5 Questions to ask KJV Only advocates

Derek Ouellette —  April 9, 2013

The BookOver the years I’ve had my fair share of run-in’s with KJV Only advocates. And not once has it been a pleasurable experience. They are often aggressive, forceful and argumentative. Through my experience I’ve discovered that the best defence in this case is a good offence. Don’t argue back, but you can turn the tables by asking a few questions and then walking away. Just get them thinking. Put the ball in their court and then leave it alone.


1. Did you know that the KJV in print today is a 1769 edition?

This will come as a shock to most KJV Only advocates you meet on the street. They are convinced that they are using the original 1611 edition. You can easily show them simply by directing them to the copyright page of their own Bible. This matters because if the KJV is the only Bible we should use a fair question is, which KJV Bible? The KJV went through literally dozens of editions between 1611 and 1769, the first being as early as 1612!

2. Did you know that the KJV has the record for the longest copyright in history?

An argument that is sometimes employed is that God’s word should be freely made available to every person. But modern translations are copyrighted while the KJV is not. But, in fact, the KJV was copyrighted from when it was first published in 1611 all the way until the late twentieth century. In other words, the KJV was copyrighted for almost three hundred and fifty years!

3. Did you know that the TR is based on seven incomplete and fairly recent manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate?

As the argument goes, the KJV is based on the Greek Text known as the Textus Receptus (because it was considered the “received text”). Since the TR is “received” it must be authorized (by God). At that time in the Western Church (Rome/Protestants), there were almost no Greek Texts in extent. This goes back to when the Western and Eastern Churches split. The West wanted nothing to do with the East or with its Greek New Testament. The East wanted nothing to do with the West or its Latin Bible. So when the Humanist named Erasmus went about to make a fresh Greek text he could only get his hands on seven pieces of Greek manuscripts, all fairly recent. None was complete. To fill in the blank he used the Latin Vulgate. By contrast, modern translations rely on well over 5000 Greek manuscripts dating back almost 1000 further than the manuscripts which the TR used.

4. Did you know that the KJV Bible itself was not and is not Authorized?

This is a huge point. KJV Only advocates often claim that the KJV was authorized by the crown of England and that, they say, proves that God approved of it above all other translations. In point of fact, it is the printers that were authorized, not the text. Because the KJV was copyrighted, only specific publishers were “authorized” to print it. The text was dedicated to King James, but it was never formally endorsed by the crown.

5. When comparing the KJV to other translations, why do you assume that the KJV is the standard when today’s translations rely on Greek texts that are much order and much loser to the originals than the KJV’s TR?

This is a fair question. The assumption is this: if there’s a difference between the NIV and KJV the NIV “must have deleted” a word or a verse. But why? If it relies on Greek manuscripts that go back almost 1000 years further than the one the KJV uses, can’t we equally charge the KJV with having “added” to God’s word? Furthermore, if we say that because the KJV is older than modern translations it should be the standard, a fair question is still to ask why stop at the KJV? Why not the Geneva Bible, the Bishops Bible or the Great Bible? All English translations what preceded the KJV.

It’s a well established fact that sacred texts expand over time. “Any sacred text is more likely to accumulate additions than to lose parts which might be authentic” (pg. 21). And yet that fact along should challenge us to take the risk if we want what was actually recorded and not what was added in later by scribal error or some other addition. Being accused of having deleted something of the text is a necessary risk we have to be willing to take if we want to get back to the originals as the Reformers and the KJV translators themselves wanted.

[By the way, the best book you’ll ever buy on the history of the Bible is The Book: A History of the Bible by Christopher De Hamel. I highly recommend it!]

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://twitter.com/MichaelSnow10 Michael Snow
    • http://covenantoflove.net/ Derek Ouellette

      Yes, sadly. Misinformation and historical fabrications die hard.

  • That Guy

    Your comments about Erasmus are factually incorrect. While it’s true Erasmus used snippets of the Latin Vulgate to complete his collated manuscript of the Book of Revelation, that was for his first edition. The King James translators did not use the first edition for their translation efforts.

    I’m not King James only. In fact, I prefer the Geneva Bible. My issues are with the Alexandrian manuscripts used in the “modern translations.”

    • http://covenantoflove.net/ Derek Ouellette

      Whoa! If my comments about Erasmus are “factually incorrect,” you have not show it to be so. My point about Erasmus was that 1. he only had access to seven incomplete and relatively recent Greek manuscripts and 2. he used the Latin Vulgate to fill in the gap. That is, in fact, factually correct. Even if at that time some more Greek manuscripts began to creep West, Erasmus did not know about them.

      Furthermore, no where did I say that Erasmus’ original text is what the KJV translators used. So how is your point relevant to mine? Your point is moot anyways because, in spite of revisions to the TR by Beza and Stephanus, the KJV retains many phrases from the Vulgate! (Eph. 1:18, 3:9, Rev. 22:19, 2 Tim 2:19 [the latter with one minuscule exception] et. cetera).

      It is my experience that people who say that they are not KJV only advocates but who have issues with the Alexandrian manuscripts have, nonetheless, bought wholesale into the fabricated history that is propagated by KJV Only advocates. Sigh. #halftruthequalsfulldeceptions and #kjvconspiracytheories.

      Finally, on this site all who comment are required to provide a real name and not hide behind a pseudonym (it’s in the comment policy). Keep that in mind for your next comment or it will be swiftly deleted.


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  • http://covenantoflove.net/ Derek Ouellette

    “If the KJV did have passages “added” to it over the years then wouldn’t that make the KJV a perverted translation?” YES

    “If the KJV has been tampered with, in effect adding to the sacred scriptures, which Gods word seems to forbid, the questions is would God use a corrupted translation as it is obvious that God has greatly used the KJV over the last 400 plus years?” There are no perfect translations and so in that sense, yes, all translations are corrupt and God still uses them. YES. But there is no reason to assume that God would default to the KJV, over above any other particular translation. Ask yourself, why do you default to the KJV – what about Bibles in other languages like Spanish Bibles, Italian Bibles, Romanian Bibles? Does the English language alone have a reliable Bible?

    Because the KJV was the Bible my many great leaders does not, by default, make it better. What about between the Apostles and Erasmus? 1600 years of Church leaders, 1000 years of which they used the Latin Vulgate… perhaps we should go back to that?

    Again, you claim the NIV and ESV have omissions, but what’s your standard, the KJV or the Greek? If you go back to the original (which, btw, is where we HAVE to go) then the KJV has clearly, but unintentionally added (following the TR).

    Historically speaking, there is no way in good conscious, with considering historical facts, I could ever think with any rational thought, that the KJV (or NKJV) is more reliable. It is beyond reason to suppose that!

  • steve


    Those who claim that the King James Version of the Bible is the only accurate translation of God’s written word invalidate their position by not believing the accuracy of the King James Version itself.

    Example: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.(KJV)

    Virtually all “King James Only” advocates assert that “for” in Acts 2:38 has been mistranslated and should have been translated as “because of”. For, has not been mistranslated, but the meaning of “for” has been denied in order to claim that water baptism is not essential in order to has sins forgiven.

    King James only advocates, by their own admission say Acts 2:38 has been mistranslated.

    There is not one translation of the Bible that translates the Greek word “eis” as, because of, in Acts 2:38. Sins are forgiven after water baptism, not before. Men are not baptized because their sins have already been forgiven.

    Is it plausible that God waited until 1611 to give men an accurate translation of His written word? Where in the Bible does God say that the only trustworthy translation of My word will be the 1611 version of the King James Bible?

    The original King James Version included the 14 apocryphal books. Do King James only advocates use the 14 apocryphal books for faith and practice? I doubt it.

    There are many trustworthy translations of God’s word. The KJV is just one of them.