The blood of martyrs has been shed over it, nations have been founded upon it, and divine providence has protected it. The received text, from which the King James Version was created, has had an active role throughout the ages.
Why we use the King James Version
I suppose that one of Satan's more successful ventures was to destroy the very foundations of the Christian faith by introducing many different Bible versions. By developing new, easy-to-read texts, based on older texts, the obvious conclusion is that we must throw out the King James Version, right?
"If the foundations be destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"
This is not meant to be a dogmatic doctrine of why you should use the King James Version (KJV), but rather an answer of why we have decided to use it at Biyn.org. We must remember that The King James Version is only a translation. There are many that have taken a King James Only stance, stating that the only true version of the Bible is the King James Version. However, we must remember that the inspired word of God was given in Hebrew and Greek, not in English.
The Greek Text
Probably the most significant reason that we use the KJV text is that it is based on the Textus Receptus. Most all modern versions of the Bible (NIV, NASB, etc.) use the Alexandrian text, which many scholars have accepted as a better text, because of recent findings which were older than the oldest records of the Byzantine texts.
Well then, we must first look into the people who translated the Alexandrian text. These were the Jews who fled to Alexandria Egypt when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalelm around 586 B.C. The Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying:
"For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more.
The LORD hath said concerning you,
In other words, the Alexandrian text were translated by descendents of Jews that directly went against God's command. He said "Do not go into Egypt!". He said, "when you enter Egypt..you shall be a ... curse and a reproach."
What about the newer Greek texts?
This is a quote from the Preface of the New King James Version (by Thomas Nelson Publishers) on the history of the King James New Testament:
The King James New Testament was based on the traditional text of the Greek-speaking churches, first published in 1516, and later called the Textus Receptus or Received Text. Although based on the relatively few available manuscripts, these were representative of many more which existed at the time but only became known later. In the late nineteenth century, B. Westcott and F. Hort taught that this text had been officially edited by the fourth-century church, but a total lack of historical evidence for this event has forced a revision of the theory. It is now widely held that the Byzantine Text that largely supports the Textus Receptus has as much right as the Alexandrian or any other tradition to be weighed in determining the text of the New Testament.
When the scholars found the newer Alexandrian texts, most have decided that these were superior to the other texts because they were older. However, should we not rather add the Alexandrian texts to what we already have, rather than throwing the other ones out? Especially, based on the following quotes:
Unlike the Alexandrian type manuscripts (Vaticanus/Sinaiticus), the Byzantine type manuscripts had a widespread and early use among many different people groups.
The Alexandrian manuscripts were not available to all the people at all times, which allowed the Alexandrians to modify its content without recourse from the people.
Since the 1880s most contemporary translations of the New Testament have relied upon a relatively few manuscripts discovered chiefly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such translations depend primarily on two manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, because of their greater age. The Greek text obtained by using these sources and the related papyri (our most ancient manuscripts) is known as the Alexandrian Text. However, some scholars have grounds for doubting the faithfulness of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, since they often disagree with one another, and Sinaiticus exhibits excessive omission.
The Byzantine Text
The King James Version (and New King James Version) are the only texts which are based on Greek texts which have been available to all generations. These are based on the Textus Receptus, which is based on the Byzantine text. While the Catholic church had virtually taken over Christianity, taking control of the Holy Scriptures, there were many "true" Christians who held on to the Byzantine text:
During the Dark Ages, apostasy seemed almost to swallow up Christendom, but God still had a people with whom His Word would live and abide forever. As the true church fled into the wilderness (Revelation 12:6, 14), it resisted error and clung to the Scriptures. Prominent among these faithful believers were the Waldensians, who used a Latin translation of Byzantine manuscripts dating back to A.D. 157. Traveling about as merchants and peddlers, they quietly passed on their precious hand-copied portions of Scripture.
However, at the same time the Catholic church was in control of the Alexandrian texts, which allowed them to freely make modifications of the Scriptures without accountability from the "true church". The Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, from which the Alexandrian texts are based, are often criticized for excessive omission (reference: NKJV Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers). There is a 15% difference between the Alexandrian text and the Byzantine text; the Alexandrian text is missing a number of verses, and portions of verses.
400 years of scrutinization
We should consider that although we have many new modern translations, the KJV text has been scrutinized for almost 400 years by scholars all over the world. There is no other English translation that has held up to this test. Additionally, we can see the kind of men that have resulted from diligently studying the KJV text: men such as Isaac Newton, George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, etc.
The word of God is not chained
"Wherein I suffer trouble,
as an evil doer, even unto bonds;
but the word of God is not bound."
2 Timothy 2.9
I noticed this verse when I was looking for a version of the Bible to put on the website. Something struck me in a wrong way about the fact that I could not freely use the NIV, NASB, NKJV versions. They were bound by man-made copyright laws. However, "the word of God is not bound". The following quote is taken from the usage agreement for the online NIV text at Bible.Gospelcom.net:
the NIV® Text may be quoted in written format, up to and inclusive of 50 verses, without express written permission from IBS, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for five percent (5%) or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted. This limited license may be revoked and/or modified at any time by IBS in its sole and absolute discretion.
Therefore, if I quote more than 50 verses, I must obtain written permission from IBS; otherwise, I am breaking the law. Should man-made restrictions be put on the word of God?
"...But God's word is not chained."
2 Timothy 2:9 (NIV)
I have found that the only Bible version that did not violate this was the King James Version. It is not bound under such copyright laws.
What about the Archaic language?
The "archaic" language problem of the KJV text can be broken into two areas of discussion: (1) the second person distinctives ("thee's/thou's", "shall/shalt", etc.) and (2) other archaic words that have changed meaning over time.
The thee's and thou's
Actually, the "thee's" and "thou's" were a relic of an even more ancient English than was spoken in 1611, and (by inference of the absence of "thee's" and "thou's" in the introduction of the KJV Bible) were not even commonly used in the 1600's. However, they are very important to preserve the distinctive voice between second person singular and plural which has been lost in most new versions of the Bible. For example:
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15, KJV
"And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." Genesis 3:15, NKJV
The following table (from Wikipedia.org's Thou article) demonstrates the difference of second person singular and plural for the KJV and NKJV:
The archaic words
The Scripture gives us a good example of how to handle archaic language, recorded in 1 Samuel 9. Notice, how they first use the archaic word "seer", then they define that it is called "a Prophet", but in verses 11 they do not use the new word, they continue to use the archaic word (after it has been defined):
"(Beforetime in Israel,
when a man went to enquire of God,
thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer:
for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
And as they went up the hill to the city,
We hope to use this same example at Biyn.org: to use the KJV text, albeit somewhat antique, but rather defining the antiquated words rather than throwing them out. We would also say that some of the words that the KJV has been translated are probably not the best, or has created some confusion today. Therefore, a suggested KJV errata is provided here.
Satan would love to use different versions of the Bible to divide the body of Christ. But let us remember Jesus last recorded prayer before going to the cross:
"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me,
and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:
that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
Jesus ultimate desire is that we become ONE that the world may believe in Him.
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace,
and things wherewith one may edify another."
If we are to follow after the things which make for peace, I would encourage those who study one particular version of the Bible, to also read other versions of the Bible. You may have one particular version which you like to read daily. However, why not periodically read the same passage in different versions. This will help us to all understand the differences in the versions, and maintain a sense of unity in the body.
"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions,
and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain."
We must not strive over different Bible versions.
"For where envying and strife is,
there is confusion and every evil work."
Moroever, the words of the Bible are not the end, but the means. As the LORD said to Joshua "...thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do...". So, ultimately, we must see how the different Bible versions affect our actions.