Today, when I went to study my Bible I asked the Lord to show me His truths and to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to hearing Him. What I was shown next lead me on a three hour search for answers. This is what happened. I read the following verse in the NKJV edition of the Bible.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Then I read it in the NIV.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation
Notice anything different? An important doctrinal statement is missing in the NIV. The NKJV says that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but are walking according to the Spirit. In other words if you are still sinning (walking according to the flesh) you are still under condemnation. Say what?!? Read them both again carefully. The first one requires an action on our part. A conscious decision to not walk according to the flesh, but to walk according to the Spirit. But according to the NIV (and most modern translations) no one stands condemned who is in Christ Jesus. The NIV has distorted the meaning of this verse so much that for more than twenty years, Christians, myself included, have believed the only thing we need to do to be free from condemnation is believe in Jesus. But according to the KJV and other older versions of the Bible, we are still under condemnation if we continue to sin after believing in Jesus as our Saviour. Is this why Paul said that we should "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12)? Is this why Jesus said, "Away from me I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23)?
When I first became a Christian I mainly used a NIV. My church only used the NIV and the Bibles they had in the pews were all NIV. It has only been in the last ten years or so that I became wary of it. And I only became cautious because I started to dig deeper into Scripture and would from time to time discover discrepancies like the one above. When I started hearing about the "war" between KJV enthusiasts over all modern translations (particularly the RSV and the NIV) I didn't give it much thought. After all, if you are reading your Bible, does it really matter which translation it is? Well . . . I am starting to think that those who love the KJV have a point. When NIV translators (and others) delete relevant passages that actually change doctrinal beliefs, we have a problem. By changing Scripture the NIV translators (who also relied on the RSV) set the standard for future modern translations. So for more than twenty years this blatant alteration changed the doctrine and central teaching of most believers. This is a game-changer, because it is no longer saying, "I'm saved because of Jesus." It is now saying, "If I am a believer and I continue sinning (walking according to the flesh) and not walking according to the Spirit, I am still condemned." Could this be true? How do we verify this? By comparing Scripture to Scripture. 1 John 2:3-6 says, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." So then, it is clear we must walk according to the Spirit. But what happens if we stumble and sin? 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Alright, so we have verification that if we sin, confession is needed to be right with God once more. These verses seem to confirm that if we do not walk according to the Spirit, but continue to sin after confessing Jesus as Lord, then we are still under condemnation. For those in the Hyper Grace or Free Grace movements, you need to pay attention to this, because if you don't repent of your sins and confess them, you are walking in accordance with the flesh and its earthly desires. Which means you still stand condemned before the Lord. God will not be mocked. You cannot walk according to the dictates of your flesh and expect God to be happy with that. Matthew 7:21-23 confirms this, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"
Getting back to the verses at hand - when I saw the differences in them I immediately went on a search as to why and how it changed and which Bibles changed it. It came as no surprise that most modern translations have left these words out. So how did this happen? What Bible should we trust now and why?
In 1604, soon after James’s coronation as king of England, a conference of churchmen requested that the English Bible be revised because existing translations “were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original.” The Great Bible that had been authorized by Henry VIII (1538) enjoyed some popularity, but its successive editions contained several inconsistencies. The Bishops’ Bible (1568) was well regarded by the clergy but failed to gain wide acceptance or the official authorization of Elizabeth. The most popular English translation was the Geneva Bible (1557; first published in England in 1576), which had been made in Geneva by English Protestants living in exile during Mary’s persecutions. Never authorized by the crown, it was particularly popular among Puritans but not among many more-conservative clergymen.
The translators of the NIV used as their source for the New Testament a Greek Text based upon the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century. Both of which were missing huge sections of the New Testament that we know today. It is also known as the Alexandrian Text. It originated in Egypt and represented less than 5% of known Greek Biblical manuscripts, but unfortunately they were considered more authentic because they were “old.”
However, the King James Version of the New Testament manuscripts were copied century after century from earlier ones until they wore out. This text, called the “Received Text” or Textus Receptus (also known as the Byzantine text, Syrian, Antioch, or Koine text) was used in the King James Version. The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus may be lauded by scholars, but with so many deletions in the text the Textus Receptus is a far better standard to go by than corrupt copies – no matter how old they are.
Jay P. Green, Sr., General Editor and Translator of the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, states in his preface:
So do yourself a favour and stick to older Bible translations. They are far more reliable.