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Bible Translation Comparison

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

Knowing what Bible translation is best (for English speakers) is vital. If we base our beliefs about how we live and die on the writings found in the Bible then we need to know where it came from. We should also make sure it is a faithful witness.

In this study, we will examine some of the differences between the LXX and the MT. We will also look at the Textus Receptus in comparison to other Alexandrian-type texts. If you remember from the last study, many bibles use the Alexandrian-type texts for the New Testament. This is because they are like the LXX of the Old Testament. The MT and Textus Receptus are the only texts used for the KJV. But, the LXX and other Alexandrian-type texts are used for today’s modern versions.

First, let me ask you a question. If I tell you to take a message to someone in another country you will have to translate my words. So, does that mean the translated words are no longer mine? The message remains the same, but the language has changed. It is still my message even if it is in the words of another.

But, what if the message changes as you translate? What if you add to or take away from my message? Would that mean the message was no longer mine? Yes, it would mean you are not a faithful witness to my words and the message you deliver is not mine, it is your own.

The Bible is no exception to this rule. The question is how would the people in the other country know if you spoke my message, or a fake one? The answer is that they would have to examine the messenger and know the message giver. That is what we are going to do today. We are going to examine the scriptures to see if what they say matches who they represent.

The LXX and the Masoretic Text Are Different Bibles

Currently, we have a lot of what we call “Bible” translations and different versions. Since I speak English I am only going to address the English ones. But, out of all the bibles out there, they each fit into 2 families. One translated from the Masoretic text and Textus Receptus (the KJV), and those translated from the Septuagint (LXX for short) and other Alexandrian-type texts. All translations, except for the KJV, include text from the LXX and Alexandrian-type text.

Let me drive this point in! There are a lot of Bibles in the family of the LXX. But there is only one Bible in the family of the Masoretic Text (which we will abbreviate as MT from here out). That Bible is the KJV. It was translated using no texts from the LXX.

It isn't even the same Bible

So why does this matter? If the LXX is simply a copy of the same original then it should say the same thing as any other copy of the original. The same is true of the text used for the KJV. In other words, if the messenger is translating my words then it shouldn’t matter if it is translated into Greek or Spanish. Both languages should still give the same message and meaning. So do these different Bibles say the same thing?

No, they do not. Once again, I remind you that if the messenger is telling the same message then it shouldn’t matter what language is used. They should all say the same thing (give the same message).

Now, it has been said that the differences between the KJV and others are minor. There are different spelling of words, grammatical errors, words missing or added, and a little shuffling of the words as they appear in different places. But do these “minor” differences change the message?

Does It Matter If There Is a Difference

We need to address two more things as well. First, there are people who believe God uses “Error Correction Code” in the Bible. Basically, the theory is that God sends His message in many formats (different languages, repeated words in the Bible, and so on). This is supposed to make the Bible reliable even if there is an error somewhere.

This theory is only partially correct, though. If the same message is sent many times and in many ways, it should only make the false message stand out more. So again, if God does use this then it would destroy errors, not defend them. Because errors do not strengthen the Bible.

A Small Change In The Message Of The Bible

The second thing we need to address is the belief that one error does not cause damage to the whole of the Bible. Some people think that since the Bible will correct itself in another place then it can still be trusted to get the same message through. But, let me ask you this question. If a witness testifies to one thing and then to something else, would that witness not be guilty of perjury?

Jesus said that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump. The Bible also says in another place that no scripture is of private interpretation. Jesus said not one jot or tittle would pass from the law. These are Hebrew words by the way and not Greek, which also gives some evidence to His use of the MT and not the LXX.

All scripture is connected. It is like a chain. If there is one weak link then the whole chain falls apart. If, however, you see the leaven and the weak link, you can look for another, stronger chain or unleavened bread. You can leave the other behind.

Don’t Be Fooled by the Mix of Sweet and Bitter

Now, what are some examples of different messages between the different versions? To examine this we will use the KJV vs. the NIV (one translation that is known for use of the LXX).

Please note that other translations may vary a little. But, that is not because they do not use the LXX or other Alexandrian-type texts. They often use a combination of the MT and Textus Receptus along with the LXX and Alexandrian-type texts. Thus causing the difference to be more subtle (such is the case in the NKJV which includes a small amount of the LXX).

One thing you may also note is that in some cases a verse may omit something vital, but state it in another place. Again, this is what happens from a combination of the MT and LXX. The MT picks up where the LXX leaves off and vice-versa. So do not assume everything is ok because of this.

Bible Translation Comparison

*Note: you could think of the KJV as the original MT and Textus Receptus while you can think of the NIV as the original LXX and Alexandrian-type texts. Other versions may say different things as well. This is because they also use two different originals. They may simply use one over the other for certain verses.

Isaiah 14:12

Lucifer is called the son of the morning in the KJV, but he is called the morning star in the NIV. Jesus Himself is called the morning star in another place in the KJV. So when the Bible speaks of the morning star you have to ask if it speaks of Jesus or Satan. Quite a big difference there.

Daniel 3:25

The NIV calls Jesus “a son of the gods” rather than “The Son of God.” It may seem small, but there is a big difference between a son of one of the gods and THE son of THE God.

Exodus 20:5 and Exodus 34:7

There is a big difference between the word “visiting” and “punishing.” This has very big implications and has fooled many to believe in the lie of being “born guilty of sin.” We cover that in another unit.

Psalms 2:12

The NIV speaks of Jesus as being short tempered and easy to anger. The KJV speaks of how a small amount of His anger is destructive IF He were to become angry. So the NIV contradicts other verses that tell us He is SLOW to anger.

Micah 5:2

The NIV tells us Jesus had a beginning, and the KJV says He was from everlasting. There is a big difference here. This verse removes Jesus from being God.

1 John 4:3

Take 1 John 4:3 as an example. The KJV tells us that any spirit which does not confess that Jesus is come in the flesh is not of God. It is the spirit of antichrist. Many versions using the Alexandrian-type texts say it differently.

Look in the NIV for example and you will find that it leaves out the coming in flesh part. Which means it did not confess that Jesus is come in the flesh. Doesn’t that make you wonder what the spirit behind the Alexandrian-type texts is?

Philippians 2:6

Another example is Philippians 2:6. The KJV says Jesus did not think it was robbery to be equal with God. In other words, it says that Jesus considered Himself equal with God. But the NIV says that Jesus did not consider this to be possible. Thus, the message of these verses changes between the Textus Receptus and the Alexandrian-type texts. In fact, the message given by the Alexandrian-type texts contradicts the message that Jesus and the Father are one, and of the same mind.

Matthew 9:13, John 6:47, Revelation 22:14

In Matthew 9:13 the NIV leaves out the words to repentance which is vital to salvation. John 6:47 says you can simply believe but doesn’t tell you what to believe as the KJV does. Revelation 22:14 again removes repentance from the equation and says we just have to be washed. But again, the KJV tells us that repentance is required for this. So again, this “minor” thing changes BIG doctrinal issues about salvation itself!

Galatians 5:12

Let’s not stop with these examples. Galatians 5:12 in the NIV has Paul saying that he wanted those who troubled the saints to have their genitals cut off. The KJV says he wants those who trouble them to simply no longer be considered as a part of the same group. In other words, according to the KJV, Paul wanted it to be made clear that they were not members of the body of Christ.

This has implications in church discipline and being partakers of other men’s sins. Ultimately, this could even lead to many souls being lost because the church would not be seen as different.

Mark 9:29, Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:2

Mark 9:29 in the NIV leaves out fasting which the KJV not only includes but requires. Matthew 6:13 in the NIV refuses to confess that the kingdom, power, and glory belong to God. Luke 11:2 has a similar problem but even goes so far as to deny the will of God being done in earth as it is in Heaven. Notice also that heaven is not even mentioned.

Hebrews 10:34, Revelation 16:17, 1 John 5:7-8

Hebrews 10:34 in the NIV is also similar in this, as well as Revelation 16:17. If it wasn’t enough to remove Heaven we also find the NIV removes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in 1 John 5:7-8. Some say it does this because these words are not found in the Greek manuscripts (or put another way the Alexandrian-type texts). But the Textus Receptus DOES have these words. They are found in Codex 61, 88, 221, 429, 629, 636, 918, and 2318. It just depends on what manuscripts you use as your original.

Mark 10:24

Mark 10:24 leaves out the subject of those who trust riches in the NIV. But, the KJV includes it. This is because it tells us that it is difficult to enter into Heaven in and of itself. But, it is impossible for those who place trust in things RATHER than Jesus. The topic is who our trust is in and that is what determines how difficult it is or not.

Luke 4:4, Revelation 2:15, Romans 8:1

Luke 4:4 in the NIV omits that it is the word of God that men live by. Revelation 2:15 forgets to mention that God hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. You could probably figure that out, though. Romans 8:1 again leaves out repentance.

1 Timothy 3:16, Matthew 26:29, Matthew 27:48

1 Timothy 3:16 again refuses to confess that He came in the flesh and says “a body” without telling what type of body. Then we read Matthew 26:29 and Matthew 27:48. In the KJV Jesus drinks vinegar, not wine vinegar. But the NIV says it was wine vinegar. Thus it makes Jesus into a liar since He said He would not drink wine again until we are in heaven with Him.

We should also consider what omission does to the teachings of the Bible. Here are some omissions in the NIV and what they do to the message:

Acts 8:37 – This verse in the KJV means the following: Belief is required first, then action on that belief. Without this verse, we have action with no actual belief of the heart. Thus pure ritual is all that is really required.

Mark 11:26 – This verse in the KJV means the following: God will not forgive those who do not forgive others. Without this verse, the warning of consequence is lost. We can go ahead and keep those grudges without fear of consequence. While it may be “good practice” to forgive, it is no longer required.

Mark 15:28 – This verse in the KJV means the following: In this action, Jesus fulfilled another. Without this verse, there is an unfulfilled prophecy. That would mean Jesus did not meet all of the requirements of being the messiah. Thus the NIV, again, makes Jesus worthless.

Mark 9:44 – This verse in the KJV means the following: This place is eternal torment. Without this verse, it can be said that it is not.

Mark 16:9-20 (Footnote in the NIV throws doubt on this passage) – These verses in the KJV have A LOT of meaning in them and the scope of how their omission effects theology is huge.

Seen Enough to Notice the Difference?

These are only a small sample of the differences between the MT and Textus Receptus vs. the LXX and Alexandrian-type texts. We see in these that the message given is VERY different. The 2 books contradict each other in VERY significant ways.

So here is a summary of the differences between these verses:

Choose Jesus

The Alexandrian-type texts do not confess Jesus as being both 100% God and 100% man in the flesh. So we have a different doctrine on many things, including the ability of man to resist temptation, the reality of Jesus being tempted by sin as we are, and even the fact that Jesus is God.

The Alexandrian-type texts tell us to repent only as far as turning from unbelief to belief. They do not tell us to repent of sin itself. While it is true that sin results from unbelief, it is the actual end result of unbelief that kills. Unbelief is just a road to get there. Many have tried to say that we don’t have to worry about sin because that isn’t what the bible tells us we have to repent of. But, ask yourself this question. If you believed sin kills then why would you think that belief, without turning from sin also, is repentance?

The Alexandrian-type texts tell us that Jesus was a liar. The Alexandrian-type texts tell us Jesus did not fulfill all prophecy of Himself and is, thus, a fraud. The Alexandrian-type texts do not say that there is eternal torment for sinners.

Again, these are only a few examples. You can find this type of thing in all Bibles using the LXX and Alexandrian-type texts.

So the LXX and Alexandrian-type texts are very different when compared to the MT and Textus Receptus. We have already shown some of the differences between the message delivered by the two. But we need to know which one is true, since they disagree in many areas.

One of these is a faithful witness to the word of God. One of these brings the message of God to us. The other one brings a false message. Our task is to find out which one is a faithful witness.

The KJV shows us a God who is 100% God and 100% man. It also tells us that God doesn’t just require our belief, but also our obedience in repentance. The KJV shows that Jesus met all of the prophetic requirements of being the Christ, and it tells us that there is eternal torment for sinners.

When you choose between a Bible with the LXX and the Alexandrian-type texts, or the KJV with the MT and Textus Receptus, it’s like you are choosing which Jesus you will believe in. I encourage you to consider this carefully.

Before I end this subject of the MT and Textus Receptus vs. the LXX and Alexandrian-type texts I would like to say one more thing. It is NOT impossible for God to bless you or others through Bibles with a mix of the two. But this is due to the existence of the truth mixed within them.

So I am not trying to tell you that bibles using the LXX and Alexandrian-type texts are totally evil. They do still hold MOST of the actual word of God. And, I am not telling you to only read the KJV. BUT, what I AM telling you is that if the KJV and the others disagree you should always accept the KJV as the authority. Keep the baby, but throw out the bath water.

****Please note that none of this information is meant to claim using other versions of the Bible is wrong. What we present here is simply information which gives you an idea of how to handle situations where different versions may say different things and you need to know which one is the authority. Since all versions of the Bible do contain most of the same information they therefore must also contain the word of God.

In fact, since the KJV is often difficult for many people to read we would normally suggest the NLT. Once again, On The Line Ministries DOES use the KJV only but we do not downplay the word of God in other versions even if it is mixed with something else. We simply show why the KJV IS the authority when there may be a conflict.****

Unit 1:5 – How to Defend Your Faith OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 1 – The Bible and Faith in God

July 12, 2015 at 4:36 am | | 2 comments

2 responses to “Bible Translation Comparison”

  1. Greg Wertime says:

    Fair and informative. Thanks.

  2. Lucky says:

    me I consider the KJV as the most correct one

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