King James Only movement

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The First Page of the Book of Genesis in the 1611 printing of the KJV

The King James Only movement asserts that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is superior to all other translations of the Bible. Adherents of the King James Only movement, largely members of Conservative Anabaptist, Conservative Holiness Methodist, traditional High Church Anglican, and Baptist churches, believe that the KJV needs no further improvements because it is the greatest English translation of the Bible which was ever produced, and they also believe that all other English translations of the Bible which were produced after the KJV was produced are corrupt.

These assertions are generally based upon a preference for the Byzantine text-type or the Textus Receptus and a distrust of the Alexandrian text-type or the critical texts of Nestle-Aland, and Westcott-Hort, on which the majority of twentieth- and twenty-first-century translations of the Bible are based.


Christian apologist James White has divided the King James Only movement into five main classifications:[1]

Church sign indicating that the congregation uses the Authorized King James Version of 1611
  • "I Like the KJV Best" – Although White lists this point of view as a subdivision of the KJVO group, this is disputed by some. This group simply regards the KJV as a very good translation and prefers it over other translations because the church which it attends uses it, has always used it, or prefers its style.
  • "The Textual Argument" – This group believes that the KJV's Hebrew and Greek textual base is more accurate than the alternative texts used by newer translations. Many in this group might accept a modern Bible version based on the same Greek and Hebrew manuscripts which are used in the KJV. White claims that Zane C. Hodges was a member of this group.[2] Hodges considered that the Majority Text "corrects" the Received Text.
  • "Textus Receptus Only"/"Received Text Only" – This group holds the position that the traditional Greek texts represented in the Textus Receptus were supernaturally (or providentially) preserved and that other Greek manuscripts not used in this compilation may be flawed. The KJV is viewed as an exemplary English translation that is based on this Greek grouping of Bible manuscripts put together by Desiderius Erasmus, but it is also believed that other translations based on these texts have the potential to be of equal quality. The views of the Trinitarian Bible Society fit into this TRO division. The Trinitarian Bible Society does not believe that the Authorized Version (KJV) is a perfect translation, only that it is the best available translation in the English language.[3] The Society believes this text is superior to the texts used by the United Bible Societies and other Bible publishers, which use texts that incorporate as their basis a relatively few manuscripts from the 4th century, and some going back to the early 2nd century.[4]
  • "The Inspired KJV Group" – This faction believes that the KJV itself was divinely inspired. They view the translation to be an English preservation of the very words of God and that they are as accurate as the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts found in its underlying texts. Often this group excludes other English versions based on the same manuscripts, claiming that the KJV is the only English Bible sanctioned by God and should never be changed. White believes most KJV-Onlyists would belong to this group.
  • "The KJV As New Revelation" – This group claims that the KJV is a "new revelation" or "advanced revelation" from God, and it should be the standard from which all other translations originate. Adherents to this belief may also believe that the original languages, Hebrew and Greek, can be corrected by the KJV. This view is often called "Ruckmanism" after Peter Ruckman, a staunch advocate of this view.[5]

These classifications are not mutually exclusive, nor are they a comprehensive summary describing those who prefer the KJV. Douglas Wilson, for instance, argues that the KJV (or, in his preferred terminology, the Authorized Version) is superior because of its manuscript tradition, its translational philosophy (with updates to the language being regularly necessary), and its ecclesiastical authority, having been created by the church and authorized for use in the church.[6]

Although not expressly "King James Only", The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommends the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.[7]


Benjamin G. Wilkinson (1872–1968), a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, theology professor and college president, wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930) in which he asserted that some of the new versions of the Bible came from manuscripts with corruptions introduced into the Septuagint by Origen and manuscripts with deletions and changes from corrupted Alexandrian text. He criticized Westcott and Hort, believing they intentionally rejected the use of the Textus Receptus and made changes to the text used in translation using their revised Greek text based mainly on the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus.[8]

Gail Riplinger (born 1947) has also addressed the issue of differences in current editions of the King James Bible in some detail.[9] A lengthy critical review of her book New Age Bible Versions, originally published in Cornerstone magazine in 1994, authored by Bob and Gretchen Passantino of Answers in Action, described the book as "erroneous, sensationalistic, misrepresentative, inaccurate, and logically indefensible".[10]

Jack Chick (1924–2016), a fundamentalist Christian who was best known for his comic tracts, advocated a King James Only position.[11] His comic Sabotage portrayed a Christian whose faith was shipwrecked by the rejection of the King James Version as the Word of God, only to be rescued by another character's defense of the King James Version.[12]

Joey Faust, a Baptist pastor and researcher, is the author of The Word: God Will Keep It: The 400 Year History of the King James Bible Only Movement which documents a number of KJV Only proponents throughout history.[citation needed]

The 2015 Manual of the Bible Missionary Church, a Methodist denomination in the conservative holiness movement, states: "We wholeheartedly endorse the use of the Authorized Version (King James Version) of the Bible as the final authority in our English-speaking churches and schools. We also go on record as being opposed to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, The Living Bible, the New English Translation of the Bible, the Reader's Digest Condensed Version, the New International Version and the public use of other modern versions."[13]

The Church Polity of the Dunkard Brethren Church, a Conservative Anabaptist denomination in the Schwarzenau Brethren tradition, states: "To aid in Scripture memorization among our members and our children, to help avoid confusion and to promote sound doctrine in our services, the Authorized King James Version of the Bible shall be used in our Sunday School, Bible Study, and church services. Exceptions may be made where languages other than English are necessary."[14]


KJV onlyists often criticize how new versions do not feature some verses that are found in the KJV. For example, some of the verses in John 5 and John 7 are left out from modern versions.[15]

1 John 5:7[edit]

Most new versions do not have the Johannine Comma ("the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one"), because it is not found in any of the earliest manuscripts.[16][17] However KJV onlyists often defend this reading by quoting early church fathers, who sometimes used phrases similar to the reading. This reading is also defended by claiming corruption of the early texts, such as the Sinaiticus. KJV onlyists have also claimed that the absence of the reading causes a grammatical error in the Greek.[16]

For example Cyprian seemed to quote the comma, and this has been used by KJV onlyists to defend the verse:

The Lord says, "I and the Father are one;" and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, "And these three are one."

Acts 8:37[edit]

Most new versions do not have Acts 8:37, because it is not found in the earliest manuscripts.[18] KJV onlyists will also defend the verse by using quotes from early church fathers, such as Irenaeus, who seemed to know the verse, which predate the earliest manuscripts available:[19]

[Philip declared] that this was Jesus, and that the Scripture was fulfilled in Him; as did also the believing eunuch himself: and, immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, "I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God."

— Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.12.8


The KJV translates ᾅδης (hades) and Γέεννα (Gehenna) both as "hell", unlike modern versions of the bible which translate ᾅδης as 'Hades'. KJV onlyists criticize that the idea of Hades being separate from hell is an idea from Paganism and not biblical.[20]

Textus Receptus vs the Alexandrian Text[edit]

KJV onlyists often claim that the Alexandrian text-type is corrupted. KJV onlyists cite early church fathers as evidence for the corruption of the Alexandrian texts, for example Origen is cited to have said that there were changes made into manuscripts. KJV onlyists will argue that older readings are not necessarily better.[21]

B. G. Wilkinson of Washington Missionary College writes in his book Truth Triumphant:[22]

The Protestant denominations are built upon that manuscript of the Greek New Testament sometimes called Textus Receptus, or the Received Text. It is that Greek New Testament from which the writings of the apostles in Greek have been translated into English, German, Dutch and other languages. During the dark ages the Received Text was practically unknown outside the Greek Church. It was restored to Christendom by the labours of that great scholar Erasmus. It is altogether too little known that the real editor of the Received Text was Lucian. None of Lucian's enemies fails to credit him with this work. Neither Lucian nor Erasmus, but rather the apostles, wrote the Greek New Testament. However, Lucian's day was an age of apostasy when a flood of depravations was systematically attempting to devastate both the Bible manuscripts and Bible theology. Origen, of the Alexandrian college, made his editions and commentaries of the Bible a secure retreat for all errors, and deformed them with philosophical speculations introducing casuistry and lying.

John William Burgon opposed what he called the "two irresponsible scholars of the University of Cambridge" (Brooke Foss Westcott and Professor Fenton John Anthony Hort) and their revised Greek Text.[23]


KJV onlyists favour the Masoretic text over the Septuagint,[24] and KJV onlyists sometimes argue against the common belief that the New Testament quoted the Septuagint.[25]


KJV onlyists argue that copyright laws force Bible translators to make substantial changes to the Bible, in order to claim copyrights.[26]

See also[edit]

KJV-only promoters[edit]


  1. ^ White 1995, pp. 1–4.
  2. ^ White 1995, p. 5.
  3. ^ Watts, Malcolm H. (2007). "The Accuracy of the Authorised Version" (PDF). Quarterly Record. Trinitarian Bible Society. 578 (1): 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  4. ^ "The Text of the Bible used", Principles, The Trinitarian Bible Society.
  5. ^ White 1995.
  6. ^ Wilson, Douglas. "Hearers of the Word". Credenda/Agenda. 10 (1). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  7. ^ "400 Years of the King James Bible – ensign". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  8. ^ Westcott and Hort, The New Testament In The Original Greek (New York: 1882).
  9. ^ Riplinger, Gail A. "Settings of the King James Bible" (PDF). Our KJV.
  10. ^ New age vers. (book review), Answers, 9 August 2020
  11. ^ "FAQ's Concerning Bible Versions". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  12. ^ "A Critique of the King James Only Movement", James R. White, chapter in Translation that openeth the window: reflections on the history and legacy of the King James Bible. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. 2009. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-58983-356-2.
  13. ^ a b Manual of the Bible Missionary Church, Inc. Bible Missionary Church. 2015. p. 138.
  14. ^ Dunkard Brethren Church Polity. Dunkard Brethren Church. 1 November 2021. p. 7.
  15. ^ "Why KJV is the only correct Bible?". Real Bible Believers. 15 February 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7)". King James Version Today. 23 March 2022.
  17. ^ "What does 1 John 5:7 mean?".
  18. ^ "What does Acts 8:37 mean?".
  19. ^ "Should the Bible include Acts 8:37: '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.'?". King James Version Today. 23 March 2022.
  20. ^ "'Hell' or 'Hades' in Matthew 11:23 et al.?". King James Version Today. 23 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Aren't older manuscripts more reliable?". 23 March 2022.
  22. ^ Wilkinson B.G., Truth Triumphant: The Church in the Wilderness, Hartland Publications, (Rapidan, Virginia, 2004), p. 50.
  23. ^ Book review of John William Burgon's The Revision Revised. Review by J. H. Thayer, found in The Andover Review, Volume 1 (1884), page 458
  24. ^ "Does the Hebrew Masoretic text underlying the KJV have any errors?". Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Does the New Testament quote from the Greek Septuagint?". King James Version Today. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Why read the Bible in the King James Version?". King James Version Today. 21 March 2022.
  27. ^ Lewis, James R., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions (2nd ed.). Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-57392-888-5.
  28. ^ "Doctrinal Statement of Andersonville Theological Seminary". Andersonville Theological Seminary.
  29. ^ "Why the KJV". Chick Publications.
  30. ^ "Believing Witnessing Resource Tracts". Dial-the-Truth Ministries.
  31. ^ "What it Means to be King James Only - Pastor Steven Anderson". Strong Hold Baptist Church – via YouTube.
  32. ^ "Faithful Word Baptist Church – Phoenix, AZ". Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  33. ^ Which Bible? (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids International Publications. 1970. ISBN 0-944355-24-2.
  34. ^ "Kent Hovind - Why KJV ONLY ??? Why not other versions?". Jeff The Watchman – via YouTube.
  36. ^ Enemies of Soulwinning by Jack Hyles, pp. 46–47.
  37. ^ "What We Believe". Hyles-Anderson College.
  38. ^ Unholy Bible Versions of the New Age.[full citation needed]
  39. ^ "WHAT IS THE NEW IFB MOVEMENT?". The New IFB. Archived from the original on 21 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  40. ^ "Why King James Bible Only? Bible Questions with Michael Pearl - Episode 027". No Greater Joy Ministries – via YouTube.
  41. ^ "Spiritual Life FAQ". Pensacola Christian College. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  42. ^ New Age Bible Versions. Monroe Falls, Ohio: A.V. Publications. 1993. ISBN 978-0-9635845-0-2.
  43. ^ Ruckman, Peter (1990). The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence. Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Press.
  44. ^ a b Sword of the Lord, issue from Dec 27, 2019
  45. ^ Quarterly Record no. 578, p. 8.
  46. ^ Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.
  47. ^ "WCBC Doctrinal Statement". wcbc website.


Further reading[edit]

  • Anderson, Robert (1903). The Bible and Modern Criticism.
  • Ankerberg, John; Weldon, John (2003). The Facts on the King James Only Debate. Eugene, OR: Harvest House. ISBN 0-7369-1111-1.
  • Beacham, Roy E.; Bauder, Kevin T (2001). One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2048-2.
  • Carson, D.A. (1978). The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. ISBN 0-8010-2427-7.
  • Comfort, Phillip W. (2000). Essential Guide to Bible Versions. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 0-8423-3484-X.
  • Dewey, David (2005). A User's Guide to Bible Translations: Making the Most of Different Versions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-3273-4.
  • Macgregor, Alan J (2004). Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV and NKJV. Salisbury, Wiltshire, ENG, UK: Bible League. ISBN 0-904435-87-3.
  • Mauro, Philip (1924). Which version?: Authorized or revised?. Boston: Hamilton Brothers. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  • Paisley, Ian RK (1997). My Plea for the Old Sword. Emerald House Group. ISBN 1-84030-015-9.
  • Ryken, Leland (2002). The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN 1-58134-464-3.

External links[edit]

The Holy Bible: An Exact Reprint Page for Page of the Authorized Version Published in the Year MDCXI. Oxford: The University Press, 1833, "a scrupulous original-spelling, page-for-page, and line-for-line reprint of the 1611 edition (including all chapter headings, marginalia, and original italicization, but with Roman type substituted for the black letter of the original)" cited in Footnote d above. Complete pdf of the original book.