Which Bible Version Is Best?

Dr Pierre Coovert

Let me say at the beginning, this article is a bit long. The subject is worthy of the length and much more. Which Bible version you use makes a difference. It will affect what you believe and how you live your Christian life.

Some people think that the new Bible versions are being produced to make the Bible easier to understand. There are several reasons to believe that this is not the case. The first reason is that all of them are copyrighted and to uses more than short quotes you have to get permission and pay royalties. This should bother us if we really think that the Bible is God’s Word. If it is God’s Word, only God can have a copyright on it.

We also need to understand that in order to get a copyright there must be significant difference between the new Bible version and the all other Bible versions (I have read that there must be a 70% difference).

This one thing I do know, things that are different are not the same. How can there be a 70% difference between all of the different Bible versions and say that they are all the Word of God. Remember, the differences must be between all of the other versions, not just the KJV. With somewhere around 120 versions in English, this is a lot of differences. How can anyone claim they say the same thing?

The KJV does have a copyright in spite of what some people are saying. It is held by the Crown in England. The Crown, however, has released the KJV into public domain. At least they understand that you can’t have exclusive rights to God’s Word.

Corruption of the Bible

One verse that the new versions change actually condemns them by the way they change it. This verse is 2 Corinthians 2:17 which says,

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.”

Most of the modern Bible versions change “corrupt” to “peddle.” Strong’s Greek dictionary defines the Greek word this way:

From κάπηλος kapēlos (a huckster); to retail, that is, (by implication) to adulterate (figuratively): – corrupt.

You will forgive me if I can’t understand how you can take a word that means huckster and make it mean retail. And if it does mean retail, how can that imply adulterate unless all retailers are crooks?

The marginal notes in the KJV say that the word could also mean “deal deceitfully with.” I’ll stick with the word corrupt, it is better than peddle.

If the word means to peddle the word of God, then all of the translators of the new Bible versions are guilty of being “as many which peddle the Word of God.” They put a copyright on their translations so they can sell (peddle) it and make money.

As bad as this may be, there is a much more subtle motive behind the new Bible versions. It shows that they are, in fact, corrupting the Word of God with an agenda. They are making changes based upon doctrinal bias, not on a more correct translation. I will not go so far as to say that all of those who push the new Bible versions are guilty of deliberately corrupting the Bible, but there is, without a doubt, someone behind the modern Bible versions that does have the goal of corrupting it and changing doctrine.

Son or Servant

Strong defines the Greek word “παῖς” (pais)

Perhaps from G3817; a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy) a girl, and (generally) a child ; specifically a slave or servant (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God): – child, maid (-en), (man) servant, son, young man.

Strong is not even sure where the word comes from because he starts his definition with “perhaps.” He does accurately list the various ways the King James translators translated the word.

Below is a list of verses using this word in the KJV and the NKJV, I have highlighted the English word to help you know which word it is.

KJV

NKJV

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Mat 2:16

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Mat 2:16

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, Mat 21:15

But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant. Mat 21:15

And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. Mat 8:6

saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”Mat 8:6

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Mat 8:8

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. Mat 8:8

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, [so] be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. Mat 8:13

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. Mat 8:13

Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. Mat 12:18

Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.

Mat 12:18

He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy; Luk 1:54

He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of
His mercy, Luk 1:54

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; Luk 1:69

And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His
servant David, Luk 1:69

Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. Luk 7:7

Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. Luk 7:7

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? Act 4:25

who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things? Act 4:25

And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do2 shew forth themselves in him. Mat 14:2

and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” Mat 14:2

And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Mat 17:18

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Mat 17:18

And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not [of it]. Luk 2:43

When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; Luk 2:43

And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare [him]. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. Luk 9:42

And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. Luk 9:42

And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. Luk 8:51

When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in[ except Peter, James, and John,[ and the father and mother of the girl. Luk 8:51

And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. Luk 8:54

But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Luk 8:54

But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; Luk 12:45

But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, Luk 12:45

And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. Luk 15:26

So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. Luk 15:26

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told [him], saying, Thy son liveth. Joh 4:51

And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” Joh 4:51

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go. Act 3:13

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. Act 3:13

Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Act 3:26

To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Act 3:26

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, Act 4:27

For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together Act 4:27

By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. Act 4:30

by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”Act 4:30

And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. Act 20:12

And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted. Act 20:12

You will notice that the NKJV follows the KJV in all of these verses except four. I have noted these verses by using bold text for the different words. There are other differences, but they have essentially the same meaning in both translations.

What I want you to note is that the only places that the NKJV has a substantial difference from the KJV is where it is talking about Jesus as the Son or Child of God. I have marked these with red, bold text.

While all of the different words used in both translations are valid translations of the Greek word, we must ask why the NKJV chose to follow the Jehovah Witness New World Translation.

Major Areas of Difference In Bible Versions

When we look at the differences between the modern translations, including the NKJV, we find that most of the differences are in passages dealing with two issues. One is the issue of holy living and the other is the issue of the deity of Christ.

An example of the first is 1 Thessalonians 5:22. The KJV says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” and the NKJV says “Abstain from every form of evil.” The KJV says if it looks bad and the NKJV says if it is bad. The KJV is stronger.

The example of the weakening of the deity of Christ is the list given above. Why is it that the only places the NKJV differs from the KJV in the translation of this Greek word is where it speaks of the deity of Christ? This speaks to the motive of the translators.

Heresy and Blasphemy

I have a friend who says that the KJV is full of blasphemy because it does not capitalize the pronouns that refer to deity. The capitalization of pronouns referring to deity did not become a practice until after the translation of the KJV. Whether you capitalize he when it refers to God or not is not heresy. If it is then all of the Greek manuscripts are heretical because they did not capitalize anything except the beginning of paragraphs.

On the other hand, changing the Son of God to the servant of God is heresy. Had the NKJV translators disagreed with the KJV translators in other places there might be reason to give them the benefit of the doubt, but when they only disagreed when the word was used to refer to Jesus as God’s Son or Holy Child, the doubt is removed in my mind.

Textual Authority

All of the pre-KJV English translations agree with the KJV. It is only after the new Greek text was compiled by Westcott and Hort that we see this change. There is not one single ancient Greek manuscript that agrees with the Westcott/Hort text. The two main manuscripts that are supposedly the basis for this text disagree with each other thousands of times.

On the other hand, the text underlying the KJV is based upon more than 95% of all the existing ancient Greek manuscripts. This is a much more solid foundation than the two manuscripts that underlie the text of the new Bible versions.

All of the new English Bible versions except the NKJV use the corrupt Greek text put together by Westcott and Hort and continually modified by modern “scholars.” Although the NKJV claims to be based on the Received Text underlying the KJV, it chooses to follow the language of those translations based on the corrupt text.

Easier to Read?

There are many other problems with the new Bible versions that claim to be easier to read. For example, they translate the Greek word “hades” as “hades” instead of “hell.” They claim that it is more correct. In fact, it is not. First of all, every dictionary that I looked at said that hell was a synonym for hades. If the words are synonymous, how can one be more correct than the other. This is but a smoke screen.

The truth of the matter on this issue of hades or hell is that hades, as used in the Bible, and hades in modern English do not mean the same thing. Modern English uses hades as simply the place where the dead go. There is no connotation of punishment or torment in the modern usage.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says that hades is “the underground abode of the dead in Greek mythology.” Nowhere does it indicate that it is a place of torment. Look at what the Bible says about hades

Luke 16:22-24 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell (hades in the Greek) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Notice what the place was like. The rich man wanted just a drop of water to cool his tongue because he was “tormented in this flame.”

I would just ask two questions about the “easier to read” nature of the new Bible versions. First, is it really easier to understand hades than to understand hell? The second question is, Which is more accurate, hades with no hint of torment, or hell, which everyone knows means a place of torment for those who die in their sins without Christ.

Conclusion

If you wonder why Christians of our day are not as spiritually strong and mature as those of previous generations you have your answer. We have allowed the new Bible versions to water down the Word of God. The Bible doesn’t pull punches, it says things as they are.

There are other things that contribute to the weakness of modern Christians, but they would not be a major influence were it not for the weakening of biblical precepts by the modern Bible versions.

America is falling because Christians are not what they once were. Christians are not what they once were because we have let down the standards. The major standard we have let down is the authority of God’s Word. How can we know what God’s Word says if more than 120 different versions, which all say different things, are called the Word of God?

This article is longer than originally intended but the issue is more important than many think it is. Remember this one principle, things that are different are not the same. There must be a final authority. What is yours?

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved