Excerpt taken from "Yes You Can (And You Should!) Read The King James Bible"", pages 18-19, 22-25, 28-29, and 120-121.
Copyright © 2020 by David W. Daniels. Reproduced by permission.
Anything You Don’t Already
Anything can be too hard when you don’t know it, but nothing is too hard once you’ve learned it.
Proverbs 14:6 says: “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.”
You cannot be a scorner and learn wisdom. But if you are open, you can build upon what you know and ascend to new heights of understanding.
This principle applies to any discipline. If you want to get a degree in any subject, there are new concepts you’re going to have to learn about, and you will learn new words to describe those concepts. Perhaps you will even learn to use familiar words in unfamiliar ways. Well, guess what? People who have not studied the subject that you have, will be unfamiliar with that vocabulary.
If a person becomes an apprentice to become a stonemason, he will have to learn all sorts of techniques and skills, and they will all have names that people unfamiliar with stonemasonry won’t know.
A student of any subject will most likely have to learn new terms in order to understand and communicate it to others, and to work efficiently in that discipline.
But reading the Bible isn’t anywhere near as difficult as studying for a degree or learning stonemasonry. All you need to do is give God your time and a little bit of effort. If you start as I did, in Genesis and Matthew, and just work your way through the Old Testament and the New Testament, you will gain a progressive understanding of what the words mean and how they are used.
There are not as many unfamiliar words in the King James Bible as you may think. Some of the words that appear to be more complex in the King James Bible are actually shorter words that you already know, stuck together to make longer words. Some common examples are words like “therein”, “howbeit,” “howsoever” and “moreover”. You learn these as you go, because the sentences where you find them tell you what they mean.
The meaning of any word can generally be understood by its context. Read the entire verse or sentence. Then look at the words before and after a new word. They will help you understand it and how it is used.
2nd Corinthians 6:11-13
Parts of the King James can seem confusing the first time you read them. An example that has been often cited by critics, including one of my professors at Fuller Seminary, is 2nd Corinthians 6:11-13.
But the unusual language that is used here was specially chosen by the translators to convey exactly the same ideas Paul expressed in Greek. If you take the time to learn the meanings of a couple of the English words used in the King James, you will gain a deeper appreciation of what is being said in this passage. Let’s take a look at 2nd Corinthians 6:11-13:
(11) O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. (12) Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. (13) Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
It’s clear that verse 11 is not talking about hearts that have increased in size, because then they’d have to have an operation or something. That wouldn’t fit the context of the passage very well! Yet this is exactly the expression Paul uses in Greek. He has to be saying something that goes together with “our mouth is open unto you.” Once again, context is our friend.
Paul has been talking in this vein all through this chapter: “Look, we’re not trying to lift ourselves up above you. We really do care. Look what we’ve gone through for you.”
He mentions all the stripes, and the imprisonments, the floggings, everything that’s happened. “We… beseech you… receive not the grace of God in vain,” it starts out in Chapter 6. Then he says, “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened…”
“Straiten,” like the Straits of Magellan, means “to narrow, or tighten up.” What happens when you feel your insides tightened up inside you? It makes it hard to think about others and their feelings. Try it. You think about yourself and your own feelings. I’ve had that feeling before. I bet you have, too.
Paul means, “We’re not closed off to you. We’re not straitened inside. You don’t make us feel that tight feeling inside. We’re open and enlarged toward you, not closed off.” “Enlarged” is the opposite of “straitened.”
Then it says, “... but ye are straitened in your own bowels.” Which means, “You guys are the ones who are holding back from us. You are the guys who are feeling all tightened up inside. See, these words are emotion words. “Bowels” means your insides and “straitened” means tightened up. When you feel tightened up, you’re feeling stingy or closed off. You’re not feeling good about somebody else. You’re certainly not going to open your heart to him or her.
“Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.” Recompense is a response in a similar manner. Loosen up yourselves toward us, in the same way. We’re loosened up for you and our hearts are enlarged. In other words, open up your heart to us. We’re opening up our hearts to you.
Modern Bible scholars act like they fixed the passage by taking all the emotion out. It seems like they can think, but they can’t feel. When they choose unemotional words, they miss something important that God wants us to know. And what it says in the King James is what it says in Greek. If you want accuracy, this is what Paul wrote. It says our mouth is open, our heart is enlarged. You are not straitened in us, you are straitened in your own bowels. That’s exactly what Paul was writing under inspiration of God.
Are the other versions going to talk in generalities, or will they convey the feeling behind the meaning? Let’s see. Here’s 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 in the NRSV. “We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return, I speak as to children, open wide your hearts also.”
That’s analytical, not emotional. It sounds as dry as a doctor diagnosing postnasal drip.
It’s close. But it’s not what Paul said. We’re talking a physical feeling. A restriction, a tightness inside your gut, not a restriction in your affections. That’s a metaphorical paraphrase, but it’s not what Paul wrote. If you want to know what Paul wrote, he wrote what it says right here in the literal translation, the King James.
If you learn a few words and read out loud a phrase at a time, and feel what it feels like inside you, you’ll understand exactly what he’s saying.
What a feeling letter! Paul keeps stepping up the emotional context of the letter, until he says something like, “Look, I’m just going to jump into the highest level of exaggeration now: I’m going to boast about myself.” His heart’s just ripping apart because the Corinthian Christians accepted these false apostles who are taking advantage of the Corinthians, putting down the real apostles. All the while they are claiming they’re sent from Peter, James, and John. Paul’s really hurting over this.
The bottom line is this: The King James Bible makes clear to us that Paul felt strong emotions. It doesn’t hide the emotional words under a layer of “scholarliness.” It really is “the people’s Bible.” God intended for common folk to grab hold of His holy words and have them affect them on a daily and very personal basis.
The “big lie” is the story that the King James Bible is just some old book in outdated language. The truth is God picked words, in Hebrew and Greek, to communicate His purpose for His people. It was not made for priests. It was made for common folk.
Even when the Hebrews were gone for over a generation in the Babylonian Captivity, those words from God were not changed. Nehemiah 8 shows us that God instead moved His educated believers to help the common folk to understand those same words. The scholars didn’t get to change them.
PART 2 – Why You Should Read the King James Bible
In Part 1 you learned that the King James Bible is not really that hard to read. Like every other serious book, you need to put in a little work to understand the words. But with an ordinary Webster’s Dictionary and The King James Bible Companion, the average 5th grader will have no difficulty deciphering the words.
However, the other objection we face when we attempt to read the King James in public is that we should NOT read it.
Some say it has antiquated or outdated language. Others claim it was made from lesser-quality manuscripts. Or how about these? “My pastor uses something else.” “My friends think I am [fill in the blank].” Or maybe you’ve heard some other reason. So, how do I deal with that?
Without getting into all the details, the simple answer is: “This is the only English Bible that is a true and reliable translation, that faithfully passes down God’s preserved words.”
A True and Reliable Translation
The King James Bible was translated by men whose agenda was to give the exact English meaning of the Greek or Hebrew originals, without injecting their personal biases. Amazingly, Puritans and members of the Church of England (who disagreed on almost every denominational issue) had to come together and agree on every verse of 1,189 chapters of the Bible, going over the text no less than 14 times. God used that process to take out personal and denominational bias. What was left was a true translation, stripped of personal opinions or interpretations.
Most other modern versions are not based on the reliable copies of the originals used for the KJV. They are the product of unreliable manuscripts containing man’s opinions. I tell about this in Look What’s Missing and Did the Catholic Church Give Us the Bible?
Although most modern Bibles are called “translations,” they are really more like commentaries, colored by the personal interpretations or preferences of the “translators.” God said to Moses:
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).
God is concerned about exact words. He knew that Satan would try to get man to add to or take away from His words. He said through Solomon: “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6).
When God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, He said: “Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:” (Jeremiah 26:2).
God could not be any clearer. In order for a Bible to be a true and reliable translation, it must preserve the exact meanings of the original. (For more information about the faulty translation of modern Bibles, see Why They Changed the Bible: One World Bible for One World Religion.)
The Bible’s Internal Timeline
God is a God of history. His prophets prophesy and then God fulfills the words He spoke through them. Then we can fit them on a timeline. God makes Himself known through history.
It turns out that God made an interlocking chain of events, all the way from Genesis 5:3 at the genealogy of Adam, through to the laying of the temple’s foundation in 1 Kings 6:1.
It is amazing. Not only does it take us from one date to the next, it also links us from event to event, often many chapters over from the previous date in the chain. Once we have this chain set, or written in our Bibles, it dates other events that occur between the dates that we already have.
For instance, if we know how old Abraham and Sarah were when God and the two angels appeared to them, and their age when Isaac was born, we know within a year when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
This timeline is no-frills. It simply gives the date, the event(s), the character(s) and the scripture where it says so. Then if the chain is not continued in the next verse, it indicates which next verse continues the unbroken chain, so you don’t get lost in the intermediate dates and events. This way you can mark your Bible to tell where the next date in the chain is.