The Reformation Bible

Jeffrey Khoo

No Bible, no Reformation! “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). It was God’s Word that brought about the 16th Century Protestant Reformation. The Reformation did not happen by chance or by accident. It was a special event preplanned by God and it finally happened in God’s perfect time. According to Church historian Philip Schaff, “The Reformation of the 16th Century is, next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history.” Just as the Lord Jesus Christ came miraculously in “the fullness of the time” (Gal 4:4), so did the Reformation. In light of biblical precedents and special providence (providentia extraordinaria), the Protestant Reformation was a “miracle event” from God.

The Reformation fire was lit by the Light of God’s Word. The Word of God had to be put into the hands of the common folk. The Lord used His servants like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, and finally the King James translators to put the Bible into the hands of the people in the pew so that they might know the truth, and the truth shall make them see and set them free (John 8:32).

A Good Fruit of the Reformation

The Authorised or King James Version (AV/KJV) is built upon all the Reformation versions (Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva etc) of the English Bible and is providentially the best of all the English versions. It has stood the test of time and blessed many millions all over the world for nearly 400 years.

There are four reasons why the KJV is superior:

It is Based on the Perfectly Preserved Text

All Christians should believe in the inspiration and preservation of the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16, Ps 12:6–7). Jesus used the OT Scriptures during His earthly ministry, and considered every word of it to be inspired. In Matt 5:18, He said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” This surely implies that the Hebrew Scriptures have been preserved through the centuries, to the extent that every bit of it has been left intact. If God has so preserved the words of the OT Scriptures so that none of them is lost, will He not also preserve the NT Scriptures? Based on God’s promises and power, we can say with confidence that we have the very Word of God today in the divinely preserved Hebrew and Greek texts (or words) on which the KJV is based.

It is Translated by Godly and Able Scholars

The King James Version is an excellent translation of the Holy Scriptures. It is a good fruit. It is a good fruit because it comes from a good tree (Matt 7:15–20). The KJV is a good translation because of good translators; in terms of their intellect and learning, they were brilliant; and in their faith and devotion towards God, they were vibrant. There were a total of 54 scholars of the highest rank who translated the KJV. They were not only men of great learning but also of great piety. They were skilled in the biblical languages, and lived in a period when the English language was at its glorious height. It was a most providentially opportune time to translate the Scriptures into the English tongue. They began their work in 1604 and completed it in 1611—a total of seven years. Without doubt, the KJV is a result of God’s special providence.

Consider Alexander McClure’s “Evaluation of the KJ Translators and Translation.” He wrote, “As to the capability of those men, we may say again, that by the good Providence of God, their work was undertaken in a fortunate time. Not only had the English language, that singular compound, then ripened to its full perfection, but the study of Greek, and of the oriental tongues, … had then be carried to a greater extent in England than ever before or since. … it is confidently expected that the reader of these pages will yield to the conviction, that all the colleges of Great Britain and America, even in this proud day of boastings, could not bring together the same number of divines equally qualified by learning and piety for the great undertaking. Few indeed are the living names worthy to be enrolled with those mighty men. It would be impossible to convene out of any one Christian denomination, or out of all, a body of translators, on whom the whole Christian community would bestow such confidence as is reposed upon that illustrious company, or who would prove themselves as deserving of such confidence” (Translators Revived, 63–4).

It is Accurately Translated Word for Word

The KJV employs a correct method of translation. The KJV uses the verbal/formal over against the dynamic equivalence method of translation. The verbal/formal equivalence method is the only acceptable method for the translation of the Holy Scriptures. Why? Simply because the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God!

God issued a very serious warning in Rev 22:18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” In any attempt to translate the Scriptures, it is paramount that there should be no addition to, subtraction from, and changing of God’s Word. It must be translated word for word without any alteration of its divine sense or intent.

The dynamic equivalence method is a subjective and interpretive thought-for-thought method. Such a method may be applied to human literature, but certainly not Holy Scripture. The Bible’s divine origin and its verbal inerrancy forbid it. “Virgin” must be translated “virgin,” and not “young woman” (as in the RSV), and “blood” must be translated “blood,” and not “death” (as in the TEV), and “only begotten” must be translated “only begotten,” and not just “one and only” (as in the NIV).

It is Faithful to Historic Protestant Theology

The KJV preserves all the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith like the (1) Inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16), (2) Preservation of Scripture (Ps 12:6–7), (3) Virgin Birth of Christ (Isa 7:14), (4) Eternal Generation of Christ (John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9), (5) the Holy Trinity (1 John 5:7–8), (6) the deity and humanity of Christ (1 Tim 3:16), and many others. The modernistic 20th century versions on the other hand have unfaithfully manipulated these biblical texts to change or corrupt these and other fundamental truths of the Christian faith.

One fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith that is undermined or attacked by the modern versions is the doctrine of the Trinity. They attack this important doctrine by scissoring out the clearest proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity which is 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Some will argue that the absence of 1 John 5:7 does not affect the doctrine of the Trinity because there are many other biblical passages that teach it. The doctrine to them is thus not lost. While the doctrine may not be lost, a very strong testimony for it has surely been. Which other scriptural passage is as crystal clear as 1 John 5:7 in expressing the unity of the three Persons of the Godhead? We lose a very valuable proof-text by such flippant statements against the traditional preserved text in favour of the critical cut-up text. This is not a small matter as some would like to think. Paul warned, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal 5:9). By faith in God’s promise of perfect preservation of not just His doctrines but also His words to the last iota (Matt 5:18, 24:35), we believe 1 John 5:7 to be the inspired words of God as given in the original.

A Return to the Reformation

In an age when the pressure to be popular, to compromise, and to backslide is so great, there is a real need to remember and to return to the old-time faith of the Protestant Reformation as expressed in the biblical dicta of Grace alone, Faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, and to the Glory of God alone. In this postmodern and apostate age of uncertainty and unbelief, the temptation is great to denounce the forever infallible and inerrant Word of God as found in the 100% inspired and 100% preserved Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words of the Reformation Bible and the KJV, and to renounce the Protestant Reformation as a mistake in the history of the church.

But true Protestant sons and Bible-loving Christians should resist the seduction of ecumenical unity at the expense of truth, and the temptations of a neo-deistic worldview that denies the present perfection of the Holy Scriptures.

What of the many new and modern versions of the Bible today? Albert Einstein once said, “A man with one watch knows what time it is, a man with two watches is never sure.” Allow me to apply Einstein’s words to the Bible, “A Christian with one Bible knows what the Truth is, a Christian with two Bibles is never sure.” Let us be sure of God’s Truth by returning to the good old Bible, the one Bible of the great Protestant Reformation, which we have in our hands today!