QUESTION: "Dr. Holland, Could you please supply me with some information and verses about the New King James Versions?"
RESPONSE: During the course of these lessons I have received several questions from students, as the one listed above, concerning the NKJV. It would seem appropriate to make comments about that translation at this time.
In 1979 the NKJV was released in the New Testament by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The whole Bible was published in 1982. Its goal was unique from other modern versions in that the NT was translated from the Textus Receptus, instead of the Critical Text as most modern versions are. Thus, many of the verses which have been omitted from modern versions can be found in the NKJV. Therefore, many who reject modern translations and favor the TR find the NKJV an acceptable modern version of the Bible.
When first published, the translators claimed the NKJV was the fifth revision of the KJV of 1611. Even the name, New King James, shows an association with the Authorized Version. However, as we have seen in this lesson, the revisions of the KJV which predate the NKJV were proper revisions which did not change the text. This cannot be said of the NKJV. In fact, it is not a revision at all. Instead, it is a new translation of the OT Masoretic Hebrew Text and the NT Traditional Greek Text based on the findings of modern linguistical scholarship from a conservative theological basis. A few differences between the NKJV and its predecessor are listed below.
Son or Servant:
"The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; . . ." (Acts 3:13 KJV)
"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, . . ."(NKJV. Also in Acts 3:26; 4:27; and 4:30)
"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; . . ."(Rev. 1:6 KJV)
"and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, . . ."(NKJV)
God or Rock:
"Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction."(Habakkuk 1:12 KJV)
"Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction."(NKJV)
Godhead or Divine Nature:
"Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, . . ."(Acts 17:29 KJV)
"Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, . . ." (NKJV. However in Rom. 1:20 and Col 2:9 the NKJV switches back to Godhead)
Comforter or Helper:
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" (John 14:16 KJV)
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever,"(NKJV. Also in John 14:26; 15:26; and 16:7)
Corrupt or Peddle:
"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: . . ."(2 Cor. 2:17 KJV)
"For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; . . ."(NKJV)
Satan or Accuser:
"Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand."(Psalm 109:6 KJV)
"Set a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand."(NKJV)
Saved or Being Saved:
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."(1 Cor. 1:18 KJV)
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."(NKJV. Also in 2 Cor. 2:15)
Jesus or He:
"And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, . . ."(Mark 2:15 KJV)
"Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, . . ."(NKJV)
The NKJV is suppose to be easier to read than the KJV. Of the following verses, which do you find harder?
"Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,"(KJV)
"Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD: Waheb in Suphah, The brooks of the Arnon."(NKJV)
"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious."(KJV)
"And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;"(NKJV)
"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers."(KJV)
"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him."(NKJV)
"And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard."(KJV)
"Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard."(NKJV)
1 Kings 10:28
"And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price."(KJV)
"And Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king's merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price."(NKJV)
"Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man."(KJV)
"Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation: Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!"(NKJV)
"Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven." (KJV)
"When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven."(NKJV)
These are only a few examples of the differences between the KJV and NKJV. It should become clear that the NKJV is not truly the fifth revision of the Authorized Version, but is a retranslation of the texts.
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is preservation, not inspiration. And even Dr. Hills, as quoted by White, states that the New Testament as we have it today was "not inspired but God-guided" (pp. 92, 93).