The King James Version and “Onlyism”

For most of the past several years of my new life in Christ, I have been what is commonly called a KJV-onlyist. I believed that for the English speaking peoples, only the King James Version represented the pure, unadulterated, preserved and inerrant word of God. Every other translation was flawed and inappropriate for use by a Christ-loving Christian. I think I even had a page on an old website which was titled “Errors in the King James Bible” but was otherwise blank.

That was then.

I sought the Lord about the matter, discussed it with elder brethren, and have come to the conclusion that it is illogical to claim that the KJV is perfect and that everything else can be tossed out.

The easiest way to demonstrate this simple truth–that multiple version of the Bible do more to bring clarity rather than confusion–is to show that there are, in fact, errors in the King James Bible. I realize that by doing this, many otherwise loving, Christ-honoring brethren will either break fellowship with me or label me an apostate. That is not my intention, nor do I wish to break fellowship. However, a Christian must be willing to bend and even break to conform to scriptural truth, and if it can be shown that people are fallible translators (even those men of King James’ time), Christians would be wise to make use of more than one translation rather than being unswervingly loyal to one.

I’ll look at just two of the errors here:


Much has been written from the Onlyist camp vindicating the King James Version’s use of “Easter” in Acts 12:3,4:

And because he saw it please the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him to four quarternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

Easter is a pagan fertility festival which celebrates Ishtar (or, originally, Astarte). The modern celebration of Easter with its eggs, rabbits, etc., are all holdovers from those ancient days, and the festival of Easter is easily shown to have nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ or His victory over death.

In the Bible, it is used for the Greek word pascha, which in every other occurrence in the New Testament is translated “passover.”

Dr. Samuel Gipp in his The Answer Book claims that the word “passover” is always used of the day preceding the “days of unleavened bread” which Acts 12:3 mentions. Thus, if the Feast of Unleavened Bread had arrived, it wouldn’t make sense for Herod to say he was going to wait for Passover to humiliate Peter before the Jews. He would have been waiting an entire year!

With the evidence presented by Gipp, the King James Version certainly is vindicated.

Unfortunately, he only presents the verses which agree with him. A very cursory search through my King James Version yielded an interesting result in Ezekiel:

In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. 45:21

Here, the Bible plainly equates the Passover Feast with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover may specifically begin the week, but the entire week still is the Passover, “a feast of seven days.”

Thus, it is perfectly acceptable that pascha be consistently translated “passover,” as it should be.

Peter was arrested during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which, according to Ezekiel, can be called the Passover), and Herod was going to wait until the feast ended to bring forth Peter.

Dr. Gipp points out that Herod may have been wanting to wait until Easter, a pagan festival, to humiliate Peter so as to not let the Jews “have all the fun” with killing men on festival days. However, this point does not stand whatsoever in the King James Version, which states that he would bring Peter before the people after Easter!

For Gipp’s point to stand, the word “passover” would make more sense there, for after the Passover week would come Easter! If Herod indeed was waiting as Gipp claims, he would miss his big day according to the King James.

The existence of the word “Easter” in perhaps the most widespread Bible version does great harm to the Church, for each year countless believers bring themselves under the traditions of a pagan festival, perhaps justifying themselves by pointing to “Easter” in the Bible.

How many? Of what?

The Bible contains many parallel accounts within itself–the four Gospels being the ones we’re most familiar with. But there are parallel passages in the Old Testament as well. I want to look at one pair of those parallel verses here:

And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen, and smote Shobach the captain of their host, who died there. 2 Samuel 10:18

But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shopach the captain of the host. 1 Chronicles 19:18

Second Samuel points to “the men of seven hundred chariots” being killed by David, while 1 Chronicles has “seven thousand men which fought in chariots.”

According to David Cloud in his book Things Hard to Be Understood published by Way of Life Literature, it is possible that the account in 2 Samuel referred only to the drivers of the chariots but that there could be up to 10 (or more) others in the chariot as well, such as archers, shield-bearers, etc. These men, along with the drivers, would account for the “seven thousand” in 1 Chronicles. Whether that explanation works, I don’t know. It seems dubious to me, and the seeming contradiction is probably a copyist’s error.

However, what Cloud does not even mention is the second apparent contradiction in the verse. In one instance, “forty thousand horsemen” are killed while the mentions “forty thousand footmen.” These two verses seem to be given as a summary of the Syrian casualties, but which is accurate? And if they are both correct (i.e., Cloud’s explanation is correct, and both 40,000 footmen and 40,000 horsemen were killed), why give it to us in a manner so confusing? It is worth noting that if this indeed is an error, it has crept into other translations as well, including the 1889 Darby Bible.

So, what then?

The King James Version has errors. Does that mean that the Bible is untrustworthy? Perish the thought! No doctrine is affected by these, or any other, errors that I am aware of. What this simply tells us is that the tools God has used to manage His written word on Earth are fallible. We are only men, after all, tainted by sin.

The King James Version has been revised several times in the past to resolve thousands of errors, and perhaps it should be again. Other translations have thought to capture God’s holy word in English as well. Will we ever have a perfect translation? Perhaps we will only in Heaven. But, God has given us enough material for us to study and to learn His ways. And we must do so diligently.

5 thoughts on “The King James Version and “Onlyism””

  1. The King James Bible is correct in both the examples you object to, as it always is.

    Here is a reasonable explanation for the apparent contradiction of 700 or 7000 horsemen

    And here is why Easter is not only correct, but more accurate

    And there most definitely ARE doctrinal errors found in the Vatican Versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, ISV, etc.

    Why do I refer to modern versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB as the new Vatican Versions?

    Here is irrefutable proof that this is what any bible based on the UBS critical text are Vatican Versions

    “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8

    God bless,

    Will Kinney

  2. First, Mr. Kinney is a rabid KJVO who is more-concerned with the KJVO myth than Biblical accuracy. I have proven him wrong more than once on several websites, and won’t hesitate to do it again.

    Next, EASTER DID NOT EXIST when Luke wrote the letter that became the Book of Acts, so it was impossible for him to have been writing about it unless he’d been giving a prophecy, which he was NOT doing. And, even if Easter had existed, No Orthodox Jew nor Herod woulda been observing it.

    The whole KJVO myth is phony as a Ford Corvette. if Mr. Kinney was to REALLY research the subject, he’d find out the TRUTH & drop the KJVO myth like a hot potato.

  3. The Origin of the Current KJVO myth
    By robycop3

    Ever wonder where KJVO-the false doctrine that the KJV is the only valid English Bible translation out there came from? Here’s the skinny:

    In 1930, a 7th Day Adventist official, Dr. Benjamin Wilkinson(1872-1968), published a book he named “Our Authorized Bible Vindicated” in response to a squabble within the SDA cult. This book is a collection of snippets in favor of the KJV of God’s holy word, and is full of goofs, such as the “Psalm 12:6-7 thingie”. Apparently, Wilkinson didn’t bother to check 0ut the VERACITY of any of the info he gathered. And he copied PARTS of Dean John Burgon’s writings, omitting anything that was critical of the Textus Receptus.

    He obtained a Scottish copyright for this book, which he apparently allowed to lapse many years ago, as interest in his book was mostly limited to the SDA cult, and for only a short time.

    There’s no doubt that SDA is a pseudo/quasi-Christian cult, and that Dr. W was a full-fledged SDA official, teacher, and preacher, who often argued for the inerrancy of Ellen Gould White’s writings, placing them on a par with Scripture. Several SDA buildings and libraries are named after him.

    In 1955, someone called J. J. Ray of Eugene, OR discovered that book, and wrote his/her own book, “God Wrote Only One Bible”. Ray copied much of Dr. W’s book verbatim in GWOOB without acknowledging him whatsoever, copying many of the goofs in Dr. W’s book. Whether Ray obtained Dr. W’s permission to use his book, or simply plagiarized it is unknown, but at any rate, Ray used the power of modern media to publicize his/her book, thus starting the idea of KJVO among some of the general public.

    Now, try Googling “J. J. Ray” in the Eugene, OR. area. The only one I’ve found whose lifetime fit the 1955 timeline was a used-car salesman, now deceased, who apparently never published any book. Ray’s company, Eye-Opener Publishers, only published that one book. Apparently, “J. J. Ray” is a pseudonym. Now, why would any REAL MAN(or woman) OF GOD use a pseudonym? Apparently, “Ray” was concerned that Dr. W might speak out about his plagiarism.

    Then, in 1970, Dr. D. O. Fuller, a Baptist pastor, published “Which Bible?”(3rd revision, 1972), a book which copied much from both Ray and Wilkinson, including many of the original goofs. Like W and Ray before him, he didn’t bother to check out the VERACITY of the material he published. And, while he at least acknowledged W, he made absolutely NO mention of W’s CULT AFFILIATION. It was this book which brought the public’s attention, especially in Baptist circles, to the other two boox, and to KJVO in general. Soon, a whole genre was developed of KJVO boox, all of which drew a large portion of their material from those first three boox.

    Now, while Ray’s plagiarism and Fuller’s deliberate omission of W’s CULT AFFILIATION might’ve been legal, it was certainly DISHONEST, not something any devout Christian would do!

    Now, I have not forgotten Dr. Peter S. Ruckman’s 1964 works, “Manuscript Evidence” and “Bible Babel”. These goof-filled worx was derived largely from Wilkinson’s and Ray’s books, repeating many of their booboos, such as the “Psalm 12:6-7 thingie”. and copying an erroneous chart from Ray’s book. Ruckman referred to the title of Ray’s book as “God Only Wrote One Book”, which hints at the inaccuracy of Ruckman’s work. However, Ruckman’s works was not among the “foundation stones” of the KJVO myth, as were Ray’s and Fuller’s boox, both derived from Wilkinson’s book.

    Virtually every current KJVO author, from Riplinger to Bynum to Melton to Grady to whomever, uses material from those first three boox in their own work, often re-worded, but still the same garbage in a different dumpster. About the only newer material in any of these boox is their criticism of newer Bible versions as they came out. We see a pattern of DISHONESTY in KJVO authorship, as many of its authors copy from each other without any acknowledgement, all of them drawing from a KNOWN CULT OFFICIAL’S book! HOW CAN ANY CHRISTIAN, SEEING ALL THIS DISHONESTY AND ATTEMPTS TO CONCEAL OR JUSTIFY IT, BELIEVE KJVO IS FROM GOD?

    These facts are easily verified, either on the Internet or in most public libraries. Unlike KJVOs, we Freedom Readers deal in VERIFIABLE FACT, not fishing stories, opinion, and guesswork. All the boox I mentioned are available online legally, in public libraries, many religious bookstores, or are for sale at various web sites of many religious book stores.

    Thus, you see why I, and many other Christians who try to serve God in all aspects of life, are so vehemently against the KJVO myth! It’s Satanic in origin, definitely NOT FROM GOD!

    I challenge any KJVO to show us any book written before 1930 that is largely about KJVO, and which can be traced to having started the current KJVO doctrine.

  4. For me, it boils down to answering these questions:
    Is God’s word inspired?
    Is God capable of preserving His words?

    To me, the answers are yes to both of the above.

    This brings the question, what about translating His word?

    Due to the history of the KJV translation having many editions over a period of 100+ years, it becomes very difficult to justify a “one and only” “pure” KJV edition of scripture. Additionally, what about non-English Bible translations? Those are not KJVs.

    Therefore, the real issue isn’t so much about Bible version, edition, and/or language & translation, but about the original manuscripts/texts themselves.

    The Vatican has proven itself to be an untrustworthy guardian of sacred manuscripts. One only has to look to the history of the reformation to understand the importance of their work and the cost of remaining faithful…

    The overwhelming majority of Protestants rejected Rome’s MSS, and with much debate and prayer only accepted the Textus Receptus and Masoretic Hebrew OT Texts as authoritative.

    I do not know of any other English translation of Scripture that uses these other than the KJV. I understand there are arguments against these manuscripts, but that is an entirely different issue to my point.

    If you only accept what the overwhelming majority of those who lived through those years would accept once they broke with Rome, then you must at the very least reject all the new versions of scripture including the NKJV, due to the manuscripts they use. (As I understand it, the NKJV uses the Westcott and Hort MSS, not the Textus Receptus).

    The bottom line is really about which MSS are authentic. If you trust Rome, then KJVOism is a moot issue. If you don’t, then the KJV is about your only choice, unless you prefer reading old English (haue vs have, etc.).

    As to the KJVOist arguments, so many of them are illogical – if God only wrote “one” Bible, then you would have to reject the KJV and go to the original manuscripts OR reject them and only accept the KJV which is a translation of them – and both of those ideas are just absurd.

    I like to study from the original Hebrew/Greek. I have yet to find a publisher that has printed the type of interlinear Bible I want, so for now I mostly use my KJV Key Word Bible and electronic editions. Logos has a decent app, but I find myself preferring because I prefer the UI.

    In any case, ultimately I think the principal of “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” is the best way to handle this issue. “Right-Fighting” over the issue and/or accusing others (or calling them cultists), such as one commenter did, is not only unproductive, but it is unChristlike.

    I appreciate that you took the time to post your thoughts, Rick. Although I agree with much of what you have said, I am still beholden to my KJV. Not only do I prefer it for the accepted MSS reason, but I love being able to know things like singular/plural, when YHVH was translated (LORD vs Lord), and of course the translators use of italics indicating certain words were added to the text that were not originally there, as I read in my native language. The new translations lost this along the way – and frankly, it makes the newer versions less clear than the so-called “outdated” KJV.

    Blessings to you as you seek Christ in all things,

  5. Correction: I do not know of any “modern” English translation that uses the accepted manuscripts other than the KJV.

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