Studying through Ephesians, I discovered a discrepancy which would make most “King-James-only-advocate” overflow with joyous elation. It is in chapter three, verse six. Below are various popular translations of Ephesians 3:6. The King James version is the last in the list.
“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” - NIV
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” - ESV
“To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” - NASB
“(It is this:) that the Gentiles are now joint heirs (with the Jews) and members of the same body, and joint partakers (sharing) in the (same divine) promise in Christ Jesus through (their faith in) the good news (of salvation)” - Amplified Bible
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” – KJV
Did you catch that? The newer translations add a part at the beginning which is not in the original Greek, but the King James Version does not. Those who love the King James Version while hating other translations often use passages like this to justify their position. It sure seems like this helps their case, doesn’t it?
They usually start with the premise that the King James Version is the only “authorized” translation, or they believe it’s the only legitimate one which is not corrupt like all the other newer translations. They often assume the King James Version was the first English translation, and usually don’t do any real homework (Internet searches of like minded positions doesn’t constitute real homework) to discover it was not only not the first, but wasn’t really considered an original translation, but rather a revision of other revisions which preceded it. (See the Thompson Chain Reference history of the Bible chart, as a rudimentary start to your research.)
Still, it is a little disturbing to come across a passage like this. Yes, if you read the passage in context, those extra words are absolutely inferred in previous verses, and do help make clear God’s intended meaning. However, it seems almost like a gross over-effort in translating. It has the feel of the scholars “helping us” interpret by interjecting the interpretation right into the newer translations.
Does it change theology or alter the meaning? No. So, it’s not disastrous. It just seems unnecessary.
Even so, those who adamantly oppose all new translations will pounce and not let up on things like this. To them this proves how much better and uncorrupt the King James Version is, and how much worse and corrupt the newer translations all are. So, do they have a point?
Fortunately, we serve a sovereign and providential God. He is omniscient and saw these arguments sprouting miles away. In His remarkable foresight, he gave us in the same verse a great argument against the foolish arguments of the King-James-only-advocates.
Scroll back up and look at those various translations, again. Do you notice any key word which is in every one of the newer translations but is not in the King James Version? Yep, you got it. It’s the word, Jesus, and it’s noticeably absent in the KJV. You heard that right. The King James Version left out the name of Jesus.
Wait. What about the Greek? Is the name, Jesus, actually in the original language in this verse? Well, as a matter of fact it is. It says both Christ and Jesus. Yet, the King James Version leaves it out.
So, the next time someone presents that tired old argument which uses the King James Version to measure all other versions, remember Ephesians 3:6. It proves sometimes the King James Version has it spot on, and sometimes it has it dead wrong.
Drop the mic.
Although I believe overall the King James Version is a good translation, I do recommend for Bible study, using multiple translations, and especially the ones which have a reputation for being more accurate, including but not limited to the KJV. Paraphrases have their place, but are more suited for daily devotional reading, rather than serious Bible study. However, it’s not a bad idea to use multiple accurate translations along with a paraphrase, just to get various perspectives, and hopefully, land on the truth — God’s intended meaning.
When it comes to this discussion in modern times, I suppose it would be wise to advise you to be gracious with others who have differing opinions on Bible translations. Just because someone prefers another translation over yours doesn’t mean they intend to insult you by doing so; and it would be very wise to not be quick to judge others who use different translations as “less than you.” My Bible and yours says we should consider others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), so even when it comes to discussing various translations, let’s be kind and gracious with each other.
We don’t need other things dividing us these days.
Pastor Jeff Adams is a longtime community leader, victim advocate, counselor and chaplain. He ministers internationally, nationally and locally. His column appears online weekly and can be reached at email@example.com.