modern translations are completely unaware of the hatchet job that was completed in 1881 by a committee of Englishmen who were given the task to update any archaic words in the KJV, but chose to take the liberty to completely forge a new translation that was based upon a new Greek text that they formulated according to their own textual and theological biases. When left to themselves behind closed doors, theological liberals took it upon themselves to cut, mutilate, and delete hundreds of words under the guiding of hand of B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort. You can thank Westcott and Hort if you discover that your translation has omitted the words "to repentance" in Matthew 9:13. D.A. Carson, in his book, The King James Version Debate applauds the past work of these two men:
"The theories of Westcott and Hort are almost universally accepted today. It is on this basis that Bible translators since 1881 have, as compared with the King James Version, left out some things and added a few others. Subsequent textual critical work accepted the theories of Westcott and Hort. The vast majority of evangelical scholars hold that the basic textual theories of Westcott and Hort were right and the church stands greatly in their debt."
For those who have had the smoke cleared from their eyes by reading the doctrinal beliefs of these two men, and who have found their theories to be altogether faulty and illogical, they will disagree with Carson by saying that the church today stands greatly in their deceit, not their debt!
Again, by way of repetition, does it bother you to know that someone has stolen two words from the Word of God? Two bricks removed from the front of your house or two golden nuggets stolen from your valuables kept at a local bank would cause you great consternation! How much more should we pause for reflection when we begin to discover words, important words, missing from the pages of Scripture. The gospel invitation calls men "to repentance."