Is the KJV the Only Good Bible?

No. This is not King James.

“Among conservative Christians, a grassroots backlash against contemporary English-language Bibles has triggered a renewed interest in the famed King James Version with its word-for-word translation and its long-standing authority” (Maxwell 1). The arguments range from personal preference to more audacious attacks that label all other Bibles beside the King James Version (KJV) as heretical. Proponents of the KJV-only mentality have all sorts of arguments to justify their position. Among them are the positions that the Textus Receptus (TR) is the most reliable Greek manuscript and that modern translations are not faithful to orthodox doctrine.

The “Textus Receptus, [is] the edition of the Greek New Testament that reflects the largest number of the NT Greek manuscripts… lying behind the KJV” (“Modern Versions and the King James Version”). To put it simple, the TR is the Greek text that is translated into the KJV. Though there are other Greek manuscripts besides the TR, for KJV-only advocates the TR is the most reliable. Evangelist Samuel Gipp presented this view saying “I don’t call it [the 1611 KJV] the inspired Word of God. I call it the preserved Word of God” (Maxwell 2). Gipp speaks for all KJV-only proponents by claiming that the only Bible that has accurately preserved the word of God is the KJV, hence making it the most reliable version available to English speaking Christians. However, the differences between the TR and other Greek manuscripts are minor and do not distort the truth either way. The reality is that “only about one- eighth of the variants have any significance. This means that over 98 percent of the text of the NT is pure whether a person reads the TR or another edition of the Greek NT” (“Modern Versions and the King James Version”). Another interesting point to note is that KJV-only advocates don’t take their position because of the TR but because of tradition. This is reflected by the fact that “the New Testament of the NKJV [New King James Version] is based on the Textus Receptus just as the KJV is. Yet, KJV-only advocates label the NKJV just as heretical as they do the NIV, NAS etc” (“KJV Only Movement?”).

A stronger and more common argument that KJV-only proponents use is that all modern translations are not faithful to orthodox doctrine. While it may be true that some modern translations are not dependable for doctrinal study, this is not true of all modern translations. In defense of this position KJV-only supporters quote verses from the KJV and then compare them to other versions. In doing this they attempt to demonstrate the superiority of the KJV to modern translations.

One doctrine that is often shown as being better represented in the KJV is the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. A verse that is used to demonstrate this position is John 6.47 which reads “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (“King James Version”). Other versions omit “on me” in this passage which prompts KJV-only advocates to denounce these other versions. One proponent of this view stated that the omission of “on me” “presents ‘ANOTHER GOSPEL’ because a person is free to believe in anything he chooses and have everlasting life-‘in Santa Claus, in the Easter Bunny, in the Tooth Fairy, in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. . . .’ ” (“Modern Versions and the King James Version”). This view represents the irrational and extreme thinking that often accompanies such narrow positions. For example, did the author of this assessment consider that the same modern versions that omit “on me” in John 6:47 present the same idea elsewhere? For example, the American Standard Version (ASV) omits “on me” in John 6:47, however, in verse 35 of the same chapter the ASV says, “…he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (“American Standard Version,” emphasis added). Verse 40 also presents the doctrine of belief in Christ alone. If the translators of the ASV wanted to omit the divinity of Christ then they would have done so consistently. As Johannes Kovar, author of “The Textus Receptus and Modern Bible Translations” points out, “There are not textual differences that could be used as a real argument in favor of theology. Always, when the scientific text is a little shorter than the Textus Receptus, the omitted phrases can be found relatively easily in other biblical passages” (4).

In conclusion, proponents of the KJV-only theory stand on shaky ground. Though there are many other arguments relevant to this discussion not addressed here, it is clear that two of the most common arguments used in support of this theory are less than reliable. The TR is not the only trustworthy Greek manuscript and the idea that all modern versions of the Bible are not true to orthodox doctrine is without foundation. God has preserved His word, not in the KJV alone, but in other reliable modern translations as well.

Works Cited
“American Standard Version.” Meyers, Rick. e-Sword: The Sword of the Lord with an Electronic Edge (Version 9.9.1) [Software]. Available from
“King James Version.” Meyers, Rick. e-Sword: The Sword of the Lord with an Electronic Edge (Version 9.9.1) [Software]. Available from
“KJV Only Movement?” Is The King James Version The Only Bible We Should Use? Got Questions Ministries, 2011. Web. 14 November 2011.
Kovar, Johannes. “The Textus Receptus and Modern Bible Translations.” Biblical Research Institute, 2011. Web. 14 November 2011.
Maxwell, Joe. “King-James-Only Advocates Experience a Renaissance.” Christianity Today, 23 Oct. 1995: 86+. Religion & Philosophy Collection. Web. 14 November 2011. 
 “Modern Versions and the King James Version” Biblical Research Institute, 1997. Web. 14 November 2011.