The New King James Version
What about it?

by Martin A. Shue

The text of the Authorized Version (AV) of 1611 (King James Version) has endured the many years without any revision. Many critics of the KJV claim that there has been four revisions of the KJV. In this, however, they are being rather deceitful. Although there has been some updating of the spelling of words and minor typographical corrections the text of the 1611 AV has remained the same. Those who would ask such questions as, "Which KJV then is the Word of God?" do so only to try to confuse those that hold the KJV as the Word of God. By their statements they try to make you think that there have been major revisions to the KJV. This is simply not true! But this is really not what we want to look at in this article. What we do want to look at is the New King James Version (NKJV), which its translators claim is the "fifth revision" of the KJV.

I am quite frequently asked what I think about the NKJV from many people who recognize the modern versions (NIV, NASV, NLT, NRSV, etc.) as corrupt but who are bewildered by the NKJV. By its very name one can easily see the attempt to associate it with the King James Version. The New Testament in the NKJV was released in 1979 by Thomas Nelson Publishers followed by the whole Bible in 1982. Now unlike the other modern versions that follow the Critical Text the NKJV boasts the fact that it is based on the Textus Receptus (which the KJV is based). Despite this claim the NKJV ignores the Textus Receptus (TR) in over 1,200 places. Because they did attempt to use the TR the many omissions of the modern versions are not found in the NKJV. By reason of this many who reject the modern versions believe the NKJV to be an acceptable translation. But the question must be asked here, "Is it?". Although the translators claim that the NKJV is the fifth revision of the KJV it is not. As stated earlier, the four previous revisions did not change the text at all, however, this cannot be said of the NKJV. The fact is that it (NKJV) is a new translation of the OT Masoretic Hebrew Text and the NT Traditional Greek Text based on the findings of modern scholarship.

I feel at this point it would fitting to divulge that nine of the Ďscholarsí that produced the NKJV were also on the translation committee of the NIV. As you probably know by now the NIV was based on entirely different texts than the KJV, therefore, it is reasonable to assume that these nine translators would without doubt leave their impression on the text of the NKJV. This is no where more evident than the fact that the NKJV makes over 100,000 word changes from the KJV. It should be noted that a great number of these changes bring the NKJV in line with the Alexandrian (per)versions such as the NIV and the RSV. Where changes were not made in the text the NKJV translators under took the diabolical practice of footnotes. More often than not these footnotes give credence to the Westcott and Hort Greek Text. For more on the footnotes we quote the editors of the NKJV:

"It was the editorsí conviction that the use of footnotes would encourage further inquiry by readers. They also recognized that it was easier for the average reader to delete something he or she felt was not properly a part of the text, than to insert a word or phrase which had been left out by the revisers." [The New King James Bible, 1982, Study Edition, "The History of the King James Bible," p. 1235.]

This is truly one outrageous statement. Here the editors of the NKJV are encouraging anyone and everyone "to delete something he or she felt was not properly a part of the text". So if you are reading along and you run across something that you donít feel like should be a part of the text just feel free to delete it. Do you see how absurd that is? Godís Word is not to be handled in this fashion. Following is a few examples of the footnotes in the NKJV. Note - NU stands for Nestle-Aland and United Bible Society Critical Greek Text.


5:22 NU omits "without a cause"

6:13 NU omits "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."


2:17 NU omits "to repentence"

9:45 NU omits ""into the fire that shall never be quenched"


4:4 NU omits "but by every word of God"

9:56 NU omits "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy menís lives but to save them"


3:13 NU omits "who is in heaven"

8:59 NU omits "through the midst of them, and so passed by"

Please take note that this is only a hand full of the thousands of doubtful footnotes that are contained in the NKJV. In other instances they were not so discreet about their intent. For example, there are 66 omissions of the word "Lord", 51 omissions of "God", 44 omissions of "repent", 50 omissions of "heaven", 23 omissions of "blood", and the terms "devils", "damnation", "JEHOVAH", and "new testament" are completely omitted.

Now I would like to address some specific word changes that the NKJV makes. The editors of the NKJV claim they made the KJV much clearer by "updating obsolete words" (New King James Version, 1982e. p. 1235) Just what might be some of these obsolete words they are talking about? For starters how about the obsolete word "Hell". The NKJV replaces the word "Hell" all 23 times it appears in the NT with "Hades" or "Sheol". Now I ask you which is much clearer "Hell" or "Hades/Sheol"? What is Hades anyway? Well, my Websterís New World Dictionary defines Hades as: 1. in Greek mythology the resting place of the dead. How do you like that, by changing the obsolete word Hell they turn your Bible into Greek Mythology. I should also state that Hades is not always a place of torment. "The Assyrian Hades is an abode of blessedness with silver skies called "Happy Fields". In the satanic New Age Movement, Hades is an intermediate state of purification!" (The New King James Version: Counterfeit by Terry Watkins, as downloaded off the internet) Here are a few examples:

Matt. 16:18

KJV: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

NKJV: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

Luke 16:23

KJV: "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."

NKJV: "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."

1 Cor. 15:55

KJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

NKJV: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"

Notice there in the last example they decide that "grave" should be "Hades". Again, I will let you, the reader, decide which of these is "much clearer".

The NKJV also deals rather questionably with the Lord Jesus Christ. Following are some examples:

Matt. 8:19

KJV: And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

NKJV: Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go."

Matt. 19:16

KJV: And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

NKJV: Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"

Matt. 20:20

KJV: Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

NKJV: Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.

Acts 3:13

KJV: The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

NKJV: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.

Acts 3:26

KJV: Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

NKJV: To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." Note: I wonder where they got the idea to change "Son" to "Servant"? How about the NIV, NASV, NRSV, et al.

The attack continues.......

Acts 4:27

KJV: For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people

NKJV: "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

Acts 4:30

KJV: By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

NKJV: by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

It would also appear that the NKJV has been affected by the New Age Movement. The New Age Movement teaches that there is a series of "ages" hence their name "New Age Movement". Now the NKJV has joined with the NIV, NASV, NRSV, et al, in changing "end of the world" to "end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). It is also no longer "the world to come" but "the age to come" (Heb. 6:5). See Matthew 12:32, 13:39, 13:40, 13:49, 24:3, Mark 10:30, Luke 13:30, 18:30, 20:34,35, 1 Cor 1:21, Heb. 2:5. The New Agers and other cults are eagerly awaiting the Maitreya. The Bible identifies him as the Beast (Anti-Christ). The New Agers also refer to him as "the Coming One". Terry Watkins writes in The New King James Version: Counterfeit, "In "The Great Invocation", a "prayer" highly reverenced among New Agers and chanted to "invoke" the Maitreya, says, "Let Light and Love and Power and Death, Fulfil the purpose of the Coming One."" Now letís carefully notice what the NKJV says in Luke 7:19-20

"And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' "

The NKJV further shows its impact by the New Age Movement by changing "Godhead" to "Divine Nature" in Acts 17:29 (as does the NIV, NASV et al) Finally, the New Age influence can be seen in II Cor. 10:5 where they change "imaginations" to "arguments". Since New Age "imaging" and "visualization" has been accepted by many churches the reading found in the KJV just will not do.

The NKJV likewise makes some changes in scriptures that have to do with salvation. Consider the following:

Matt. 7:14

KJV: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

NKJV: Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Now they have made the way of salvation "difficult". There is nothing difficult about it for even a child can receive it.

I Cor. 1:18

KJV: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

NKJV: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Note: In II Cor. 2:15 they change "in them that are saved" to "among those who are being saved".

Heb. 10:14

KJV: For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

NKJV: For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

In the day when it has become socially and politically incorrect to speak negatively about sodomites (homosexuals) the NKJV, might I say, like the NIV, NASV and others, has removed the word sodomite from its pages choosing rather to use "more friendly" words such as "perverted one" (see Deut. 23:17) or "perverted persons" (see I Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; II Kings 23:7).

In this last part we will look at some changes made in several verses.

Acts 12:4

KJV: And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

NKJV: So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

Here they follow all the modern versions in changing "Easter" to "Passover" thus introducing an error into the text. We covered this in an earlier essay.

Gal. 2:20

KJV: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

NKJV: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

They omit the words in bold type --- "nevertheless I live".

II Tim. 2:15

KJV: Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

NKJV: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Here they eliminate the only command in the Bible to "study" the Word of God. Where did they get it from? You guessed it --- NIV, NASV, NRSV, et al.

The last verse I want us to look at is II Cor. 2:17. With the many "corruptions" in the NKJV you would naturely expect them to change this verse. Well, they did not let anyone down!

II Cor. 2:17

KJV: For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

NKJV: For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

This I suppose they did to ease their conscience of what they have done to the Word of God and to try to pass it off as the King James Bible. Shame on them!

As stated earlier this is by no means a complete list of the verses altered by the NKJV. It is because of these and many others that I consider the New King James Version one of the most deadliest Bibles out today. It tries to closely associate itself with the King James Version while at the same time being bosom buddies with the modern Alexandrian Bibles. It may benefit the reader to know just how the NKJV came into existence. As stated the publisher is Thomas Nelson Publishers. The Nelson Publishers sent out invitations to fundamental preachers all over the U.S. to come to a meeting to discuss new Sunday School curriculum. After the meeting began the Nelson Publisher representative informed them that the meeting wasnít really about Sunday School curriculum at all but was an attempt to secure their approval for a new Bible translation (the NKJV). Many of the preachers immediately let it be known that they didnít like to be lied to and neither did they need another Bible version and promptly left the meeting. Others stayed around and the result was the New King James Version. As you can see the NKJV was birthed in deceit and continues in deceit. It may be "NEW" alright but as you have see it sure isnít the King James Version.

Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. Psalms 119:161