Return to Class Topical Index



We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We believe that we must obey that Word to please God and be saved in Heaven. The original text of the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. Most of us cannot read the Hebrew or Greek language. Therefore, we are dependant upon the English translations of these manuscripts.

It is important that we are able to determine which translations better communicate God's word in English. Confusion exists over what translations are reliable. Some are bad works that should be avoided. Some have flaws and we should be cautious. Some have differences of expression for which we will have to make adjustments.

It is necessary to understand that we do not have the original manuscripts on which Paul or Moses or the other Bible writers actually penned our Bible. The purpose of this study is not primarily to set up which version should be used. Rather, we want to examine the strengths and weaknesses of our better-known versions and let you decide which ones accurately and understandably communicate God's word in English.

Three types of translations

There are three basic types of translations available to us. First, is the "literal" translation. These works try to provide, as much as is possible, a word-for-word rendering. They take each Greek word and find the English equivalent. Second, is the "standard" translation. These works try to convey the meaning in clear terms. They will not be word-for-word, but true to the meaning. They will communicate the message that God intended. Third, is the "paraphrased" versions. A paraphrase is written to give the general idea as the translator understood it.

Why are new translations needed?

  1. Words change meaning. Here are some examples of how words have changed since the 1700's.

In 1700 this word: Had this meaning: Now it means:
Let Hinder Allow
Prevent Precede Hinder
Conversation Conduct Talk
Charity Love Helping the needy
  1. Additional evidence is being discovered that allows us to have a closer idea of the original. We have many more manuscripts, earlier copies, and greater evidence of word meanings than was available in 1611 at the translation of the King James Version. As more manuscripts are located and as their date is earlier than the existing documents, we will need to revise our translations of the Bible.




A. Strengths.

  1. Dignity and beauty. It is poetic in style. It is stately and dignified in the language used.

  2. Endurance. Since the 1700's the King James Version has been the major translation in use in the English-speaking world. It has become familiar to us. It "sounds" Biblical. For 300 years, the KJV has been the standard.

B. Weaknesses.

  1. Based upon Tyndale's work of the 1500's. Tyndale included some verses that should not have been included. For example, I John 5:7 and John 5:4, are not in more than 5,000 manuscripts. These statements are NOT supposed to be in the Bible. They are not inspired. The text that the KJV translators used had these verses in them.

  2. Once contained the apocryphal books. The KJV of 1611 had these books that only the Catholics recognize. They were removed in 1629.

  3. Archaic and obsolete words. There are at least 1,000 words in the KJV that have changed meanings since it was translated. Some of these words have come to mean the exact opposite of what they did in 1611.

  4. Not always true to the text. The translators were biased toward "once saved, always saved." Notice Hebrews 6:6-8. They added the word "if" in verse 6. They wrote verses 7-8 as though there were "two" types of ground being discussed. There is only one. In Acts 2:47 the phrase "such as should be saved" indicates the doctrine of election. The passage should read "those who were being saved."

  5. Disregards the text. "Easter" is inserted in Acts 12:4. The KJV translators created a great deal of confusion over their translation of hades as "hell". Jesus did not go to "hell", the lake of fire, when he died. (Acts 2:27) He went to "hades", the state of the dead.


The KJV is basically a good translation. It does have some errors that must be noticed. The obsolete words will be a problem for some. It is dignified and beautiful in its style and vocabulary.





  1. Removes archaic words. Charity is now love. Pronouns “Thee” and “Thou” have been replaced with more familiar forms.

  2. Includes newer texts. Many manuscripts have been discovered since 1611. These have added significantly to the wealth of understanding about the Greek language.

  3. Dignity and beauty remain. The poetic beauty and dignity of the text is retained as the archaic terms are removed. It does not use “gutter” language. The style is majestic.


There are no major weaknesses with this translation. The only complaint registered against the NKJV is that it is not the KJV. The argument is more emotional than logical.




A. Strengths.

  1. It is extremely accurate. The translators took the most literal "word-for-word" rendering that was possible.

  2. Consistent. When a word is translated a certain way in Matthew, it is translated the same way throughout the other books.

B. Weaknesses.

1. The only weakness to this translation is that of style. Because the translation is word-for-word, phrases and style of speech are sometimes awkward and clumsy.


There are no significant weaknesses. It is a little more difficult to read.




A. Strengths.

  1. Superior texts. The Dead Sea scrolls provided the translators with much additional information. They provided us with older manuscripts than we had before.

  2. Readability. It removed many of the archaisms and obsolete words. It moved the vocabulary into the 20th century of America.

  3. Continually updated. The committee decided that a revision would be made every ten years. Corrections of weaknesses can be made in each revision.

B. Weaknesses.

  1. No italics. In the KJV, when a word was supplied by the translators it was put in italics. The RSV does not use italics. Without italics one can not tell which are God's words and which are the words of the translators.

  2. Inaccurate readings. Noah was not the "first" tiller of the ground. (Gen. 9:20) They added the word "only" to Romans 11:20. The word "immorality" is used in the place of fornication. Many things, like stealing and murder, are immoral, but they are not fornication. "In Ephesus" is omitted. (Eph. 1:1) The doctrine of premillen-nialism is taught by putting "new world" where it should be "regeneration." (Matt. 19:28)

  3. Virgin birth. A major flaw in the RSV is the use of "young woman" instead of "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14. Many of the translators were biased against the virgin birth of Christ. The New Testament is too clear to misunderstand what Isaiah meant. The RSV is in error here.


The RSV has a ways to go before it is totally accurate in presenting all of God's word.



(Good News For Modern Man)


A. Strengths.

  1. It is simple. The language is of a smaller vocabulary. Children can read this version with greater understanding. It is used in other nations where English is a second language.

  2. Wide circulation. The American Bible Society distributed millions of copies to many places where this is the only copy of the Bible ever seen.

B. Weaknesses.

  1. Too simple. The teachings of God are of a higher level than bedtime stories. Many important ideas and concepts are missed because of the limited vocabulary.

  2. One-man translation. There is danger in ANY translation that is done by one person. They have no one to question and discuss the accuracy of the work. "Saturday night" is put in Acts 20:7. This is "interpretation". It is not a translation of the Greek. The word "alone" is added to several passages dealing with salvation. (Gal. 2:16, Rom. 1:17, Rom. 3:28)

  3. "Blood" is omitted. About half of the reference to "blood" are either omitted or changed to "life".

  4. Crude and vulgar. He has Peter telling Simon, "Go to Hell." (Acts 8:20)


Good News for Modern Man is a one man translation with doctrinal errors. It is crude, vulgar and distorted by the bias of the author. It should be considered a paraphrase rather than a translation.




A. Strengths.

  1. It is a revision of the ASV. It is true to the original languages. It is correct in grammar and understandable.

  2. Literal readings in the margin. The marginal readings will give the most literal renderings.

B. Weaknesses.
There are no major flaws in the NASV. It is an easy to read, accurate translation in 20th century America. It is very close to the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.




A. Strengths.

  1. Modern in scholarship. It uses all available manuscripts and data from archaeology.

  2. It is not slanted. There is no bias toward any particular group or region. It was intended that the NIV be used throughout the English world.

  3. A large committee. Over 100 men were involved in the translation of the NIV. They represented many religious groups, but they were intent on providing a reliable translation.

  4. Accurate. The NIV is basically accurate and clear in translation.

B. Weaknesses.

  1. Loose translations. While they tried to be very precise in the translation of the verbs, they had to omit words or insert phrases to provide the meaning.

  2. "Sinful nature." The NIV uses the term "sinful nature" in the place of the term "flesh". This implies the thinking of total depravity. The translators were not consistent in their renderings. Some changes were just for the sake of variety.

This translation is superior to the RSV. It is somewhat less accurate than the ASV. In terms of accuracy and readability it is about on the level of the KJV.



Hodge loves the KJV. He preaches and teaches out of it; if he is saved he will be saved by it. It is 'His Bible'. But let's be honest, fair, and objective. "Play like" the KJV came out in 1983 rather than 1611. Allow the armchair critics to appraise it:

  1. It is foreign -- England. No Bible from Europe could make an impact in 1983! It is sectarian (Anglican). The religious slant is 1/2 brother to Roman Catholicism. Certain doctrinal errors are promoted.

  2. So many 'translation errors' ...the Holy spirit is "Holy Ghost" ... hades/hell/death the same word ... soul /spirit the same word ... EASTER is there!

  3. The language uses "Thees, Thous" ... people in 1983 do not talk that way! The didn't in the Aramaic, Greek, or Hebrew either! The 'Stain glass look and holy whine'.

  4. The language is 350 years old. Imagine translating with the intent of using language long ago ceased.

What is the point? The lesson is obvious. Familiarities, bias, yea prejudice enters into our religious doctrine/habit. Perhaps 90% of what we do religiously comes from culture not scripture. We fuss and fight when we should have been fair and honest.

(Article from a church bulletin, written by Charles Hodge.)


Return to Class Topical Index