Revelation 22:18-19 And Perfect Textual Preservation

The title page to the 1611 first edition of th...
Image via Wikipedia

Does Revelation 22:18-19 Teach Perfect Textual Preservation?

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. ” (Revelation 22:18–19)

The above verses have been used to argue for the King James Version against other translations of the Bible. Simply stated, the argument is that the original text is preserved in the KJV and that all other translations add to, or take away from the original text.

Our question is this, “Does this passage actually teach said doctrine?” Some say that it does, and others say that it does not. What do the Scriptures say?


First of all, let us ask what words are. That is what we are warned against embellishing or removing. Words are expressions of thought. The form of words change over time so that words become archaic and are replaced by other words that convey the same meaning. One instance of this is that we use the word “let” to mean “to allow”. In the King James Version the word was used to mean “to hinder”. We must ask ourselves, then, whether the use of synonyms is acceptable in Bible translation. We must then ask ourselves whether a sentence in a more recent English translation of the Bible could have more or less words in it than a sentence in the KJV contains and yet still convey the same thought.

In the Scriptures we find that sometimes the very word “word” is used to express the decree, or command of God. One example can be found in Psalm 33:6-9 where we know that it simply means that God spoke the command and the worlds were made. We again see this in Hebrews 1:3 where we find that universe is sustained by the word, or decree of God.

The meaning of “word” does not have to be the lexical form of a word, but can be a word, its synonym, or the command of God.

The Bible does not condemn the use of synonyms or loose quotations of Scripture, as long as the thought of the Scripture is conveyed. Most students of the Bible are aware of the fact that the New Testament writers sometimes quoted the Old Testament in ways that were definitely not verbatim quotations. One interesting instance is found in James’ writing. James said, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (James 4:5) Have you ever tried to find the instance in the Old Testament where that statement is made? Most of us will admit that there is no place in the Old Testament where one can find this statement verbatim. It will not do for someone to claim that the Bible writers were inspired and could use Scripture in such a fashion, because to do so would be to charge the Bible writers and God the Holy Spirit with inconsistency. After all, if God tells us not to change the form of one single word, we can be sure that He would be inconsistent to command one to do so even if he were inspired.

Jots And Tittles

What, then, of the jots and tittles of Matthew 5:17-18? What is that all about? Simply put, it means that the Scriptures will be perfectly fulfilled. We have a saying today that goes something like this: “He follows the rules to the letter.” What we mean is that a person strictly adheres to the meaning and intent of the rules. So it is with God’s Word. All will come to pass perfectly, just as God has told us.

The words of Jesus concerning jots and tittles cannot teach perfect textual preservation, because the law itself neither teaches, nor is presented as an example of perfect textual preservation. This truth is seen in a comparison of the ten commandments as given in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. When Moses spoke the law to Israel the second time he did not speak it verbatim, but actually added words to what he said previously. We will find, too, that it is this same Moses who said that we are not to add to the words of God.

Revelation 22:18-19

What is meant by the adding to and taking away of Revelation 22:18-19? The answer to that question has to be found by considering the previous places in which we were warned not to add to, or take away from the words of God.

Moses told Israel, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. ” (Deuteronomy 4:2) Why was Israel warned not to add to, or take away from the words of God? So that they would obey God. The issue that is before us is that the message cannot be changed by adding commandments, or taking away commandments. Either one would be sin. Either one would lead people into disobedience. That is why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, because they were adding commandments to God’s Word, and taking away commandments, also. (See Matthew 5:33-35;15:1-10) Furthermore, Moses told Israel, “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. ” (Deuteronomy 5:22) We already saw that Moses did not give a verbatim quotation of the ten commandments here. Now he adds that God gave them no more words. In other words, the law that God gave at Sinai was all the word that they needed at that time. Simply put, “Ye shall not add unto”, or “He added no more” simply means that what they had been given was all that they needed. The message that God had given Israel through Moses was sufficient for them at that time, and was not to be changed so as to make the message say something that God did not say.

In the same vein of thought, we read in the Proverbs, “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, Lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. ” (Proverbs 30:5–6) Those who add to the words of God will be shown to be wrong, and demonstrated to be liars. One is not a liar who uses synonyms and yet retains the message accurately. He is a liar who changes the words to the extent that the message is changed. God’s warning is for us to not change the message. This is the foundation of Paul’s anathema in Galatians 1:7-9. The message IS NOT TO BE CHANGED!

Thus it is that Revelation 22:18-19 is the last in a long chain of warnings against changing the message of God, and not a text that supports the doctrine of perfect textual preservation.

Imperialism and King James Only Continued

Erik posted over on Fundamentally Changed about Imperialism and King James Onlyism. It created somewhat of a furor, to say the least.  I believe we were all shocked at the response to the post.

Bob followed up on the post here.

These guys, in bringing this issue up, caused me to think about something of which I had never before considered.  While the subject was under discussion I was reading and was surprised to find a possible connection to it all that goes back to the days of King James, himself.

I found the following in the book “God’s Secretaries: The Making of The King James Bible” by Adam Nicholson.

Note that there is an underlying current of English supermacy in the pageantry and play acting of King Jame’s wife.   In fact, one can take away a fairly strong sense of racism after having read this.

Then consider this drawing that represents one who had a part in the pageantry which the queen presented for the pleasure of her husband.

If imperialism does have anything to do with the King James Only movement it is no surprise.  After all, look at the context in which the King James Version came into being.

What do you think?

My apologies for the poor scans.  I did my best😦

Revelation, Inscripturation, and Preservation

Much is said these days about the preservation of Scripture logically flowing from the inspiration of Scripture. To be honest, I would not take much time to debate that particular viewpoint, and would assent to it. After all, what good is an inspired Bible that will not be preserved for all generations?

On the other hand, preservation is seen by many to be an issue of textual families (Antiochian/Byzantine) and compiled texts such as the Textus Receptus and the King James Version.

It is the latter that came to mind when I read the following:
“..God provided for its inscripturation, so that His revelation now comes to us, not in the form of deeds and events, but as a description of these. In order to guard against volatilization, corruption, and falsification, He gave it permanent form in writing.”

Berkhof, Louis Systematic Theology pg 141; Grand Rapids, MI; Eerdmans

Note what Berkhof said; not that the revelation would be preserved in a certain textual family, or version, but that the revelation would be preserved in words. In other words, a written record of Divine revelation would suffice to preserve the revelation. Spoken words, and the spoken interpretations of the deeds seen, and revelations experienced are easily corrupted. Just imagine playing the gossip game in which a message is whispered from person to person only to mangle the message terribly by the end of the game. Such is the nature of the spoken word. The written word is different. It is difficult to modify and change a written account after it has gone through multiple copies that are identical.

What is the relevance of this to the issue of preservation today? The significance is that we have the written record of revelation today. The various manuscripts that are in existence today are manifold. They also agree much more than they disagree, and where they do disagree the disagreement does not change a single important doctrine. Neither do the disagreements between manuscripts change Biblical morality. Thus it is that we contend that “ the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth … containeth the Word of God, nay, is the Word of God.” (The King James Version Translators Preface to The Reader)

Oh, I know we can get into a “jots and tittles” discussion. Honestly, that is a topic for another time. What is necessary for us to see is that we have Divine revelation preserved for us in many translations, and not in a lone English translation that is neither understood by people who can’t read English nor by many who do.

God gave us His revelation in verbal form, and we have it with us still today. That is what we must remember to be the important issue.

NC Church Burns Bibles On Halloween

A few weeks ago we posted about a North Carolina church that planned to burn Bibles and other Christian materials on Halloween.

I had hoped that the media coverage would have made them slink back into their cave like a member of  the Taliban, but it seems to truly have taken place.

The Wall Street Journal has an article about this event and has titled it Burnt Offerings.

What irony!

You see, it was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg.  This act is marked as the official beginning of the Protestant  Reformation.  One of the hallmarks of the Reformation is the fact that the Scriptures were translated into the vulgar, or common, language.  No longer was it locked up in Latin and inaccessible to the common man.

While we respect and love the King James Version we must say that the burning of Bibles is more in tune with Halloween than it is with Reformation Day and Reformation faith.  There is more satanic movement behind the burning of Bibles than there is true, Biblical faith and principle.

As a Burnt Offering the burning of Bibles is more in line with the wicked act of king Jehoiakim instead of the spirit of righteous Jeremiah.

Let it thus be stated, then, that the Burnt Offering of Amazing Grace Baptist Church is unacceptable to God, and is probably akin to the strange/foreign fire of Nadab and Abihu.

NC Church to Burn Bibles for Halloween

Based upon a twisted view of Scripture, a NC church intends to burn Bibles and other literature on Halloween.  (See story here and here.)

It seems that Amazing Grace Baptist Church (Where is the grace in the sort of activity that they are carrying on?) is a King James Only church and considers all other English translations of God’s Word to be satanic.  They also consider Southern Gospel Music, Contemporary Christian Music, and the books of Billy Graham to be satanic, it seems.

The list of authors whose books will be burned is as follows:

“Westcott & Hort , Bruce Metzger, , Rick Warren , Bill Hybels , John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll , John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham , Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn , Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa , The Pope , Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, etc.”

Let it be known that this is not right.  It is not gracious.  It is not charitable.  It does not show the Spirit of Christ.  It is not Biblical.  It is not the behavior of a Biblical Fundamentalist.  Historically, Biblical Fundamentalists have respected God’s Word wherever it was found.  This burning of Bibles is simply a new form of modernism that sets up man as the authority over God’s Word so that he can judge right and wrong by his own standards.  It seems that Scripture is not sufficient for this sort of “fundamentalist”.  He must go beyond Scripture, but in so doing, he condemns Scripture, thus making himself the final judge and arbiter of what is right.

It is my prayer that Bible believers all over our nation will lift up their voices and cry out against the graceless wickedness of Pastor Marc Grizzard and Amazing Grace Baptist Church.

(Originally published on Fundamentally Changed.)

The Sword of The Lord on The 2011 NIV Update

The Sword of The Lord on The 2011 NIV Update

The October 2, 2009 edition of The Sword of The Lord has an article entitled “NIV Revision Coming in 2011”. In this article written by the editor (Dr. Shelton Smith) one finds the typical resistance to any English translation of the Bible other than the King James Version. A few things in particular bothered me about the article, and they are as follows:

  1. …it is a bad ‘Bible’. Perhaps it would be more precise to say that it is a bad version. I honestly hate to use the word Bible in connection with a product that does not deserve the title.”

What can one say about such a statement? It is so obviously incorrect that it is shameful. One would think that the NIV had changed the text of God’s Word to such an extent that there would be nothing holy found in it. After all, so long as it is God’s Word, it is God’s Word; is it not? For it to not be classified “Bible” it would have to have been so changed as to no longer contain the truth concerning God, salvation, and holiness. While many of us may prefer to use a translation other than the NIV, we cannot find support for such a baseless charge as the Bible no longer being classified as the Bible.

  1. Am I so naive as to assume all the updates will be language? Look at their track record!”

What is the track record of the NIV translators? Smith does not say. My experience leads me to believe that this is an argument that goes back to those handy-dandy little Bible comparison charts. Said argument is fundamentally flawed.

  1. Keith Danby said, ‘And we’ll make sure we get it right this time.’ Is that an admission that the thirty-one-year-old NIV has been right any of the time that they’ve hawked it and sold it like hotcakes?”

Honestly, I have not seen such a quote from Danby and Dr. Smith does not cite his reference. At the same time, it is indeed possible that he made that statement. If he did, allow me to give an imaginative context. Danby was involved in the TNIV. That was a flop. It was divisive and seemed to do little good for most evangelicals. In my imagination I see Danby making such a statement regarding the TNIV. Why? Because of the following:

“’In 1997, IBS announced that it was forgoing all plans to publish an updated NIV following criticism of the NIV inclusive language edition (NIVi) published in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made,’ Danby said. ‘We fell short of the trust that was placed in us. We failed to make the case for revisions and we made some important errors in the way we brought the translation to publication. We also underestimated the scale of the public affection for the NIV and failed to communicate the rationale for change in a manner that reflected that affection.’

Danby said it was also a mistake to stop revisions on the NIV. ‘We shackled the NIV to the language and scholarship of a quarter century ago, thus limiting its value as a tool for ongoing outreach throughout the world,’ he said.

‘Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. “So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV.’

Girkins expects the TNIV and the existing edition of the NIV to phase out over two years or so as products are replaced. ‘It will be several years before you won’t be able to buy the TNIV off a bookshelf,’ she said.

‘We are correcting the mistakes in the past,’ Girkins said. ‘Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days.’ She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV ‘in a way that unifies Christian evangelicalism.’

‘The first mistake was the NIVi,’ Danby said. ‘The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV.’” (Christianity Today)

Let us not forget that the NIV of 1978 is different from the NIVi and TNIV. If we do not recall the difference we may find ourselves making a mistake similar to that of Dr. Smith’s and lose credibility in so doing.

It is sad that we have to contend with Christian brothers over an issue such as this. Though I honestly have found nothing that endears the NIV to me above other modern translations, I cannot deny its being God’s Word, the Bible. It is truly a lack of careful thinking that leads one to so lightly dismiss God’s Word when the KJV translators stated, “we answer, that we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the Word of God, nay, is the Word of God. ” (See Jesus Is Lord) (See also PastoralMusings’ “The KJVO Translators’ Preface to The Reader”) The worst translation, the KJVO translators declared, still contains and is the Word of God. We must not forget that truth.

It is also sad that one who is a Christian newspaper editor would seemingly take a quote of context and apply it to something other than that of which the person quoted was speaking. Even if it were an honest mistake, we would expect Dr. Smith to have done better than he did.

While I am not KJVO, I am KJV preferred. I use it exclusively in preaching and primarily in studying. I cannot, however, sit idly by when others abuse and twist the truth. If one wishes to be KJVO, in charity we allow them that privilege. We shall not seek to impose our views upon their consciences, but shall only present the truth concerning the issue. We expect the same honest discourse from them. Denying the presence of the Word of God in the NIV and quoting someone out of context will do nothing to further the cause of Christ.

While the Scriptures do not demand our using a certain English translation, they do demand that we be honest and charitable. Let us seek to do so, especially since we have a common enemy: sin. God is glorified when we disagree amiably. May the glory of God be our goal.

First posted on Fundamentally Changed.

The King James Translators & The King James Only Debate

The King James Version of the Bible is a wonderful translation.  It is my preferred translation.  It is my favorite translation.  I love it, study from it, enjoy it, preach from it, and believe what it says.  It is God’s Word.  What is said below is by no means intended to denigrate the KJV.  It is intended to show that the King James Version Only arguments are invalidated by the translators of the King James Version.

Though I shall retain the King James Version as my favorite and preferred Bible, I must say that it is not a defensible position to maintain that all other translations are Satanic in nature.  Neither is it defensible to call them “perversions” of the Bible.  There are, no doubt, poor translations available.  The King James is not a poor translation.  It is excellent.  It is not, however, a perfect translation.  The Word of God is perfect.  Scripture is perfect.  We must understand, however, that if the King James Version or any other translation were perfect we would not have to consult dictionaries to understand various words.  We would not have trouble with obscure passages.  Perfection is the nature of Scripture.  The transmission of Scripture in translation is not perfect.  Thus we have to strive hard for clarity of translation and we must strive hard for understanding of God’s Word.

It is to be noted that one website which posts the entire preface ( says the following about the translator’s preface to the reader:

The complete translator’s notes of the Authorized King James scholars are not included in today’s publishings. This is unfortunate because these notes say a lot about these men– they were humble, loved the word of God, loved the King, were berated by the Catholic religion, and they desired a translation for the common man who was kept in darkness. Some of the translators where killed for their faith. This book was forged in blood, sweat, and tears.”

While attempting to use the preface to the reader as a KJVO support, the one who established this website has actually posted something that speaks IN FAVOR of continual effort to improve the translation of the Scriptures into the language of the common man. Thus it is that this preface to the reader from the KJV1611 has been left intact as it was taken from the website of those in favor of the King James Version only stance.

In the Preface to The Reader below my comments are in red. ««Jump to the Preface with comments»». Originally posted at Pastoral Musings.