The King James translators had a simple goal: to communicate God's words
in the English language. They were quite honest. When the word they needed to
communicate the Greek or Hebrew sentence into English was missing, they
wrote the word, but in italics. There are two ways in which this happened.
- The word or words were needed to make sense in English.
In 1 John 4 is this verse:
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is
come in the
flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist,
whereof ye have
heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (1 John
It is less clear to write, "and this is that of antichrist." "That what?"
you will ask. That spirit. To avoid confusion, they supplied in English a
word that you could understand from knowing the Greek, but which wasn't
directly said in the Bible language.
Where the words were in the original, but they didn't have enough
evidence at the time. God's help in preservation of His words is found in an
unusual way in 1 John 2:23:
"Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the
Father: [but] he that
acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also."
Look at the verse again. This is a bit more complex. The word [but] is not
in any manuscript, period. It is needed, however to show the contrast to
English readers. That is like the regular italics in the rest of the King
But wait! A full 1/2 of this verse is in italics! How could this be? It's
simple: the King James translators were very honest. They found some Greek
manuscripts at the time that had the verse and others that didn't. But
they had enough evidence from other languages that did, and a very good reason
why the verse might have been mistakenly removed by a copyist —
That big Greek word simply means, "having the same ending." The phrase
"hath the Father" is at the end of both parts of the verse. In Greek it looks
As the copyist looked back and forth between the original and his copy,
his eye could have skipped to that same phrase at the end of the verse.
Thinking he had already written it, he would have moved on, thus leaving out
the last part of this verse.
In order to be truthful, the King James translators included the 2nd 1/2
of the verse, because it belongs there. But to be fair with what they had in
front of them, they put that 1/2 verse in italics.
The King James Translators Vindicated
But the best part is that history has shown the King James translators
correct! As many more minuscule manuscripts (Greek scriptures with all
lower-case letters) were found, many more contained the verse. Of course
it was found in many early translations. But in the biggest irony for the
King James haters: it was even found in the Alexandrian perversions! The
pro-Alexandrian "scholars" could not say the King James translators were
wrong, since it even appeared in their own corrupt copies!
The main point is this: God made sure the King James Bible was not only an
accurate and excellent translation of His words in English, He even made
sure they were quite honest in their use of italics. Some have even gone
so far as to say, "even the italics are inspired." What I will conclude is
this: God watched over every word of His Bible in English, the King James
Bible (or Authorized Version), to be sure we would have God's preserved
words in our powerful and influential language. And this has been
confirmed time and again, every time I research what is in the King James Bible.