The King James Controversy Revisited – Program 6

By: Dr. Kenneth Barker, Dr. Don Wilkins, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Dr. James White, Dr. Samuel Gipp, Dr. Thomas Strouse, Dr. Joseph Chambers; ©2002
Have doctrines such as the deity of Christ and the virgin birth been removed or diluted in some of the newer Bible translations?

Do New Translations Water Down Important Bible Doctrines?


Today, Dr. John Ankerberg hosts a debate on the King James Only controversy. Which translation of the Bible is best for Christians to use: the 1611 King James, the New King James, the NIV, the New American Standard Bible, or some other translation? Are all translations truly the word of God, or only the 1611 King James? This is an important debate in which the general editors and scholars of the new translations meet face-to-face with some of their critics and those who hold that only the King James Version should be used.

John’s guests include : Dr. Kenneth Barker, general editor of the NIV Bible; Dr. Arthur Farstad, Executive Editor of the New King James; Dr. Don Wilkins, translator for the New American Standard Bible; Dr. Dan Wallace, expert on the ancient Greek texts; Dr. James White, author of The King James Only Controversy; Dr. Samuel Gipp, who holds the 1611 King James is the only infallible Bible translation; Dr. Thomas Strouse, who argues that only the 1769 King James translation should be read. Finally, Dr. Joseph Chambers, who also argues for the King James Version, and represents the views of author Gail Riplinger and her book New Age Bible Versions?

The King James Only Controversy has become a divisive issue among many Christians. Should it be? Join us for this important debate.

Ankerberg: Welcome. There are some Christians in the church today who hold so strongly to the King James Version of the Bible that they accuse the modern translations, such as the NIV, the New American Standard Bible, and even the New King James, of watering down major biblical doctrines such as the deity of Christ and the virgin birth. I have looked at the evidence and I don’t think that’s true, but I’ll let you make up your own mind. Let’s listen to our debate today:

Ankerberg: You have said the deity of Christ has been watered down in places such as Acts 3:13, which we’re going to look at; the virgin birth of Jesus has been denied in places such as Luke 2:33; the doctrine of the Trinity has either been removed or questioned in 1 John 5:7. So, Sam, Acts 3:13 says, “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.”
Let’s go to the NIV here for a moment: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.” So those are the translations. What do you object to?
Gipp: The word “servant” in front of Jesus. It’s the word “son” and they’ve changed it to “servant.” In four places—Acts 3:13, Acts 3:26, then in Acts 4:27—it’s “the child Jesus” and they changed it to “servant.” In Acts 4:30 it’s “child Jesus, the holy child Jesus” and they change it to “servant.” Four times: two times son, two times child; all four times it’s changed to servant.
Ankerberg: Okay. Here’s the New King James Version which you also object to: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied.” Okay, same problem?
Gipp: Same problem.
Ankerberg: Art, editor of New King James?
Farstad: Okay, the reason we don’t have “son” here is because the original doesn’t have “son.” The word for “son” is huios. The word here is pais. Pais, in English which means child or servant. And in this context, Peter is preaching to convince Jewish people that Jesus is the Messiah. He talks about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One of the great titles of the Messiah, as Brother Ken will point out, is Ebed Yahweh or Ebed Adonai, “Servant of the Lord.” This is not the word “servant” for house servant; this is not doulos, bond-servant; this is a word that nicely translates the Hebrew, Ebed Yahweh. It’s not anything to do with watering down the deity of Christ. The New King James is more honorific of the Trinity and the deity of Christ than any other version. We capitalize all pronouns referring to the three Persons of the Trinity. That’s just a false charge. It’s, maybe incorrect is too strong a word, but it’s not a very accurate translation to put in “son.” You could put in “child,”…
Gipp: That’s right.
Farstad: …but “child” frankly sounds like the Christ Child Society, an antique shop in Georgetown where I went to Sunday school.
Gipp: John, listen, the Analytical Greek Lexicon that Dan told me is no longer any good tells you that pais can be child, servant, boy, girl, minister, attendant, slave. So child could have been left alone in Acts 4 and they took it out when they had no authority for that. Then, the New King James, when you come to John 4:51 it tells the nobleman’s son was sick. He sends somebody to Jesus and says, “Will you heal my son?” and Jesus send him back, and when He’s coming back His servant meets him and his servant said, “Thy son liveth.” And the Greek word there for son is not huios, it is pais—same thing. They translate it “son.” When it talks about a lost nobleman’s son, they don’t have any problem making pais a son, which didn’t have any Greek authority; and yet when it comes to Jesus Christ, they won’t translate it as “son.”
Ankerberg: Okay?
Farstad: Well, we have no idea how old his boy was, and, you know, “child”….
Gipp: It does not matter. You put son in John 4:51, you translated pais as “son.” You would not do it in Acts 3 when it was referring to Jesus Christ. There’s no doubt.
Farstad: That’s not the reason. We left it because it was not a significant change. We kept…
Gipp: You say it is not significant. I think it’s very significant!
Farstad: Well, it’s significant when it refers to in this theological passage, which is the only one that he asked me to look up, but “servant” is what the Greek has. I know you don’t believe in the Greek, but the Greek says pais, it does not say huios, which is the word for “son.”
Gipp: I know what the Greek says. But the Greek does not say “son.” I’m saying you put pais, you translated….
Ankerberg: Wait, you just said a few moments ago the Analytical Lexicon that you use, okay, that it has these different meanings that you could use. Those were your words.
Gipp: Right.
Ankerberg: Okay. So he used one of them.
Gipp: Absolutely. But the one he used took away the deity of Christ.
Farstad: Did not.
Gipp: Yes, it did.
Farstad: It emphasized that He’s the Ebed Yahweh, He’s the Servant of the Lord.
Gipp: You know, I don’t believe anybody’s going to read the New King James and say, “This proves the deity. This shows me this is talking about the Ebed Yahweh.” It’s obvious! Nobody’s going to do that!
Farstad: This is not a verse to prove the deity of Christ; this is telling that He is the Servant of the Lord.
Gipp: Well, it isn’t in your Bible.
Farstad: Well, it is in the original text that the Holy Spirit inspired.
Gipp: You don’t have the original text.
White: Just because you understand it to be a verse that teaches that does not mean that your understanding determines the correct translation. The King James often…
Gipp: No, no, no, no. Listen, it’s there, brother.
White: The King James often…
Gipp: No, no. It says “son” four times! You can change it all you want….
White: Dr. Gipp, are you saying the King James always gave the same translation for every word? You know that’s not the case.
Gipp: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying it says “son” four times.
White: Are you saying what he said cannot possibly be true, that this is not referring in preaching in context to Jewish people to the Ebed Yahweh?
Gipp: I’m saying simply to pick up the New King James, how do they know he’s saying?
Farstad: Look at the context; meditate; ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
White: Why should it be that the student of Scripture should not be asked to do that?
Ankerberg: Let’s roll on here. I think we’ve got that on the table for the audience. And the second thing is that you say that besides the deity of Christ being watered down, you say the virgin birth of Jesus has been denied in places such as Luke 2:33. And let’s get the King James first. “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” And, Ken, since you’re going to do it, let me give you the NIV here. “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about Him.” What’s the objection, Joe?
Chambers: What’s the objection? The objection is serious. He was not the child’s father, the Holy Spirit was the child’s Father. And what is sad in this same second chapter of Luke they do something similar three times. Let me show you, in verse 22: “When the time of their purification according to the law of Moses had been completed….” That’s NIV. The King James said, “When the day of her purification.” They put Jesus in the need of purification, or Joseph, one of the two. Either way, they connect either Joseph or Jesus with Mary in need of purification. And the law of Moses did not require other than the real mother to go for purification. But here they’re talking about Jesus going for purification.
Ankerberg: But the objection is, the virgin birth of Jesus has been denied here. How has it been denied, Sam?
Gipp: When it says that Joseph was His father. In the King James it says “Joseph and his mother,” not referring to Joseph as His father. In the NIV it says “the child’s father and mother.”
Barker: John, this is a classic example of how selective the King James Only people are in their use of data and evidence. When material favors their position, they’ll use it; and when it does not favor their position, they will make no reference to it. For example, in verse 41 of this same chapter, the King James refers to Jesus’ parents, Joseph and His mother, as His parents. So there Joseph is included as a parent of His. Furthermore, in John 1:45, the King James refers to Jesus as “the son of Joseph.” They’re the ones, to me, who have the problem, not me; because I have no problem with any of those references. After all, Joseph was Jesus’ legal father, and so there is no problem with that.
Ankerberg: Did you take out all the verses about the virgin birth?
Barker: Now, when it comes to the virgin birth, you will not find a clearer statement of the virgin birth in any translation than you have in the NIV at the end of Matthew 1 and in Luke 1. When it comes to the deity of Christ, which has also been raised, according to a chart produced by D. A. Carson, professor of Greek and New Testament at Trinity Seminary, in his book The King James Version Debate, the NIV has more clear, explicit references to the deity of Christ than the King James Version does.
Gipp: I don’t buy that.
Ankerberg: Alright, let’s get the third verse on the board. And the third verse was 1 John 5:7. And, Sam, this is the verse in KJV: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” And let’s take any one you want, Dan. NASB, New American Standard Bible: “It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” Sam, what’s the objection, first of all?
Gipp: Well, the verse has been removed. There is no 1 John 5:7. That 1 John 5:7 you have from the NASB is the last half of verse 6. The NIV doesn’t do this. The NIV splits verse 8 and makes it fall to verse 7, so verse 7 has been removed from both.
Ankerberg: Alright, should it have been?
Gipp: No.
Ankerberg: Dan?
Wallace: What’s the evidence for that?
Gipp: I believe God put it in that book; I believe the King James Bible is perfect.
Ankerberg: Alright, my question, Dan, people want to know, were the new translations, NIV, New King James, etc., were they all wrong in taking it out?
Wallace: They were not wrong. And I need to preface it by saying this. I believe all the translators for the New American Standard and the NIV would love to have this verse in their Bible. They all are Trinitarians.
Barker: That’s right. That’s right.
Wallace: They all believe in the Trinity. But what they are going on is the basis of the evidence. An ounce of evidence is worth a pound of presumption, and that’s what we’re really wrestling with here. What you’ve got is this: Erasmus in 1516 published the first Greek New Testament. It did not have the verses as they ended up in the King James Bible. In his second edition in 1519, it did not have the verses as they appeared in the King James Bible. In fact, he pretty much let out the challenge and said, “If you can find some manuscripts, I’ll put it in.” And so someone made some manuscripts to order.
Gipp: You don’t know that.
Wallace: We can do it on paleographical data that it looks pretty much “made to order.”
Gipp: You don’t know that they made….
Wallace: We certainly know…
Ankerberg: Wait, wait, wait, the people haven’t heard what Dan, we haven’t heard what you’re even arguing about. Say the sentence, the statement, and then we’ll argue. What did you say?
Wallace: Well, the point is, if you want to argue that this goes back very early, why is it that we have no Greek manuscripts that have this early? We have six, at most, late manuscripts. Most of them are in the margin of the text. In other words, it looks as if the manuscripts were written maybe in the fourteenth century and a later hand, a different hand, put something in the margin, crossed out what was in the text and put this in the margin. You don’t have enough evidence to say this is what the original said.
Ankerberg: Is that in any of the manuscripts up to the fourteenth century?
Wallace: As far as we know, it’s not in any manuscript until the sixteenth.
Barker: That’s right.
Farstad: The Trinitarian controversy with the Arian heretics, they would have adored this verse if it had been in their text. It would be a clear verse for the Trinity, and they never once mentioned it. So, if they had had it, you can see…
Ankerberg: So the first councils back there in the 300s or 400s would have loved this verse.
Farstad: They would have adored it. And, you know, we believe in the Trinity.
Ankerberg: But they didn’t use it.
Farstad: They didn’t quote it because they didn’t have it.

Ankerberg: Okay, so far we’ve seen that the new translations have not watered down the deity of Christ or the virgin birth and we’ve also seen the reason that 1 John 5:7 has been deleted from the NASB and the NIV is simply because it did not appear in any Greek copy of the New Testament up to the sixteenth century. If it had been in the biblical text, the church councils in the fourth century would have been all over this verse. But they weren’t, because it wasn’t there. Now, next, let’s look at an example concerning the deity of Christ where the new translations are much clearer than the old King James.

Ankerberg: Let’s go to the deity of Christ argument here. Gail [Riplinger] and Sam here have said that you guys have watered down the deity of Christ. You have come back in almost all of your books and said, no, you’ve actually made it stronger. Prove it. Dan, start us off.
Wallace: Well, you could look at Titus 2:13. One of the interesting things about this text here is that the King James translators knew Greek less well than they knew Latin, and so they constantly relied on the Latin to get themselves through the Greek. When it came to this text, they translated it something like “the appearing of the glory of our great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ,” as if they are two distinct persons. And yet the Greek text is very plain. It says, “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Gipp: You inserted a word. I mean, no offense, but you inserted a word which does make it sound like what you’re saying right.
Wallace: What word is that?
Gipp: He inserted the word “of.” It’s not in there.
Wallace: Read it, please.
Gipp: Alright. “Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” Which, if you put “of” in there what he’s saying….
Wallace: Well, “our” does the same thing.
White: That’s right.
Wallace: In fact, it does it so strongly that in 1798 a man by the name of Granville Sharp wrote a little monograph that argued against this translation here as well as in 2 Peter 1:1 and a few other places. And he said the King James translation here is wrong because it suggests that there are two persons in view, and there is one in view; it is the Lord Jesus. He is called God here, is what he argued. And now, what’s interesting is, in that time, at that day 200 years ago, many people reacted to that. And they were Arians who were using the King James Bible in defense of their Arianism.
White: Very frequently in your own writings, in the writings of Gail Riplinger, D. A. Waite, Peter Ruckman, Samuel Gipp, you will find places where modern translations happen to look like the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And this is used as an example of how corrupt the modern translations are. Here, the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses agrees with the King James in mistranslating four of the five Granville Sharp constructions in 2 Peter. They get all the other four of them right because it doesn’t mess with their theology. The point is, the modern translations, if they were trying to deny the deity of Christ, I could not have created the chart I did on page 197 of my book that goes down the major passages on the deity of Christ and compares the NIV, the NASB and the King James Version. And of all those—and I have spoken with hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses over the years—of all those three translations, the one that is the clearest in all those places, Dr. Wilkins, all respect to you, is the NIV, and the NASB is right behind it.
Wilkins: No, no, no. I wouldn’t do that.
White: We’ll take a look at it. But the point is, if these individuals are trying to deny the deity of Christ, as the common accusation is, why in the world—on the classical passages which any person knows you have to engage to deal with Arians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others—why would they be clearer than the King James?
Gipp: You say a classical passage; 1 John 5:7 is a classical passage to engage Jehovah’s Witnesses.
White: First John 5:7, even they recognize you’re having to specially plead on a passage that’s not found in any Greek manuscript in the first 1600 years of the Christian church. The classical…
Wallace: Here we’ve got a clear text where the grammar is clear, where the Greek is clear, where the King James is misleading. The Arians…
Gipp: The King James is not misleading…
Wallace: As I said, the Arians in Granville Sharp’s day used the King James translation. There were books written against Granville Sharp, saying the King James translation is right and it defends Arianism here.
Wilkins: Not only that, the classical grammarians knew that even before Granville Sharp did. And the reason the King James people didn’t get it right was because they were relying on the Latin, and Latin doesn’t have the word “the.” There’s no way to tell the connection there between God and Savior. In fact, you can’t do it in Latin.

Ankerberg: Some of those who hold to the King James only position accuse the NIV of dropping all references to hell. So, again, I asked the general editor of the New International Version, Dr. Ken Barker, if that was true.

Ankerberg: Let’s pick up another accusation. Gail Riplinger has said the NIV, back to you, Ken, “has dropped all references to everlasting punishment for man.” Dr. Ruckman has gone even stronger: “Hell is out of the question in the NIV. There is no hell anywhere in the Bible’s 66 books, if you’re stupid enough to think the NIV is a Bible.” Dr. Barker, did the NIV translators avoid using the word hell? Did you try to downplay this doctrine?
Barker: No. In fact, if you’ll take the NIV Exhaustive Concordance and look up the word hell, you will discover several references to hell in it and to eternal punishment in it. But let me just share with you my favorite passages on this subject from the NIV.
They are, first of all, Revelation 19:19-20: “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. The two of them [namely the beast and the false prophet] were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur,” which, of course, is another word for hell. You’ll find the word hell in Matthew 5 and in Mark 9 and several other passages in the NIV. But the reason I like to use this one is because I like to compare it then to Revelation 20:10 which, according to the first part of Revelation 20, is 1,000 years later.
And here we read: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They [namely, the devil, the beast and the false prophet, all of them] will be tormented day and night, for ever and ever.”
I think the answer to that is clear from the NIV. No, we do not deny the doctrine of hell. No, we do not deny eternal punishment. We have several references to hell in the Gospels Matthew and Mark and other places. And as far as eternal punishment is concerned, I don’t think it could be clearer than it is in Revelation 19 and 20.
Ankerberg: Alright, Joe.
Chambers: I’ll give him a quote from The NIV: the Making of a Contemporary Translation. “In his second speech he still preferred death. He declared that one who goes down to Sheol, which is hell, returns no more and in this context said he would soon lie down in the dust and be no more. The passages teaches us that similar references to Sheol elsewhere also means no more than a darkness, dissolution and dust of the tomb.”
Ankerberg: Dan.
Wallace: If a doctrine has to be found in each verse, then we’ve lost a doctrine. But if the doctrine is found in the Bible and in several other verses, we’ve lost nothing. The King James omits some things; the NIV has a different translation; the New American Standard does. But the doctrines are all there in all of these translations.

Ankerberg: Let me close with this. All of the biblical translations—the old King James, the New King James, the NIV, the New American Standard Bible—all try to give a clear, accurate translation of the Word of God to you. Some of the accusations against the new translations are just untrue. There is no evidence that backs them up. If you study these texts, you will see that’s true. Whatever Bible translation you choose to use should not be used to divide a church or to break fellowship among Christians. We are blessed today to have the Word of God in these fresh translations.
Next week we’ll talk about: Have the new translations gone soft on homosexuality and the blood of Jesus Christ? Have some of the translators of the new versions lost their voice, gone insane, or died prematurely? During our very debate that you’re listening to, did the representative of the New American Standard Bible lose his voice so that he was unable to continue? There are all kinds of wild statements that are going around. Join us next week. We’ll put them to rest.

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