An “Unbroken Chain” of Papal Succession?

In 2013, the Vatican Information Service announced: “Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S. J., has been elected as Supreme Pontiff, the 265th successor of Peter.” The belief that Jesus started the Catholic church is based on apostolic succession – that a succession of Popes have descended from apostle Peter to the current Pope. Catholics believe all other churches cannot even be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense because they do not have this.

The idea that Peter was “the first pope” from whom a dynasty of popes emerged has no support in the Bible. In the absence of Biblical evidence, Catholic apologists clutch at early church history, employing tricks to make it validate their position. In a debate between Dave Hunt and Karl Keating titled, “Was the Early Church Catholic?” Mr Keating cited patristic works to support apostolic succession and papal primacy but his quotes were out of context. Here are 2 examples:

He said: “Clement, the 4th bishop of Rome, writing to the Corinthians in the year 96 said: ‘Our apostles appointed those who had already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that if they were to die, other approved men should succeed in their ministry.”

This quote was taken is from 1 Clement 44 and he omitted a sentence:

“Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.”

Notice that plural appointed ministers were referred to here. The “office of the episcopate” refers to bishops or overseers (Gr: episcopois) which is synonymous with elders (Gr: presbuterous). See Acts 14:23, 20:17, 28, Tit 1:5-7, Phil 1:1, 1Pet 5:1-5.

He also quoted Irenaeus: “It is necessary to obey those as we have shown have succession from the apostles, those who have received with the succession of the episcopate…”

This was taken Against Heresies 3:3:1 “It is necessary to obey the presbyters who are in the church – those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the Apostles. For those presbyters, together with the succession of bishops…”

Again, the source refers to presbyters/elders, not a pope. Both citations do not support his claims. This is one of the shortcomings of oral debates – a person can easily sway the audience with misquotes, rhetoric or body language. In a written debate, such slyness will not work. This is not a matter of being an erudite scholar. You can be a genius of all time, but if facts and truth are not on your side, you can be defeated by an infant who knows the truth.

Why apostolic succession is false

1. It is based on false assumptions. Catholics who try to make a case for apostolic succession have a whole set of unproven axioms which colour their view of Scripture and history. They:

a) assume Peter resided in Rome. If 1 Pet. 5:13 proves he was in Rome, then 1Cor. 1:12, 9:5 would also prove he was in Corinth. Neither passages prove he was resident in Rome.

b) assume Peter was the bishop of Rome. An apostle is a “sent one” and it differs from the office of a bishop. Being an apostle is analogous to being a prophet; it is a calling, not an office. That Peter was an apostle doesn’t automatically make him a bishop.

c) assume Peter was the first bishop of Rome who started the church of Rome. The early Roman churches (note the plural) were house churches made up of Jewish or Gentile members or both (Rom. 16:5, Acts 18:2). Peter didn’t start the church of Rome.

d) assume Peter was the “only” bishop of Rome. This is refuted by the fact that New Testament church leadership was pluralistic, not monarchical. A plurality of bishops (pastor/elders) presided over a local church. Whenever Catholics come across the word “bishop” in patristic works, they read their own idea of a monarchical prelacy into it whereas the idea of a single bishop presiding over a plurality of churches was not the early model.

e) assume Peter ordained a successor. He didn’t. Even if he ordained a candidate, that would make him a pastor, not a pope. Popes are elected, not ordained. If the apostles appointed pastors or elders, that doesn’t really make them successors. Ordination entails a succession in teaching, not a succession in authority. Take note also, that while Mathias was chosen to replace Judas, no one was chosen to replace James (Acts 12:1).

2. The belief is hinged on doubtful sources.

Irenaeus’ listings of bishops is said to be the “list of popes” who succeeded Peter. He listed Linus, Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter and Eleutherius (Against Heresies 3:3:4). First of all, the term “pope” or “papa” was generally used for all bishops from the 3rd century. It wasn’t until 1079 AD that the title was reserved for the bishop of Rome, so its anachronistic to use this list as a proof of papal succession.

Second, Irenaeus places Paul and Peter together as bishops without saying anything about the primacy of Peter. This list was compiled by Hegesippus and there was a reason it was presented:

“The first claim to a succession from the apostles in support of particular doctrines was made in the second century by the Gnostics…Hegesippus, an opponent of Gnosticism, compiled a list of bishops in Rome (Eusebius, H. F. 4.22.5f). Irenaeus of Lyons drew on the idea of the succession of bishops to formulate an orthodox response to the Gnostic claim of a secret tradition going back to the apostles.” (Everett F. Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 1999, 94-95)

Ireneaus’ list contradicts that of Tertullian (Praescriptione, xxii) in which Clement comes after apostle Peter. Interestingly, the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about “pope” Linus:

” We cannot be positive whether this identification of the pope as being the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 goes back to an ancient and reliable source, or originated later on account of the similarity of the name … The dates given in this catalogue, A.D. 56 until A.D. 67, are incorrect . Perhaps…Linus had held the position of head of the Roman community during the life of the Apostle … But this hypothesis has no historical foundation …The “Liber Pontificalis” asserts that Linus’ home was in Tuscany, and that his father’s name was Herculanus; but we cannot discover the origin of this assertion.”

The Vatican has published conflicting lists of popes from Peter which had to be revised. The earliest list is from the Liber Pontificalis (presumably first composed in the 6th century), yet even the New Catholic Encyclopedia says:

“But it must be frankly admitted that bias or deficiencies in the sources make it impossible to determine in certain cases whether the claimants were popes or antipopes” (1967, 1:632). The truth is, the Catholic “church” is yet to verify an accurate and complete list of the popes. The so-called “unbroken line of succession back to Peter” is pure fiction.

3. The nature of papal successions.

For apostolic succession to occur, each pope must choose his own successor and personally lay hands on him and ordain him. This was how Paul and Barnabas were appointed before they were sent forth by the church at Antioch (Acts 13:3). Timothy’s appointment to the ministry was also by the elders laying hands on him (1Tim. 4:14). This biblical procedure is never followed with regard to successors of Catholic popes or bishops. Papal succession has most often followed ungodly procedures:

a) Many popes were installed by political intrigues. During the Middle Ages, the papacy was owned by powerful families (e.g the Caetani, Conti, Orsini, Colonna etc). Pope Boniface VII, a Caetani, had to battle the Colonna to remain in power. In 1303, he was seized by the emissaries of Philip the Fair of France and Rome fell into French possession. As a result, the papacy was moved to France, and from 1309-77, the popes were French and resided at Avignon.

“From the 4th to the 11th century, the influence of temporal rulers in papal elections reached its zenith. Not only the Roman emperors, but also, in their turn, the Ostrogoth kings…attempted to control the selection of Roman pontiff. This civil intervention ranged from the approval of elected candidates to the actual nomination of candidates (with tremendous pressure exerted on the electors to secure their acceptance) and even to the extreme of forcible deposition and imposition.” (Cath. Ency. 11:572b)

That pagan rulers rigged papal elections proved that the popes weren’t chosen by the Holy Spirit.

b) Many popes bought the papal seat. Wealthy candidates bought their way to popehood (simony) or bribed their opponents to step down. Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) bought the papal throne with “villas, towns and abbeys…[and] four mule-loads of silver to his greatest rival, Cardinal Sforza, to induce him to step down” (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, 1988, 104).

The papal throne was so commercialized that John XII became pope at 16 and Benedict IX at 11, because their families were wealthy. As a Catholic historian notes “the Apostolic throne… was now bought and sold like a piece of merchandise.” When Benedict IX was tired of being pope and was eager to devote himself to his favourite lover, he sold the papacy for 1500 pounds of gold to his godfather, Giovanni Gratiano, who then became pope in 1054 under the name Gregory VI. Apostolic succession? No.

c) Many became popes through violence and murder. Gregory of Tusculum, a powerful warlord, used the power of the sword to install 3 of his sons and a grandson (one succeeding the other) as popes. When Pope Benedict IX fled his papal chair, John, bishop of the Sabine hills, entered Rome and installed himself as pope Sylvester III (1045). Then Benedict stormed back overpowered him and ruled again as pope (Dave Hunt, A Woman rides the Beast, 1994, 106). It is a mockery to call this “apostolic succession.”

In the 9th century, “popes scrambled onto the bloodstained [papal] throne, maintained themselves precariously for a few weeks – or even days – before being hurled themselves into their own graves” (E. R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes, 1969, 21). Pope Alexander V (1409-10) who was notably attended to by 300 females in his regal palace, was poisoned to death by Baldassare Cossa who then became Pope John XXIII.

At a point, there were 3 popes ruling over different portions of Rome which their private army controlled, until Emperor Henry III marched into Rome with his army and presided over a synod that deposed all three “popes” and installed Clement II, his own choice.

d) Papal succession has been influenced by sex. No less than 6 popes (e.g Pope Anastasius, Pope Lando etc) were put in their offices by a mother-and-daughter pair of prostitutes. A historian notes that:

“The influence of two prostitutes, Marozia and Theodora, was founded on their wealth and beauty, their political and amorous intrigues. The most strenuous of their lovers were rewarded with the Roman mitre…The bastard son, the grandson, and the great grandson of Marozia – a rare genealogy – were seated in the Chair of St. Peter” (Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1830, xlix).

That harlots – Theodora and Marozia – determined who became pope disproves apostolic succession. Marozia’s grandson, Octavian, also became John XII – a pope so obsessed with illicit sex that he was killed by a husband who caught him having sex with his wife!

4. The holy order quicksand

Only a valid priest can be a valid bishop and then become a valid pope. I use the word “valid” because there are certain conditions which can invalidate a person from receiving a lawful holy order. The New Catholic Encyclopedia (7:89) states that “the lawful reception of Orders demands outstanding and habitual goodness of life, especially perfect chastity . Solid possession of this latter virtue is an indispensable condition of clerical vocation and its presence must be positively evident.”

How can a person’s “habitual goodness” be verified? Do they read the minds of the candidates? How can “perfect chastity” be “positively evident” in males (since females don’t become popes)? How do they prove male virginity? Can you see the quicksand here?

The person administering the holy orders must also meet up with certain conditions: “the sanctity and dignity of the sacrament [of holy orders] demands for lawful and worthy administration that the minister be in a state of grace, free of ecclesiastical penalties” (Ibid, 7:88a).

How many priests or bishops, from the medieval period to this present day, meet up to all these conditions? By Rome’s own standards, there is a high probablity that they have been electing anti-popes!

When we also consider the fact that many popes were heretics, this automatically breaks the link in the apostolic succession chain. And if just one papal link is “missing” – whether by dubious records, political, sexual or simoniacal ascension to the papal seat – then the whole “unbroken chain of apostolic succession” becomes a grievious lie! Why Rome’s apologists still defend this falsehood was summed up by Ignatius of Loyola:

“That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner pronounce it black” (Rules for Thinking with the Church, Rule 13).

In God’s kingdom, however, truth is more important, and only those who love and embrace the truth will be set free (John 8:32).

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Facts About Bible Versions

How was the Bible preserved? Why are there many Bible versions? Do we really need them? Which Bible is God’s Word? Have these versions removed verses from the Bible? These questions have formed a crescendo in the church and have been fueled, in part, by a fringe movement known as “the King James Onlyism” (KJO).

The KJO crowd believe that “God wrote only one Bible, and for us today it is the Authorized Version-1611, King James Version.” They are aggressive and dogmatic about their claims and often appeal to wild conspiracy theories as support (I should know, I used to be one). Gail Riplinger’s dishonest and slanderous book, New Age Bible Versions readily comes to mind.

Another KJ onlyist, Steve Anderson and his friends, produced a New World Order Bible Versions movie, which repeats the same slippery-slope, conspiracy-driven, “the-sky-is-falling” arguments against Bible versions except the KJV – a tirade not easily dismissive as a laughable hogwash. Someone reviewed the movie noting that it “seems to be a direct plagiarism of the book New Age Bible Versions by Gail Riplinger…. [It] is nothing but a tiny, unprofessional version of [her book].”

This divisive controversy calls for presenting facts about Bible translations. When Christians are well informed in this area, they can easily make up their minds and not get caught up in fanatical conundrums.

Autographs and Manuscripts

The Bible was given by divine inspiration (2Tim. 3:16). “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost” (2Pet. 1:21). The prophets and apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what they wrote. The OT was written in Hebrew, the book of Daniel, in Aramaic and the NT in Koine Greek. The original writings, which have not been discovered, are called “autographs.”

The first time a person writes something, it’s called an original autograph. After then, it is a copy. For instance, there are no autographs of the 10 commandments, since Moses destroyed it (Ex. 32:19). But God gave him a copy of the exact words (Ex 34:1). This is the principle behind Biblical preservation – making exact copies of original writings. Scribes carefully copied the books of the Bible from the autographs into scrolls and preserved them.

These copies gave rise to use of manuscripts (meaning “hand copy”) which was necessary to spread God’s Word across the globe and reach people of different languages. Some manuscripts were materials like papyrus and leather which decayed quickly in damp climates, so original writings were recopied many times even within the Biblical period. Because of the climate, papyrus documents from this period were mostly preserved in a dry desert, cave or shelter.

In the first few centuries after Christ, the prevalent style of NT Greek was the uncial text. In later centuries, the form of writing Greek was the minuscule or Byzantine text. Because there are more Byzantine-style texts (dated to 8th-10th centuries) discovered than others, the Byzantine texts are also called “the Majority Text.”

While copying texts, scribes sometimes had difficulties writing their copies perfectly, thus, there were some textual variations in manuscripts – mostly spelling or numerical errors – which affected no doctrine. Bible scholars who made translations had to critically examine the manuscripts and get the earliest Hebrew or Greek copies available. The closer the text was to the time of the apostles, the more important. The number of manuscripts containing a verse was also considered. Through this manuscript tradition, translators could reconstruct the original readings and give a more accurate rendering.

The remarkable preservation of the Bible is a fulfillment of God’s promises: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Mt. 24:35). “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever” (Is. 40:8). These promises stands true for the Word of God in every language or translation. It is the height of irrationality to limit these Bible promises to a 17th century Bible version.

Erasmus and The Textus Receptus

All through church history, people have always had affinities for particular Bible translations. The first Old Testament translation into Greek – the Septuagint (shortened as LXX) – was made in 280 BC. It was used extensively in the time of Christ and the apostles by Greek-speaking Jews. Some people debated its use in the early church but it was later accepted.

When Jerome translated the LXX into the Latin Vulgate in 405 A.D, it sparked a controversy as the people preferred the LXX translation. This brought Jerome into disagreements with Augustine of Hippo. Later, the Latin Vulgate became “the only Bible known and read in Western Europe” for 1000 years! (David Schaff, Our Father’s Faith and Ours, 1929, 172).

The rationale behind Godly translations is to put God’s Word in a language or form that can be widely understood by people. The language we read the Bible is not important; what matters is that we read its inspired message in a form that we can understand and respond to. Moreover, since the Gospel is to be preached “to every creature” and “among all nations” (Mk. 16:15, Lk. 24:47), everyone can learn God’s Word in their own language without having to learn another language. Erasmus had this intention.

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) was a Catholic priest and scholar who had a different outlook. He said: “I vehemently dissent from those who would not have private persons read the Holy Scriptures nor have them translated into the vulgar [common] tongues…” (Preserved Smith, Erasmus: A Study of His Life, Ideals and Place in History, 1962, 184). He decided to produce a Greek translation of the Bible. He had 10 manuscripts: 4 from England, 5 from Basle and one borrowed from his friend, John Reuchlin.

These texts weren’t ancient (they were largely Byzantine texts). Reuchlin’s manuscript, the oldest, dates to 10th-12th century (Mangan, Life, Vol 1:374-375). When the work was completed, Erasmus dedicated it to Pope Leo X. Inspite of being based on ten not very ancient miniscule texts, his Greek text was later regarded as “Textus Receptus” (the Received Text) from which the King James Bible was translated.

Erasmus’ Greek text was criticized because the people were used to the Latin Vulgate. However, there were some problems with his work. In a bid to quickly complete his work, he added some margin notes from the manuscripts into the text of some verses (which eventually found their way into the KJV). The Reuchlin manuscript he used didn’t have the last 6 verses in Revelation 22, so Erasmus had to translate them from the Catholic Vulgate to fill the gap, and noted this in a footnote. This is how a blunder crept into the KJV wherein the “book of life” appears in Rev. 22:19 whereas, every extant Greek manuscript has “tree of life.”

First John 5:7 (Johanneum Comma) was also missing from every Greek text he had, so he omitted the verse. When his work was published, this omission sparked an outrage and charges of heresy were about to be levied on him. After some effort, he found the verse in a 16th century Greek minuscle 61 text (which he suspected was doctored) and eventually introduced it so “that there be no calumny” (Erasmus, 166). The Textus Receptus (TR) was later edited by Robert Stephanus and Theodore Beza.

Perfect Version Anyone?

Before the KJV, there were other English versions: the Tyndale (1525), Coverdale (1535), Matthew (1537), Great (1539) and Geneva Bible (1560). When King James I ascended the throne in 1603, the Geneva Bible was the people’s favourite.

In 1606, King James approved an English translation to be used in all the churches of England, which was easily understood by the people. The KJV was translated by 54 scholars and completed in 1611. In the preface, they wrote:

But how shall they understand that which is kept close [veiled] in an unknown tongue?…indeed without translation into the vulgar [common] tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) without a bucket or something to draw with…” (The Translators to the Readers, 4).

This proves that the KJV translators would not object to modern translations if they were intended to present the Scriptures in a language understandable to everyone. The KJV translators never claimed to have produced the only true Bible version, but rather stated that “a variety of translation is profitable for finding out the sense of the Scriptures.” They admit to consulting other “translators and commentaries” to improve on their work. Yet KJ onlyists attack those who use other translations!

The KJV was criticized in its time too. In fact, it took 40 years before it replaced the Geneva Bible which the people loved. The translators stated that “the very worst translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession … is the word of God.” Nowhere does the Bible teach that God will preserve His word only in form of a 17th century English translation. If the Geneva or Coverdale Bibles were not God’s Word, neither is the King James Bible. The KJV owes much to these earlier translations.

If the KJV alone was God’s preserved Word, then the great Reformation (1517-1603) took place without God’s Word and the KJOs can as well swim to Rome. This would also imply that German, Chinese or Twi Bibles are not Bibles, since the whole world must learn 17th century English and read the 1611 KJV if they would have God’s Word.

The KJV 1611 wasn’t perfect or inerrant since it “rapidly went through several editions, nearly all of which had changes in the text. The edition of 1614, for example, differs from the original in over 400 places” (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993, 730). The 1611 edition had the apocrypha books which were later removed. The 1613 edition (called the “Wicked Bible”) left the word “not” out of the 7th commandment, thus endorsing adultery.

For the KJV to be perfect in every word, the translators must have the same infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their translating as the writers of Scripture, but the translators never claimed inspiration or perfection for their work. They wrote alternate meanings “in the margins, where the text is not so clear.” There are over 8,000 alternate English renderings in the margins of the KJV. Why? Because the translators were not inspired to know the exact meaning.

For example: the KJV didn’t distinguish between the Devil (Gr: diabolos) in Matt. 4:1 and demons (Gr: daimonizomai) in John. 13:2. It also fails to distinguish between hell (hades) in Lk. 16:23 and the lake of fire (gehenna) in Mt. 5:22. It uses the pronoun “it” for the Holy Spirit in John 1:32, Rom. 8:16, 26 and 1 Peter 1:11. It renders the Greek word hierosulous in Acts 19:27 as “robber of churches” whereas it should have been “robber of temples.” Yet KJOs insist the KJV is more accurate than the Greek or Hebrew manuscripts!

The KJV’s obsolete English obscures the meaning of passages like 2Cor. 6:11-13, 1Thess 4:15, SoS 5:4 etc. It uses the word “unicorn” for wild ox, “satyr” for wild goat, “cockatrice” for common viper, “apothecary” for perfumer, “dragon” for monster and “shambles” for meat market. This was why newer English translations was necessary.

R. A Torrey sums up the Christian position on Bible versions: “No one, as far as I know, holds the English translation of the Bible as absolutely infallible and inerrant. The doctrine held by many is that the Scriptures as originally given were absolutely infallible and inerrant, and that our English translation is a substantially accurate rendering of the Scriptures as originally given.” (Difficulties in the Bible, 1907, 17)

The Modern Versions

In the 19th and 20th centuries, more Bible manuscripts were discovered: codex Sinaiticus (c. 350 AD), the Bodmer 14, 15 (c175 AD), Ryland 547 (c 125), and Magdalen (c.70-80). Thousands of pieces of manuscripts older than the Byzantine texts (which the TR relied on) have been discovered. These earlier texts became the foundation for modern Bible versions.

The main difference between the KJV and modern translations (like the NIV, RSV, NASB) is that the latter are based on more ancient manuscripts. Manuscript textual variation is another reason. These variants resulted from:

1. Copyist error – papyrus is not as clear as white paper, so a little imperfection on it can be mistaken for a letter.

2. Expansion of piety – a scribe, in attributing honour to the Lord may write “the Lord Jesus Christ” or “Jesus Christ” instead of Jesus.

3. Marginal notes – these were sometimes written to explain the text because one Greek word can have different English meanings. For example, John 3:36 (KJV): “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” The NASB reads: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life.” The Greek word apeithco has a primary meaning (disobedience) and secondary meaning (unbelief). The NASB chose the primary meaning, while the KJV chose the secondary. Both are correct because faith in Christ naturally results in obedience to Him.

4. Parallel influence – a scribe copying the epistles can come across a sentence in Colossians that looks like Ephesians. Though the passages do not read the same, he may be tempted to render them as same. For instance, Col. 1:14 and Eph. 1:17 read the same in the TR, but in earlier texts only Eph. 1:17 has the phrase “through his blood.” And KJOs still run around like chickens with their heads cut off, screaming “its a conspiracy to remove the blood!”

Translational differences also occur when there are no textual variations, but differences in sentence structure, grammar or influences of culture-centric words. The KJV used dynamic equivalents like in Rom. 3:4 which reads “…God forbid” (There is no “God” in the TR). The term “God forbid” was common in 17th century England. The NIV reads it as: “may it not be.”

Let’s examine some verses KJOs use to peddle their “sword-turned-butter-knife” rhetoric.

(a) KJV: “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” (Lk 2:33)
NIV: “The child’s father and mother…”

Is this denying the Virgin Birth?

No. In Luke. 2:48 KJV, Mary refers to Joseph as Jesus’ father. In John. 6:42, Jesus is called the “son of Joseph.” In Lk 2:27 and 2:41, the KJV talks of Jesus’ parents. If KJOs are consistent, they must also attack the KJV. That Joseph was called Jesus’ “father” is not a denial of the Virgin Birth. What do you think Jesus called Joseph?

b) KJV: “…Lo, I see four men walking loose…and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Dan 3:25)
NIV- “…like a son of the gods.”

Is this denying Christ’s pre-existence?

No. Nebuchadnezzar speaking here was a pagan who believed in many gods, so in context, “a son of the gods” is correct. While the pre-existence of Christ is well supported by the NIV, this verse is a wrong one to use as support. The fourth man in the fire was an angel of God.

c) KJV: “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)
NIV: Verse missing.

Is the NIV denying faith in Christ as a condition for baptism?

No. This verse is not in the NIV and others because only a very few Greek manuscripts have it- none earlier than the 6th century. Erasmus inserted it into the TR due to its presence in the Catholic Vulgate and the margin of one manuscript he had. Its also possible the text having it is lost.

d) KJV: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life…” (Mt 7:14)
NKJV: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life…”

Is the NJKV the devil’s bible for rendering this “difficult”?

No. The Greek word here is thlibo (Strong #2346). Out of the 10 times it occurs in the NT, the KJV renders it as “narrow” only here. Elsewhere: throng (Mk. 3:9), afflicted (2Cor. 1:6, 1Tim. 1:10, Heb. 11:37), troubled (2Cor. 4:8; 7:5, 2Thess. 1:7), suffer tribulation (1Th. 3:4) and trouble (2Th. 1:6). The term “difficult” is closer in meaning than “narrow.” The KJO argument is quite unfortunate.

e) KJV: “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus…” (Acts 4:27)
NIV: “…against your holy Servant Jesus…”

Is the NIV denying the Sonship of Jesus?

No. The Greek word there is pai (Strong #3816) and it means a male child, boy, a male servant, especially as a title of the Messiah. The “servant” rendering would be more correct since in context, Jesus ascended as a Man (not a boy), and the apostles were presenting Him as Israel’s Messiah (“whom thou hast anointed”). Both the Sonship and servanthood of Christ are taught in the KJV and NIV.

f) NIV: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.” (Mt 5:22)
NIV: Jesus “looked around in anger…” (Mk 3:5).

The KJV adds “angry without cause” to Matt. 5:22, while modern versions make Jesus out as a sinner under judgement. Modern versions have the word “without cause” (Gr: eivkh) in their footnotes since its found in a wide number of manuscripts. It seems it was deleted due to the seeming contradiction. However, if one reads Matthew 5:22 in context, its clear that Jesus was speaking of sinful anger or calling one’s brother a “fool.” He wasn’t speaking of righteous anger like His anger at the rebellious Pharisees.

In a bid to poison the well, KJO folks fault the NIV claiming Virginia Mollencott, a lesbian, was a part of its translators. Nice try. She was only a literary (stylistic) committee – not a translator – for a few months; and she resigned when her sexual view was exposed. Until the gay lifestyle of King James I invalidates the KJV, this moot point doesn’t merit a response (see King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire by David M. Bergeron).

The KJV (which I love and use) is a good version. In areas where it differ from modern versions like the RSV, NKJV or NIV, no doctrine is affected (except in cases of New World, Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version etc). They all present the gospel and the cardinal doctrines of the Bible – if one reads the entire text and doesn’t take an isolated verse here or there to prove a point.

A position maintaining that the KJV is God’s Word while others are not, is dishonest, incoherent and intellectual suicide. To tell millions of Christians saved and nurtured in the faith by the NIV or NKJV that they use the devil’s bibles, is harmful to the body of Christ. KJO advocates should stop making an idol out of the KJV and start studying its message, praying and living a Christ-centered life. This is more profitable than unnecessary divisions, accusations and foolish contentions (1Tim. 2:23-24).