Many people in our congregations are impressed with preachers who refer to the Greek or Hebrew in their sermons. Authors David Daniels and Gail Riplinger point out several problems with this. First of all, in the New Testament, which Greek are they referencing? As Riplinger points out in New Age Bible Versions, most will go to the Westcott and Hort. This Greek text is based on flawed Roman Catholic manuscripts that ignore the bulk of the texts that have been used by Christians down through the ages. Few pastors even realize that there is a far more reliable Greek text, the one used by the King James translators.
Daniels describes another problem often overlooked. "Many people think that a year or two of Greek or Hebrew qualifies them to translate their own Bibles. But they forget that in numerous languages, there are many words that can have one or more meanings, depending on the context."
Anyone with only this brief introduction to a language will probably go to a dictionary or lexicon and pick whatever meaning they think is right. To properly determine the true meaning they would have to be fluent in Greek just like they are in English.
Daniels relates a story in his book, Answers To Your Bible Version Questions. "Shortly after the King James was translated, one of the translators, Dr. Richard Kilbye, an expert in Hebrew and Greek, visited a church. In that church, a young preacher spent a great deal of time criticizing words in the KJV and telling what he thought the Bible should say. He used up most of his time on one particular word.
"That evening the young preacher was invited to dinner, along with Dr. Kilbye. Dr. Kilbye then told how they had looked at the three reasons given by the preacher, but then found thirteen better reasons to translate the word as it is."
Daniels shows how King James assembled a group of about 50 scholars who had spent their lives studying Greek and Hebrew, not just a couple of years. He says, "They reviewed every verse of the Bible fourteen times, and had to come to agreement on every word they used." This guaranteed that the translation was not based on the opinion of one person with only limited knowledge of the original language.
When God decided to give His words to the English speaking world, He arranged for some of the most qualified translators in the world to work from manuscripts that had been faithfully copied over the centuries from the originals. We need to remember this when we sit in church and hear a preacher refer to the Greek or Hebrew to dispute a meaning in the King James Version.