One of the favorite verses used by advocates of King James Onlyism is Revelation 22:18-19 which says, “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.” (KJV). Here are a few pastoral responses to the King James Only people’s misuse of this verse:
- I agree that no one should add or take away from God’s Word.
- That’s not the issue here. We’re talking about translation of the original text into English.
- If the KJV contains verses not in the original manuscripts then it is guilty of violating this verse.
- There were other English translations before the KJV. Those who used those translations could have used the same argument against the KJV.
- The KJV itself has gone through a number of editions. The currently used edition differs substantially from the original 1611, thus it should be rejected as adding and taking away from God’s Word by this standard.
- Rev. 22:18 is technically about the book of Revelation “this prophecy” not the whole Bible.
- To use this verse to argue KJV only is to assume that the KJV is the original and that everything else is a distortion of the original.
- We have access to thousands more (and older) Greek manuscripts than the translators of the KJV had access to. Scholars use these manuscripts to try and produce a translation which is closer to the original. It can be argued that the modern translations are closer to the original than the KJV, thus the KJV may be guilty of adding and taking away from God’s Word.
- We should strive for the most literal, accurate, and readable translation possible. This is the best way to express the spirit of Revelation 22:18, not by requiring people to read from a translation which uses archaic words which they cannot understand.
For more of what I have written on the necessity, purpose, and history of Bible translations see here.