From "The Answer Book" ©1989 Samuel C. Gipp. Reproduced by permission
QUESTION: Did the translators of the Authorized Version
claim to be inspired by God?
ANSWER: No. But Biblically that does not mean that they
could not have been inspired.
EXPLANATION: The men on the translation committee of
the King James Bible were, without dispute, the most learned men
of their day and vastly qualified for the job which they undertook.
They were overall both academically qualified by their cumulative
knowledge and spiritually qualified by their exemplary lives.
Among their company were men who, academically, took a
month's vacation and used the time to learn and master an entirely
foreign language; wrote a Persian dictionary; invented a specialized
mathematical ruler, one was an architect; mastered oriental
languages; publicly debated in Greek; tutored Queen Elizabeth in
Greek and mathematics; and of one it was said, "Hebrew he had
at his fingers end". Yet head knowledge can be a curse if not
tempered by a fervent, pious heart.
In this, the spiritual realm, they were light years ahead of many
today who flaunt their education yet fail in any attempt at a
practical, personal witness.
This company was blessed with men known for their zeal and
tact in debating and converting Romanists to Christ. They spent
hours in private and family devotions. Many did the work of
evangelism and even that of missionary representatives of later
Queen Elizabeth. One, lived to the age of one hundred and three
years. In the closing years of his life, after preaching for two full
hours he said to his congregation, "I will no longer trespass on
your patience" to which the entire congregation cried out with one
consent, "For God's sake go on". He then continued his exposition
of the Word of God at length.
Yet humanity was a universal trait shared among them as is so
amply revealed in the Epistle Dedicatory. "So that if, on the one
side, we shall be traduced by Popish Persons at home or abroad,
who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to
make God's holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the
people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness;
or if, on the other side, we shall be maligned by self conceited
Brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing,
but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil;"
Yet, in spite of their outstanding character, they never claimed
divine inspiration. (A claim which, if they had made, would over
joy their detractors as evidence of a prideful spirit.) They never
even claimed perfection for their finished work.
Does this mean that, because they did not claim God's hand in
translating the Scripture that He could not be or was not in control
of their commission? For the answer we must look to the Bible,
our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
When John the Baptist was accosted by the Levites in John
chapter one and asked if he was Elijah (John 1:21) he answered
that he was not Elijah. Yet in Matthew chapters 11:7-14 and
17:10-13 Jesus Christ plainly stated that John was Elijah.
Did John the Baptist lie? No. Did Jesus Christ lie? Of course
not. The answer is very simply that John was Elijah but he didn't
know it! Thus we see from our Bible example that a man can
have God working through him and not know it. Likewise, God
could easily have divinely directed the King James translators
without their active knowledge.