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Bible Q

Is the King James Version the only true, unchanged version of the Bible?

No. In fact, there are a number of problems with the idea that the King James Version (KJV) is the ‘only true, unchanged version of the Bible’.

For one thing, the King James Version of the Bible has its own history of revision.1 For example, changes were made to the text in 1769 (the changes were mostly based on Estienne’s 1550 Greek New Testament), as well as an updating to modern (for that time) spelling and correction of printers’ errors. Another example of change is that modern versions of the KJV generally don’t include the Apocrypha, whereas the old KJV did. So, it is not true to say that the KJV is unchanged. Over the years the KJV has changed. The KJV most use today is not the same as the one produced back in 1611.

That is a historic problem with the idea that the KJV is the ‘the only true, unchanged version of the Bible’ — it has changed. But there are also theological problems with the idea. For example, in Acts 2 God sanctions (to say the least) translation of his word. The disciples were delivering God’s word in many different languages of the world, so that all of the people present could understand them in their own languages (Acts 2:1-11). The people who are receiving the word exclaim:

…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues! [Acts 2:11]

The reason for this is that God loves the whole world (John 3:16) and his desire is for his message to go out into all the earth and for it to be understood by all people (Mat. 28:19; cf. Ps. 19:1-6). To say that the KJV is the only true, unchanged version of the Bible is to truncate, handcuff, cripple God’s love and his desire for all people to know him. Of course, some translations of the Bible are inaccurate in places (the KJV included [see below]), but the principle of translation, and translation so that people can understand God’s word better, is sanctioned by God.2

Ironically, the people who produced the KJV would agree with this against people who think the KJV is the only proper version of the Bible; the people who produced the KJV would agree with the need for continued translation and revision so that the Bible is understandable for people in their usual language. In their preface to their KJV they wrote that the Bible should be translated into the language common to the people who read it, and they castigated people who wouldn’t do such. They also saw the need for a ‘variety of Translations’ when the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew was unclear.3

In addition to this, the idea that the KJV is the only true, unchanged version of the Bible is a very Anglocentric idea and, in that, a very tribal idea, which, in turn, turns God into a small, limited, tribal god. In reality, though, God is God of the whole world (Gen. 1). He is the God of old English as much as he is the God of modern English; he is the God of American English, Australian English, Indian English, etc., as much as he is the God of KJV English; he is the God of any English as much as he is the God of Hindi, Ao, Indonesian, etc.

There is also the problem that the KJV is often not very accurate in its translation. At the admission of the people who produced the KJV themselves, they used a variety of words to render the same Hebrew and Greek words,3 which sometimes could minimize accuracy and original intertextuality. A few examples of inaccuracies of translation in the KJV are:

  • Acts 19:37: ‘robbers of churches’ (anachronistic: churches didn’t exist at the time; inaccurate: ‘temple’ would be far better)
  • Acts 12:4: ‘Easter’ (inaccurate: ‘Passover’ is the accurate translation)
  • Rom. 3:4,6,31; 6:2,15; 7:7,13; 9:14; 11:1,11; 1 Cor. 6:15; Gal. 2:17; 3:21; 6:14: ‘God forbid’ (inaccurate: the word ‘God’ is not in the Greek. A better translation is ‘May it never be!”)
  • Gen. 12:6: ‘plain of Moreh’ (inaccurate: ‘plain’ should be ‘oak’)

In conclusion, the KJV is simply not the ‘only true, unchanged version of the Bible’. That idea goes against the intentions of the people who originally produced the KJV and, worse than that, against the intentions of the God of the whole world who wants all people to come to know him and is happy to communicate to them in their own language.

See also

Which Bible version should I use?

Further reading

J. Burke, Examine your Bible (a comparison of the KJV and the NET Bible)


1. See Michael D. Marlowe’s brief overview: Changes in the King James Version (accessed 09/04/13)

2. Also see the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 14:1-25.

3. See the preface here.

4 Replies to “Is the King James Version the only true, unchanged version of the Bible?”

    Many believers proclaim certain things that they believe to be factual, but do their actions comport with their assertions?

    Example number one: Many claim that the 1611 version of the King James Bible is the only accurate English translation of the Bible. The problem is the original 1611 King James Bible contained 80 books. The 14 books of the apocrypha were included in the original 1611 King James Version. The so-called 1611 King James Bible found in most book stores is actually the 1769 King James Version with the 14 apocryphal books removed.

    King James only advocates do not read the original 1611 King James Bible.

    Example number two: Faith only believers deny that water baptism is not essential in order to become saved. They discredit what Jesus said in Mark 16:16 “…and is baptized will be saved,” by saying that because some of the earliest manuscripts did not have Mark 16:9-20, therefore Mark 16:16 should not be included in the Bible.

    If they really believe that Mark 16:9-20 should not be in the Bible, then they should take scissors and cut it out of their Bibles. Does this happen? I doubt that it does.

    Example number three: More than a few who deny the water baptism is for the forgiveness of sins say that Acts 2:38 has been mistranslated. They state that the Greek “eis” translated -for- the forgiveness of sins should have been translated -because of- the forgiveness of sins. I know of no translation that translates “eis” as -because of, in Acts 2:38. I have checked out 60+ translations.

    If men believe the Greek “eis” in Acts 2:38 should have been translated as because of, then they should take a black maker and blot out -for- and write in- because of. Does this happen? I would guess it does not.


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    • I won’t touch your first example because you obviously haven’t studied the processes and qualifications which were used to decide what was included or excluded from the the KJV.

      Example number two seems mostly like a straw man argument. The KJV is correct to include Mark 16:16. You yourself have taken away from the Word of God by not including the second half of the verse which states “…he that believeth not shall be damned.” There is no mention of baptism in the second verse, and no mention of the thief on the cross, or any of the Old Testament saints being baptized. The New Testament proves that it was not the observance of the law that saved the souls of men, but faith. The Bible says that salvation is BY grace THROUGH faith. The problem is that the majority of individuals in the “Faith” crowd

      are opposed to intelligently defending their “faith”, so they never bother to check Hebrews and James for the for the definitions of these words. Grace is when an unworthy person is made worthy through faith. Faith is obedience to God. Believers on both sides of the argument are confused because of this lack of understanding. Baptism is not required for salvation; it is required for obedience to Christ. If there is no opportunity to be baptized then it is not a case of disobedience. The very heart of the problem is that most Christians do not want to obey the commandments of Christ because they require sacrifice. Jesus’ command to “resist not evil” is a prime example. It is questionable whether a person who is afraid of dying truly believes that he will go to heaven afterwards. If a man truly has faith in the promise of God, he should understand that there is not true death for a believer. Everything that we lose in the name of Christ, especially our lives, will be restored in the regeneration.

      As for example number three, “for” and “because of” are interchangeable. Example: It is BECAUSE OF Adam’s sin that the world is cursed, but it is FOR the sake of man that the world is cursed. “Cause” is the origin or the end of something. “Because of” can mean “from this cause”, or “to that cause”. Since no two parts of scripture can contradict one another, (or else we are better off to get rid of the Bible completely and just use our own opinions), we must read the meaning that is consistent with the numerous accounts of Peter, Paul, and John telling people how to be saved without mentioning baptism. Otherwise the apostles themselves are false prophets and Christianity is a lie.

      All of the modern translations are riddled with contradictions, denying the virginity of Mary, the diety of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and many other things which atheists would love to use against us. In fact, it should be noted that atheists, (in my experience), are almost exclusively opposed to the King James Version. Why do they ignore the many inconsistencies in the newer translations in favor of trying to discredit the KJV, usually to their own embarrassment? I wish that I was better equipped to show you the contradictions to which I have referred, and I may do so eventually, but my current personal obsession is to address the flagrant disobedience among Christians toward the teachings of Christ.

  2. It amazes me how you think you know the mind of God. Many of the later translations completely
    change the meaning.

  3. The bible is not the WORD of God that so many people believe it to be, the bible is a book that is made up of prophets, story’s, and letters. When the lord spoke to his disciples, he told them not to lean on there own understanding, but the understanding of the lord, so the bible isn’t the way we get into heaven, the only way we get into heaven is to repent from our selves, give our life to him, and let him lead us to salvation. But alot of people go by what people say, rather than what God has planned for us, the problem is that people are impatient, I’ll get in that line first! The Will of god is to proclaim he is ruler of all! That Christ had died for our sin’s, and that we are followers of him.