Is The King James Only Position Biblical
“Show me the King James Only Belief in the Bible”
Pastor Brian Evans
Audio of these live messages, with minor grammatical updates and corrections
for written presentation.
Now I'm doing a little mini session every morning on a King James Bible objection, an objection to our King James only position. And I do not in any way and I mean this, this is not false humility. I'll express that some other time. But I don't consider myself to be an expert on the subject. But you do learn a few things on the battlefield. And so as I mentioned, Monday night, and then last morning, I have, you know, unfortunately, had to face a battle, a severe battle some years ago. And I need to bring that folder and show you how thick it is, all the things that a fella brought me; but I learned so much that I just am thankful that it happened, even though it was a rough experience. And I just appreciate God letting me get through that and our church get through that in relatively one piece. And saw the fella at Home Depot last week, by the way, that caused us all the trouble and I walked up to him, shook his hand. And we chatted for a moment. And I will say this, and I don't mean this in a cutting way, but I guess it'll cut. When you kick the legs out from under the authority of Scripture, you're gonna destroy your family. I mean, I've just watched it unfold in this man's life. And it's sad because we were dear friends for many years. And I still love him. I saw him another time at the Waffle House by himself on Christmas Eve, sitting there by himself. And I told him I loved him. I talked to him for a few moments. And I’m just, I'm just saddened by what's happened in his home and in his mind.
But this morning, I'd like you to turn to Matthew chapter four. And this verse has already been mentioned a couple of times and read a couple of times. And it is really, I will read it, but then I'll mention it again at the very end. So this talk is going to be a little different. I don't know if you've ever heard anybody make the case I'm about to make, the way I'm about to make it. And so I hope that I will be clear enough that you will understand what I mean without misunderstanding what I mean. So I'm trying to get you to listen very carefully, if you would, please. So, what I'm about to say here, I've got to try to do it in a relative hurry. But stand with me please, as we read Matthew Chapter Four in verse number four. Very familiar verse, it says, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." So I'll talk to you this morning on the subject of “Show Me the King James Only Belief in the Bible.” Show me being King James only in the Bible. Let's pray and we'll be seated. Father, we do thank you again for letting us be here this morning. And we ask you please to teach us this morning, to touch us, to help us. So many little wrinkles that need to be addressed about this most important subject. And I pray you'd help me to maybe answer or reinforce one small part of that during this session. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
I got a call from a pastor friend who pastored. He's retired now across town. And he had a fella in his church sorta like the one that I had. And the fella came to him expressing disagreement. I mean, just out of the blue, which was one of his very best men, Sunday School teacher just like my guy, and expressed his disagreement with the pastor's position on the King James Bible. And among many other things that he said and wrote to him actually a man, he also was going to write a book, he thought, and as my friend was, and so he brought him some material he had written on the subject. And one of the things that he brought my pastor friend was the statement, “show me your belief in the Bible, and I'll accept it.” And, in amongst the things that he wrote, he said these things. He said, "first, let us look for the King James only doctrine inside the pages of the Bible to see what God Himself has said." And his answer was, “nothing.” He said, in reference to Scriptural support for our position, "try using that method (in other words searching the bible to prove the King James only belief) you will discover it cannot be done. He said "seeing that no specific Bible translation has ever been mentioned or even hinted at, in the Word of God, it is a strange doctrine which says that this verse applies to any one translation, talking about Timothy. He says, "God has been totally silent concerning specific Bible translations, and it would be extremely disingenuous to say otherwise." He said, "the Achilles heel of the King James only doctrine is that there is no thus saith the LORD scripture to support it." He said, "believing that only the King James Version is the word of God in English, may have merit, but it is unsubstantiated by thus saith the LORD Scripture." He said, "provide the Scriptures where God endorses the King James only, specifically." The man said, "I wish that I could direct your attention to the verses where God teaches the King James only doctrine, but I cannot." He said, "there's not a single verse of scripture that can be used to verify any God-given significance to the King James Bible doctrine, for God is totally silent on the issue." He said, "believing the King James only doctrine is not a Bible requirement for walking in the light with God. Therefore, it is wrong for men to make it a test of fellowship." In other words, he said, "well, because the King James Bible doctrine that you hold is not in the Bible that you hold in your hand, it should not be used as a test for fellowship among the brethren."
Now, my friend was shaken by this. And I told him, I said, "Preacher," I said, "this is another straw man. Because the King James only belief is not a Bible doctrine. It is a position. And he's building a straw man to say that you're saying the Bible teaches we should be King James only; And therefore, because it doesn't say anything about the King James Bible, your position is wrong. Therefore, we're going to set a match to it." I said, "Well, it is a position. Because like many other things that we hold, our eschatology, for example, many people have different positions on that. I'm pre trib. It is not expressly stated as such in a verse, but we hold it. Now, I gotta walk you through something that may be or may not be unfamiliar territory. And this is the part where you got to kind of stay with me for a little bit.
So what I've done first is I've raised the man's objections based on the lack of scriptural support. And when the guy said to him, preacher, show me your belief in the Bible, and he knew he couldn't, he ran to me. He ran to me because he knew I had been to war, and he hoped that I had learned something along the way that might help him. And sometimes when you're dealing with these people, I have learned, of course, sometimes it's like a dog chasing his tail. It's like talking with a Jehovah's Witness. They don't really want to know what the truth is, they just want to fuss. But, you know, sometimes you've got to learn how to turn their own logic back against them, on them. And I believe that that's what I have done. But to get there. It may be a little tricky, and maybe it's not. Maybe I'm overcomplicating what I'm thinking about here, but I want you to listen very, very carefully. Because I want you to do one thing, I want you to turn to the table of contents in your Bible, and I want you to look at the very, in mine, the right-hand side. We have New Testament, Old Testament. Actually, in mine, it's top and bottom: Old Testament on the top and New Testament on the bottom, and there's a list of New Testament books written here for us. If memory serves me correctly, it's 27 of them. Right? I think most of my primary kids know that much. May I say this that though this list is in our Bibles and has been for centuries and centuries, this was not always settled on. There was a time when not everyone believed that there were 27 books in the New Testament.
There was a time when there were early leaders in the church that suggested that other writings might also should be included in the New Testament and the Old. And so there was quite a process, you might call it, called canonization. Everybody who has been to Bible college had to go through learning about canonization. And there are different writings, written in old times, that have fancy academic words on top of them. But they mean, you know, some of these books were rejected by everyone. Some were accepted by some but not others. And then yet others were accepted by most everyone. And so you have, for example, you understand that there was a time and I'm talking about way back yonder, now, when the book of Hebrews was doubted by some that it should be in the Bible. But through the process of canonization, when Hebrews was put to the test, those four tests, at least that they had, and applied that to Hebrews, it was agreed upon, really by consensus, that it should be included. And so it was. Well, we've had a while to look it over. Now we know they got that right. Same thing about the book of James. There was a time when some people did not accept the book of James as being authentic scripture. By the way, Martin Luther was one of them. And so if you turn, you probably can't read any more German than I can. But if you turn to a Luther's translation, you will find out it has a 26 book New Testament. That was his position. There was a time when Second Peter was not accepted by everyone as Scripture. If you study church history, you'll find that there were groups, some of which in the early days did not accept the writings of some of the apostles, for example. Some only accepted the writings of Paul, some just the Gospels. Some said well, second, third, John shouldn't be in there. Some said of the book of Jude should not be included because it quoted the Book of Enoch. And yet others said that the book of Revelation should not be included because it included premillennial teachings.
Now, in addition to these books that did pass the tests, and were included in our 27, there are many other what we call spurious books and are spurious books, apocryphal books, and the word apocryphal means not inspired, and of unknown origin. We have books like The Epistle of Barnabas, not the Barnabas of dark shadows, if you remember that show from the 60s. The Epistle of Corinthians was one. The epistles of Clement was one. The Shepherd of Hermas was one. The Didache was one. The apocalypse of Peter was one. The acts of Paul and faecium was one. The Epistle to Laodiceans was one. The gospel of the Hebrews was one. The Epistle of Polycarp was one. The epistles of Ignatius was one. And so all these writings were compared and put to a test, by good men that we don't know in the process that we refer to as canonization. And of course, we know that our Roman Catholic friends, and I always say whenever I say you're my friend from the pulpit, I'm about to insult you. And so our Roman Catholic friends, you know, they have 73 books in some of their Bibles. They include all kinds of Old Testament books that we do not. And of course, unlike the King James translators, who did include them in the middle, in a special section and on every page it said, Apocrypha apocrypha, meaning this is not part of the Bible. They interweave theirs beside all the other books of the Bible suggesting that they are Bible. There's a big difference between those two ideas. So books like Tobit and Judith in addition to the book of Esther and the wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus and Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah and you know all these many ones... the Maccabees and Esdras and the prayer of Manasseh, and you know, the third Maccabees and all this stuff that we understand is not part of the Bible, they still have in their Bible today. Now, as I said, Martin Luther had 26 books in his New Testament. That was his position. Now, why do I call it a position? Well, because that's what it is. I want you to listen carefully. Nowhere in the Old Testament were we told the penman, or the books that would be revealed later in the New Testament. That information was not revealed in the Old Testament. Neither did God see fit, to write that somewhere else in advance. Now, I gotta tell you, this subject makes us a little uncomfortable. But it is right. That God did not reveal the 27 books of the New Testament on a list somewhere in advance before they were penned, and then tell somebody, go find them. That is not what happened. And so the books that we have before us, and of course, we know they got it right, by culling these other books out. We know the tests applied to these books made it plain to everyone, which books were Bible and which books were not Bible. But the bottom line is at the end of that canonization process, the position of the majority was, we have 27 books in the New Testament, though it is nowhere expressly stated anywhere in the Bible. I hope that makes sense. You say, what does that have to do with what we're talking about? Well, it has everything to do with it. Just like a 27 book New Testament is our position, our King James only belief is our position as well.
The King James only position, by the way, was determined in much the same way as they decided which books were Bible, which were not by comparison of the writings. These versions were put to the test of Matthew 4:4...an every word Bible. This one is only one that passes that test. It is the only one that is an every word Bible. Therefore, it is the only one that passes the test. And therefore, it's the only one that we ought to use.
Now, to bring this into a more sharp relief, I want us to revisit the original statements that I read that this opponent of the position wrote to his preacher, but I want to change them a little to reflect the ridiculous nature of his argument. I want to take out the phrase King James only and install the phrase 27 book New Testament to turn his thinking back upon him. And by the way, I wrote him this lesson, extended form of it...mailed it to him, invited a discourse...It's been 11 years, I'm still waiting. And he somehow felt led never to write the book on this. And so if you turn this around, you say well, for example, his statement was, “first let's look for the King James only doctrine inside the pages of the Bible to see what God Himself has said.” Now, if you swap the phrase around, you say, “well, first let's look inside the inspired 27 New Testament books to see what the Bible says about this Himself.” Well, again, the list does not appear. See we've only known it as such. We believe it is as such. But somebody had to decide that for us. His statement was, "try using that method to prove the King James onlyism, you discover it cannot be done." All right, install the other phrase, “try using that method to prove there are only 27 inspired books in the New Testament, you will discover that it cannot be done.” He said, "seeing that no specific Bible translation has ever been mentioned or even hinted at in the Word of God. It is a strange doctrine which says this verse applies to only one specific translation." Plug in the other statement, "seeing that no list of the 27 inspired books has ever been mentioned or even hinted at, it is a strange doctrine that one should apply this to only 27 New Testament books." His statement was "God has been totally silent concerning specific Bible translations. And it would be extremely disingenuous to say otherwise." Well, then you'd have to say “well God has been totally silent, concerning how many books are in the Bible. And it would be extremely disingenuous to say otherwise.” His statement was "the Achilles heel of the King James version doctrine is that there is no thus saith the LORD scripture to support it." Well, then if you say that you got to say "well the Achilles heel of the inspired 27 New Testament book doctrine is, there's no saith the LORD scripture to support it." Because again, I hope you're getting this. God didn't give us a list. He didn't put it on a rock somewhere, and he didn't put it on a tree somewhere and say, go find it. It had to be decided by examination of the writings and good men said, this is Bible, this is not. They had mainly four tests. Only these 27 books pass the test. Why God did that, I don't know. Why, I mean, it would've been mighty nice if He'd given us a list up front, somewhere during the silent years between the Old and New Testaments, but he didn't do that. His statement was "believing that only the King James Bible is the Word of God in English has merit, but it is still unsubstantiated by thus saith the LORD scripture.” Well, if you're going to say that you've got to also say, "believing that there are only 27 New Testament books that are in the Word of God has merit, but it is still unsubstantiated by thus saith the Lord Scripture." He said, "provide the Scriptures where God endorsed the King James only doctrine specifically." Well, if you're going to say that you got to also say, "provide the Scriptures where God endorses the 27 New Testament books, specifically." Now notice, it's kind of hard on the hearing, maybe it kind of bends around, you know, but this is what happened. This is a product of canonization. Somebody had to choose for us. We believe God had his hand on them. We know we've had these books now for 2000 years. We know they got it right. There's no false teaching in them. Compare that to the Maccabees. Compare that to all the other apocryphal books in the Epistle of Barnabas and all these things. We know these guys got it right. But God did not tell us in advance what 27 books they would be. He said, "I wish I could direct your attention to the verses where God teaches the King James version only doctrine." Well, if you're going to use that as a test, you'd have to say "I wish I could direct your attention to the verses where God teaches that there are only 27 inspired books in the New Testament." Now, look, while this is a little awkward to talk about, and it might confuse a layman...and I've got a few laymen in here, canonization happened. Before the 27, books were decided upon, there were many other people who suggested many other writings might also be scripture, they were wrong in every case. And again, God did not reveal which New Testament books there would be beforehand. If we don't like that, we can talk to him about it someday, if we got the guts, and I don't. But think about this.
Using a logic like this man used, you see, we understand that, when you compare the English writings that are available, this is the only one that passes a test of every word. It is the only one. But if we accept his logic, this man's logic about our position, which is a position, then we would have to be okay with things like this, and I'll close with this. We should not be trying to decide anything we have no scripture for, even in principle. We should not separate from those who have a different list of inspired books, because God had been silent on it. In other words, we should never separate from someone who might say, “I just like the four Gospels and that's it." I mean, if that's the way it works, then that would be the logical end of that position, that erroneous idea. The logic would have to follow “believing in a 27-book-only New Testament is a false teaching since the Bible doesn't list the genuine books in advance." In other words you'd have to say, if you believe what this guy believes, you'd have to say, "well, then this, this idea of being 27 book only is a false teaching then, because God didn't reveal it somewhere else to us." The logic to follow would be, then, we should joyfully sit under those who would preach and teach to us from things like the gospel of Hebrews, or the Epistle of Barnabas, or the Old Testament Apocrypha, because we had no thus saith the Lord for saying these are not genuine books of the Bible. And it would follow then, that since God is silent, about which Christian writings were genuine scripture and which are not, then we should be silent also.
I'm thankful for my King James only position. It is, in my description, a conclusion based on the available evidence, just like the 27 book New Testament was a conclusion that good men made centuries ago for us, just like being pre-trib is a conclusion. And so, sure, it's not a Bible doctrine. We shouldn't teach it as such. That's a mighty easy thing to burn down. It is a position based on what we might call manuscript evidence. And I think that's just fine and dandy. We thank God for it.