by Paul Benson
Over the years I have heard quite a number of people strongly object to the use of certain words by the translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible. That somehow the usage of these certain words placed a taint upon, or diminished the reliability of, the King James Version of the Bible.
When taking a serious look into these matters I have come to the conclusion that these strong objections were merely the product of either misunderstanding or preconceived prejudice, and were actually much ado about nothing. The most common objections raised are over the words “Easter’ and ‘Church’. Please allow me to explain why these were the proper choice of words, and their usage in no way taints the Bible.
The Decay Of The English Language
I firmly believe the majority of objections to the various words used in the translation of the King James version are a product of the devolving (deteriation) of the English language; and not any misdeeds on the part of the translators. Due to this devolving of the language many of the words we speak carry either a different slant, or even an entirely different meaning today. Words such as let, all, closet, conversation, replenish etc. carried somewhat of a different meaning to folks in that age; and just because we would not choose them today does not mean they were an improper choice in that day.
EXAMPLE: ‘Let’ now means allow – then it meant prevent.
EXAMPLE: ‘Closet’ now means a cubby to hang your clothes – then it meant an inner room or storage room.
EXAMPLE: ‘All’ now implies every single one – then it meant ‘a lot’ or ‘many’ (with the majority strongly implied). When the Bible says ALL the world will worship the Beast it does not mean ‘every single one’ but the vast majority.
EXAMPLE: ‘Conversation’ now refers to talking – then it was a reference to ones lifestyle.
EXAMPLE: ‘Replenish’ now means restock or refill – then it meant fill up or supply fully. God telling Adam to go replenish the earth does not mean there was a populous prior to that time. He was to fill up the earth with people not refill it!
The issues raised by the changing usage of words, and what meaning they convey, is not God’s fault or that of the translators of the year 1611. The fault lies with the decay man’s sin brings to every aspect of life including our manner of speech. And I don’t think it unreasonable that Christians should take time to get a handle on the limited number of archaic words in the Bible and learn their proper meaning. The list of these archaic words is NOT enormous.
If anything is to blame it’s our lazy behavior. Two hundred years ago in America the average 5th grader was well along the way to being fluent in a second (or even a third) language. Today the average adult does not even have a good working knowledge of our own language, let alone the mastery of another! If we took the time we spend fussing about those archaic words in the Bible, and used it to learn what their proper meaning is, most of the issue would soon become a non-issue.
Here is a link to a good resource on the definitions of those words in the KJV which might be considered archaic:
The Word Easter
Although I celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and await the promise of the future resurrection of the Believer, I am not someone who celebrates the holiday of Easter. I have done considerable research into the origin of the various elements associated with those days (Christmas tree, mistletoe, yule log, rabbits, eggs, and so on) and cannot help feeling those things are an affront to the LORD; and I have chosen to not partake in the festivities of those days.
So having this understanding of the pagan influence on the Easter celebration I can understand why some might feel the word Easter should not have been used in the Bible. But as you will see it would have been wrong not to use it!
The argument against the usage of Easter in Acts 12:4 centers around the underlying word (πάσχα or pascha) and the fact that every other time it is used in the Scriptures it is translated as Passover. Let’s look at the passage in question.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter (Pascha) to bring him forth to the people. Acts 12:1-4
There are several important factors to consider in this passage that show why Easter is the correct word to use.
Firstly. In this era in the land of Israel the springtime brought a unique cultural overlay in the celebrations of that season. For the Jews it was the combined feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits which they observed in a very strict fashion. But for the non-Jews it it was the celebration of the spring equinox with all the accompanying fertility worship and idolatry. (Easter is a derivative of the goddess Ishtar.) Both these groups, Jew and Gentile, had been observing these two diverse celebrations somewhat simultaneously for centuries.
An important key of understanding can be found in the above highlighted phrase ‘then were the days of unleavened bread’. To catch that significance you must have a working knowledge of the Jewish feast days and their order of observance. On the 14th day of the month was Passover with the sacrifice of the lamb and the all important Passover meal. Then the following day (the 15th) began the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread (with Firstfruits landing on the Sunday following Passover). If it were now the days of Unleavened Bread then Passover Day had come and gone. Passover was now a year away! For Herod to keep Peter in jail until after the next Passover to kill him would have been a year long wait. Considering his rash behavior I doubt that was his intent.
Secondly. Something else important to grasp is that the word ‘pascha’ is not a standard Greek word but of Aramaic origin. Aramaic was the language of the common people of that day (they did not speak Greek) and some of the original text used certain Aramaic words instead of Greek for better understanding. Pascha is one of those words; and it carried a wide range of usage. It could refer to the Passover lamb, the Passover meal, The Passover Day, or in a very general sense the spring-time festival season.
To the Jew this fourth usage would speak to them of the season of the Feasts of the LORD. To the heathen this word would speak to them of their celebration of the spring-equinox and their idolatrous rites of fertility worship. To them pascha = Easter! So we see there was a very different view of this word’s meaning between the two groups; which reflected the great difference of their respective cultures. To the Jews it was Passover; to the heathen it was Easter.
Thirdly. Notice the phrase: intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. The passage is dealing with the ‘intent’ of Herod. Not about God’s feast days, or the proper observance of them. Not about the Jewish mindset, or their call to keep the feast days. It was about the focus of Herod, and his ‘intent’. Herod was a heathen and not a Jew. His focus and actions are going to represent that. As a heathen his ‘Spring-time festival’ was the heathen celebration of Easter!
He was obviously wanting to get the festivities out of the way before he dealt with the execution of Peter. Possibly so as to not stir up the people, or possibly to not mar the festive mood, or maybe just for convenience sake. We don’t know. But considering the fact that as a heathen Herod would have a focus on Easter not the Jewish feasts, and also the fact Passover Day had come and gone: there was nothing improper about using the word Easter in this passage describing Herod’s intent; and to use the word Passover would likely have caused a measure of confusion for some.
This is why I feel the word Easter is absolutely the right word, and the arguments against its usage reflect a lack of understanding.
The Word Church
The argument against the use of the word Church centers around a notion that to do so fosters a misguided understanding as to the nature of the Body of Christ, and it’s government or oversight. Entire books have been written on how this (supposedly) horrible choice of words has damaged and hindered the Body of Christ; and brought us into religious bondage. I honestly just don’t see it!
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you… Matthew 20:25
Yes. the usurpation of authority has sadly been an evident part of the history of the Church. This is undeniable; and I speak out against the concept of clergy ruling over laity, as it is not the biblical pattern. Speaking of the incorrectness of a structure of hierarchy among his followers Jesus plainly forbade it! And as his followers we should seek to stay clear of anything that even remotely resembles that pride and dominion fostering structure. But how does the word ‘church’ promote hierarchy?
One site listed as proof the use of the word church was not proper because, “ Even in 1611 the word “church” (closely related to the Scottish word “kirk”) had the sense of buildings, cathedrals, shrines, monasteries, chapels, etc. that is, the place where the “men of God” did whatever it was they did.” But my question is: how could the usage of the word church in reference to buildings be seen as evidence of foul play (when that is only one usage of the word among others)? Especially when the Bible itself refers to us as a building /temple!
I fail to see where the use of the word Church in the Scriptures fuels any error of understanding (and yes I have listened to the arguments). I believe we can save some time by simply going to the Strong’s definition of the Greek word translated as church:
Strong’s Definitions #G1577
ἐκκλησία or ekklēsia (ek-klay-see’-ah)
From a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564; a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): – assembly, church.
Total KJV occurrences: 115
Does not the word Church convey the same range of meanings as the original Greek word ekklesia? Does it not also conform to the many different descriptors the Bible gives us of the Body of Christ? We are called an assembly, a building, a temple, a people, a congregation etc. etc. etc.. Should we raise a fuss that were are called a temple? Or a building? What is all the fuss about?
Again, to me the argument against the usage of the word church is without merit, and much ado about nothing!
Evidence of Prejudice
I see clear evidence of prejudice in the way many attempt to belittle the KJV, and label it as untrustworthy. Let me explain what I mean with an excerpt from a recent correspondence of mine to a friend from the UK
I QUOTE: What I was hoping to present to you is a question for you to pose concerning those who seek to cast a shadow of doubt upon the faithfulness and validity of the KJV with their ‘scholarly’ objections. That question is this:
If these folks are really moving in a concern for the Body of Christ, and the preservation of the truth of God’s Word, WHY are they not raising an outcry over the overwhelming, and easily proven, corruption of the modern Bible versions; but instead focusing upon a few questionable (so they claim) word choices in the KJV? Please step back from the issue a bit and prayerfully consider that.
The bottom line I get from most of these people is that “the KJV is tainted and questionable, but DONT WORRY about the modern versions! You will still ‘get the goods’ from them. The new versions are quite alright, but beware that ole’ King James version! – it will take you places you shouldn’t go!” They are fussing over a (supposedly existing) molehill of problem in the KJV, and ignoring a very real MOUNTAIN of evidence of missing verses, and horribly altered text in the new versions!
It is a provable fact that the ‘revision’ known as the Westcott / Hort Greek Text is outrageously corrupted, and this corruption (as well as corruption from other means) fills the pages of the modern bibles. Is it in any fashion reasonable to ignore this (or say it does not affect the understanding of the reader)? Does this evidence a genuine love for the truth, or is it clear evidence of prejudice? I cannot help believe it is the latter.
To carry on about the taint of the KJV over a few (supposedly) questionable word choices, and not raise an alarm over the serious and provable corruption of the modern versions would be like two men coming before a judge. One is guilty of not paying his traffic fines but the other is a known criminal guilty of many felonious crimes of rape, robbery, extortion, murder etc.!
The Judge raises much issue with the first man, and devotes a great deal of time to his debasement. Then he totally ignores the violent monster standing in front of him and closes court. What would your opinion of the judge be? Would you not question his actions? Would you not be compelled to lift your voice against his prejudice? I constantly see this same inequality in how many approach the issue of the corrupting of the Scriptures; and it always causes me to question where such a person is at spiritually to exhibit such evident prejudice. END QUOTE
I spent 18 months on the researching and writing of a book that shows 500 serious changes to the modern bible versions. Many others have written similar works showing the great number of horrible changes to God’s Word in the new Bibles. Considering that fact, I marvel that so many ignore that proven corruption and chose instead to focus their disdain upon the KJV.
I have stated before and will state here again I am NOT King James Only! But I absolutely believe it to be excellently translated, and a faithful representation of the Word of God. I would accept any Bible version which is an accurate translation of uncorrupted manuscripts. The problem is the modern versions have as a foundation the provably corrupt Westcott and Hort Revised Greek Text. Any version brought forth from the W/H revision bears the corruption of that text.
The modern bible versions are replete with partially or totally missing verses, verses altered into completely different meanings, and even altered to the point of the truth being changed into a lie! If we are going to claim a genuine concern over the corrupting of the Word of God, and chose to raise our voices over the issue, let’s put the spotlight on the changes that really do alter the truth of God’s Word and affect the understanding of the reader, and not fuss about mere semantics.
Let’s cry out against the very real mountain of corruption, not an imaginary molehill.
May the LORD restore his people to the true Word of God; and deliver us from the corruption that has been introduced into the modern Bible versions;
Here is a link to an article that is a primer on this issue. It shows a number of the serious changes and how they affect what you receive from the text.
‘The True Sayings of God’ by Paul Benson
This is a large resource manual with commentary I put together which shows nearly 500 of the corrupting changes to the modern Bible versions. I wish I would have had something similar when I was researching the issue! PDF only due to layout issues.
‘Should They Be Changing The Holy Bible?’ By Paul Benson
This is a condensed version of the larger book with some new examples and commentary added. It is an easy read (1-2 hours). It is also available in e-reader format.
This is page on my main site dealing with this issue
An excellent article by Ed Long which gives a good overview of the issue, and includes links to a wealth of other resources.
I welcome your input. If you would like to share comment or criticism please feel free to do so in the section below. Overly long comments may be edited for length. Also I will not post the false teachings of others.
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