Lesson Eleven: Translational Considerations

Lesson Eleven: Translational Considerations

“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”–2 Peter 3:16

The majority of objections to the King James Bible can be placed in one of two categories. The first deals with the text. In regard to this, we have not only considered the underlining Greek text of the Authorized Version, but also the Greek text which underlines the vast majority of modern versions. Additionally, we have also considered several places where opponents of the KJV have claimed corruption in the text. Each time, we have found support for God’s word and the doctrine of preservation.

The second category deals not with the underlining Greek text of the King James Bible, but the translation of it. The claim is often made that since 1611 our language has so drastically changed that we can no longer make sense of the archaic Elizabethan English found in the pages of this antiquated version. Although we will deal with this issue in greater detail in our next lesson, we must pause to say that according to Holy Scripture, the Bible was never intended to be easily read or understood. In fact, the Holy Spirit claims that much of God’s word is “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). For this, and other reasons, men have sought to challenge it by simply changing it.

The following are a few examples of where claims are made against the King James in regard to its English translation. In each case, as with all the others which are not mentioned, the answer provided by man is scholarship. However, we find that in each case this man-centered scholarship falls short and never at any time provides the Believer with the preserved word of God. Therefore, the final authority becomes scholarship and not Scripture. Nonetheless, the Bible-believing Christian places their faith in the promises of God and is rewarded with the assurance that God has in fact kept and preserved His words as He has promised.

Jeremiah 34:16–But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.

The problem found in this verse deals with the little word “ye.” Some editions of the KJV read, “whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure,” instead of as it appears in the above text. James R. White asks, “The question for the KJV Only advocate is, ‘How do you determine which one is right?’ ” (The King James Only Controversy, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995, p. 80). He then mistakenly states that this dilemma cannot be determined by going back to the original edition of the KJV printed in 1611 since it, “has undergone changes of similar nature over the years.” (Ibid., p. 81).

These type of arguments have nothing to do with either the Hebrew text, the translation found in the KJV, or the doctrine of preservation. It has to do with what has already been addressed in lesson seven. This is simply a printing error which some printers still maintain. Mr. White’s objection is absurd, as correcting a printing mistake is not changing the text.

Another example of such a printing error can be found in Acts 6:3. The original edition of 1611 had the correct reading:

Wherefore brethren, looke ye out among you seuen men of honest report, full of the holy Ghost, and wifedome, whom we may appoint ouer this businesse.

However, a printed edition in 1638 read, “whom he may appoint over this businesse.” Yet, current editions have again corrected this printing error so that it again reads, “whom we may appoint over this business.”

As to Jeremiah 34:16, the original edition of 1611 read, “whome yee had set at libertie at their pleasure.” James White notes that it is the edition printed by Oxford which reads “he” while the edition printed by Cambridge reads “ye.” (Ibid., p.80). John R. Dore has correctly stated that, “The University of Oxford did not begin to print Bibles until the year 1675, when the first was issued in quarto size; the spelling was revised by Dr. John Fell, Dean of Oxford.” (John R. Dore, Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1888, p. 346). Cambridge, agreeing with the edition of 1611, first began printing KJV Bibles in 1629 by Thomas and John Buck.

Although I cannot prove that the error falls to Dr. John Fell in his 1675 Oxford edition, I can state that considerable time passed before the error was introduced, with the error limited to the editions published by Oxford or based on the Oxford edition. This has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of Biblical preservation, for the reading is found in the original edition, the Cambridge edition, and current editions based on either the original 1611 or Cambridge editions. This has everything to do with what Bible-believers have claimed about the so-called four revisions of the KJV. These revisions deal with orthography (spelling), calligraphy (style of writing), or printing errors (as we find here).

Daniel 3:25–He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Newer versions read, “and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (NIV), or “and the fourth has the appearance of a god” (NRSV). Dr. Jack Lewis addresses this and explains, ” ‘The Son of God’ (Dan. 3:25) can only be taken by the reader as implying that Jesus was in the furnace, but Nebuchadnezzar says he saw an ‘angel’ (Dan. 3:28); hence ‘a son of god’ or ‘of the gods’ –that is, an angelic being–must be understood.” (The English Bible: From KJV to NIV, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981, pp. 45-46).

This is ridiculous. First, we need not interpret the Bible in light of what Nebuchadnezzar proclaims. Second, the explanation of the fourth man being “an angel” would not exclude a pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ since He is, in the Old Testament, referred to as the “Angel of the Lord.” Dr. Emery Bancroft writes, ” ‘The Angel of the Lord’ is clearly a manifestation of Deity in the Old Testament, and is identified with the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘The Angel of the Lord’ was God the Son before His permanent incarnation.” (Elemental Theology, Zondervan Publishing House, 1960, p. 26). He offers Judges 13:18; Isaiah 9:6; Malachi 3:1 and John 8:56 as proof of his statement. Nor would King Nebuchadnezzar be ignorant of the prophecy concerning the Son of God (Psalm 2:7,12 and Proverbs 30:4), since he read the Hebrew Scriptures and had the insights of not only these three Hebrew children, but of the Prophet Daniel as well. Most of all, modern versions and interpreters such as Jack Lewis, ignore the truth of the passage. It was not “a god,” or “a son of the gods,” which was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This was also the understanding of the early Church Fathers, again something that modern translators forget in their endeavor to correct the Word of God. Athanasius (373 AD) wrote:

Who is this “Well-beloved” but the Only-begotten Son? As also in the hundred and ninth, “From the womb I begat Thee before the morning star,” concerning which I shall speak afterwards; and in the Proverbs, “Before the hills He begat me;” and in Daniel, “And the form of the Fourth is like the Son of God;” and many others. If then from the Old be ancientness, ancient must be the Son, who is clearly described in the Old Testament in many places. (Four Discourses Against The Arians, IV:24)

Further, the Hebrew word used in the passage, “elahh,” is the very same word used in verses 15, 17, 26, 28, and 29 of the same chapter (as well as many other places). In these verses “elahh” is translated as “God.”

George Lamsa’s translation, based on the Syrian texts, indicates that the Old Syrian manuscripts agree with the translation of the KJV. Lamsa’s version reads, “The king answered and said, Behold I see men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt: and the appearance of the fourth is like that of the Son of God.” It is also interesting that the Greek Septuagint agrees with the KJV, something modern scholarship seems to overlook here. The LXX uses the Greek word “Theou” (of God) which stands in the singular and not the plural. It is the reading of the Old Latin translations and the reading found in the Douay-Rheims Version (although in this version it is found in verse 92). Therefore, the verse is hardly limited to the KJV only. The Authorized Version of 1611 gives the correct reading in accordance with the historic interpretation of the passage, the uses of the Hebrew word, and the context of the passage.

Mark 6:20–For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

James White writes,

Did Herod ‘observe’ John, as the KJV says, or ‘keep him safe,’ as the NASB says? The Greek term simply does not mean ‘observe,’ but instead means ‘to protect.’ One might possibly suggest that ‘observe’ once meant ‘to protect,’ but such seems a long stretch, especially since the KJV renders the same word ‘preserve’ at Matthew 9:17 and Luke 5:38. (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 224-225).

The problem is not with the translation, but with modern scholarship’s lack of comprehension concerning the English language. According to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the word “observe” comes from the Latin word “observare” which means to watch, guard, and observe. (Philip Babcock Gove, editor. Springfield Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1981, p. 1558). This agrees with Dr. John C. Traupman’s Latin Dictionary which defines “observare” as >>to watch, watch out for, take careful note of; to guard; to observe, keep, obey, comply with; to pay attention to, pay respect to. (New York: Amsco School Publications, 1966, p.200). Further, the Oxford English Dictionary offers this definition of “observe” as well: “6. To regard with attention; to watch; to watch over, look after.” (The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, J.A.Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner, editors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, p. 1196).

For the most part, we think of the word “observe” as meaning to watch, study, or take notice of. However, it also means to keep, protect, or preserve. For example, we speak of “observing the speed limit.” We do not mean that we are watching how fast we travel down the road, we mean we are obeying or keeping the law of the land. Some observe the Sabbath, or a religious holiday. Again, this means they keep or respect the day. When the Coast Guard speaks of “observing our shores,” they mean they are protecting them. So it is with Forest Rangers who set up “observation posts” for the purpose of protecting the wilderness. Both “observe” and “preserve” mean to keep something. This is why this very same Greek word is used in Luke 2:19 and is translated as “kept,” “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

The basic Greek word is “suntereo.” According to the 1978 revision of The Analytical Greek Lexicon it is defined as, “to observe strictly, or to secure from harm, protect.” (Harold K. Moulton, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 392.) James H. Moulton and George Milligan note that one of the uses of this word in ancient non-literary writings is when, “a veteran claims that in view of his long military service, exemption from public burdens ought to be ‘strictly observed’ in his case.” (The Vocabulary Of The Greek Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949, p.614). These definitions stand in direct contrast with White’s statement that, “the Greek term simply does not mean ‘observe,’ but instead means ‘to protect.’ ” Clearly, it means both. The problem is not with the King James Bible, but with those who do not fully understand either Greek or their own language.

In one sense, this is a good argument for the KJV. When we limit our understanding, we limit ourselves and our growth as Christians and humans. Modern versions, in trying to simplify our language, have limited our understanding of English and many of our great historical and literary writings outside the Scriptures. In this way, they have done us a great disservice.

Notice how the word “observed” is used in the following writings. In each case, the word is taken to mean “kept” and not “watch.”

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the Unite States of America, have caused the said Convention to be made public, to the end that the same and every article and clause thereof, may be observed and fulfilled with good faith by the United States and the citizens thereof. (Convention Between The United States And The Republic Of Panama, 1904, Article XXVI: 130.

Whoever can there bring sufficient proof that he has strictly observed the laws of his country for seventy-three moons, has a claim to certain privileges, according to his quality and condition of life, with a proportionable sum of money out of a fund appropriated for that use: (Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part 1: Chapter 6, paragraph 5)

FIRST SAILOR. Sir, your queen must overboard: the sea works high, the wind is loud, and will not lie till the ship be clear’d of the dead.

PERICLES. That’s your superstition.

FIRST SAILOR. Pardon us, sir; with us at sea it hath been still observed, and we are strong in custom. Therefore briefly yield ‘er; for she must overboard straight. (William Shakespeare, Pericles, Act 3, Scene 1, line 60)

White also makes an additional statement concerning this text and the translation produced by the Authorized Version in a footnote to his book.

We note in passing how inferior even this rendering by the KJV is. ‘He was a just man and an holy’ makes little sense; what is ‘an holy’? Instead, the Greek phrase is quite easily translated as the NASB, ‘he was a righteous and holy man,’ both terms ‘righteous’ and ‘holy’ plainly describing John. (The King James Only Controversy, p. 238).

This is a very strange statement, coming from a professor of New Testament Greek. The student of Greek knows that often a Greek adjective can be used for a Greek noun. For example, the Greek word for good is “agathos.” The Greek phrase “o agathos” can mean “the good” or it can mean “the good man.” The noun is understood in the adjective. This being the case, it is hard to understand how Mr. White cannot apply the same to his understanding of English. The phrase, “an holy” obviously means “a holy man” as the context reveals.

Thomas Hubeart, one of the students in our class, has justly made the following observation as it relates to the above interpretation by James White. He writes,

One cannot help but call Mr. White’s attention to the fact that the New American Standard’s rendering of the phrase means the same things as the KJV’s rendering! ‘A just man and an holy’ plainly means a just and holy man, since ‘man’ is obviously implied by the construction of the English phrase.

Brother Hubeart then does a wonderful job of illustrating this by citing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

But you have told us nothing!” cried the doctor. “Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of events,” said Holmes. “There were three of them in it: the young man, the old man, and a third, to whose identity I have no clue. . . .<< –*The Resident Patient.* (see Thomas Hubeart’s Web Site; http://members.aol.com/basfawlty)

John 1:18–No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

The phrase in question is “the only begotten Son.” There are two variants here: one with the Greek text and the other with the translation. The Greek of the Traditional Text reads, “o monogenes eos” (the only begotten Son). The Greek of the Alexandrian Text reads, “o monogenes theos” (the only begotten God). Additionally, the Greek word “monogenes” is no longer looked upon as being translated as “only begotten” but is now considered better translated as “unique” or “one and only.”

Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, who served as the executive secretary of the Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version, had this to say concerning this passage.

A striking case of where the KJV, following bad Greek copies of the original text, changed the original is (sic) John 1:18. The KJV says, ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ John 1:18, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, is one of those few clear and decisive texts that declare that Jesus is God. But, scripts, altered what the Holy Spirit said through John, calling Jesus ‘Son.’ Using the archaic language of the KJV, the verse should read: ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten God, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ Or to say it in a modern and elegant way: ‘No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only [Son], who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ [NIV]. (The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, Kenneth L. Barker editor, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986, p. 143).

The statement by Dr. Palmer is interesting on several levels. First there is the question on the textual level. The phrase “monogenes theos” is found in P66 and P75, as well as Codex Vaticanius and Codex Sinaiticus (and a few other manuscripts). The reading, “monogenes eos” is found in the vast majority of Greek witnesses and ancient translations. This is a classic example illustrating the two lines of manuscripts. What is interesting is that Dr. Palmer refers to the line of manuscripts which support the reading found in the NIV and NASV as being “inspired.” If those of us who support the Greek text of the Authorized Version referred to it as being the correct text because this was, “A striking case of where the NIV, following bad Greek copies of the original text, changed the original in John 1:18,” or, “John 1:18, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, is one of those clear and decisive texts that declare that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God,” we would be ridiculed by men such as Palmer and White for calling the Greek text of the KJV inspired and original. However, when they do the very things they accuse us of doing, it is considered “scholarship.”

Secondly, it is interesting that Dr. Palmer attacks the KJV for using “archaic language” and yet does not cite any archaisms for this verse. Is there anything in the passage which one cannot understand because of the antiquated language of 1611?

Finally, in relation to Dr. Palmer’s quote, while he accuses the KJV of using “archaic language” he then offers a reading from the NIV which the NIV no longer contains. Within the first five years of the translation, the NIV changed the passage “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only [Son], who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” It now reads, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” Thus, the NIV has revised itself and omitted [Son].

Placing Dr. Palmer’s comments aside, we are still left with the change of “only begotten” to “One and Only.” Dr. Jack Finegan, in Encounting New Testament Manuscripts: A Working Introduction to Textual Criticism, cites Dr. Dale Moody as evidence for the change of English words.

This English translation (i.e. “Only begotten God”) corresponds literally to the Greek, but may not bring out the full meaning of the sentence. Note that “monogenes” (“only begotten”) may also be translated “only” or “unique” (cf. Dale Moody in JBL 72 [1953], pp. 213-219), and that the following word “Theos” (“God”) is without the article. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974, p. 125).

Dr. Moody argues that the word is better translated as “unique” and thus the passage in John 1 is simply claiming Christ as a unique God and not a created god. Moody explains,

The word translated ‘only’ . . . is monogenes, from monos (single) and genos (kind). Since Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1886) students have known that monogenes meant ‘single of its kind, only’ and that the term denotes ‘the only son of God’ in the Johannine writings. (Dale Moody, “God’s Only Son: The Translation of John 3:16 In the Revised Standard Version” Journal Of Biblical Literature, Vol 72, 1953, p213.)

To begin with, there have been many translations since 1886 which translated monogenes in John 1:18 as “only begotten.” All one need do is consult the American Standard Version (1901), The Revised Berkely Version (1959), The New American Standard Version (1960), and The New King James Version (1979) to see that “only begotten” is still in vogue. Secondly, all one need do is consult the Greek text of the King James Version to see that the translators were not unaware that monogenes can be translated as “only” for they did so in Luke 7:12; 8:42; and 9:38. However, none of these verses deals with the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we see that the Greek word can mean “only” when dealing with humans, but when dealing with Christ it means “only begotten.”

Further, this is not only Biblical, but it is also clearly the historical understanding of both the passage and the translation of the Greek word “monogenes.” The Old Latin manuscripts read, “deum nemo uidit umquam. unigenitus filius. qui est in sinu patris. ipse narrauit.” The Latin word “unigenitus” means more than unique or only. My Latin dictionary from back in public school renders it as, “only begotten, only; of the same parentage.” (Dr. John C. Traupman, Latin Dictionary, p. 323). And Martin Luther translated the phrase in German as “der eingeborene Sohn.” Even without a knowledge of German, one can see that “eingeborene” means “only begotten.” As does the Spanish Reina-Valera in using, “el unigenito Hijo” (only begotten Son).

The reading is older than either the German or the Spanish. In 202 AD, Irenaeus wrote,

For “no man,” he says, “hath seen God at any time,” unless “the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him].” For He, the Son who is in His bosom, declares to all the Father who is invisible.<<(Against Heresies, 3:11:6 —Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p. 427. “Irenaeus Against Heresies”, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1926 vol. 1. also in 4:20:6, p.489)

In 324 AD, Alexander of Alexandria wrote in his letter to the Bishop of Alexandria the following:

Moreover, that the Son of God was not produced out of what did not exist, and that there never was a time when He did not exist, is taught expressly by John the Evangelist, who writes this of Him: ‘The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.’ The divine teacher, because he intended to show that the Father and the Son are two and inseparable from each other, does in fact specify that He is in the bosom of the Father. (W.A. Jurgens, The Faith Of The Early Fathers, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, p. 300)

The context of the 5th Confession of the Nicene Creed (344 AD) shows that monogenes meant more than only, it means only begotten.

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, . . . And in His Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who before all ages was begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, by whom all things were made, in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible . . . (as cited from Athanasius: De Synodis, II:26).

Athanasius (373 AD) states,

If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, “First-born” needs some explanation; but if He be really First-born, then He is not Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations; that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and His making the many His brethren. (Discourse II, XXI:62)

Athanasius also cites John 1:18 with Gen. 1:1; Psalm 110:3; Psalm 2:7; Proverbs 8:25; and John 1:3.

Plainly, divine Scripture, which knows better than any the nature of everything, says through Moses, of the creatures, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” but of the Son it introduces not another, but the Father Himself saying, “I have begotten Thee from the womb from the womb before the morning star;” and again, “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” And the Lord says of Himself in the Proverbs, “Before all the hills He begets me;” and concerning things originated and created John speaks, “All things were made by Him;” but preaching of the Lord, he says, “The Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He declared Him.” If then son, therefore not creature; if creature, not son; for great is the difference between them, and son and creature cannot be the same, unless His essence be considered to be at once from God, and external to God.<< (De Decretis [Defence of the Nicene Definition], III:13).

Ambrose (397 AD) writes,

For this reason also the evangelist says, “No one has at any time seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.” “The bosom of the Father,” then, is to be understood in a spiritual sense, as a kind of innermost dwelling of the Father’s love and of His nature, in which the Son always dwells. Even so, the Father’s womb is the spiritual womb of an inner sanctuary, from which the Son has proceeded just as from a generative womb. (St. Ambrose: The Patrarches, 11:51).

Finally, Augustine (430 AD) wrote:

For Himself hath said: No man hath seen God at any time, but the Only-Begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. Therefore we know the Father by Him, being they to whom He hath declared Him. (Homilies On The Gospel According To St. John, XLVII:3)

The list could go on. The point is that most of the early Theologians in the Church not only recognized that monogenes means “only begotten,” and defined it as such, but that the popular reading was “only begotten Son.”

Acts 5:30–The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

The objection to this verse deals with the phrase, “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” Modern translations, such as the New King James Version, reads:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

James White comments on this by stating,

Peter did not say that the Jews had slain Jesus and then hung him on a tree. Instead, they put the Lord to death by hanging Him upon the tree. It is difficult to see exactly where the KJV derived its translation, as there is no ‘and’ in the text to separate ‘slew’ and ‘hanged on a tree.’ (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 225-226)

White’s suggestion is faulty in two aspects. First, because he misreads the text of the Authorized Version, making it read “whom ye slew and THEN hanged on a tree.” Second, because he condemns the Authorized Version for inserting the word “and,” yet White himself agrees with the insertion of the word “by.”

In English, the word “and” does not usually mean a time frame, as White has interpreted it (however the phrase “and then” does refer to time). Therefore, the text is not saying that the Jews murdered Christ and then placed him on the cross. The word “and” is a conjunction which simply links two thoughts together. As such, it is used as the word “further.” We understand the text to mean that the Jews were responsible for killing their Messiah. Further, they were responsible for having him placed on the cross. This is a proper use of English. When one assumes that the text is stating that the Jews murdered the Lord and THEN crucified him, he is reading his own thoughts into the text making it say something it does not say. In so doing, one simply shows their lack of understanding the English language.

This can be seen in Miguel de Cervantes’, Don Quixote. The barber tells Sancho Panza that “we suspect already, that you have murdered and robbed him, for here you are mounted on his horse.” However, Sancho defends himself by stating, “for I am not a man to rob or murder anybody; let his own fate, or God who made him, kill each one.” (Translated by John Ormsby, Pt. 1, Chapter 26:40.) Sancho places the word order as “rob or murder,” while the barber places the order “murdered and robbed.” Both statements are grammatically correct because “and” means “further” and not in regard to time. The barber is saying of Sancho that he was a murderer and further, that he was a robber.

The same construction is seen in 1 Samuel 17:50-51. David had already killed Goliath with the stone from his sling-shot. He then takes the Giant’s sword and cuts off his head. The Revised Standard Version translates this as follows:

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; and cut off his head with it.

The word “and” is used in this translation as it is in the Authorized Version. The Giant died from a strike to his head with a stone coming from David’s sling. The text then says David ran over to the body of the dead Giant, “and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him.” David kills a dead man. How? By removing his sword, “and cut off his head with it.” Again, the word “and” in this text does not mean “and then” but it means “further.” That is to say David killed Goliath with a stone from his sling. Further, David cut off the Giant’s head with his own sword.

In a footnote to support his claim against the KJV, James White quotes Dana and Mantey, two Greek grammarians.

The participle ‘hanging’ is a circumstantial instrumental (or modal), expressing the means by which death was inflicted. Dana and Mantey list a syntactical category that would give us the KJV rendering; however, they indicate that this category should be utilized only when the participle does not ‘present in a distinct way any of the above functions’ (H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Macmillan: 1955), p. 228). Since the participle clearly fits into one of those preceding categories, there is no reason to choose the category that would give us the KJV rendering. (The King James Only Controversy, p. 239).

The full quote from Dana and Mantey reads as follows:

A participle may not present in a distinct way any of the above functions, but may merely express an attendant circumstance–an additional fact or thought which is best rendered in English by the conjunction ‘and’ with a finite construction. Here the English participle fails to extend its use sufficiently to take care of the entire force of the Greek participle, and at the same time it is doubtful if a separate clause is an exact translation. It is one of those idioms which have no exact parallel in English…’They went forth and preached everywhere. (Mk.16:20; See also Lk. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:11)<< (Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Toronto: Macmillan, 1927, pp. 228-229).

It should be noted that the entire subject of the classification of the participle is introduced with, “This matter has occasioned great diversity of opinion among Greek grammarians.” (Ibid., p. 223). All this means is this; the verses which are called “error” are really a matter of opinion. The verses can be translated exactly as the KJV translators did. It is not an error, but simply a matter of diversity of opinion among Greek grammarians.

When faced with the above statement, White responded with what can only be considered classic White-washing. In our Christianity Today debate, James White retorted with:

Of course, that is untrue. 1) Dana and Mantey do not list Acts 5:30 or 10:29 (sic.) as fitting this category. 2) They say the final category should only be used when the previous categories do not fit; a previous category *did* fit, and that without question. 3) You have failed to deal with the real issue: did the Jews kill Jesus and THEN hang Him upon a tree, Dr. Holland? Yes or no? ( Subj: Acts 5:30 Date: 95-08-21 22:10:20 EDT From: Orthopodeo)

It is true that Dana and Mantey did not use Acts 5:30 or 10:39 “as fitting this category.” But for that matter, why should they? All that is needed is to state the rule and give an example or two, not list every example. And, if Mr. White does not approve of citing Dana and Mantey for this passage, then why does he do so in his own footnote? After all, Dana and Mantey were not citing Acts 5:30 or 10:39 on page 228 of their book either. And yet, White cites them as authorities for his point of view. As to the final question, the answer is, of course, no. The Jews did not kill Jesus and THEN hanged Him upon a tree. The word “then” is found only in the mind of James White and not in the text of Scripture.

Acts 12:4–And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

The objection deals with the word “Easter.” The Greek word “pascha” is translated as “Passover” in the KJV with this one exception. Earlier English translations also translated “pascha” as Easter in this verse, showing that the understanding here dealt with something other than Passover. Notice the following translations from several early English versions, thus removing the idea that this is a “King James Onlyism.”

Tyndale (1525):
And when he had caught him, he put him in preson, and delivered him to. iiii. quaternions of soudiers to be kepte, entendinge after ester to bringe him forth to the people.

Great Bible (1539):
And when he had caught hym, he put him in preson also, and delyvered him to. iiii. quaternions of soudiers to be kepte, entendynge after Ester to bringe him forth to the people.

Bishop’s Bible (1568):
And when he had caught him, he put him in prison also, and delivered him to foure quaternions of souldiers to be kept, intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

The Geneva Bible of 1560 does not use “Easter.” Instead it reads:

And when he had caught hym, he put hym in prison, and delivered hym to foure quaternions of souldiers to be kept, intendying after the Passover to brying hym forthe to the people.

Therefore we see that by 1611 the Bible reading public had both translations of the word “pascha” in English.

The use of the word “pascha” in early Christian writings dealt with the celebration of Easter, and not just simply the Jewish Passover (see Dr. Walter Bauer’s, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 633). Dr. G.W.H. Lampe notes that “pascha” came to mean “Easter” in the early Church. The early Christians did not keep the Jewish Passover. Instead they kept as holy a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ near the time of both Passover and the pagan festival celebrating the goddess Ostara. Dr. Lampe lists several rules and observances by Christians in celebration of their “pascha” or “Easter.” Lampe also points out that Greek words such as “paschazw” and “paschalua” meant “celebrate Easter” and “Eastertide” in the early Christian writings. (see A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961. pp. 1048-1049). And, Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes that “pascha” came to be called “Easter” in the celebration of the resurrection within the primitive Church (see Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. II. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965, pp. 901-904).

As stated, there was also a connection between the Christian “Easter” as we have it, and the pagan celebration of Ostara. Early Christians in Rome could not openly celebrate the resurrection of Christ, so they held their celebration at the time the pagans did in worship of Ostara. Dr. William C. Martin writes:

Modern observance of Easter represents a convergence of three traditions: (1) The Hebrew Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar calendar; (2) The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which took place at the feast of the Passover; and (3) the Norse “Ostara” or “Eostra” (from which the name “Easter” is derived), a pagan festival of spring which fell at the vernal equinox, March 21. Prominent symbols in this celebration of the resurrection of nature after the winter were rabbits, signifying fecundity, and eggs, colored like the ray of the returning sun and the northern lights, or aurora borealis. (The Layman’s Bible Encyclopedia, Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1964, p. 204).

In view of all of this, it seems that “pascha” can mean more than the Jewish holy day of Passover. Additionally, the context would confirm such a conclusion. Verse three of this chapter states that Peter was taken during, “the days of unleavened bread.” The next verse then speaks of “Easter” in the King James Version. If the word is translated as “Passover,” we have a problem because the Days of Unleavened Bread come before the Passover. In the Biblical use of the term, Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:1-8, 15, 19; 13:7; Leviticus 2:11; and Deuteronomy 16:4). We have a problem with these verses if Passover follows the Days of Unleavened Bread. However, the problem is solved when we see that “pascha” means more than “Passover” as has been shown above. Peter was held under Roman guard by a king who was appointed by Roman law and influenced by Roman customs. Contextually, it would seem that this “pascha” which followed the Days of Unleavened Bread was not the “pascha” (Passover) which preceded the capture of Peter. Instead, it is likely to refer to the Roman celebration of Ostara, hence called “Easter.”

In response to this, James White writes the following:

The problem, of course, is that (1) the term Easter would still be a misleading translation, since the celebration the English reader thinks of is far removed from the pagan worship of Astarte; (2) Herod Agrippa, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, was a conspicuous observer of the Jewish customs and rituals, and since he was attempting to please the Jews (Acts 12:3), it is obvious that Luke is referring to the Jewish Passover, not a pagan celebration; (3) the argument depends upon making the “days of unleavened bread” a completely separate period of time from “the Passover.” Unfortunately for the KJV Only position, the term “the Passover” is used of the entire celebration, including the days of unleavened bread after the actual sacrifice of the Passover, in other places in Scripture (note the wrapping up of the entire celebration under the term the “feast of the Jews” in John 2:13; 2:23; 6:4 and 11:55). Therefore, this ingenious attempt at saving the KJV from a simple mistake fails under examination.<< (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 233-234).

None of this deals with the fact that in Scripture Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread. In Mark 14:1 we read, “After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread.” Passover precedes the Days of Unleavened Bread even in the New Testament. None of the verses cited by White change this. In fact, three of them simply state that Passover was near (John 2:13; 6:4 and 11:55). John 2:23 speaks of many making a surface pretense of believing in Christ at the feast of the Passover. None of these verses show the two events as being called “Passover” as White states. As for Herod observing the Jewish feasts, this means little because as a politician he obeyed whatever was convent for him while in political power, including both Jewish and Roman holidays. And, it should be remembered, that this “conspicuous observer of the Jewish customs and rituals” had just put James to death and was himself about to die by the hand of God for setting himself up as a god (Acts 12:21-23; Exodus 20:2-6).

Acts 19:2–He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

As with so many other examples in this lesson, this verse is objected to by James R. White in his book, The King James Only Controversy. Brother White states,

One of the well-known problems in the AV is found in Acts 19:2 . . . The King James Version has Paul asking the disciples in Ephesus if they received the Holy Ghost “since” they believed, that is, subsequent to the act of believing. All modern translations, however, translate the passage, ‘when you believed.’ The difference is not a slight one. Entire theologies of a second reception of the Holy Spirit have been based upon this one rendering by the KJV. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is materially impacted by how one translates this passage. . . This author has been extremely frustrated in attempting to get KJV Only advocates to seriously interact with passages such as this one. (p. 230).

Those of us who have personally had ongoing exchanges of information and correspondence with Brother White, find the last phrase of utmost interest. In a series of online debates with James White and in writing a published critique of his book, I can say with all confidence that THIS author has been extremely frustrated in attempting to get James R. White to seriously interact with passages, textual data, and historical information where he has clearly provided information which lacks veracity. However, let us address the issue he claims KJV advocates ignore.

None of the Greek words used for “since” or “when” are in this verse. Instead, we must look at the construction of the Greek. The phrase, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed,” reads in Greek as, “Ei pneuma agion elabete pisteusantes.” A literal translation would be, “[The] Spirit/Ghost Holy did ye receive, having believed?” The phrase in question stands in the Greek aorist. This refers to past time; thus, we have the past tense with the words “received” and “believed.” Therefore, the translation put forth by White and others is quite correct as it relates to the Greek itself. However, the English word “since” also reflects past tense and is correct as it relates to the Greek text. Dana and Mantey address the use of the aorist. They write, “The fundamental significance of the aorist is to denote action simply as occurring, without reference to its progress.” (A Manual Grammar Of The Greek New Testament, Toronto: Macmillan, 1927, p.193) Therefore, the words “since” or “when” both reflect the proper use of the aorist. In reference to what is called the “Culminative Aorist,” Dana and Mantey add,

The aorist is employed in this meaning when it is wished to view an event in its entirety, but to regard it from the viewpoint of its existing results. Here we usually find verbs which signify effort or process, the aorist denoting the attainment of the end of such effort or process. (Ibid., pp. 196-197).

In this regard, the translation of “since” is proper as it relates to the aorist tense. For it can indicate a past action, but one which was attained through a process. Dr. George Ladd (Fuller Theological Seminary) recognizes this and states, “The Greek participle is ‘having believed,’ and it is capable of being translated either ‘since ye believed’ (AV) or ‘when you believed’ (RSV).” (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Nashville: The Southwest Company, 1962, p. 1160). Although Dr. Ladd prefers the word “when,” he does not claim that “since” is a translational error which will lead to doctrinal error, as claimed by White. In fact, Dr. Ladd plainly states that both translations are possible. Since Mr. White received his M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary (where Dr. Ladd taught), it is a shame that he did not make himself aware of Dr. Ladd’s comments concerning Acts 19:2.

In White’s noted objection, he indicates that the doctrine which teaches the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon the believer after salvation and not at the time of salvation, is the result of the King James Version. Among many Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, the doctrine is taught that a person who is saved must later receive the Holy Ghost (usually with “evidences” such as speaking in tongues). And, it is true that some have used this passage as a proof text for that doctrine. However, to credit the translators of the KJV for providing this doctrine is somewhat ridiculous. First of all, the translators of the KJV were Anglican and Puritan, neither of which are proponents of such a doctrine. Secondly, we would have to ask ourselves why many Charismatics and Pentecostals have embraced modern versions which have removed the word “since” and replaced it with “when.” In fact, the NIV had translators who support the very doctrine to which Brother White is objecting.

Regardless of our personal interpretation of the doctrine concerning the receiving of the Holy Ghost, we cannot allow such doctrine to affect the translation of the word of God. James White, in allowing his doctrine to translate for him, is faced with a paradox. If we reject the translation “since” in verse two and replace it with “when” because we believe that the Holy Ghost is received instantly at the very time of salvation, what do we do with the context of the passage? After all, context does count. As we consider the text, we find that Paul confronts a group of “believers” who never heard of the Holy Ghost, nor of personal salvation in Jesus Christ. These were believers in the teaching of John the Baptist and were still looking for the coming Messiah. Paul, in turn, then preaches to these Jews the person of Christ. After which, we read,

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the LORD Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (vs. 5-6).

The context teaches that these former followers of John first believe, then are baptized, and THEN receive the Holy Ghost with the laying on of hands by the Apostle Paul. The text shows that they received the Holy Ghost “since” they believed. Those who have historically and contextually recognized this, have not all taught that the Holy Ghost is received following salvation as a second blessing. Instead, they teach that the Holy Ghost comes to believers at the time of salvation. This passage is looked upon as transitional, and that these followers of John needed the laying on of hands by Paul in order to show Apostolic authority, not a need for a second blessing. Therefore, this act became their Pentecost.

Romans 9:5–Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

It has become common to use this verse as a “proof” text that the NIV better represents the Biblical doctrine of the Deity of Christ because it translates the verse as,

Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

In this regard we find Dr. D.A. Carson listing this verse as proof that modern versions are better translations (The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism, p. 64). The response to this is quite simple. First of all, as far as we know, there were no commas in the original manuscripts. It is certain that there are no commas in the majority of old Greek manuscripts which we do have. So one cannot dogmatically say the KJV is a poorer reading simply because translations like the NASV and NIV place the commas differently.

Secondly, the proof text for the Deity of Jesus Christ does not lay with a text which can so easily be questioned because of the placement of commas. The real proof texts for the Deity of Christ may be found in verses such as John 1:1 and 20:28. Further, passages which prove the Deity of Christ in the KJV are omitted or changed in modern versions in such places as 1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 John 5:7.

Thirdly, the passage should not be translated as we have it in modern versions because it would remove the teaching of the submission of Jesus Christ to the Father. If we have Christ as “God over all,” than we have Christ as God over the Father. The Biblical truth is that within the Trinity there is not only equality (John 5:18 and Philippians 2:6) but there is also submission by Christ to the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3 and Philippians 2:7-8). Thus the phrase, “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever” is not only a correct translation, but is more consistent with the Biblical teaching of divine submission.

Finally, we find within the writings of early Christians that the understanding of this passage is not that which is reflected by modern versions, but is consistent with that of the King James Bible.

Hippolytus (235 AD):

Let us look next at the apostle’s word: “Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” This word declares that mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God for ever. (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus, I:6)

Novatian (Third Century):

And, “My Lord and my God.” And, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom according to the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for evermore.” What, then, shall we say? Does Scripture set before us two Gods? How, then, does it say that “God is one?” Or is not Christ God also? . . . let them understand that, from the fact that God is one, no obstruction arises to the truth that Christ also is declared to be God. (Treatise Concerning The Trinity, XXX.)

2 Corinthians 2:17–For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

The Executive Secretary of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation, the late Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, lists 2 Corinthians 2:17 as an obscurity in the King James Version (The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, Kenneth Barker, editor. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986, p.149). The “obscurity” is the English word “corrupt.” Most modern versions use the word “peddle.” Thus we have the reading as found in the NIV:

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

This becomes a strange translation because it not only removes the idea of Biblical corruption, but it is printed in a version published by Zondervan Publishing House which owns the copyright to the New International Version. And, as far as I know, Zondervan does peddle (via retail sales) the NIV for a profit. I am not suggesting that it is wrong to sell the Bible for a profit, but if the translation of this verse claims it is wrong to do so it seems disingenuous unless Zondervan does not consider the NIV “the word of God.”

The Greek word in question is “kapeleuontes,” and does mean a peddler or retailer. However, it connotates one who sells with deceit, a corrupter. Dr. Walter Bauer points out that the word came to mean “to adulterate” (A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, p.403). Dr. Joseph Thayer agrees and states, “But as peddlers were in the habit of adulterating their commodities for the sake of gain . . . (the word) was also used as synonymous with ‘to corrupt, to adulterate.’ ” (Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 1977 edition, pp. 324-325). And Dr. Gerhard Kittle states concerning “kapeleuontes;” “It also means 2. to falsify the word (as the ‘kapelos’ purchases pure wine and then adulterates it with water) by making additions . . . This refers to the false Gospel of the Judaizers.” (Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. III., p. 605).

The early Church Fathers understood the verse to refer to those who corrupt God’s word. Athanasius (373 AD) wrote, “Let them therefore be anathema to you, because they have, ‘corrupted the word of truth.’ It is an Apostolic injunction, ‘If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’ ” (Apologia Contra Arianos [Defence Against The Arians], III:49.) Gregory-Nazianzus (390) alludes to 2 Corinthians 2:17, Isaiah 1:22 and Psalm 54:15, using the word “corrupt:”

And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, able to corrupt the word of truth, and mix the wine, which maketh glad the heart of man, with water, mix, that is, our doctrine with what is common and cheap, and debased, and stale, and tasteless, in order to turn the adulteration . . . (In Defence Of His Flight To Pontus, II:46)

James R. White makes an interesting claim concerning this verse. “Surely,” writes White, “if the KJV translators were alive today they would gladly admit that ‘peddle’ is a better translation than ‘corrupt,’ and would adopt it themselves.” (The King James Only Controversy, p.114). In my critique of White’s book, I refer to such argumentation as “speaking for the dead.” It is one thing to cite those who have died and present what they themselves believed about a certain subject. It is quite another to draw conclusions for those who have died and insist that this would be their view if they were alive today. For the most part one cannot justly refute such invalid argumentation because those who have died cannot speak for themselves. However, this is not the case in this instance. One of the treasures left behind from the translators of the KJV are a few notes by Dr. John Bois, who helped in the translation of the KJV Old Testament Apocrypha and assisted in the final revision of the KJV New Testament (Romans through Revelation). In his note for 2 Corinthians 2:17 he wrote:

Ibid. v. 17. kapeleuontes] [being a retail dealer, playing tricks, corrupting] i.e. notheuonetes [adultering]. kapelos is derived apo tou kallunein ton pelon [from glossing over lees] by corrupting and adultering wine. (the full note was written in Latin and Greek. Translating For King James, trans. and ed. by Ward Allen. Vanderbilt University Press, 1969, p. 51)

Apparently, the translators of the KJV were more aware of the meaning of the word than what James White and others give them credit. If we are indeed going to speak for the dead, we best learn to do so correctly.

2 Tim. 2:15–Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The word “study” is challenged in this passage by supporters of modern versions. First, they claim the word is archaic and difficult to understand. Second, they claim that the Greek word, “spoudason” should be translated as “diligence.” In reference to the New King James Version, Dr. Jack Lewis writes: “In II Timothy 2:15 ‘study’ correctly becomes ‘Be diligent’ . . .” (The English Bible, p. 349). James White likewise considers “Be diligent” to be a better translation than either the KJV’s “study” or the NIV’s “do your best.”

The NIV’s ‘do your best’ seems to miss some of the force of the term, and the KJV’s ‘study’ limits the meaning of the word far too much for the modern reader who might not understand ‘study’ to refer to a concerted effort at diligence and effort. Paul is exhorting Timothy to have an attitude that is marked by zeal, enthusiasm, and determination in his ministry. This attitude may well include the aspect of study, but in no way is Paul’s admonishment to be limited solely to that activity. (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 140-141).

Later, White seems to refer to 2 Timothy as meaning to be diligent in one’s studies. He writes, “Allow the readers of Scripture to ‘be diligent’ (2 Timothy 2:15) in their own studies and come to their own conclusions.” (Ibid., p. 257).

The English word “study” not only refers to one’s endeavor to become educated, but also refers to being diligent. The 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary of the English Language lists one of the definitions of “study” as, “3. To endeavor diligently.” A more current edition defines the word “studious” as, “1. diligent in study.” (The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, New York: Signet Books, 1981, p. 517). We can see from this, and even from the first citation from James White, that the English word “study” means diligence. As to the Greek word “spoudason” the KJV translators knew the word meant more than book studies. The same Greek word is elsewhere translated as “diligence” in such places as 2 Timothy 4:9 and 4:21: as “endeavor” in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 and 2 Peter 1:15, as “forward” in Galatians 2:10 and 2 Corinthians 8:17, and as “labour” in Hebrews 4:11. Of course, this is no new information for students who must labor diligently in their endeavor to go forward as they study. And, again we are faced with the context itself. Our “diligence” in “rightly dividing the word of truth” comes from our “study” of Scripture, not our spiritual endeavors. Thus, only in the King James Bible is the Christian instructed to study in knowing how to rightly divide God’s word.

As for the readability of this passage in the KJV, there is an interesting finding as established by the Flesch-Kincaid grading level. Although more about readability will be discussed in our next lesson, the following information may be helpful. According to my WordPerfect Grammatilk (6.0 version from Main Street) 2 Timothy 2:15 in the King James Version has a 9.5 Grade Reading Level. Its Sentence Complexity (from 1 to 100) is listed as a 37; and its Vocabulary Complexity (also 1 to 100) is listed as a 26. The New International Version reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Grammatilk gave this an 11.54 Grade Reading Level, with a Sentence Complexity rating of 47. Only in Vocabulary Complexity did the NIV receive a lower rating than the KJV in this verse with a level of 10. The New American Standard Version reads, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” It received an 11.71 Grade Reading Level, with a Sentence Complexity Level of 43 and a Vocabulary Complexity Level of 35.

One final note in regard to this verse. Reformer John Calvin, reading among other things French, Latin, and Greek, understood the word to mean “study” in regard to teachings from the Bible. Long before the KJV was translated into English Calvin wrote:

Now when S. Paul hath thus spoken he addeth, ‘Studie to present thyself to God an approved workeman, that needeth not be ashamed, dividing the word of truth aright.’ . . . So then, how shall they (those charged to preach the word of God) have the office of teaching the people of God, keepe themselves from vaine and unprofitable questions? And how may they resist them, which as busie bodies trouble the Church? Surely if they present themselves to God, and studie to do so. (John Calvin, Seromons on the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, The Banner of Truth Trust, University Press, Oxford, 1983 reprint 1579 edition, p. 799).

Hebrews 10:23–Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

The common word for “faith” is the Greek word “pistis.” However, the word used here is “elpidos” which is translated as “hope.”

“The KJV translation of Hebrews 10:23 leaves most people wondering as well. The KJV has the phrase ‘the profession of our faith.’ Literally the first term should be translated ‘confession,’ but it is the KJV’s very unusual translation of the Greek term ‘hope’ as ‘faith’ that is difficult to understand. The Greek term appears thirteen times in the TR, and each time it is translated ‘hope’ with this one exception.” (The King James Only Controversy, p. 226).

This does not mean that it is a mistranslation. In fact, the KJV translators stated that they were not bound by strict word counts and that sometimes the context demands that the same Greek word be translated differently. The English words “faith” and “hope” carry the idea of trust, assurance that what has been told will occur. The Thesaurus for my Microsoft Works has for the word “hope,” “confidence: faith, reliance, trust, belief, assurance.” Further, there is within Scripture a clear connection between faith and hope. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1) Notice the clear Biblical connection of faith with hope. The Scripture states, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2). And in reference to Abraham, the word of God says,

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb. (Romans 4:18-19)

We are saved by hope (Romans 8:24) and yet we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). We are told to place our faith and hope in God (1 Peter 1:21). The context of Hebrews chapter ten informs us that we are to have full assurance of faith (vs.22) and the One we are trusting is “faithful” (vs. 23). The context of the Greek word “elpis” in this verse can be expressed by the English words faith, hope, or trust. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, even though it cites the American Standard Version, says of this verse:

“Confession of our hope” (ASV). And unwavering confession of faith in the living Christ. God undergirds our hope by his own promises, for he is faithful who promised. This then speaks of further affirmation based upon faith in the faithfulness of God. (Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1962, p. 1420).

Kittle notes the comparison of faith and hope when defining the Greek word “elpis” (hope). He even notes that in the Greek LXX there is an “interrelating” of the two Greek words for faith and hope.

If hope is fixed on God, it embraces at once the three elements of expectation of the future, trust, and the patience of waiting. Any one of these aspects may be emphasized. ,The definition of “pistis” as “elpizomenon upostasis” in H[e]b[rews] 11:1 is quite in keeping with the OT interrelating of “pisteuein” and “elpizein” and the usage of the LXX, which has “upostasis” as well as “elpis.” (Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. II. p.531).

Faith, trust, and hope are used interchangeably. A related word of “elpis” (hope) is “elpizo.” It is translated as “hope” in places such as Luke 6:34 and Romans 8:25. However, it is mostly translated as “trust” in places such as Matthew 12:21 and Romans 15:24. A related word of “pistis” (faith) is “pistuo.” It is translated as “believe” in places such as Matthew 8:13 and John 3:16. However, it is also translated as “trust” in 1 Timothy 1:11 (as is another form of it in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 which is translated as “trust”).

The context of Hebrews chapters ten and eleven, demands that this type of trust be translated as “faith” instead of its normal translation of “hope.” Also, since we are told to “hold fast the profession” we must compare the Scriptures to know that our profession deals with “faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

2 Peter 2:7–And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

This verse, along with a handful of others verses where the same objection is raised, is questioned because of the word “conversation.” The objection is that today “conversation” means talk, but the verses in question refer to lifestyle. I recall one pastor objecting to the KJV in 1 Peter 3:1 where we are told that an unsaved husband may be won to Christ by a godly wife’s “conversation.” He stated, “You mean to tell me that the unsaved husband can be won by the Christian wife’s talking and not by her godly living?” I am always amazed by such argumentation which reflects both a lack of Biblical understanding as well as knowledge of the English language. Of course, the unsaved are in fact won by our words and our lifestyle. We must witness to them in both word and deed. As has been said, our walk must match our talk. However, the English word “conversation” does refer to lifestyle. I asked this pastor, “When someone is born-again and lives the Christian life, what are they called?” He looked at me and said, “they are called a new convert . . .” Strange how our own speech will sometimes betray us.

Consequently, we have seen in a few examples how modern scholars will distort God’s word with meaningless objections in order to replace it with themselves as the final authority. Accordingly, while objecting to misprints in some KJV Bible (“he” instead of “ye” in Jeremiah 34:16), they will remove Jesus Christ from the fiery furnace and replace Him with “a god” (Daniel 3:25). While they reject the reading in the King James Bible because of “Easter ” (Acts 12:4), they will accept versions which weaken the virgin birth in calling Joseph the “father” of Jesus (Luke 2:33, NIV and NASV) or by removing the word “virgin” in prophecy (Isaiah 7:14, RSV and NRSV). They condemn the KJV because of its placement of a comma (Romans 9:5) and then accept a translation which calls Christ a “begotten God” (John 1:18, NASV and NWT). In trying to show the error of using “faith” instead of “hope” (Hebrews 10:23), they instead show their own lack of understanding the English language (Mark 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 2:7). The claim of doctrinal error in the Authorized Version (Acts 19:2) simply shows their lack of reading the context; while, at the same time, they accept translations which contain doctrinal error concerning salvation (2 Peter 2:2, NRSV), redemption (Colossians 1:14, NASV), the deity of Christ (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV and Revelation 1:6, NKJV), the Trinity (1 John 5:7), and the doctrine of Biblical preservation (Psalm 12:6-7, NIV). They have distorted the meaning of the text by adding to the Scriptures (Acts 5:30) and endorsed translations which subtract from the Scriptures (Matthew 18:11; Mark 16:9-20; Luke 24:12, 40; John 5:4; 8:1-11; Acts 8:37; Romans 16:24). Finally, in their zeal to correct what was given to correct us, they change “corrupt the Word of God” to “peddle the Word of God” and end up doing both (2 Corinthians 2:17, NKJV). Thus, these “unlearned” scholars “wrest” not with “King James Only advocates,” but with the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16).

Our next lesson will probe into the philosophies of these scholars and several reasons why the King James Bible stands as the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people without any proven error.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8