The Reliability of The New King James Version

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that the Bible Manuscript and Translation issue is big to me. I lean toward the Traditional text of the New Testament, and have been doing study and comparisons of the History of the Masoretic and Septuagint texts of the Old Testament. I ran across a great article by a Reese Curry from Compass Distributors about the New King James Version of the Bible. I would say that I am in the same camp with her. At one time, our view was the Majority, but over the last 100 years, Christianity has shifted and plunged into many rivers of doubt and criticism. The result being a shift in the way the Bible is interpreted and translated. I hope the following article is helpful to you as it was to me. May God's Word be honored and revered!

The Reliability of the New King James Version

By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors

The New King James Version is different from most other modern Bible versions in that its New Testament is based on the Received Text rather than the modern critical texts. The Received Text is of the Byzantine text-type, whereas most modern versions use an Alexandrian text-type such as Nestle-Aland 27th or UBS 4th.
I believe that the Byzantine text-type is superior to the modern critical text for a few reasons. First, the text is geographically closest to the storehouse of the originals, Antioch. Second, for all the charges that "additions" were made to the Byzantine majority text, no one can point to any significant additions in the 1500-year known history of the type, from 500AD to 1500AD. Third, the Alexandrian texts suffer drop-out errors due to the distance from Antioch; they were receiving copies of copies with no originals to compare to. Fourth, the Alexandrian text fell out of use around 600AD, probably because it was recognized to be inferior to the Byzantine text.
The Received Text is very, very close to the Byzantine Majority Text, and the New King James Version is translated using the "formal equivalency" method, which produces a readable text that reflects as much as possible every word in the original Greek. So I would recommend the New King James Version on the basis that it uses the best translation methodology with the best text type.
Some years ago, while I was still investigating Christianity, I became suspicious of modern versions with "missing words" and asked a close friend if there was a modern version translated using the same Greek text as the King James Version. He recommended the New King James Version. I was unsaved when I began reading the NKJV and I was saved when I finished, so the translation to this day holds a place close to my heart.
Some years ago I came across the claims of King James Onlyists, and for the most part, I agreed completely with the reasoning concerning the Alexandrian text versus the Received Text. However, I was alarmed to learn that they disparaged the New King James Version as being inaccurate.
The definition of "inaccuracy" for a King James Onlyist is that the translation does not agree word-for-word with the King James Version, which is circular reasoning. The only true test would be to compare the translations to the original language, and on such a test, the New King James Version proves itself to be a much better translation than the King James Version.
I am not a Greek scholar and what I am about to write to you about requires no special knowledge. I used no resources that are not available to any serious Bible student. I used Strong’s Concordance for my Greek definitions and the Interlinear Bible of Jay P. Green, an excellent tool that gives a literal translation next to the Greek Received Text, with Strong’s numbers printed over each of the words. I use Oxford’s Dictionary of Current English to clarify the meanings of English words. Further, I used the New American Standard Bible a couple of times to report alternate translations of the same words. (On Example #39, I also had to resort to a Collins Greek dictionary and a seminary textbook called Basics of Biblical Greek by William D. Mounce. The question could have been answered without these additional tools but not as completely.) I suppose all-told I have a $280 investment in books used in writing this article (my total paper library of Bible study aids would amount to a $500 investment), but this is a pittance to pay for the joy that knowledge of God’s Word brings.
Since King James Onlyists love long verse lists, I am about to present a list of verses that were presented as being objectionable in the NKJV from a King James defender’s web site. My list will include the Greek definitions of the words in question and some of my own explanatory notes. I realize that some people will not be swayed by this sort of thing, and so be it; the most religious are the hardest to convince of the truth, as Jesus Himself found. For those who are not afraid of the truth, however, this list may finally free you to use a translation you can actually read and understand. What a joy it is to be able to read and truly comprehend God’s Word for yourself.
Example #1: Matthew 20:20
KJV: Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
NKJV: Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
The Greek word rendered "worshipping" in the King James Version is proskuneo which really means to kiss, in the sense of a dog licking his master’s hand, and literally means to fawn or crouch to. The NKJV translation is more accurate.
Example #2: Mark 6:25
KJV: And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.
NKJV: Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
The King James Onlyist who brought up Mark 6:25 in his article claimed that everyone knows that "by and by" and "at once" mean the same thing. The Oxford Dictionary of Current English does not agree, defining "by and by" as meaning "before long; eventually." The actual meaning of the Greek word, exautes, is "from this hour" which is figuratively interpreted, "instantly." The NKJV is superior again.
Example #3: Luke 16:23
KJV: And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
NKJV: "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."
The Greek word is hades, which means, "the abode of the dead."
Here, the NKJV transliterates the Greek word hades to differentiate "Hades," the abode of the dead, from "Gehenna," the lake of fire. It is much more accurate to do so, since Hades is going to be thrown into the lake of fire in Revelation 20:14. The wording is Jesus’ wording and I have no issues with it. The NKJV is more accurate.
Example #4: John 5:24
KJV: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
NKJV: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
So, is it "judgment" or "condemnation"? The Greek word is krisis,which literally means "decision, for or against." So the NKJV is more accurate to the Greek again.
Example #5: John 5:29
KJV: And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
NKJV: "and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
Oddly enough, neither the King James Version nor the New King James Version are accurate in their translation of krisis in this verse, which simply means a decision, for or against, although you can understand from the context that it will be a negative decision. Condemnation and damnation mean the same thing so I don’t really understand the issue KJV Onlyists have with this verse, except that the KJV uses the sort of harsh language they prefer in all their communications.
Example #6: Philippians 3:8
KJV: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
NKJV: Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
The Greek word translated "dung" in the KJV is skubalon which literally means, "that which is thrown to the dogs," meaning refuse or garbage. Certainly we don’t throw dung to the dogs. The KJV is blatantly inaccurate and the NKJV wins again.
Example #7: Colossians 3:2
KJV: Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
NKJV: Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
I guess the big issue here is between "set your affection" and "set your mind". The Greek word phroneo means to exercise the mind, so the NKJV is more accurate yet again.
Example #8: Acts 2:38
KJV: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
NKJV: Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
I guess the difference here is between "be baptized every one of you" and "let every one of you be baptized." What a trifling, piddling difference to take issue with. In any case, the KJV is more strictly literal in this case in terms of word order, but the two phrases mean precisely the same thing.
Example #9: Acts 17:22
KJV: Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
NKJV: Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
Leaving aside the fact that "Mars’ hill" is a complete mistranslation, let’s move on to what the Greek says, "too superstitious" or "very religious"? The Greek word deisidaimonesteros simply means "more religious than others," and the NKJV is the more accurate translation.
Example #10: Romans 1:32
KJV: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
NKJV: who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
The King James Version first fails to translate "righteous judgment" properly as only "judgment." The Greek word, dikaioma, means an equitable deed, statute or decision. Next, suneudokeo means "to think well of in common," so the NKJV translation is superior on two counts.
Example #11: Romans 2:2
KJV: But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
NKJV: But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
Is it "commit" or "practice"? The Greek word prasso means "to practice", to perform repeatedly or habitually. The NKJV translation once again is superior.
Example #12: Romans 4:7
KJV: Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
NKJV: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;
Is it "iniquities" or "lawless deeds"? Again, a trifling difference that means nothing doctrinally whatsoever. Since I’m drawing from a KJV-Onlyists’ verse list, however, I might as well comment that the Greek word anomia means illegality and the NKJV translation is yet again superior.
Example #13: 1 Corinthians 1:22
KJV: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
NKJV: For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
Is it "request" or "require"? The Greek word aiteo means "ask," so the NKJV translation is again superior.
Example #14: 1 Corinthians 11:29
KJV: For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
NKJV: For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
The Greek word is krima, which means a decision for or against in a case of crime. The NKJV is again more accurate to the Greek.
Example #15: 2 Corinthians 2:17
KJV: 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.
NKJV: For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Is it "corrupt" or "peddling"? The Greek word here is kapeleuo, which means to retail. Again, the New King James Version is superior.
Example #16: 2 Corinthians 5:17
KJV: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
NKJV: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
I don’t really see what the KJV contention is here. The NKJV is more accurate in rendering "anyone" instead of "any man," and translates the tenses of the verse better.
Example #17: 2 Corinthians 10:5
KJV: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
NKJV: casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Is it "imaginations" or "arguments"? The Greek word is logismos, which means a computation or, figuratively, a reasoning. Since "imaginations" does not mean either of these things, and a reasoning is an argument, I would have to go with the NKJV on this one.
Example #18: Galatians 4:17
KJV: They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
NKJV: They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
That’s quite a difference! The word translated "affect" here in the KJV is zeloo, which literally means to have warmth of feeling for or against. The NKJV is more accurate.
Example #19: Galatians 5:4
KJV: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
NKJV: You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
So, is it "estranged from Christ" or does Christ have "no effect"? There are two words here in the Greek, one being katargeo, which means "to be entirely idle/to render entirely useless" and apallasso which means "to change away, release, remove." The KJV translation is possible if we do not translate apallasso, but with this word present, the NKJV translation is superior.
Example #20: Ephesians 6:12
KJV: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
NKJV: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I guess the only difference here is whether the word "hosts" is present or can be implied by the Greek. The actual word is merely penumatikos which means "a spirit" in this context. However, it is preceded by the definite article ("the"), so in Greek the text basically reads, "the spirits of wickedness". The problem with the KJV translation is it applies "spiritual" as a modifier of the word "wickedness" which is simply not what the Greek text says. The NKJV translation is not optimal either; although we know there are "hosts" or "armies" of the spirits of wickedness (demons), this text doesn’t really come right out and say it on its own. Probably the best possible translation of this difficult passage would be the New American Standard Bible’s "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]." In any case, the NKJV translation is superior to the KJV’s translation, even if the NASB’s translation is better than both.
Example #21: Philippians 2:8
KJV: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
NKJV: And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
A Word Faith preacher, John Avanzini, as a guest on Kenneth Copeland’s broadcast claimed Scripture teaches Jesus Christ was rich and wore designer clothes. I don’t know if this KJV verse is the source of the false teaching, but to the intellectually simple, it would reinforce it. I sincerely hope that this isn’t the "problem" with this verse according to the KJV-Onlyist who made reference to it.
I have to wonder about the integrity of people who would allow their children to read translations they cannot understand that, due to archaic language, open them up to believing heresies like the Word Faith movement.
I would imagine the part of the verse the KJV Onlyist was referring to was the difference between "unto death" and "to the point of death". Literally the Greek reads "obedient until death" and the KJV drops out this reference to time, and the NKJV translation is again superior.
Example #22: Philippians 3:2
KJV: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
NKJV: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
When I put the KJV reference into this document, I was wondering what "concision’ meant. I looked it up in Oxford, but it wasn’t even there, it is so archaic. Looking at the Greek word katatome, it means "a cutting down or off, i.e. mutilation." I guess that must be what concision means. Here we have an example in which the KJV is presumably not inaccurate but due to the archaic word usage, the NKJV translation is still superior in that more people today understand "mutilation" than understand "concision."
Example #23: Colossians 2:12
KJV: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
NKJV: buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
I really cannot see what the complication here is. Perhaps it is the "working" vs. "operation." The Greek word is energeia which means "efficiency." I would call these KJV/NKJV translations equal, since both "efficient working" and "operation" could be meanings of this word. The meaning of the translation is precisely the same.
Example #24: Colossians 2:14-15
KJV: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
NKJV: having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
The differences I see here are first that the NKJV properly translates the past tense, uses the word "requirements" instead of ordinances, and uses the word "disarmed" instead of "spoiled."
The first thing to note is that "spoiled" means "robbed" in Old English, not "ruined" in the same sense we understand it today. For instance, we read in Matthew 12:29, "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." Obviously this doesn’t mean someone went in and ruined his goods, it means he took them. This Old English form makes the KJV text here hard to understand for the novice. The Greek word being translated is apekduomai, which means to "divest wholly." It is to strip someone completely. A very difficult thing to translate; it could mean either "disarmed" or "rob," but it only means "rob" in the sense that someone has taken something for oneself. It is a tough call, but I would have to go with the King James Version rendering here, with the caveat that most people today won’t realize what it actually means.
Between "ordinances" and "requirements", the underlying Greek word is dogma which simply means "law". Again, I would prefer the King James Version translation of this word.
Example #25: Colossians 2:17-18
KJV: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
NKJV: which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Again, we have two questions, is it "body" or "substance" and is it "voluntary" or "taking delight"? The word soma literally means "body", not "substance", although I understand why they translated it as "substance" to constrast it with "shadow." It is a somewhat dynamic translation but it accurately reflects the meaning of the phrase a little better. The word thelo means "to choose," "to prefer", and to "delight in." The NKJV translation is on the whole more accurate.
Example #26: 1 Thessalonians 5:22
KJV: Abstain from all appearance of evil.
NKJV: Abstain from every form of evil.
I can’t tell you how often people quote 1 Thessalonians 5:22 as "appearance" rather than "form" at my church, basically implying that you should be careful not to look bad. This is not bad advice, but it isn’t actually what the verse means; the word eidos literally means "a view, i.e. a form," and would seem to apply more to what we view than how we appear to others. I won’t call the KJV verse inaccurate, but it is not as accurate as the NKJV in that it seems to shift the impetus of the word from what we ourselves see to what others see, which cannot be correct.
This is a little complex, so let me demonstrate what I am saying. In Luke 7:39, we read, "Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner." Jesus here was abstaining from every form of evil, of course, but the thing appeared evil to the Pharisee, so Jesus wasn’t actually abstaining from the "appearance" of evil in the sense that the Pharisee saw it as evil.
Actually, every time we proclaim something good, someone is going to think we are evil for doing so. When the Southern Baptist Convention affirmed that the wife is to be in subjection to her husband, for instance, it appeared evil to the world. We cannot abstain from the appearance of evil in others’ sight, but we can certainly abstain from all forms and appearances of evil in our own sight.

Example #27: 2 Thessalonians 2:7
KJV: For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
NKJV: For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
It is interesting that this verse showed up as a difference to a KJV-Onlyist, because it demonstrates that he does not understand the Old English. The word "let" in 1611 meant the same thing as "restrain" today. The Greek word, katecho, means to "hold down." The fact that the KJV Onlyists try to make hay out of this verse demonstrates that they do not know what the 1611 wording actually means. The NKJV translation is definitely superior in communicating the thought of the verse to the modern reader.
Example #28: 2 Thessalonians 2:12
KJV: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
NKJV: that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
There is no difference in the meaning between "damned" and "condemned." This is just another example of KJV Onlyists preferring what is today harsh language over less offensive language.
Example #29: 1 Timothy 1:4
KJV: Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
NKJV: nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
Is it "minister questions" or "cause disputes"? The Greek word means "a searching, i.e. a dispute or its theme." The NKJV translation is more accurate.
Example #30: 1 Timothy 3:6
KJV: Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
NKJV: not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
Is it "puffed up" or "lifted up"? (Isn’t it hard to imagine that someone would consider this worthy of a dispute?) The Greek tuphoo literally means "to envelop with smoke" and figuratively means "to inflate (with self-conceit)." The NKJV is more accurate.
Example #31: 1 Timothy 4:1
KJV: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
NKJV: Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
I guess the questions here are whether the term is "seducing" or "deceiving" and whether the term is "devils" or "demons." The word rendered "seducing" in the KJV is planos which means "a rover, an imposter or a deceiver." "Devils" and "demons" is an unimportant distinction; the Greek word means daimonion which means "a demonic being." The NKJV translation is more accurate.
Example #32: 1 Timothy 5:1
KJV: Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
NKJV: Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers,
I’m not completely sure what the KJV Onlyists think is different here. Perhaps they think the verse specifically refers to an "elder" in the church versus an "older man," but the literal meaning of presbuteros is "older, a senior." The word "intreat" is not in my Oxford dictionary, but the Greek word parakaleo means to "call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation)" and is translated accurately in the NKJV.

Example #33: 2 Timothy 2:5
KJV: And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
NKJV: And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
I guess the problem here is "masteries," whatever that means, versus "athletics." The actual Greek word is athleo which means "to contend in the competitive games." The NKJV translation is perfectly accurate.
Example #34: 2 Timothy 2:12-13
KJV: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
NKJV: If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Is it "suffer" or "endure"? The Greek word hupomeno means "to stay under" and figuratively means to remain or persevere. The KJV gives a completely false impression that if a person "suffers" one time, he will reign with Jesus, while the Greek text speaks of perseverance, which the NKJV accurately reflects.
Example #35: 2 Timothy 2:15
KJV: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
NKJV: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
I was really hoping this one would come up, as it shows once again that KJV Onlyists generally have no idea what their own Bible is saying to them because they do not understand 1611 English. One of the meanings of the word "study" is to "take pains to achieve"; to be diligent. It is an excellent example of how the KJV has imprecise renderings that could be understood improperly, especially to those with poor levels of literacy, like those unfortunates who send me e-mails saying, "Only the KJV 1611 tells you to study your Bible!!!!!" The Greek word spoudazo literally means "to use speed" but figuratively means "to make effort." It simply means to be diligent.
Example #36: 2 Timothy 4:2
KJV: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
NKJV: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
I guess the differences intended by the KJV Onlyist here were "be instant" versus "be ready" and "convince" versus "reprove." "Doctrine" and "teaching" have basically identical meanings in this context (although just to note, the Greek word is didache which literally means "instruction", which could be translated accurately with either word).
With regard to "be instant" or "be ready", the Greek word ephistemi means "to stand upon, i.e. be present." This sounds more like being ready than being instant to me. Elegho means "to confute" or "admonish." "Reprove" means to rebuke, so "convince" is closer to the actual meaning. This verse is translated better in the NKJV.
Example #37: 1 Timothy 6:5
KJV: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
NKJV: useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
The word "disputings" is obsolete, and wranglings means the same thing as disputings would have meant, which agrees with the meaning of the Greek word logomachia. I suppose the other major difference is between "perverse" and "useless." The Greek word being translated is paradiatribe which literally means misemployment. Misemployed wranglings would seem to be more "useless" than "perverse," so I would again go with the NKJV translation as superior.
Example #38: 1 Timothy 6:10
KJV: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
NKJV: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The NKJV translation here adds the words "all kinds" in italics to indicate that they are added to the text to enhance understanding, not unlike the KJV itself adds italicized words that are admittedly not in the Greek. The question is, does the NKJV deceive us at this point? I think there is both a textual argument and a logical argument to say that this is not the case.
Textually speaking, the Greek literally says, "a root for of all evils is the love of money." The Bible does not say that money is "the", definite article, root of all evil, singular, but a root of all evils. In other words, love of money can provide growth and opportunity for all of the evils, for that is what a root does. A single root does not by itself cause a tree to grow, but many roots cause a tree to grow.
Logically speaking, money is not the root of all evil. If we look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, we find listed among those sins fornication, idolatry, adultery, active and passive homosexuality, thievery, covetousness, drunkenness, reviling, and extortion. While thievery, covetousness, and extortion can claim love of money as their direct cause, this cannot be true of all the others. There is no financial benefit in being a drunkard, a fornicator, an idolator, a homosexual or a reviler. However, the love of money can lead to a monetary situation that can aid a person in achieving any of those sins.
So, is the love of money really the root of all evil? No; sin in our flesh, the devil and his demons are all roots of evil as well. The KJV here teaches an obvious falsehood while the NKJV provides an intelligent interpretation of the verse that honestly notes the words used to better convey the sense. The NKJV translation is more accurate.
Example #39: 1 Timothy 6:20
KJV: O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
NKJV: O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—
The difficulty here would seem to be between the words "science" and "knowledge." The fact is, there would be no way to differentiate the words for "science" and "knowledge" in Greek. Even the King James Version translates this word, gnosis, as "knowledge" 28 times. The literal meaning of the word is "knowledge." The Greek word for science is a different word, eeisteme. The NKJV translation is more accurate than the KJV on this verse.
Example #40: Hebrews 12:8
KJV: But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
NKJV: But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Believe it or not, the KJV Only issue with this verse is the fact it uses the word "illegitimate" instead of "bastard." The Greek word nothos means "spurious" or "illegitimate." I think everyone must realize the words mean the same thing, and the two translations are equal. It is unfortunate that KJV Onlyists prefer the word "bastard" simply for its harsher tone rather than its accuracy to the Greek.
Example #41: James 5:16
KJV: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
NKJV: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
The difference here is between the words "faults" and "trespasses." The Greek word paraptoma means a side-slip, lapse or deviation, an unintentional error or a wilful transgression. The King James Version has the better translation of this verse.
Example #42: 1 John 2:2
KJV: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
NKJV: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
I find it odd that the KJV Onlyists would have an issue with this verse, because the only significant difference is the NKJV clarifies the verse with the word "Himself." To claim that Jesus Himself is not the full propitiation for our sins is to venture into Catholicism. The Greek word autos definitely means "self", and the NKJV translation is superior.
Example #43: 1 John 3:6
KJV: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
NKJV: Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
I cannot see any difference to comment on. Obviously the verses are equal; perhaps the KJV Onlyist who claimed there was an issue with this verse presumed we would not check it out.
Example #44: 1 John 3:8-9
KJV: He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
NKJV: He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
The issue here is the presence or absence of the word "commit." The Greek word being translated (poieo) is present, so the KJV has the better translation. The basic difference is that KJV manages to convey the sense of the deliberate commission of ongoing sin, which is true to the Greek. The NKJV translation here could be better used to support those who preach the false "sinless perfection" doctrine, the notion that once one is truly saved they can never sin at all.
Example #45: 2 John 10
KJV: If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
NKJV: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
Is it "bid him God speed" or "greet him"? Actually, the Greek word chairo is simply a greeting meaning "be well." The NKJV is more accurate since the word God isn’t even present in the Greek text; "God speed" is an old English expression.
Example #46: Jude 6
KJV: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
NKJV: And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
The difference here is between "first estate" and "proper domain." The Greek here, arche, would mean "chief place." The NKJV’s "proper domain" is more accurate.
Example #47: Jude 8
KJV: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
NKJV: Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
Is it "dominion" or "authority", "dignities" or "dignitaries"? The first word is kuriotes which means "mastery". Either "dominion" or "authority" fit the bill in translating that word. In the case of the second word, doxa which means "glories," the better translation would be the King James Version.
Example #48: Jude 24
KJV: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
NKJV: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
Is it "falling" or "stumbling"? The Greek word aptaistos means "without stumbling" and the NKJV has the superior translation.
Example #49: Revelation 1:18
KJV: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
NKJV: I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
The issue here is "hell" versus "Hades." Of course, hades is the Greek word underlying this verse, the abode of the dead. Are the King James Onlyists claiming that Jesus has the keys to eternal hell, Greek gehenna, the Lake of Fire? If so, it is a very serious heresy; people will never be taken out of the lake of fire (eternal hell) after they have been sent there. People are raised out of Hades, then Hades and Death are cast into the lake of fire (hell). The NKJV has the more accurate translation.
Example #50: Revelation 6:14
KJV: And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
NKJV: Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
Is it "the sky" or "the heaven"? The Greek word is ouranos which literally means "the sky" and the NKJV translation is more accurate.
Summary of the Results
We can see that in 50 cases, the New King James Version was acceptable 50 times, more accurate 39 times, equally accurate 7 times, and less accurate 4 times compared to the King James Version. This should not make one question the New King James Version, but an honest person would have to seriously question using a translation as inaccurate as the King James Version in an age where there are better translations like NKJV.
What will ultimately happen to King James Onlyism? I suppose that depends on how long it will be before Christ’s return. If Christ returns quickly, the movement will not have that much time to do damage. If not, King James Onlyism stands to wreak as much damage on fundamentalism as the Roman Catholics denying the Bible to lay people damaged Roman Catholicism.
Fundamentalists would reject "organic union" with the Roman Catholic Church, and I applaud them for that; I wish more evangelicals would reject all association with the Roman Catholic Church. But if they allow the interpretation of God’s Word to be only accessible to a few "gurus" of Old English, they will become "functional Catholics" if not "actual Catholics." If people cannot read and accurately interpret God’s Word for themselves, they are forced to rely on the teachings and traditions of others; the very same problem that led Roman Catholicism down the road to heresy.
Fundamentalists claim that could never happen in their movement but they are wrong; it has already happened. Let’s face it: Any layman could do what I have done to compare the KJV to the NKJV if only they have diligence and obedience to Acts 17:11. This important verse reads, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
The tools are available to know the truth. Instead, fundamentalists choose to blindly accept the lies of a few KJV Onlyist ringleaders without question, no differently than the Catholics blindly accepted the words of their church fathers. If fundamentalists really loved the word of God, they would have researched the claims of KJV Onlyism just the same as I have and found them to be both false and heretical.
The Reliability of the New King James Version Copyright © 2000 by Compass Distributors
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 1982
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.