2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Matt 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
This short article cuts through the chase regarding biblical inspiration, preservation and the King James Version debate. After you read this article you should be able to identify who is a real KJV believer and who is just another “Johnny come lately.”
The Different “Camps”
- Prefer the King James: Will use other versions occasionally, but were raised on the King James. They are generally conservative and don’t like the removal of passages concerning the deity of Christ or the blood, but freely use “the Greek” to “correct” or “touch up” the AV. Normally they are only critical of the “liberal” translations (such as the R.S.V. or “the Message”), and accept the NASB and especially the NKJV. They believe that only the original autographs were inspired.
- Pro Textus Receptus: This crowd believes that the “Textus Receptus” is the “preserved word of God” claiming that “it” (like there is just “one” copy) takes precedence over the AV in certain areas, since it is the underlying text of the AV. While very pro-King James, the final authority remains with the Received readings, which don’t always match the AV. They also believe that only the original autographs were inspired.
- Preserved but not Inspired: This camp believes that the only the originals were inspired, but God preserved the word of God (for the English speaking people) in the AV. They reject any idea of “double inspiration,” and believe the word of God has been preserved in other languages as well.
- AV is “given by inspiration”: The group has been accused of believing that the King James translators themselves were inspired. They do believe that “inspiration” doesn’t applyjust to the original autographs, since every reference in the New Testament to the term “scripture” is a reference to copies or translations. In places where the AV disagrees withall Textus Receptus manuscripts, they side with the AV as the final and absolute authority. This camp doesn’t just believe the AV is the word of God for English, but that it is “the” standard for all languages, and is thereby the “word of God” in its purified form, and superior to any translation (previous or forthcoming).
The Biblical Teaching of Inspiration
“Inspiration” comes from the word “inspire,” and means to infuse life by breathing on or into. The term “verbal inspiration” is simply a term used to describe how God inspired the texts of scripture. 2 Peter. 1:20 describes the process perfectly, and it is demonstrated in Jeremiah:
Jer 36:18 Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.
The “inspiration” from God (which had to be inerrant and infallible – Prov. 30:5,6; Psa. 119:140; Psa. 12:6; Acts 1:3) took place when a man was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. In some cases (i.e. David’s Psalms) the inspiration occurred when writing. Most instances in scripture, however, are patterned after the former layout. [For example see: Rom. 16:22, and the postscript at the end of Paul’s epistles.]
The teaching of double inspiration is not “Ruckmanism,” or “King James Onlyism.” It is biblical. Moses broke the “original autographs,” when he came down the mount, but they were “doubly inspired,” and God “rewrote” them (Ex. 32:19 with Ex. 34:1). The “original copy” of Jeremiah’s writing was burned, and then inspired again! Not only were they “doubly inspired,” they were ADDED TO (See: Jer. 36:23, 28-32).
Inspiration is most definitely applied to scriptural documents OTHER THAN the “original autographs.” It is perfectly acceptable and biblical, to say the AV is “given by inspiration of God.” For, if it is NOT, then it is NOT “scripture” (see 2 Tim. 3:15,16). A careful examination of the occurrences of the word “scripture” will demonstrate this fact: Dan 10:21; Mark 12:10; Mark 15:28; Luke 4:21; John 2:22; John 7:38; John 7:42; John 10:35; John 13:18; John 17:12; John 19:24; John 19:28; John 19:36; John 19:37; John 20:9; Acts 1:16; Acts 8:32; Acts 8:35; Rom 4:3; Rom 9:17; Rom 10:11; Rom 11:2; Gal 3:8; Gal 3:22; Gal 4:30; 1 Tim 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16; James 2:8; James 2:23; James 4:5; 1 Peter 2:6; 2 Peter 1:20.
Preservation in the light of History & Church History
Unintelligent questions like, “Where was the preserved word of God before 1611?” and “Which Bible was the infallible word of God before the King James?” are ignorant of history, and church history in particular.
This consideration also delves into the sober thought of God using men. For if God wanted to, could He not have printed a Bible, bound it in book form, and delivered it in 150 A.D.? [The book of Revelation was complete after 90 A.D.] Instead, He chose to use men, copyists, and the historical timeline (which of course He already knew) as to when the whole revelation could be transmitted in book form with all 66 canonical books. He actually waited till:
- Man was smart enough to invent a printing press.
- The Reformation was nearly over.
- The modern period of the English language became dominate.
- A new country was in the building, which would grant the first real liberty to Bible believers apart from the state, and would put His book (biblos) all over the globe.
Scholars and preachers who correct the AV forget that it was the AV that brought about every major revival in the world, and NOT the original autographs. It was a result of the Reformation, and was established by God’s Holy Spirit as the absolute standard of the scriptures.
It may not have been “recognized” by all the “written world” (like A.T. Pierson, G.Campbell Morgan, C.I. Scofield, F.B. Meyer, R.A. Torry, F.H.A. Scrivener, Dean Burgeon or even the King James translators) as “given by inspiration of God.” But what does that mean? Paul didn’t always think he was “inspired” (1 Cor. 7:12). The body of Christ (as they adopted the books of the New Testament) adopted the King James as “scripture.” Church historians and textual critics (who treat the Bible as any other book) only see as far as the books they read. The scholarly community has never believed a copy of an infallible, inerrant BOOK that you could buy and read EXISTED!
The Real Issue
Final authority is the issue, has been the issue, and will always be the annoying pain of decision regarding the King James debate. Every preacher must adopt one of the two ideals:
- The AV is 100% correct, and is the “scripture,” that has been “given by inspiration of God.” It is infallible, inerrant, and the final authority in all matters of faith (belief) and practice.
- The AV is NOT 100% correct, and therefore, the final authority is either scholarship, the non-existent “originals,” the multiplicity of manuscripts (“Majority Text”), the Textus Receptus (at least six varying editions), the newer versions, the Roman Catholic Church, all of the above and/or personal preference.