Debate on Heb. 10:28

OK, Will, I'll cut to the chase. Here is undeniable proof that the King James translators made an error.

Hebrews 10:28 (KJV) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

The word translated as died here, apothneskei, is from the verb apothnesko, the present active 3rd person singular, indicative mood of the verb.

The same word in the same form appears in following verses.

John 21: 23 (KJV) Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

Romans 6: 9 (KJV) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Romans 14: 7 (KJV) For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

The error is in the translation of the word apothneskei as "died." In Greek, when a present tense verb is in the indicative mood the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time. The correct translation would be (in King James English) dieth (dies), but not died. It occured in the past, but is still occurring. The word is not in the aorist, perfect or pluperfect tense. It is not completed action, but in the present.

Thus, the King James translation is in error.



Hi Wayne, thanks for the example of what you think is an error in the King James Bible. I welcome the opportunity to examine examples like this that are frequently brought up to somehow try to prove an error in the Authorized King James Holy Bible. Unfortunately these alleged errors often take a lot of time to study out and respond to.

First of all it should be noted that the rules of Greek grammar are by no means as rigid nor as simple as many might assume. The Holy Ghost himself has often mixed up the tenses of many verbs even when relating the same events that occurred at the same time. There are many examples found in the synoptic gospels where in one a present tense verb is used, an aorist in another, and the imperfect in yet a third. See for example: Matthew 21:46 "But when they SOUGHT to lay hands on him" (present participle); Mark 12:12 "they SOUGHT to lay hold on him" (imperfect indicative) and Luke 20:19 "they SOUGHT to lay hands on him" (aorist indicative).

There are also many times when an aorist verb is translated by all versions as a present tense, and many times when a present tense is correctly translated as a past in English. Neither the Greek nor the English languages can be bound by a few simplistic rules of grammar.

A few of many such examples are the following: In John 4:1 we read in the KJB, NASB, NKJV, NIV - "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus MADE and BAPTIZED more disciples than John..." Yet both verbs "made" and "baptized" are in the Greek present indicative tense, just like the example you gave us in Hebrews 10:28.

In Hebrews 11:8 we have two examples in one verse of present tense verbs being translated as a past. "By faith Abraham, WHEN HE WAS CALLED to go out into a place...obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither HE WENT." Both the capitalized verbs are translated as a past tense in the NKJV, NIV, NASB and many other versions, yet both are present tense verbs in the Greek.

In Revelation 14:3 we read in the NKJV, NIV, NASB, KJB and many others: "And they SUNG as it were a new song before the throne" and yet this verb is present tense in the Greek.

Secondly, you have merely given us your opinion about how the verb "to die" should be translated in Hebrews 10:28. There are many other Bible translators with just as much if not more knowledge of the Greek language who have translated the passage as a past tense.

Apparently they believed the context of Hebrews 10 is contrasting the past Old Testament covenant of the law of Moses with the New Testament covenant of the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hebrews 10:9-10.

Not only does the King Jame Bible place the context of the punishments under the law of Moses in the past, but so also do the following Bible versions.

"He that despised Moses'law DIED without mercy under two or three witnesses" is also the reading of John Wesley's N.T. translation 1755, Daniel Mace N.T. 1729, the NKJV 1979 edition, the NIV 1982 and the TNIV 2001, Webster's 1833 translation, Green's Modern KJV 1998, New Life Bible 1969, Living Bible 1981, New Living Translation 1996, The New International Reader's Version 1998, Easy to Read Version 2001, God's Word Translation 1995, Worldwide English Version (not yet copyrighted), the KJV 21st Century Version and the Third Millenium Bible.

I know that commentators often differ from one another, but I checked several of them out and Adam Clarke, John Gill, Matthew Henry and John Calvin all commented on the passage as it stands in the King James Bible and not one of them attempted to "correct" the reading in any way.

Since you are a supporter of the Aramaic and Syriac Peshito versions, I find it ironic that you would criticize the King James reading here and yet all three modern translations of the Syriac Peshito read exactly as does the King James Bible.

The Peshito Syriac Version by James Murdock 1852:

"For if he, who transgressed the law of Moses, DIED without mercies, at the mouth of two or three witnesses"

The Peshito Syriac Version translated by John Wesley Etheridge 1849:

" For if he who transgressed the law of Musha, upon the mouth of two or three witnesses, without mercy DIED; how much greater punishment, think ye, shall he receive who hath trampled upon the Son of Aloha"

The Syraic Peshito Version by Lamsa 1933:

"He who transgressed the law of Moses, on the word of two or three witnesses; DIED without mercy"

Thirdly, we should notice the tense of the first verb in Hebrews 10:28. It is a past tense - "he that DESPISED Moses' law died." If the context were speaking of a present ongoing process still in play, wouldn't it make more sense to say: "He that DESPISES Moses' law dies"? Yet all versions say "he that despised (past tense) Moses' law". It seems the context is contrasting what was once the case under the Old Testament law, but is now no longer applicable under the New Covenant.

Wayne, the Greek grammar is not as simplistic as you would have us believe and many other translators have taken the context of Hebrews chapter ten as contrasting the Old covenant that God had done away with, and the New covenant into which we have now entered by the blood of Jesus. In view of these things, they have not incorrectly translated the passage as "those that despised Moses' law died."

Your position remains to the present that there is NO Bible in any language that is the inerrant, complete, inspired word of God. Your final authority is your own selective process of rummaging through different readings and picking the ones you personally prefer. The fact remains that you do not have any inerrant Bible that you believe to be the perfect word of God.

You have failed again to prove a definite error in the King James Bible.

Will Kinney