Why I Quote The NIV Bible

by Graham Pockett

In most of my writings I quote from the NIV (New International Version) Bible. Why do I do this when there is a ‘tried and true’ version available in the KJV (King James version)? The basis of the text below was a response to a Christian who considered my use of the NIV to be heretical, if not satanic. I hope it answers your questions (maybe before you even asked them!).

A few Christians have questioned my use of the NIV Bible. One person said to me that “we have the true and infallible word of God in the Authorized or KJV and the use of any other version is heretical”.

Let me set the record straight – the KJV is like every other version of the Bible, simply a translation. It has errors as do all versions, both ancient and modern. Translations are just that, translations – none are the original.

Unfortunately, we do not have original manuscripts of the various books of the New Testament but we do have fragments of very early manuscripts (back to about 110AD) plus many complete texts from after 200AD. In most cases, the earlier the manuscript the more accurate it should be, though there are some early manuscripts, from specific regions, which were clearly flawed. We don’t know if this was deliberate (to make them fit an existing heresy) or just poor copying. Prior to the Nicean Council of 325AD there were numerous heresies within the church.

We also have quotes from New Testament writings found in many letters sent between Christians from about 50AD. I understand that you can read the entire New Testament from the quotes collected up to 200AD! Not only were there quotes directly from the New Testament writings but there were many references to events in the New Testament – for example the solar “eclipse” which occurred when Jesus died on the cross.

According to Dr Dale Robbins (Why So Many Bible Translations?):

    “The KJV New Testament (and all editions since Tyndale) was compiled primarily from the Byzantine family of manuscripts (AD 500 – 1000) frequently referred to as the Textus Receptus. But many of the newer translations were produced using a composite of later discoveries of other manuscripts and fragments dating from an earlier period. Among such are The ‘Alexandrian Family’ manuscripts (AD 200 – 400) which include the three oldest The Codex Alexandrius, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, all which were major contributors to most Bible versions after the King James version.”
Which manuscripts (usually abbreviated to MSS) are the ‘right’ ones? Probably none of them because none are original. However, the Textus Receptus MSS does have some problems from a translator’s point of view according to Bible linguist Charles V Taylor (who wrote “Bibles With Holes?”, “The Oldest Science Book In The World”, “Did God Really?”, “The Creator Is Coming”, “Churches Aglow Down The Ages”, et al plus numerous articles). Dr Taylor points out that when dealing with Holy works (of any faith), copyists tend to add explanation rather than remove words. This is because the words are considered Holy and therefore must never be removed (cf Rev 22:19), though adding words of explanation was often considered acceptable.

“Words, phrases and concepts which meant one thing to a 17th Century reader often mean something totally different to a 20th Century reader.”

If you check most of the verses ‘missing’ from the NIV and other modern Bibles you will find, in nearly every case, they were an explanation of the previous verse – which makes those verses more likely to have been added by a copyist rather than deleted by a translator. This makes the ‘Alexandrian Family’ of manuscripts more likely to be closer to the original than the Textus Receptus (Byzantine Family) manuscripts, which is why they have been chosen by the later translators. So when someone tells me that the KJV has 790,704 words and the NIV has “only” 726,606 words then I feel even more confident in my choice of Bible translation.

But simply looking at the total number of words is meaningless because the language between the KJV and the NIV are so different – one is 17th Century English and the other is 20th Century English. Words, phrases and concepts which meant one thing to a 17th Century reader often mean something totally different to a 20th Century reader. What does “suffer little children to come unto me” mean to you? Do you want the children to only come to Jesus if they are in pain or suffering? Or maybe they come to Jesus so they will suffer? I don’t think so. The KJV says in Luke 18:16...

    Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of God.
While the NIV says:
    Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Which renders the verse ‘best’? At least the NIV makes sense to a modern reader!

But modern Bibles can be just as ‘wrong’ as older versions. In John 2:1 the NIV says:

    On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there...
and the KJV says:
    And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there...
But what does this mean? Did it take Jesus three days to walk to Cana? If so, from where? The translation is ‘wrong’ in a modern English sense because, in many cultures (specially Greek), days of the week are numbered so “the third day” simply means “Tuesday” (the first day of the week is Sunday). A sensible modern translation would be “On Tuesday a wedding took place...”

“This is the dilemma of all translators – specially if they are translating Holy books.”

So the act of translation itself can cause problems. When the original says “on the third day” should we accept that and translate it literally, or should we render it so that it makes the same sense to us as it did to the 1st and 2nd Century audience it was written for? This is the dilemma of all translators – specially if they are translating Holy books.

In French the adjective follows the noun rather than precedes it so that the phrase “the green door” becomes “the door green” in French. If you were translating either from or to French which would you use? Would you say that the phrase must be rendered exactly (ie word-for-word) or would you agree with most translators and say that it must be rendered into its equivalent phraseology for the target audience. And if you did translate word-for-word, would the resultant translation be ‘more accurate’? Alas, no. In fact, in many cases there are no direct translations so equivalent English phrases must be substituted so that the correct tense and concept is portrayed.

The translation from ancient Greek (specially when the New Testament ancient Greek had an Aramaic accent!) to modern English is therefore not just a matter of taking one word and translating that single word into English – you must try and render a phrase into a correct rendition of what the original writer meant when he or she wrote it as if they they were writing in modern English. Not so easy...

But there are even more potential problems when an English translation of ancient Greek text has to be also rendered into a rhyming style, as was the KJV. This adds another barrier to accurate translation because the translator must translate into prose. What liberties must be taken with the original for this to be accomplished?

“I wonder if the Christians who used the Geneva Bible of 1560 complained loudly about the “heretical new KJV Bible” when it was first introduced?”

The problems with translations are compounded because, if the publisher of a modern translation wants his version to be accepted by people who have been reading an older version, he has to make it compatible with that version. What translation errors have there been since Tyndale’s Bible, faithfully reproduced so that existing readers are not alienated by an apparent change in doctrine. While the NIV had the KJV to work from, so the KJV had previous versions which it had to be compatible with. Going back to Dr Robbins:
    “After Tyndale, several other famous Bibles were produced in the 16th century. The Cloverdale Bible in 1535, Matthew’s Bible in 1537, The Great Bible in 1539, The Geneva Bible in 1560 (the first to use chapters, verses, and the italicization of added words), and the Bishops Bible in 1568.”
In fact, some 80% of the KJV was copied from the Geneva Bible. It is clear, then, that the KJV really was ‘just another English translation’, excellent when it was written (specially considering the limited number of manuscripts available at that time) but still ‘just a translation’ – just like the NIV and other modern Bibles... I wonder if the Christians who used the Geneva Bible of 1560 complained loudly about the “heretical new KJV Bible” when it was first introduced?

How about the foreign language versions of the Bible? Are they too somehow inferior because they aren’t the KJV? Should a Chinese-speaking Christian be forced to read the KJV because it is “the only true and infallible word of God”?

So which version is right? As Christians, let us not get into dispute over this because I really don’t believe it is important. What is important are the core teachings in the Word, and these do not change between any of the major versions of the Bible (not counting the New World Translation, a Jehovah Witness version which is deliberately flawed to follow the teachings of that cult).

“With the recent publication of several different books villifying modern translations, asserting that they were borne out of conspiratorial motives, a word should be mentioned about this concocted theory.” (Daniel B. Wallace)

Finally, if you think that the NIV and other modern versions are somehow the work of Satan (or non-Christian humanists) then I urge you to read the Addendum to the excellent article Why I Do Not Think the King James Bible Is the Best Translation Available Today by Daniel B. Wallace, Ph.D (Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary).

This says (paragraph breaks added and emphasis mine):

    “One further point is necessary. With the recent publication of several different books villifying modern translations, asserting that they were borne out of conspiratorial motives, a word should be mentioned about this concocted theory.

    First, many of these books are written by people who have little or no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, and are, further, a great distortion of the facts. I have read books on textual criticism for more than a quarter of a century, but never have I seen such illogic, out-of-context quotations, and downright deceptions about the situation as in these recent books.

    Second, although it is often asserted that heretics produced some of the New Testament MSS we now have in our possession, there is only one group of MSS known to be produced by heretics: certain Byzantine MSS of the book of Revelation. This is significant because the Byzantine text stands behind the KJV! These MSS formed part of a mystery cult textbook used by various early cults. But KJV advocates constantly make the charge that the earliest MSS (the Alexandrian MSS) were produced by heretics. The sole basis they have for this charge is that certain readings in these MSS are disagreeable to them!

    Third, when one examines the variations between the Greek text behind the KJV (the Textus Receptus) and the Greek text behind modern translations, it is discovered that the vast majority of variations are so trivial as to not even be translatable (the most common is the moveable nu, which is akin to the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’!).

    Fourth, when one compares the number of variations that are found in the various MSS with the actual variations between the Textus Receptus and the best Greek witnesses, it is found that these two are remarkably similar. There are over 400,000 textual variants among NT MSS. But the differences between the Textus Receptus and texts based on the best Greek witnesses number about 5000 – and most of these are untranslatable differences! In other words, over 98% of the time, the Textus Receptus and the standard critical editions agree.

    Those who villify the modern translations and the Greek texts behind them have evidently never really investigated the data. Their appeals are based largely on emotion, not evidence. As such, they do an injustice to historic Christianity as well as to the men who stood behind the King James Bible. These scholars, who admitted that their work was provisional and not final (as can be seen by their preface and by their more than 8000 marginal notes indicating alternate renderings), would wholeheartedly welcome the great finds in MSS that have occurred in the past one hundred and fifty years.”

The KJV, like other translations, is a superb document. However, it is not the only version and it is not necessarily the ‘best’ version. If it suits you, great, but it might not suit other people. If the doctrine stated in the more modern translations, including the NIV, is virtually identical to the doctrine in the KJV then what is the problem?

As Christians we should not get involved in petty disputes which do not honor the Father and do, in fact, honor Satan. Let us remember who the Enemy is, and it isn’t fellow Christians who might, or might not, have identical doctrine to you. God honors our hearts, not our doctrines!

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, dwell in you and in your house forever.

If you are interested in following up the verses “missing” from the NIV Bible you can check out my article “Omissions” from the NIV Bible. In this article I have taken each of the 17 verses reported to be missing from the NIV New Testament and have analyzed them in the light of their context, adding my own observations in the process. Please note that this is quite a long page.

A Letter From Steve

Hi Graham

I have lead many people to Christ using the New International Version of the bible. The suggestion that this translation is satanic is risible. How often does satan lead a person to Christ? The fruit of using the NIV should speak for itself.

I also note that the staunch promotion of the KJV by those who dismiss the NIV and other translations often gives credence to false, legalistic and pharisaical teachings among certain groups. I have never come across any group who perpetuate these false teachings using the NIV. Could it be that the KJV, as opposed to the NIV, can be used more readily to expound these errors, meaning that the proverbial boot could actually be on the other foot?

Praise God for your voice of reason.

Fathers blessings... Steve.

A Letter From Justin

Mr. Pockett,

Greetings! My name is Justin, and it is always warming to know of a fellow "computer nut" who is a Christian! I will try not to take up a lot of your time, but I definitely wanted to mention the issue regarding the KJV version of the Bible versus the "heretical" NIV version. To preface, I had decided to start a daily log of study so that I would make sure I was always growing in my walk with the Lord and would not grow stagnant as I have been recently.

I wanted to find an online copy of the NIV, and I was quite dismayed to find so many websites at the top of the search results that deemed the NIV version (the version I own) as a "satanic document". Personally, I've always been fond of Ye Olde English, especially the difference between thee, thou, and ye (minor details, really), but I always thought that the NIV was a more modern document. My dismay quickly led to disbelief, as not a single point made by these authors made any logical sense at all. Furthermore I was completely horrified that these poor souls who believe the KJV is the only "infallible word of God" are the ones being manipulated by Satan. And I say this based on 1 John 4:7-12, which as I'm sure you know, commands us to love our brothers, and if we do not, then we cannot love God. Anyway, I found your website and reasoning of why you read the NIV, and it was refreshing to see an argument that was not hateful and made sense.

My point is that I think the one thing we should remember always with this issue is that when debating doctrine or how to interpret the Word we have received, it should be made clear that we love our brothers and sisters because we all love and have a relationship with God through Christ. I believe that this is the most used tool by the devil to split the Church, and I was saddened to see it in action today.

I thank God that you exist and that he gave you a gift to make an inspiring and insightful website.

In Christ,


About the KJV

Graham Pockett says:

I am still receiving letters from KJV-only supporters who condemn the NIV and other modern versions as "perversions" and "satanic". Please note that I love the KJV, as I love other translations of the Word, and the comments below are an attempt to answer some of the KJV-only claims.

Forgetting any other argument, the KJV was written over 400 years ago (quite a bit more because most of it is copied directly from earlier versions). During that period many words have changed in the English language and there are over 800 words used in the KJV which now have a different meaning. Many of them are clearly archaic and therefore do not cause much problem (except when preachers assign different meanings to the same words!), however some appear to be the same as modern words but have a totally different meaning today from when they were written.

According to Rick Norris in his book, The Unbound Scriptures (see below), these words include:

  • nephews (1 Tim 5:4) used to mean grandchildren or descendents
  • carriages (Acts 21:15) used to mean baggage
  • let (2 Thess 2:7; Rom 1:13) used to mean hinder
  • prevent (1 Thess 4:15) used to mean precede
  • turtle (Jer 8:7) was used for turtledove
  • rank (Gen 41:5) used to mean strong or healthy
  • leasing (Ps 5:6) used to mean lies
  • health (Ps 42:11) used to mean salvation, deliverance or help
  • rid (Ps 144:7) used to mean deliver or rescue
  • take no thought (Matt 6:25) used to mean not troubled or anxious
  • hard (Acts 18:7) used to mean close or near
  • discover (Micah 1:6) used to mean uncover or lay bare
  • replenish (Gen 1:28; Gen 9:1) used to mean fill where the modern verb means to refill
"even" (a word very often introduced by the translators and thus italicized) is mostly used in the sense of "namely" or "that is".

Check these passages with an understanding of the true meaning of these words! Many passages mean something different to what we think they mean today. Quite possibly someone could look at, say, Genesis 1:28 in the KJV where it says "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" and make the argument, based on today's usage of the word "replenish", that the Earth had been previously inhabited and that a civilization had preceded Adam's. Knowing that "replenish" in old English simply means "fill" in today's English, that argument is clearly not correct.

I have never rejected the KJV, or any other translation (except the JW's New World Translation) but I do acknowledge that the KJV does have some major errors in it.

For example, Exodus 20:13 (The Ten Commandments) says Thou shalt not kill. If this was accurate then God would be going against His word (something He never does!) when He sent out the Israelites to conquer their neighbors and kill them. Of course, the true word should be "murder" (unlawful killing) not simply "kill" (taking a person's life). How many people have refused to go to war for religious reasons by quoting this incorrect rendition from the KJV?

Another problem is the expression "Holy Ghost" instead of "Holy Spirit". Even in 1611 this was incorrect because a ghost ("the apparition of a deceased person") is completely different to a spirit (from the Latin Spiritus, meaning "breath" but also "soul") – and always has been! We do not have a ghost as our Counsellor but the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 11:24, the KJV (and a few other translations, like Young's, Amplified, The Message & Webster's) state that the body of Jesus was "broken". The KJV says:

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (emphasis added)

This is in contrast to the NIV, NLT, NASB, New American Bible, ASV, RSV, Darby, etc that omit the word "broken". The NIV says:

and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

While modern readers may not consider the inclusion, or exclusion, of the word "broken" to be important, in fact it was to the Jews who were living under Levitical Law – sacrifices must be blemish free (bones were not broken when they were sacrificed).

Jesus was an offering for our sins and, to be accepted, must conform to the old Law (see Leviticus 4:1 to 5:13 for information about the "sin offering" and 22:17-30 for "unacceptable sacrifices").

Apart from that, virtually every version of the KJV is different from each other! There is no "one correct KJV" because all have errors. Like other translations, it is not error-free. Only the original manuscripts, when written, were error free.

On the Wikipedia page about the KJV-only Movement, under the heading "Arguments against KJV Only" it makes the comment:

    If the King James Version was truly divinely inspired, there would be no mistakes. This is not the case, however; in Acts 12:4, the KJV says "Easter" where the Jewish holiday of Passover is being referred to. Further, in Deuteronomy 8:9 the King James Version has Moses describing the Promised Land as having hills where "thou mayest dig brass". Brass is an artificial alloy of copper and zinc and cannot be found in nature. The correct translation should be 'copper'.
Some people claim that they stand by the KJV of 1611 but don't realize that the original KJV – and all versions up to about 1780 – included the Apocrypha, an additional 14 "non canonical" books (Wikipedia says it was omitted from around 1827). The KJV was written to appease the Catholics and was, to all intents and purposes, a Catholic Bible. Even though King James was head of the Church of England, his heart was with the Catholics and he ordered the KJV to be created because the most popular Bible of his day, the Geneva Bible, included margin notes that stated that the Pope was the anti-Christ. At that time, the Church of England (C of E) was an Anglican version of the Roman Catholic faith and many leading C of E clerics at that time wanted the Pope to be the head of the C of E church in England. It is believed that even King James wanted to hand over his duties as head of the C of E church to the Pope!

One further comment – most historical sources indicate that King James, the man who ordered the KJV, was a homosexual. I wonder if the indirect language of the KJV in regard to homosexuality was the translators protecting themselves by not being too harsh about this practice. If you compare NIV and KJV references to homosexuality (1 Cor 6:9, et al) you will see that the NIV is much more direct in its denunciation of this practice – which goes against the notion that a Lesbian was able to influence the translation of the NIV towards homosexuality.

For more information about King James the man, see the section Personal relationships at the Wikipedia article about King James I of England which says, in part "The love the King showed men was amorously conveyed as if he had mistaken their sex and thought them ladies, which I have seen Somerset and Buckingham labour to resemble in the effeminateness of their dressings..."

I pray that the information above will be of some help to people who are struggling under the yoke of a KJV-only church and who wish to study God's Word in a more modern, and dare I say, more accurate translation.

If you choose to read the KJV as your only Bible, great. That is your choice and I support it 100%. However, any condemnation against other, legitimate translations is wrong and harmful to the Christian faith, and ignores the evidence.

If you are unsure about the claims and arguments put forward by KJV-only supporters, please read the book by Baptist Fundamentalist, Rick Norris, The Unbound Scriptures (see below).

Should you choose to write to me about this information I would be pleased to read your submissions – as long as you have the courage to sign your real name to the letter! As a principle I do not answer unsigned mail as I consider it both a discourtesy and an insult.

I pray you have found this article interesting and I would be pleased to read any comments you may have. However, my workload is such that I may not be able to respond to all mail. Address any comments to Graham Pockett.

Get a copy of this article in ASCII text format either zipped (why_niv.zip – 6kB) or as a normal text document (why_niv.txt – 14kB). Please note that this article is copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission (given freely for Christian purposes). Often it is better to simply link directly to this page!

All of Graham’s Christian writings (see below) can be download as a set of archived text files GrahamsWriting.zip (you will need an unzipping tool – like the free Stuffit Expander Windows or Stuffit Expander Mac – to extract the separate documents from this archive).


This article was featured in the January 2004 issue of Australia's Alive Magazine.

Alpha & Omega Ministries (Dr James White) has some interesting information about KJV-onlyism in the Apologetics section titled The King James Only Movement. We found some of this information interesting and urge you to grab the King James Only Controversy Power-Point Presentation from that site.

Do you believe the KJV is the only true Bible?

If you believe the KJV is the only Bible to read, that others are in error, I recommend you check out a book called The Unbound Scriptures by Rick Norris.

Information from the author:
This 540+ page book can be used as a sourcebook to examine the many claims of the KJV-only view. It provides documented information that answers the claims of Peter Ruckman, Samuel Gipp, Gail Riplinger, William Grady, D.A. Waite, Mickey Carter, and many others. Based on over a dozen years of study and research, it provides one of the most complete bibliographies of books relating to the topic of Bible translation. It includes important information about the history of our English Bibles and about the view of Bible translation in the 1500 and 1600's. The evidence will show that a consistent application of KJV-only claims harms the KJV and the earlier English Bibles of which it was a revision. Are many KJV-only claims "irrefutable" or mistaken? Check out the evidence for yourself. The author [B.A. with major in Bible and M.R. E.] is a fundamentalist and independent Baptist.

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Graham’s Christian writing:
"Graham Pockett doesn't mince any words, but he writes with a kind heart. If you have questions about such things as "once saved, always saved", or why so many different ideas can come from the same scripture, or how much what we see and do affects us as spiritual beings, you'll find much to think about here."  from This Christian Life
Graham Pockett
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  • The Truth Will Set You Free! – the Holy Tarantula???
  • Growing the Seed of Faith – so it doesn't wither and die
  • We Don't See The Clean, Just The Dirt – judgement and forgiveness
  • Why I Quote The NIV Bible – is it an heretical Bible?
  • "Omissions" from the NIV Bible – a look at 17 missing verses
  • Do You Believe In Miracles? – you do when they happen to you!
  • “Why Didn’t God Answer My Prayer For A Miracle?” – my response
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