There are some who reject certain modern versions of the Bible (such as the NIV) but think that other versions (such as the NKJV) are acceptable. In other words, they reject the more liberal versions but accept what they consider to be conservative versions. For example, the Berean Bible Society does not use the NIV, but it is now selling the NKJV in its bookstore.
This is not surprising because while the Berean Bible Society has always used the King James Bible (KJB), neither Stam nor Sadler really believed it. It is not enough to merely USE the KJB, we must believe it and submit to it as our sole authority.
When you do not believe the KJB, it is only a matter of time before you start accepting the modern versions. In rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), do not forget that we must have the word of truth to start with (2 Tim. 3:16)! How can a version that contains errors be the word of truth?
The NKJV is a dangerous Bible because the closer something appears to be the truth without actually being a complete truth, the more deceptive it is. The NKJV is a transition Bible that will likely lead people to more liberal translations. It takes just a little leaven to leaven the whole lump.
The NKJV Bible claims to be an updated version of the KJB. In the preface to the NKJV the claim is made that this new version will unlock “for today’s readers the spiritual treasures found especially in the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures.” Sorry, but only the Holy Spirit can do that for a real Bible believer (1 Cor. 2:9-16). The NKJV does not unlock spiritual treasures; it hides them!
That the New King James Version (NKJV) is not really a King James Version is proven by the fact that it makes an estimated 100,000 changes to the KJB. In the New Testament alone, the NKJV removes nearly 2,300 words from the KJB.
One of the major doctrines that Christ revealed through the apostle Paul for this present age of grace is justification by the faith OF Christ (Rom. 3:22; Gal. 2:16; 3:22; Phil. 3:9). Christ accomplished salvation by His faith. The faith of Christ is perfect and proven. The moment we believe the gospel of the grace of God we are justified by the faith of Christ.
That is why we are instantly and permanently justified the moment we believe and do not have to prove our faith by works in order to be justified as will be the case in the future tribulation period (cf. Jam. 2:14-26). The NKJV hides this spiritual treasure by changing every reference to the “faith OF Christ” to say, “faith IN Christ.”
There are many problems with the NKJV
The NKJV demotes Jesus Christ in a number of passages:
|Gen. 22:8||“God will provide for himself the lamb”||“God will provide himself a lamb”|
|Matt. 18:26||“before him saying, Master”||“and worshipped him, saying, Lord”|
|Matt. 20:20||“kneeling down”||“worshipping him”|
|John 8:35||“a son”||“the Son”|
|Acts 3:13, 26||“His Servant Jesus”||“his Son Jesus”|
|Acts 4:27, 30||“holy Servant Jesus”||“holy child Jesus”|
The NKJV deletes important words from the Bible. It deleted “Lord” 66 times, “God” 51 times, “JEHOVAH” entirely, “blood” 23 times, “soul” 137 times, “damnation” entirely, “hell” 22 times, “heaven” 50 times, “repent” 44 times, “New Testament” entirely, etc…
The NKJV is supposed to be easier to understand than the KJB. So, why does it change:
- “oak” (Gen. 35:4) to “terebinth trees”
- “sun was up” (Judg. 8:13) to “Ascent of Heres”
- “tree” (1 Sam. 22:6) to “tamarish tree”
- “fatherless” (Lam. 5:3) to “waifs”
- “princes” (Dan. 6:2) to “satraps”
- “a penny” (Matt. 20:2) to “a denarius”
- “deputy” (Acts 18:12) to “proconsul”
- “thousands” (Acts 21:20) to “myriads”
- “riot” (Titus 1:6) to “dissipation”
- “unruly” (Titus 1:6) to “insubordination”
Do you really think the KJB is hard to understand because it says “thee” and “ye?” Actually, those words are helpful in Bible study. In the KJB the words “thee,” “thou,” and “thine” are always singular, and the words “you” and “ye” are always plural. This makes a difference in understanding certain passages. The English of the KJB is superior to modern English. How come nobody wants to update Shakespeare?
There are doctrinal problems with the NKJV. For example, it says “difficult is the way” to life (Matt. 7:14) instead of “narrow is the way.” It says that “God is Spirit” instead of “God is a Spirit” (Jn. 4:24). It says that we are to “Reject a divisive man” instead of a “heretic” in Titus 3:10. Christ was a divisive man in His earthly ministry, but He certainly was not a heretic (Lk. 12:51; Jn. 7:43; 9:16:10:19)! It tells us to “imitate Christ” instead of following Him (1 Cor. 11:1) and to be “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1).Satan is an imitator of God and his antichrist will imitate Christ! It changes the mark of the beast from being “IN their right hand” to being “ON their right hand” (Rev. 13:16).
More problems with the NKJV:
- Gen. 1:1 – The NKJV changed “heaven” to “heavens.” There were not “heavens” (Gen. 2:1) until after the six days of Gen. 1:3-31.
- Gen. 2:18 – The NKJV changed “help meet for him” to “helper comparable to him.” I am sure the women libbers like that translation! It waters down the distinction of the roles God designed for husband and wife.
- Acts 17:22 – The NKJV changed “too superstitious” to “very religious.” In the context Paul was rebuking the men of Athens for being so given over to idolatry that they made an altar with an inscription, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” just in case they missed one. The NKJV waters down the rebuke to the point they could have taken it as a compliment!
- Rom. 1:18 – The NKJV changed “hold the truth in unrighteousness” to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” God’s wrath is revealed against those who POSSESS the truth and yet choose unrighteousness. Saying it is only revealed against those who SUPPRESS the truth limits God’s wrath to falling on those who actively fight against the truth.
- Rom. 1:25 – The NKJV changed “Who changed the truth of God into a lie” to “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie.” Personally changing the truth into a lie is a more serious offense than exchanging it for a lie that was made by someone else.
- 1 Cor. 1:18 – The NKJV changed “the preaching of the cross” to “the message of the cross” and us which are saved” to “us who are being saved.”
- 1 Cor. 1:21 – The NKJV changed “the foolishness of preaching” to “the foolishness of the message preached.” The unbelievers may think the cross is foolishness, but the NKJV has Paul calling it foolishness in this verse! Paul is not referring to the message of the cross in this verse, but to the act of preaching.
- 2 Cor. 2:17 – The NKJV changed “corrupt the word of God” to “peddling the word of God.” Both are wrong things to do but corrupting the word of God is worse than peddling it. The modern versions are guilty of BOTH.
- 1 Thess. 5:22 – The NKJV changed “Abstain from all appearance of evil” to “Abstain from every form of evil” which is a LOWER standard.
- 1 Tim. 6:10 – The NKJV changed “the love of money is the root of all evil” to “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” The love of money is covetousness. Evil began in the universe with the fall of Lucifer. Both “merchandise” and “traffick” are mentioned in connection with his fall (Ezek. 28:16, 18). Also, the context of 1 Tim. 6:10 is false teachers who are typically motivated by the love of money.
- 1 Jn. 3:16 – The NKJV changed “Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us” to “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” The KJB clearly says that it was God who laid down His life for us. Therefore, Jesus Christ is God. The NKJV is not as clear.
There are many other problems we could point out about the NKJV, but the evidence in this article should suffice in proving to you that it is a corrupt translation that needs to be rejected right along with ALL of the modern versions of the Bible.
David O'Steen has been the pastor of Hope Bible Church in Jackson, GA since 2005. Pastor O'Steen believes that the King James Bible is the inspired and preserved word of God (2 Tim 3:16) and that rightly dividing (2Tim 2:15) is the key to understand the Bible.