Many people use the New King James Version today. It is admittedly not as bad as those versions that completely depart from the Masoretic and Received Texts of the Hebrew and Greek Testaments. However, it still has the modern liberal approach to translation. This approach is as much the problem with new bibles as is the text they use for translation. Even versions that claim not to use the modernistic approach are very effected by this philosophy.
Let me explain this in different words. Not only is there a problem with using the wrong original language texts, but there are also different ways to translate from one language to another. The approach of the King James Bible is to keep the language as close as possible to what it is in the original languages. Many of the ways of saying things in the King James Bible come directly from the Hebrew or Greek phrases.
Another approach is to give the same meaning in modern words. Scholars call this approach dynamic equivalence. This sounds good but it usually means that the translators become interpreters of the difficult passages in the Bible. They look at a passage that could be understood in more than one way, decide what they think it means and then translate it to have that meaning only. Since you have trusted them to interpret the passage for you, you now have to depend on them entirely to know what God really said. In this process, it is very easy for the translators to insert their own beliefs into the text. And, there is no chance of you seeing something other than what they want you to see unless you go to the original languages.
In order to illustrate this, we will look at several problems with the New King James translation. Then, we will examine a few passages to see how the New King James subtly moves away from the preserved text of the Bible. The New King James has the following weaknesses.
1. It is not what it claims to be, i.e., a simple updating of the King James Bible (this claim is made in the Preface to the New King James). There are approximately 60,000 textual changes made in the NKJV. It is a new translation, not an updated revision.
2. The doctrine of hell is clearly attacked. Of the 54 references to hell in the KJB, only 31 of them remain in the NKJV. (By comparison, the NIV mentions hell only 14 times.) Lucifer is "brought down to Sheol" (Isaiah 14:15) and the rich man is "in torments in Hades" (Luke 16:23).
These cooler substitutes confuse the reader and give aid and comfort to hell-deniers. See also Isaiah 5:14; Matthew 16:18; Revelation 1:18; 20:13-14.
3. Hundreds of passages are weakened. For instance, the clear prophetic reference to Jesus Christ in Genesis 22:8 ("God will provide himself a lamb") is removed ("God will provide for Himself"). In Ecclesiastes 5:8, a clear reference to God ("he that is higher than the highest") is changed ("high official"). Other verses to compare are Genesis 1:2; 2:7, 18; 5:2; 8:21; 13:18; 18:6, 19; Ecclesiastes 3:11, 18; 5:6, 20; 10:10; 12:11; Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27, 30; Hebrews 2:16; 2Corinthians 2:17. We will look at some of these below.
4. The thee's and thou's are removed. This weakens the dignity and accuracy of the English text as indicated in numerous marginal notes in the New International Version identifying the "you" as singular or plural in order to establish correct interpretation of the text. These marginal notes are unnecessary in the King James Bible.
Let us look at some of the passages where the New King James Bible takes liberties with the wording of scripture.
1. Genesis 22:8 – This chapter tells of the offering of Isaac by his father Abraham. It is a beautiful picture of how God the Father will offer His Son Jesus Christ on the cross. In this verse, when Isaac has asked about the lamb, Abraham replies, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." Bible-believers throughout the ages have seen this as a double reference in which Jesus, who is God, will provide Himself as the Lamb for our burnt offering. The New King James changes this to read, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." This removes any reference to God Himself being the Lamb that would be offered.
2. Ecclesiastes 5:8 – This verse clearly refers to God as the one who watches over those who are oppressed: "for he that is higher than the highest regardeth." This obviously refers to God. But, in the New King James, this reference to God is changed to, "higher officials are over them." In other words, there is no need to be concerned about oppression by lower officials since they have higher officials over them. Can we have confidence in being watched over by higher officials? They may be corrupt as well. Only God can make sure justice is finally served. The New King James removes a clear reference to God.
3. Luke 16:23 – This is one of several examples of where the word hell is removed from the New King James. Of the rich man, it is said, "And being in torments in Hades." More and more people are denying the existence of hell. The New King James is one of the modern versions that gives comfort and aid to the Jehovah Witnesses and others who deny hell. New versions will soon remove all reference to this hated place.
4. Acts 4:27 – Here, the apostles speak to the Father and refers to Christ as "thy holy child Jesus." This is a wonderful reference to the Father/Son relationship in the Godhead. The New King James, along with most modern versions, says, "Your holy Servant Jesus." Jesus goes from being a child to a servant.
5. 1Kings 14:24 – One of the problems I have with the modern versions is their removal of sodomy and sodomites as a particular sin which angers God. In this verse, “sodomites” are changed to "perverted persons.” The act of perversion is not identified. This must be a relief to those who practice the sodomy.
6. Genesis 5:2 – This is one for the feminists. The King James Bible states, "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam." This shows that women take the name of a man. Today, we see this in last names. A woman has the last name of her father until she is married and then she takes the last name of her husband. The New King James says that God, "called them Mankind." (On the feminism of the New King James, see also Genesis 2:18.)
7. Matthew 20:20 – In the King James Bible, Zebedee's wife comes to Jesus "worshipping him." In the New King James, she comes "kneeling down." In Bible times, people would often kneel down before someone without worshipping them. The Bible is also clear that only God deserves worship (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). In the King James Bible, this passage shows that Jesus is God and deserves worship. The New King James removes this reference to His deity.
For one final example, look at Hebrews 2:16. First, look and see how it is translated in various versions of the Bible.
King James Bible – “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”
New International Version – “For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendents.”
New American Standard Version – “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham.”
New King James Version – “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.”
New American [Catholic] Bible – “Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendents of Abraham.”
New World [Jehovah Witness] Translation – “For he is really not assisting angels at all, but he is assisting Abraham’s seed.”
Now consider the following concerning the translation of Hebrews 2:16.
This is not a matter of a difference in the Greek text. The Greek text reads the same for all the translations. This is a difference in how to translate the words that are there.
The modern versions all agree with one another no matter what their leaning doctrinally.
Yet, this does not mean that the King James Bible is wrong. In fact, the modern versions are all teaching false doctrine. They teach that Jesus does not or did not assist, help or aid the angels. How can the One Who created the angels and preserves them be said to not help or aid them?
The italicized words in the King James Version shows the abbreviated nature of the verse in the Greek. However, the taking on of the nature of angels is the only meaning that makes sense in view of the subject material of verses fourteen and seventeen. Once again, the King James reading is superior to that of all modern English versions.
This is only a quick survey of some of the problems in the New King James Version. But rest assured, the New King James Version has not made the Bible better, but only weakened it. Unfortunately, the philosophy and spirit of Bible translation is itself perverted today. Thankfully, God has given us a preserved English text in the King James Bible. We need not turn to the right hand or to the left.
By: David F. Reagan