Let me start this and state from the outset, that I do not have any issue with the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. This is not an anti-KJV post but rather one to balance some of the arguments the KJV-only proponents have used to ridicule and malign some of the modern translations such as the NASB, NIV, ESV etc.
Just so it is clear, my position is this: that the version of Bible you use (be it KJV, NASB, NIV etc) is a personal preference and it will not affect your ability to live a godly life, your walk with the Lord, or your ability to win souls to Christ. Most of the modern translations are extremely accurate to the original texts in their original languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
The argument that the KJV is the only perfect version of God’s Word is incorrect and most of the arguments used to support that position are wrong, or disingenuous. As I complete other posts about the KJV-only issue, they can be found here.
John 5:3-5 is a passage which is regularly cited as proof that the modern versions of the Bible (such as NIV, NASB etc) are corrupt, evil, inspired by the devil etc. Why? Why would such accusations be asserted by a certain group of believers? Well, I guess it is because in these modern versions, verse 4 (and the end of verse 3) is either missing, or bracketed. Thus, the KJV-onlyism followers come out and accuse the translators etc of deleting the Word of God because it differs from the KJV. It simply never crosses their thoughts (or the suppress it) that the KJV might not be the most accurate translation in this instance. The premise of this group is that if it is not the same as the KJV, it is wrong. Which is ludicrous.
So, referring to this case of a missing verse in John 5. Why is it missing? The Bibles we have are translated into English from the Greek manuscripts that we have available. The KJV was based on Greek manuscripts available at the time (1600’s). Since that time, more manuscripts have come to light which are older than the ones used for the KJV. Often, they are the same or very, very similar (not always though). These older ones were missing verse 4. Did they delete it to? No…the Scribes who made those copies from copies of copies of copies etc did not include it because it was never in their copies that they were using.
John 5:4 does not begin appearing manuscripts until some of the ones dated after 500AD. A lot of the manuscripts dated after 900AD had it but often had a mark in the margin noting that there was some legitimate doubt as to whether this verse should be included in the text. If you consider that all texts dated 500AD or older do not have the passage, and the ones after this time often had a note suggesting doubt over it, the chances are the original gospel never had it either. In addition to this, the passage (according to scholars) has a pattern which is not typical of John’s writing or style.
So it seems the modern versions have been faithful to the older, more logical texts which tend to not include this passage. So you can hardly accuse them of emitting or deleting from God’s Word when it was not there to begin with! Saying it is wrong because the KJV has it does not cut it. The KJV included it because the texts available at the time included it…had they had the texts we have now, I have no doubt that they would have omitted it too.
Again, I have no problem if someone prefers the KJV…the same as I have no issue with someone preferring the NIV or the ESV or the NASB. But if someone says that any one of those translations is the only true representation of God’s Word and the others are corruptions or devil-inspired, then I have an issue.