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King James Bible: Big Gift of Truth, Faith, and Love

King James Bible: Big Gift of Truth, Faith, and Love
King James Bible: a holy offering from the king of England to His people to honor his Savior, the Ruler of Heaven and earth, Jesus Christ.

King James Bible: Big Gift of Truth, Faith, and Love

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. – Proverbs 22:27

The King James Bible is the most important book in the English language. In one sense, it created English, the language we speak today.

Before King James* there were many Bibles.

They were partisan. All were Protestant, even Henry VIII’s Great Bible, the first Authorized Version, i.e., meant to be read in churches.

*means this person has a short biography in SPIRITUAL LIVES.

The Great Bible was the work of Myles Coverdale. He used William Tyndale’s New Testament translation and the Old Testament from the Latin Vulgate himself. But it is Tyndale’s language that has survived, first in the Great Bible and later in the King James’.

Between the two there were other Bibles, notably the Bishop’s Bible in 1568 and the Geneva Bible in 1560. The first was authorized by the Church of England as an update to Henry VIII’s Great Bible of 1534. The second was an annotated update of Tyndale’s work with explicit and detailed notes on Calvinist theology.

England was divided over these Bibles and Queen Elizabeth was content to live with both. But when she was succeeded by King James* of Scotland, both Anglicans and Puritans asked the new king for a new Bible, each hoping their version would prevail.

James* was himself a Bible student and commissioned forty-seven scholars to translate the Greek and Hebrew text into the English language. All these men were committed Christians passionately believing that they were handling the Word of God and they treated the text with reverence and honor.

The main goal of this effort was unity, national and theological and this eventually came to be, but not until the 18th century, after England’s civil war and the American Revolution. But then its authority was established and recognized by the people of Great Britain and America.

George III and the American revolutionaries both used and honored the King James Bible, and it became the foundation for social and political reformation. In the 19th century it served as text for the Great Awakenings and evangelistic revivals on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the 20th century, it sparked the Pentecostal revivals and those of Billy Sunday*, Aimee Semple Macpherson*, and Billy Graham*. During this time, it was introduced to public education and popular culture, so that everyone revered it and recognized a wide range of passages. This continues to this day in many evangelical circles.

But its impact is much wider than there. Wikipedia has this to say:

  • Geddes MacGregor called the Authorized Version "the most influential version of the most influential book in the world, in what is now its most influential language", "the most important book in English religion and culture", and "the most celebrated book in the English-speaking world".

  • David Crystal has estimated that it is responsible for 257 idioms in English; examples include feet of clay and reap the whirlwind.

  • Furthermore, prominent atheist figures such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have praised the King James Version as being "a giant step in the maturing of English literature" and "a great work of literature", respectively, with Dawkins then adding, "A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian".

Sadly, admiring the Bible as literature is of no value to atheists. It is for its continuing faithfulness to the Gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ that Christians value the King James Bible.

Why King James?

What accounts for its longevity and continuing success?

Baptist minister and professor Dr. Richard Flanders gives a short and robust summary that includes these five factors:

Theological Reasons – The King James Version is 100% committed to the faith as received. It retains the historic texts on the virgin birth. The translators believed they were handling the Word of God, and they bowed before it. Every one recognized the Lord Jesus as Savior, Lord and Creator and entered their work as a labor of love and service to their King.

Textual Reasons – King James and the New King James are the only Bibles in use today translated from the full Greek text used in 1611. Recent translations use a new Greek test generated by 19th-century scholars based on older manuscripts that omit portions of the gospels of Mark and John or bracket them.

Underlying this textual editing is a presumption “that a large amount of the New Testament read, believed, preached, and obeyed by most of our spiritual ancestors was uninspired material added to the text! If this new textual theory were true, it would be revolutionary news to the church.”

Dr. Flanders continues,

“Christ assured us that the very words we need in order to live as we should would be preserved throughout the ages, through wars and persecutions and disasters, even through the fiery end of creation!”

Philosophical Reasons

The King James scholars used a "formal equivalence" approach to the Greek and Hebrew texts. They tried to state in English the meaning of the words in the original. Later translators sought what is called a "dynamic equivalence," the expression of the thoughts in modern English idiom.

However lovely their language, it is no longer the Word of God.

The perspicuity of scripture, the doctrine of sola scriptura, and the priesthood of all believers put the words King James gave us in our hands for us to collaborate with the Holy Spirit to see His truth.

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.—1 John 2:27

Cultural Reasons

The King James Bible has given us our culture. Queen Elizabeth II* was a powerful product of her ancestors' Bible and faith, and both are on display in the coronation of her successor.

The theology and language of the Bible gave us the government of the United States and as long as it has been read and present in the public square, the nation has been blessed and honored gone. With its slow disappearance from the scene sin and evil have grown more prominent as the god of this world has blinded those who are lost.

Practical Reasons

The "thee's" and "thou's" give us the second-person pronouns most European languages have, and they help us understand passages as well as establish relationships. They also give us the ability to enter into the tenderness of a love relationship as in “thou whom my soul loveth” or worship / adoration as in “Thou art worthy, O Lord.”

King James translators used italics to indicate a word that is not in the original language but that they have put there to help our understanding. This is a mark of integrity absent in later translations.

On the other hand, King James does not use quotation marks because the ancient languages do not have them. Again, this is an indication of integrity, a property we see throughout the masterpiece King James gave us.

Such features make the King James Version the most helpful translation of the Bible in English for the serious reader. Even the "New King James," which is translated from the traditional texts, denies us the practical help of high English, italicized additions, and the absence of quotation marks.

All these reasons make a solid case for continuing to use this Holy Authorized version of the Bible for our own devotional meditation and study and for public reading in our churches.

Familiar King James texts

The most compelling factor for me is the beautiful poetic language. I have known and loved its precious words since I was a boy, and its beauty is beyond words. Kurt Vonnegut suggested that King James translator Launcelot Andrewes was "the greatest writer in the English language", citing as proof the first few verses of the 23rd Psalm.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Beauty is surely one of its leading characteristics, but here are some more:

Majesty, both in language and tone. The “Epistle Dedicatory” introduces us to “Your Majesty’s Royal Person” and praises him for bringing bout an “exact translation” “out of the original and sacred Tongues.”

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. -- Revelation 19:16

Authority, consciousness of being the Word of God. As we were about to begin our study of ancient history in 1959, Mrs. McBride, our social studies teacher, read this:

The Creation of the World

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. -- Genesis 1:1-5

I have never forgotten the authority that came as she read those words.

Monarchy, acceptance of God as King

The King of Glory

A Psalm of David.

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. -Psalm 24:1-10

Humility, bowing to His will and Word.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Luke 1:38

Intimacy, a quiet, holy closeness

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

Jesus wept.

Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! John 11:34-36

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. John 12:3

Holiness and Reverence

A still, small voice And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. – 1 Kings 19:11-12

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.

And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. Mark 9:2-3

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. – 1 Peter 1:15-16

Righteousness and judgment

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. – Psalm 9:17

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.- Romans 6:23

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. – Matthew 6:9-13


Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32


And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. – 1 Corinthians 13:13


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

The Greatest invitation ever given:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

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