The following is reproduced with permission from the author, evangelist Reggie Kinser. We encourage all saints to be careful with their reliance on translations that digress from the sacred text. Guy N. Woods once observed that saints should rely on the American Standard Version and the King James Version (citing the ASV for accuracy and the KJV for prose). The New King James Version is growing in popularity because it’s considered more “readable” than the King James Version yet it retains the accuracy of the King James Version. Many translations are now produced with an underlying, if not stated, goal of dampening or altering the Truth. This material will show the NIV to be such a translation. While it’s wise to use various translations in our study, we must be careful and aware of the various dangers lurking in many modern translations. We encourage the saints to be very careful when selecting a translation for daily reading and study. We must beware.
On the evening of July 1, 1997, I presented a fraction of this material at the fourth of July meeting in Lebanon, Missouri. The response I received was overwhelming. Numerous brethren, including many of our older more knowledgeable preachers, expressed their appreciation for the lesson. Almost without exception those who approached me requested a copy of the sermon. Therefore, we present this material to the brotherhood.
Realizing that there is no translation of the Bible that is without weakness and knowing that we are commanded to test all things, I am convinced that we have a responsibility to test any version of the Bible before we accept it. Since the King James Version has rightfully been tested and retested down through the years, one has to wonder how the NIV, which has been published for more than two decades, could have had so little written or spoken about it within our brotherhood. Therefore, the purpose of this work is to make our brethren aware of some of the weaknesses and errors of the New International Version.
Christians should know that many capable and scholarly individuals from within the Church of Christ have serious reservations about the NIV. Here is what some have said:
The NIV is “openly and blatantly Calvinistic” (Daniel Denham).
It “takes too many unwarranted liberties with the text of the Bible” (Wayne Jackson).
It “makes changes for the sake of change” (Jack Lewis).
It contains “denominationalism in the actual text of the Bible” (Robert R. Taylor).
Also among those who have expressed concern is the late Brother Guy N. Woods, who was a N.T. Greek scholar in his own right. He said, “the NIV is shot through with error.” With so many knowledgeable brethren making comments like these, we certainly ought to be concerned. I believe a testing of the NIV is long overdue.
It is our prayer that all who read this material will be encouraged to study this matter further. This tract is not intended to be a blanket condemnation of everything contained in the NIV, neither is it the last word on this subject. One of our goals is to inform our brethren of the many differences between the NIV and the KJV so that they will be encouraged to study this matter further.
Obviously, not everyone will agree with the things we have written. Therefore, I urge the reader to take note of the many references listed at the end of the tract. Many of these references are members of the Church of Christ who are fighting against liberalism/denominationalism within their own ranks.
Everyone who reads this tract should be aware that translators of modem versions always have at least one underlying agenda- they want to sell their product. In regard to those who promote false doctrine, Jesus said, “you shall know them by their fruits.” These words are especially applicable to those who mistranslate the Holy Scriptures. As we inspect the fruits of modem translators, their motives often become obvious by the manner in which they handle the Word of God. How then, are we to respond? Shall we pretend they are innocent in their wrong doing? God forbid. Ephesians 5:13 instructs us to reprove/expose unfruitful works of darkness. Remember, your eternal destiny hinges on the words that were inspired by God. Make certain you take the path that is safe and encourage others to do the same.
“Facts You Should Know About The NIV”
As we enter into our study of the New International Version of the Bible I want to remind you about the doctrine of biblical inspiration. Please take the time to read this first section carefully, for unless you have a basic understanding of the method God used to reveal His Will you may not realize the seriousness of the changes that are being made by modem translators.
The Word of God is Verbally Inspired
From the very beginning and throughout the ages of time, God has used words as a means of communicating his Divine Will to mankind. From the Garden of Eden until this very day, the eternal destiny of man has hinged on his willingness to believe and obey the words that came from God. The Scriptures firmly establish the fact that God directed and controlled the words that came from the tongues and pens of His prophets and apostles.
David said, in 2 Samuel 23:22, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.”
Jeremiah said, “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (Jer. 1: 9).
2 Peter 1:21 says, ‘”For prophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” What did these men of God speak? They spoke words. Words that were given to them through the Holy Spirit by the will of God.
In I Timothy 4: 1, Paul said, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly…” (KJV) What did the Spirit speak? Obviously He spoke words. Over and over we find this truth stated. As a matter of fact, the phrase, “the word of the Lord came” occurs more than 100 times in the Old Testament. When combined with other phrases that mean the same thing, such as: “God said,” “the Lord spoke,” and “the writing of God,” there are more than 3800 direct claims by those who penned the Scriptures that God communicated his revelation in words.
When we profess to believe in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, we mean that we believe the words which were expressed by the Biblical writers were given to them by God. God did not simply place a thought in their minds and then allow them to express it by words of their own choosing. God gave them the words!
Every Word of God is Important
If God saw fit to reveal His Will a word at a time, and if the content of His message was so important and so precious that He directed each and every word, we, of all people, should understand the importance of His words. We should not take it lightly when we find loose translations (versions) of the Bible which omit portions of God’s Word that were given to us through the apostles and prophets. That, in part,, is what this study is about.
In Luke 4:4, Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Based on the statement of Jesus, we understand that words, that is, words of Scripture, play an essential role in man’s ability to please the Lord. Furthermore, Jesus makes it plain that every single word that the Lord has given us is important. This being the case, it is no wonder that we find repeated promises in the Scriptures that God will preserve His Word.
For instance, in Matthew 24:35, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
In Matthew 5:18, Jesus said, ‘”For assuredly, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
In I Peter 1:25, “But the word of the LORD endures forever.”
God not only promised to preserve every word of His Will, but knowing the cunning devices of men, he also saw fit to place within it warnings to all who would dare to tamper with it. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it…” See also similar warnings in Proverbs 30:5-6 and Revelation 22:18, 19 These verses and many more, serve to remind us of God’s attitude about His Word. Certainly, we should have a deep awareness of how precious and important all the words of God are
In spite of such warnings, there were those in Jeremiah’s day who were guilty of altering the words of the Lord. In Jeremiah 23:30, God said, “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets… who steal My words every one from his neighbor.” Please notice that although the Word of God was protected and could never perish from the earth, this did not keep those in Jeremiah’s day from altering what God had said. This they did by stealing His words.
That brings us to a series of important points about the New International Version of the Bible.
I. The NIV Relies Heavily On A Questionable Greek Text
If you have read Mark. 16:9-20 in the NIV, you know that these verses are called into question by the translators. Allow me to briefly remind you of the contents of these twelve verses. In Verses 9-16, we find the resurrection of Jesus, His appearance to Mary Magdalene, His appearance to two disciples, His appearance to the apostles and His commission to them to preach the gospel to every creature. In verse 16, we find His command concerning baptism. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (KJV). Verses 17,18, & 20 speak of the miraculous power that was given to the apostles. Verse 19 records Mark’s account of the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven.
Anyone who understands the biblical doctrines’ of the resurrection, baptism for the remission of sins, and the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven realizes the significance of these words. They are of tremendous significance and have been a thorn in the side of those who oppose the truth for centuries. To say that the proponents of false doctrine desire the removal of these words from the Bible is an understatement.
Sadly today, some modem versions do omit these verses. Others, such as the ASV, reduce them to a footnote. The NIV includes them in the text but casts aspersion on them by using a footnote which says, “the most reliable early manuscripts do not have Mark 16:9-2.” (emp., RK).
Based on the comments of the NIV, the average reader is led to believe that there is overwhelming proof that the last twelve verses of the gospel of Mark are spurious. The translators want us to believe that these words were added to later manuscripts and were never part of the original biblical text. There is, however, a great deal of evidence to show that this is not the case. In fact, the evidence is so strong that I believe the translators of modem versions destroy their own credibility when they refer to these manuscripts as “the most reliable early manuscripts.”
Let us begin our brief examination of the evidence by asking the following: Exactly what manuscripts are the NIV translators referring to? What is the mountain of evidence that has caused them and other modem translators to remove hundreds of words and phrases from the Bible?
Reliable Manuscripts? Would it surprise you to learn that the phrase “most reliable early manuscripts” refers to two, that’s right “2” manuscripts out of the thousands that exist? These two so-called reliable manuscripts are commonly referred to as the “Vaticanus” and the “Sinaiticus.” The dates of these manuscripts are fixed by scholars at 325 and 375 A.D., respectively. The position taken by the NIV translators and certain other modem versions is that these manuscripts, because of their age, are the best, most reliable manuscripts in existence. Essentially they tell us that Mark 16:9-20, along with many other verses, words and phrases in the KJV did not exist until they were added by scribes who copied other manuscripts some centuries later. This is how they attempt to justify some of the omissions found in their modem versions.
What the translators of the NIV don’t tell us is that these manuscripts show numerous obvious signs of tampering and corruption. They don’t tell us that these “reliable” witnesses differ from each other more than 7000 times throughout the New Testament. They don’t tell us that the Vatican manuscript does not contain the last four chapters of Hebrews. Nor does it include Paul’s letters to Timothy, Titus or Philemon, or the book of Revelation. Furthermore, concerning Mark 16:9-20, the Vaticanus has an empty space at the end which is just the right size to accommodate the missing verses! The Sinaiticus is written in the same-size letters throughout until you come to the end of Mark. Then the letters become large and spread out in order to take up the space where these verses belong.1 This is what the translators of the NIV call most reliable? This is what they are using to delete hundreds of words from the Holy Bible? This is powerful evidence all right, evidence that points out a lack of credibility on the part of these translators.
Notice the words of John W. Burgon in reference to these two manuscripts: “That they (Vaticanus & Siniaticus) exhibit fabricated texts is demonstrable… they must needs have branched off some common ancestor, and straightway become exposed to fresh depraving influences.2 But this is not all…
Further evidence that these verses were omitted from these manuscripts rather than added to the later manuscripts, is seen in the fact that Justin Martyr (160 A.D.) and Ireneaus, (177 A.D.), quoted from these verses in their writings.3 How do uninspired writers quote verses that according to modem translators did not exist until hundreds of years later? So much for the “most reliable early manuscripts.” So what does this do to the credibility of these modem so-called translators? You be the judge.
II. Important Bible Doctrines Are Weakened By The NIV
The following is a brief sampling of passages that serve to illustrate some of the differences between the KJV and the, NIV. These differences are based largely on the content of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts. In the case of parallel passages, many scholars take the position that scribes added words to the text from which the KJV was translated. Even in cases where there may be evidence to support such a claim, we believe the reader of God’s Word should be aware of these differences, therefore we have included them in this study. Note: underlined words are omitted or altered in the NIV.
1. The NIV alters words that testify to the virgin birth of Jesus.
Matthew 1: 25 “…and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.”
Firstborn is omitted from the text. Plain testimony that Mary had no other children before Jesus is deleted. Why?
Luke 2:33 “And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.” The NIV replaces Joseph with the child’s father. This change removes biblical evidence which points to the fact that Joseph was not Jesus’ father.
Luke 2:43 “When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem and Joseph and His mother did not know it.” The NlV has “his parents.”
Although these changes are subtle and may even seem insignificant, we must remember that they are links in the chain of evidence that substantiate the virgin birth of Jesus. It is a well documented fact that the Gnostics of Egypt denied the virgin birth. They are also known to have altered manuscripts.4 Since hundreds of manuscripts contain these words and only a few (3-4) “Egyptian” manuscripts do not, the conclusion seems obvious. The question is, why did the translators of the NIV follow the path of the Gnostics?
2. The NIV omits words that testify to the deity of Jesus.
Matthew 8:29 “And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
Matthew 16:20 “Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.”
John 1: 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (also v.18; 3:16,18).
Acts 8:37 “Then Philip said, “If you believe with all you heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
This verse not only testifies to the deity of Jesus, but also exemplifies the confession upon which our faith in Mm hinges. The NIV omits it from the text completely! Today, some of our own avoid it when they present the plan of salvation. Again, the question, why? What mountain of evidence has been presented that has caused some to give up these words? Is it due to the fact that modern versions like the NIV omit it from the text without explanation? Is it because a handful of questionable, even corrupt manuscripts, have omitted or placed it in the margin? Pardon me if I sound skeptical of the skeptics, but I need more evidence. I need more credible evidence, if you please.
The truth of the matter is, the words of Acts 8:37 are found in hundreds of manuscripts. They were quoted by Irenaeus who wrote from 170-210 A.D.,5 and Cyprian before 258 A.D.6
One has to wonder how these men could have quoted verses that, in the view of liberal-minded translators, didn’t exist until centuries later. The conclusion is obvious: long before the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts existed, this
entire verse must have been in use in the churches.7
3. The NIV omits words of Jesus about repentance.
Matthew 9:13 Jesus said, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Mark 2:17 “…Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
4. The NIV omits words that show the necessity of obedience.
Galatians 3:1 “0 foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth…”
Acts 7:37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”
Acts 9:6 “So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord what do You want me to do?”
Acts 10:6 “He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
5. The NIV omits words of Jesus about marriage and divorce.
Matthew 19:9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
6. The NIV omits words about forgiving one another.
Mark 11:26 “But if you do not forgive, neither will you Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
7. The NIV omits/alters words that pertain to the Lord’s Supper.
I Corinthians 11:24 “And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
I Corinthians 11:29 “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
8. The NIV omits words that support the doctrine of everlasting punishment.
Mark 6: 11 “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment than for that city !”
Mark 9:44-46 “where ‘their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched. ’45 “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-46 “where ‘their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.”
9. The NIV omits words that pertain to personal sacrifice.
Mark 10:21 “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
III. Sixteen Other Omissions Of The NIV
Matthew 18: 11 “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
Matthew 19:17 “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God…”
Mark 11: 10 “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
John 3:13 “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
John 16:16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I -go to the Father.”
Acts 2:30 “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh…”
Acts 16:31 “So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Romans 1: 16 ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
I Corinthians 6:20 ” For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Ephesians 3:9 “…and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 1: 14 “…in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
I John 2:7 ‘Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.”
I John 4:3 “…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.”
Revelation 1: 11 “1 am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia…”
Revelation 2:13 “1 know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. ”
Revelation 5:14 “Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever.”
There you have it. Passage after passage where words, phrases, and sometimes entire verses have been omitted and altered based on very questionable evidence, evidence that comes from what many scholars say are two of the most corrupt manuscripts in existence.
IV. The Translators Of The NIV Are Guilty Of Stealing God’s Words
As we noticed earlier in Jeremiah 23:30, God rebuked the false prophets for stealing his words from their neighbors. The evidence shows that the translators of the NIV are much like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day. They too have demonstrated that they are not afraid to tamper with the word of God.
The translators of the NIV also seem to have several things in common with the ancient Gnostics of Egypt. Like the scribes who evidently corrupted the Vaticanus and Siniaticus manuscripts,8 the translators of the NIV have their own ideas about how the Bible should read. They, like the Gnostics of old, seem to have no conscience against altering the words of God to provide a foundation for their manmade doctrines.9 Therefore, they take the liberty of removing any word or phrase they deem unnecessary. Under the pretense of improving the scriptures, they have rendered a corrupted version of the Bible.
Let us now change the focus from the omissions found in a handful of ancient biblical manuscripts, to the arrogance and audacity of sinful men who alter and pervert the Word of God in modem times. The NIV, like many modem versions, adds, deletes, and alters God-given words that have been used in the Lord’s church for centuries. In doing so, it makes merchandise of unsuspecting and uninformed readers. Please consider the following…
1. The NIV omits words the apostles and prophets were directed to write.
Some people have the audacity to think they can improve on the words that were spoken by the Almighty God. Therefore, when it comes to altering or omitting words from the biblical text, they make their own rules.
For instance, the word “behold” is often omitted from the NIV. Not because it doesn’t appear in certain manuscripts, it does. Its omission was simply a matter of choice for the translators.10
What does the word behold mean? According to Webster’s Twentieth Century Dictionary, behold means: “To fix the eyes upon; to hold in attention; to observe; to look at; to see.
What purpose does this word serve in the original text? It is used to call attention to a spectacular scene or an event of profound importance. Examples:
1. A virgin giving birth to the son of God. Matthew 1:23 “Behold the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.”
2. The awesome announcement of Jesus to Simon Peter in Luke 22:3 1. “Behold Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
3. The sudden appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration in Luke 9: 29-30. “As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah.”
4. And then there’s the wonderful proclamation in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away; behold all things are become new.”
Obviously the word behold plays a very important part in calling our attention to events of special significance. Why then, would some translators leave it out? They left it out because they have not the proper reverence for the Word of the almighty God! God, through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, put the Greek word idou in the text of the New Testament 213 times. Of that number, the translators of the NIV left it out 107 times. In other words, they omitted it 50% of the time. Please remember that the decision to omit this inspired word was not based on even a grain of evidence found in any manuscripts. So, whether they did it out of preference, or in the name of style or readability makes no difference to me. Any time a translator can casually delete words from the biblical text, there is a serious flaw in his method of translation!
2. The NIV waters down God’s law on marriage.
Fornication,, Sexual immorality or Marital Unfaithfulness?
KJV “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
NKJV “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
NIV “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
In addition to the fact that the last half of this verse is missing, there is also a serious defect in the translation. The rendering of the Greek word porneia as marital unfaithfulness is more than a mistranslation. It is a travesty. By such a loose rendering, the translators of the NIV not only lead people to wrong conclusions, they have also stolen the true meaning of porneia from the text. The significance of this change can easily be illustrated by considering the hypothetical question of a person who wants out of a marriage relationship. What is marital unfaithfulness? Marital unfaithfulness could be used to describe one who is unfaithful to his/her wedding vows. So, what were the wedding vows? “Love, honor, cherish, obey, provide for, till death do us part.” What if she/he doesn’t love, honor, etc., me anymore? Isn’t that marital unfaithfulness and therefore scriptural grounds for divorce?
The point is obvious. Marital unfaithfulness is not the same as sexual immorality. Such a mistranslation opens the door to all kinds of problems concerning the grounds for divorce. The meaning of the Greek word porneia is well documented. Terms like fornication and sexual immorality are easily understood. So why did the translators of the NIV make this change?
You don’t have to be a Greek scholar to figure out why this change was made. It had nothing to do with clarity or understandability. It has everything to do with molding God’s Word to meet the standards of society. People today want a more palatable doctrine on marriage and divorce, and the NIV is helping to pave the way. The bottom line is that this is a serious mistranslation of Scripture which violates the teaching of God’s law on marriage. It shows how little respect some people have for the inspired Word of God and how far they are willing to go to sell their (per)versions.
3. The NIV seeks to expand the role of women in the church.
KJV “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.”
NKJV “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.”
NIV “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nymph and the church in her house.”
In regard to the gender of the person mentioned in this verse the text could have been translated either way.11 The truth of the matter is, no one knows which gender is correct. Down through the years it has been translated in the masculine gender. So, why did the translators of the NIV decide to use the feminine gender? Perhaps it was just a matter of personal preference. Or could it be that the liberal-minded translators of the NIV favor an expansion of the role of women in the church?
Look at Romans 16:12 in the NKJV. “Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord.”
Now compare this to the NIV which says, “Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard…” (emp., RK). Where did the words those women come from? Were they part of some ancient manuscript no one else knows about? Did the translators of other versions such as the KJV and the NKJV overlook them? Do the translators of the NIV have some deep scholarly insight no one else possesses? No, no, none of the above. These words are not found in any ancient biblical text. God never put them there.12 The translators of the NIV made them part of the text by their own discretion without any indication to the reader. No italics, no footnote. They just added them to the text without explanation. Do the words of Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I command you…” mean anything to these men? Obviously not.
Now look at Romans 16: 1; in the NIV. It says, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant (a) of the church in Cenchrea.” Now notice the footnote in reference to the word servant. It says, “(a) or deaconess.”
I hope we all know that there was never any such office or position as deaconess in the Lord’s church. There are no qualifications given in the Scripture for such an office. So why did the translators of the NIV imply that such an office or position exists? Why would they supply such a misleading comment? Could it be because they care more about selling their new version than they do about sound doctrine? Expanding the role of women in the denominations is very popular these days. Any version with a slant in that direction is likely to be very successful, financially speaking. Regardless of their motivation, their comments perpetuate false doctrine.13
4. The NIV supports the false doctrine of Calvinism.
a. Inherited/Original Sin:
KJV ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
NKJV ‘Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
NIV “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful at the time my mother conceived me.”
Are little babies born in sin? Does mankind inherit the sin of Adam? Those of us who understand the Scripture know this is not the case. Man is born into this world innocent and with the freedom to choose right or wrong. Ecclesiastes 7:29 “…God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” Romans 3:12 says, “They have all turned aside, they have together become unprofitable..” (emp., RK). See also Ezekiel 18:20.
Today, we of the Church of Christ do not baptize infants, nor do we believe they are cast into hell should they die. We believe they are pure, innocent and free from sin, The words of David in Psalm 51:5 are an expression of the fact that he was born into a sinful world, by sinful parents, but he was no more sinful at birth than Adam was when God created him.
While some proponents of the NIV attempt to excuse the wording of this passage by crying hyperbole, the truth of the matter is that this rendition is completely unjustified.14 Whether intentional or not the translators of the NIV have inserted Calvinistic bias into the text. No, David was not sinful at birth, neither did he claim to be. In Psalm 139:14 he praised God with the words, I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
b. Sinful Nature
As a result of this theological bias, the Greek word sarx has been wrongly rendered as sinful nature at least 25 times in the NIV. Romans chapter 8 is a prime example. The phrase sinful nature occurs there no less than seven times. This rendering is unsupported by lexicographers and no other major translation so renders it.15 Once again, the NIV is taking advantage of an opportunity to introduce Calvinism into the text of the Bible.
Concerning the idea of sinful nature, the following questions arise: If man has a sinful nature, where did it come from? If God gave it to us, how can we be held accountable when we sin? 1, for one, do not believe in this Calvinistic doctrine. I also resent it being fed to me in small doses by those who read these verses from the pulpit without correcting the error contained within. The Word of God teaches that man is morally free to choose between right and wrong. The NIV teaches blatant Calvinism.
5. The NIV casts doubt on Christ’s relationship to His church.
I Corinthians 3: 11 says, ‘For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Based on these words, we know that Jesus is the basis for everything contained in the scheme of redemption, including the church. That Jesus is the chief cornerstone of God’s master plan is seen in several Bible passages. However, the translators of the NIV apparently do not agree with this, otherwise they would not have changed cornerstone to capstone in Acts 4: 11. Although this change is very subtle, typical of the NIV, the difference is monumental. A capstone is the stone that finishes off the top layer of a structure, whereas, a cornerstone is the one that is laid at the bottom. The cornerstone is the stone of reference from which all measurements must be taken. It is the specially selected stone which binds the walls together. Read Isaiah 28:16-17 and you will surely see the significance of Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.
One has to wonder just what kind of scholarship leads the translators of the NIV to make such a change in the text. The footnote in Matthew 16:18, seems to shed light on this mystery. Apparently it’s the same kind of scholarship that leads them to say “Peter means rock,” implying that Peter is the rock upon which Jesus was going to build his church! This is an obvious attempt to displace Jesus from his rightful position relative to the church by inserting Peter in his place. Why would any credible translator seek to promote the false doctrines of Catholicism? The Greek word for Peter and the word rock in this passage are entirely different words! See Thayer’s 4074 and 4073. Could it be that the architects of the NIV were convinced that such pandering would make their version more popular in certain circles, or are we to believe that pure motives could produce such error? Regardless of the motives of the translators, their comments are misleading and serve to perpetuate false doctrine
6. The NIV Distorts the Plan of Salvation.
Question: At what point does a person receive salvation? There are a host of passages too numerous to mention which prove that salvation, i.e., remission of sins, occurs at baptism. See Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21 etc. The word of God plainly teaches that we are saved at baptism. What does the NIV teach concerning the point of salvation?
KJV “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness-, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
NKJV “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
NIV ‘”For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (emp., RK).
Now, at what point does salvation come? If one is justified when he believes, how could he still be in sin??? However, the NIV goes on to say that we are saved when we confess. It seems like the translators of the NIV couldn’t make up their minds. Such a rendering only adds to the confusion about the plan of salvation. It is obvious that these translators seek to promote salvation apart from baptism.
KJV “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation…”
NKJV “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation…
NIV “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth the gospel of your salvation.”
Here is another obvious example of tampering with the inspired text. By removing and inserting words of their own choosing, they further confuse the plan of salvation and provide a basis for their doctrinal bias that baptism is nonessential. When and how does one come to be in Christ? Is it at the point of hearing, or as taught in Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12-13 and Galatians 3:27 when one is baptized?
Surely by now you get the point. The NIV drastically alters the text of the Bible. There’s no telling how many thousands of inspired words have been omitted or needlessly altered. It is reported that some verses in the NIV actually represent less than 20% of the original Greek text.
One authority estimates that out of the 730,000, words contained in the NIV, 200,000 of them were added by the translators.16 Think of it- 200,000 words added to your Bible by translators, and you can’t tell which words are God’s and which words are theirs. No wonder they chose not to italicize the words they added. Had they done so, we who believe in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures would never have accepted such a concoction.
Based on the evidence I have observed in this study, I have come to two definite conclusions about the reliability of the NIV translators: 1. You can rely on them to change something in nearly every verse. 2. They will always be subtle in the manner in which they do it.
V. More Changes Planned For The NIV?
When will the Revised NIV be Published?
Recently, it has come to my attention that a well-known publishing company has been making plans to publish a revised edition of the New International Version. Based on information I received from the publisher and the International Bible Society, this new edition was supposed to be available in the year 2002. Although still in the planning stages, it was supposed to be designed to supersede the present edition of the NIV. In other words, the NIV that is now in circulation would no longer be available. Can you guess what plans the revision committee had for their new NIV? Would you believe a bible (I use the term loosely here) with gender neutral passages? That’s right- the next step, as planned by the revision committee of the NIV, is to neuter certain masculine references in the text of their bible. Based on the information I was given, selected passages containing words like he, his, man, mankind, etc., will be changed to meet the standards of the non-sexist language of today.
Unfortunately, the plans for their new masterpiece have been suspended, because based on their latest research, the “church” was not yet ready to accept it. Isn’t it comforting to know how much these people love the church and the truth? When the time is right, they’re going to furnish us with a thorough knowledge of God’s Holy Word. I wonder if those who embrace the NIV as their standard today, have considered where it will lead the church of tomorrow. How can we conscientiously place such a version in the hands of our children when we know where it is headed? I fear for our young people and for the future of the church.
VI. Some Thoughts About Dynamic Equivalence
As we begin this brief but important section, please keep in mind where we began. We began with the proposition that God controlled every word that came from the pens of the inspired writers. This is what is meant by the term verbal inspiration.17 We noticed in the beginning that God did not give those who recorded the Scriptures thoughts and then allow them to be expressed in words of their own choosing. If he had, the words of the Bible would not and could not be inerrant. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul taught lessons by hinging their argument on the very tense and form of a word contained in the Scripture (see Matt.22:31,32; Gal. 3:16). These and other examples, prove not only the inerrancy, but the importance of the words that God gave to men.
With this in mind, please notice the new and highly controversial method of translation which was used in formulating the NIV. This method is referred to as Dynamic Equivalence. Inherent in the Dynamic Equivalence approach is the determination that words and sentence structure are less important than the thoughts of the Bible “writers. ” Notice paragraph 5, p. I in the preface of the NIV. It says, “The first concern of the translators has been the accuracy of the translation and its fidelity to the thought of the biblical writers.” It goes on to say “…they (the translators) have striven for more than a word-for-word translation” (emp., RK). The first question anyone who reads this ought to consider, is how could any translator profess to know the thoughts of those who penned the Scriptures? Are these men mind readers? Second, does it not seem the least bit suspect to the reader that a translator of the Bible would minimize the importance of God-breathed words- especially knowing that God used the method of verbal inspiration in giving us the Scriptures?, It causes one to question whether these men even believe that the words of Scripture were verbally inspired by God. So far, I have yet to read a single statement by the translators of the NIV that says they do.
God, in revealing His Will to mankind, placed a high priority on words. This is obvious when you recall how He warned us about the serious consequences that would befall those who added to, subtracted from, or in any way, altered the words of His Book. The fact that His words are being translated into another language does not give men the right to do with them as they please. This is exactly what Dynamic Equivalence does. This is precisely why many experts are highly critical of this method.18 Some label it as down right dangerous, refusing to call it a translation at all, but instead referring to it as a paraphrase.
One writer said, “Dynamic Equivalence makes the mind of the translator, the culture and the understanding of the people more authoritative than the Word of God. To so translate the Bible is to rob the reader of his access and possession of the very Word of God.19 With this I wholeheartedly agree.
Knowing and understanding the importance that God has placed on words, and based on the fact that He used verbal inspiration as the method for revealing His Will, the concerned Christian should conclude that Dynamic Equivalence is a fatally flawed and invalid method of translating the Scriptures. Any method that sacrifices words that were breathed by God in order to maintain style and readability is in violation of God’s will. In my estimation, Dynamic Equivalence is simply a means to allow liberal minded translators to treat the Scriptures without the reverence and dignity they deserve. It allows men of questionable credibility the liberty of substituting their thoughts in the place of God’s words, and it still permits them the luxury of referring to their work as a translation instead of what it really is, a paraphrase.
VII. The Purpose Of A Translation
Sometimes people ask me to recommend a version of the Bible that is easy to read. They want to know what I think about the NIV. Well, I realize that some of our brethren have been extolling the virtues of the NIV for some time. However, based on the evidence that I have uncovered in my recent studies, I believe it to be sorely lacking as a reliable source of study. Yes, it is easy to read but so are a lot of other versions. One of my main concerns about using it for leisurely reading, is that the error it contains is extremely subtle. Unless the reader is very familiar with the true text of God’s Word, and unless he is very perceptive of all that he reads, there will be a slow but certain influx of erroneous ideas into his mind. In my opinion, the dangers of the NIV far outweigh the potential benefits.
Unfortunately, most people choose a translation (version) of the Bible for the wrong reasons. Readability, ease of understanding and popular opinion are among the primary factors that influence their choice. The truth of the matter is, most people don’t even stop to consider the purpose of a translation. As a result, accuracy often plays an insignificant part in their choice of Bible versions.
Perhaps the following comments will help to increase our understanding about the purpose of a translation. By incorporating the information presented here into our guidelines, we will automatically steer ourselves toward legitimate translations of the Bible and away from unreliable and inaccurate paraphrases.
Note: In the interest of space the material in this section of our study has been condensed. Please give careful consideration to the following statements.
-It is not the purpose of a translation of the Bible to comment on the text.
-It is not the purpose of a translation to make a text clearer than it is in its original language.
-It is not the purpose of a translation to attempt to give us the thought of the biblical writers. (See NIV preface, p. 1)
-It is not the purpose of a translation to promote denominational doctrines.
Any version of the Bible that takes on the above characteristics has stepped out of the realm of translation and into the arena of commentary.
In his book Translation or Paraphrase, Dr. Francis Steele made a very pertinent statement in regard to this subject. He said, “For a translation to be a legitimate one it should convey as much of the original text in as few words as possible, yet preserve the original atmosphere and emphasis. The translator should strive for the nearest approximation in words, concepts and cadence. He should scrupulously avoid adding words or ideas not demanded by the text. His job is not to expand or explain, but to translate and preserve the spirit and force of the original- even if need be, at the expense of modem colloquialisms- as long as the resultant translation is intelligible.20
He continues, “Certainly many words and even passages in an acceptable translation will benefit from a more extended treatment. But such treatment belongs in a commentary, not a translation. We expect in a translation the closest approximation to the original text of the word of God that linguist and philological science can produce. We want to know what God said- not what Doctor So and So thinks God meant by what He said, There is a great difference between the two, and we intrude on holy ground when we ignore the distinction.21
What Is The NIV?
The problem a lot of Christians face in regard to understanding the Scriptures is a failure to devote an adequate amount of time to Bible study. Because of the time it takes to uncover the meaning of what is sometimes a simple passage, many people have turned to modem versions. The NIV has become very popular with the religious world because people have been led to believe it is a “translation” that will meet their needs. Admittedly, the NIV is easy to read and understand. The question is, just what are you understanding? Most paraphrases and commentaries are easy to understand, but they are not the Word of God. It is one thing to read a commentary or a paraphrase with the understanding that what you are reading came from men. It is a whole other matter when someone places a commentary/paraphrase in a cover that says HOLY BIBLE in order to pass it off as the words of God.
I want to make it clear that I have no problem with reading a commentary or even a paraphrase in the appropriate setting. If a person wants to read and study the doctrine of Calvinism etc., they are certainly at liberty to do so. I do, however, have a problem with any book that masquerades as the Holy Word of God. I also have serious concerns when people read such books without realizing that what they are reading has been altered, fashioned and often times twisted by the minds of men who have ulterior motives.
It is my sincere prayer that all who examine this material will follow the admonition of Paul in I Thessalonians 5:21, “Test all things, hold fast what is good.” Today, I plead with you to think very seriously about what constitutes a translation of the Holy Scriptures. If you use the NIV, you need to examine and scrutinize its contents very closely. Then you need to ask yourself very frankly, is this really a translation of the Bible, or is it a paraphrase/commentary/ liberal version? Although there is much more evidence that could be offered, I believe the facts that we have presented in this brief study cause the answer to that question to be obvious.–4407 Georgetown Dr., Columbia, MO 65203
Printed for free distribution by concerned congregations and individuals of the Church of Christ.
1. Jay Green Sr., The Interlinear Bible, Vol. IV, preface p.vii.
2. Revision Revised, p.318
3. The Pulpit Commentary, Vol.XVI, preface p.ix
4. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, p.28 as quoted from Unholy Hands On The Bible, Vol.Il, p.277.
5. Gospel Advocate Commentary on Acts, pp.138,139.
6. From Ancient Tablets To Modern Translations, (Zondervan Publishing House) p. 175.
7. The Pulpit Commentary, Vol.XVIII, p.254.
8. Unholy Hands On The Bible, Vol.II, p.400.
9. lbid, p.406.
10. Although the word behold may be insignificant as far as doctrine is concerned, it is still a part of the biblical text which can easily be translated into meaningful English. The fact that other versions omit certain connector words that are without meaning in the English language is irrelevant. The Word idou was inspired by God and there is no justifiable reason to omit it from the text.
11. Commentary On Colossians, by James Burton Coffman, p.423
12. While some may argue that a feminine gender pronoun in this passage permits such a rendering, to my knowledge, no other major translation so renders this verse. Therefore, I believe this is a liberty that should not have been taken. Of course, this would be typical of the NIV. See #Vl, Dynamic Equivalence in this work.
13. Although certain denominational study editions of the KJV also include misleading footnotes such as deaconess, the reader should be aware that these were not placed there by the translators. Anyone, be they translators, publishers, etc., who implies such a position existed in the early church has highly questionable motives.
14. Article by Wayne Jackson, Handbook On Bible Translation, p.542.
15. Article by Gary W. Summers, Handbook On Bible Translation, p.755.
16. Unholy Hands On The Bible, Vol.II, p.222.
17. Article by David P. Brown, Biblical Inerrancy, p.22.
18. The Future Of The Bible, Jakob Van Bruggen; Differences between Bible Versions, Gary F. Zeolla.
19. Goebel Music, Easy To Read Version? p. 628.
20. Quoted from Handbook On Bible Translation, pp. 149,150.
21. lbid, p. 150.