NKJV Accusations and Defense

I came across this on social media, and thought that I should respond. 

The Claims

NKJV Problems
1. "God" removed 51 times.
2. "Lord" removed 66 times.
3. "Repent" removed 44 times.
4. "Damned" removed entirely.
5. "Heaven" removed 50 times.
6. "Devils" removed entirely.
7. "Blood" removed 23 times.
8. New readings match new versions.
9. Replaces Hell with Hades or Sheol.
10. NT alone removes 2289 words.
11. Over 100,000 total changes.
12. Eliminates "thees" and "thous" (less accurate and causes confusion)
13. Ignores Textus Receptus over 1200 times. 
Things that are different are not the same!

The Defense

1. “God” is used 4447 times in the KJV. 51 variations out of 4447 shows that roughly 99% of the time the translations are identical. Why are there differences? The KJV doesn’t consistently translate God, Lord, etc. For example, in Genesis 6:5, “Jehovah” which is usually translated as “Lord” is translated as “God”. Also, on a few occasions, the KJV inserts the word “God” when it isn’t in any Greek text. In Matthew 2:12, the Textus Receptus (TR) text which the KJV is translated from, says “divinely warned”. The KJV translated this as “warned of God.” The NKJV followed the actual Greek text. Probably the most famous example of inserting the word “God” into the text is Paul’s emphatic response to the question of continuing in sin with “God forbid” in the KJV. The NKJV more literally translates the Greek of the TR with the phrase “Certainly not.” In short, the NKJV varies one percent in its use of the term “God” not because it removes God from the Bible, but because it more consistently and literally translates the Greek text of the KJV. 

 2. “Lord: is used 7836 times in the KJV. Only 66 variations out of 7836 shows that over 99% percent of the time the translations are identical. The explanations for the small differences are very similar to those for accusation number one. The KJV is not always consistent in its translation. Also, the NKJV retains the shortened form of Jehovah, “Yah”, as a proper name, while the KJV translates it as “Lord”. Also, when humans are the subject, the NKJV translates as “master” or some other variations since in common English “Lord” is used almost exclusively for God. 

3. The NKJV only uses the word, “repent” when it refers to men repenting. Today when we speak of repentance, we usually use it exclusively to refer to turning from sin. The KJV uses “repent” to refer to any turning or changing. Thus in the “KJV” we find God repenting although He has never sinned. In reading these passages, the NKJV does not alter the meaning of the KJV, but does avoid confusing God “relenting” or changing course, and our repenting from sin. 

 4. “Damned” is not in the NKJV. Damned is a shortened version of the word “condemned.” Condemned and damned have the same meaning. Now, “damn” is commonly used as a slang word. The NKJV properly translates the THREE (that is right only three times in the KJV) passages that use the term “damned” in a way that more accurately conveys the meaning. If we use the word “damned”, most would think only of eternal judgment. While it can refer to that, this meaning does not always fit with the scriptural usage of the term. In Romans 14:23, the KJV says that those that ate meats but not in faith were “damned.” Were they eternally lost with no hope of salvation the moment that they did this? Of course not! They were condemned, but not to eternal punishment just yet. 

5. Heaven is omitted 50 times in the NKJV. This is easily explained. The NKJV translates the sky and space as “the heavens” instead of as “heaven.” This accurately distinguishes between Heaven and space and is consistent with our modern limited usage of the word “Heaven.”

6. How many devils are there? We use “devil” primarily to refer to Satan, an individual evil spirit being. There are other evil spirits mentioned in the Bible. The NKJV identifies them as “demons.” 

7. There isn’t a single reference to the blood of Christ that I found missing. There isn’t a single reference to the blood of OT sacrifices that I found missing from the NKJV. The first example of the term "blood" being omitted that I found is in Genesis 9:5. The KJV says “blood of your life” while the NKJV says “lifeblood.” The next occurrence is Exodus 22:2 when the KJV says “blood be shed” while the NKJV compromises and says “bloodshed.” Even worse (TIC) is the way the NKJV mangles the next verse when the KJV says “blood shed” while the NKJV says “bloodshed.” (Yes, this was counted because the KJV puts a space between the words.) After skimming through a parallel list of each time the word “blood” is used in the KJV, the biggest difference that I can see is when the KJV uses “blood” to refer to a “bloodline or lineage.” The NKJV translates this as “bloodline” but leaves a footnote that it literally should be translated as “blood.” (Example: Ezekiel 19:10)

 8. The NKJV aligns much more with the KJV than any other translation. Actually, this is probably the biggest criticism that it receives. Many feel that the translators intentionally followed the KJV at times when the passage could be translated more accurately and clearly if they had deviated from the KJV. The language of the NKJV is more modernized like other more modern versions, but that should be expected in the NEW!!!!!! KJV. 

 9. The NKJV replaces the word “Hell” with the words “Hades” and “Sheol.” Actually, the NKJV doesn’t replace anything. Many times it simply doesn’t translate these original words because they don’t always necessarily refer to the place of eternal punishment. They can simply refer to the grave. The translators of the KJV understood this as well. For example, in Genesis 42:38 Jacob says if anything happens to Benjamin the sorrow will cause his soul to go to “Sheol.” Obviously he was referring to dying so the term is translated in the KJV not as "hell" but as “grave.” However, there are times when the meaning is not as clear. Instead of making difficult judgment calls and possibly translating inaccurately, the NKJV faithfully records what was written and allows the reader to interpret for himself with the aid of context and hopefully the direction of the Spirit. 

If I wasn’t worried about messing up some good messages about Jesus going to Hell for three days, I would have cited Acts 2:27 as a possible example. The psalmist says that the “Holy One” would not remain in “Sheol/Hades” and his body would not see corruption. If this is an example of parallelism, both statements are saying the same thing and escaping Hades is the same as the body not decaying. You may disagree and believe that Jesus did in fact face off with the demons (or devils for KJVO’s), but don’t you think that you should be the one that determines your understanding of the verse instead of a translator going beyond the text to do it for you? 

 10. Since no particular verses are cited to identify the 2289 words that are removed, I will have to make a general statement concerning the NKJV in comparison to the KJV. The words that were removed were simply replaced with more modern words with the same meaning. What part of NEW in NKJV is so hard to understand? 
 11. Again the same response as number 10. There are not 100,000 changes of any magnitude. The texts are nearly identical except the NKJV is easier to understand because it is modernized. 

 12. "Thees" and "thous" are eliminated. That is kind of the point. Most KJV readers don’t know the difference between “thee” and “thou” so the distinction is lost to them. Almost without fail the context makes it very plain if the subject is singular or plural. KJV readers who lack a working knowledge of this ancient English grammatical distinction (most of them) and NKJV readers both depend on their understanding of the text to determine whether the subject is singular or plural. Unfortunately archaic words and tenses tend to lower comprehension so NKJV readers probably have an advantage over their KJVO counterparts in accurately making this determination. 

 13. Examples aren’t cited, but KJVOs (King James Version Only) have been proven to be very dishonest when discussing the NKJV.  Any translation that is readable must deviate from the text to some degree when being translated from one language to another. This is true not only of the NKJV but also the KJV. Generally the KJV and NKJV are considered to be equally literal and faithful to the Greek Textus Receptus (TR) . I believe it is safe to say that both are very accurate translations.

One of the KJVO's tricks is to use the NKJV's footnotes to misconstrue what the actual text says. The body of the NKJV follows the TR, but it denotes when the Majority Text or Critical Text deviate from the TR. A footnote is added with the variant reading. I have one of the most prominent KJVO author's books and her statements almost criminally defame the product and its translation team. Her book makes it appear that the NKJV chooses the variant reading in the footnote.

For example:

Romans 16:24
KJV The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
NKJV The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen

The texts are identical. However the NKJV does include the following footnote at the bottom of the page.: *Romans 16:24 NU-Text omits this verse. 

How does the author portray this? She graphically equates the NKJV, which reads identically to the KJV, with the Jehovah Witness Bible and the Catholic Bible. This is dishonest!


Many of the statements that are made concerning Bible translations are false. They are at best misrepresentations, but are probably best described as lies. These authors are making money playing off people's fear and preying on their love for God's Word. Sadly, I've seen respected teachers in leading churches teach and even reproduce materials with these same misrepresentations of facts. 

I've stated many times my preference for the TR/MT (basis for the KJV, NKJV, MEV) family of manuscripts over the NU/CT (basis for the NIV, NLT, ESV). However, I don't believe that everything is a conspiracy from hell. I don't believe that these translations can't be used as tools to help comprehend the Scriptures. I don't think we help our cause by misrepresenting the truth and attacking any attempt to modernize our beloved KJV. 

I believe that we should at least have a rudimentary knowledge concerning Bible versions and avoid internet hysteria. We should be grateful for all the tools that we have at our disposal while also being educated on the significant issues and the relatively few textual differences between translations.