Is the King James Version of the Bible the only translation of the Bible that we should read? As a child I was taught that it was the only accurate Bible, and my BA degree in Bible came from a KJV only college. I love the KJV, and it is the only translation I have ever taught or preached from. But is it the only Bible we should read?
Before I begin, I want to be clear that this is by no means an exhaustive review of this topic, for that could go on and on. This is just designed to point out a few surface level points.
The KJV only crowd likes to criticize the newer translations by asserting that they are leaving out words, phrases, or verses, and that they change words. The problem with this line of thinking is that they are comparing these newer translations to the KJV and not to original texts. For example, when the KJV-onlies criticize some for leaving out verses 9-20 of Mark 16, they are missing the fact that those verses do not appear in any ancient texts. Those verses were actually additions by the KJV translators who were worried that Mark’s gospel didn’t include any eye witnesses of the resurrection.
Other words and phrases that were allegedly left out are actually just phrases where the old English of the KJV was unnecessarily repetitive.
KJV only defendants use verses like “I am the Lord, I change not” to defend their point. If that verse means that we should not change from the Bible that we have, then we had better all become fluent in ancient Hebrew and Greek. As I will point out here, they make the mistake of believing that the KJV was the first Bible ever produced.
They also use biblical commands to not add to or take away from the Word of God. They use these verses to usher in strong warnings about these newer translations, but again, theirs is the one that has added to. 
So the question isn’t whether the NIV left out verses, but whether the KJV added them. It isn’t fair to attack a translation for leaving out something that was not inspired in the first place.
Websites like http://jesus-is-lord.com/kjvdefns.htm have a list of verses that are left out of the NIV, but the reality is that these verses were added by the KJV.
In the same way that the KJV translators added verses for clarification, they also tweaked other words to please King James. John the Baptist should be known as John the Immerser, but King James did not believe in immersion for baptism, so the word was changed.
KJV-onlies like to say that theirs is the most formal translation. They believe that there is more holiness in their thee’s and thou’s and their adding “eth” to every other word. The King James Version has many words that have other meanings today, and all of this together makes the document difficult to understand.
On this point, I once had a KJV only pastor point in my face and scream at me, “If you can’t understand the KJV with a simple dictionary, you have problems.” But the real problem is the fact that the KJV requires a dictionary. The New Testament writers chose to write in a style of Greek known as koine, which was the most common and understood form in its day. It would be the equivalent of an elementary school comprehension level.
So while I agree that the KJV is very poetic in its sound, especially in the Psalms, that is not a reason to condemn other translations. The Bible was never meant to be something that required a Master of Divinity to understand; it was written by common people for common people.
Even though I preach from my King James, when I come to a passage that mentions a donkey, I say donkey out loud, but we all know that there is another three letter word used for donkey. The king James also refers to men as those who “[urinate] against the wall.” Of course, their word for urinate is a word most of us would wash our children’s mouth out with soap for using. On this passage I once heard a pastor say that those words aren’t foul because the Bible says all the words of Christ are wholesome words. Once again, this mindset shows that the KJV-onlies think that Jesus spoke King James. The Holy Spirit didn’t inspire those words, He inspired them in Greek and Hebrew, and now, hundreds of years after their English translations, those words have a different meaning.
Other words in the KJV are different. The KJV uses the word conversation to mean lifestyle, and it makes a huge mess out of Hades by always translating it as hell. When newer translations try to update these words, the KJV only proponents get upset. But this is contradictory because the KJV translators themselves used to do this.
1611 was the year that the KJV was authorized and translated into English. Every few years a team of scholars met to update the words in that translation, always being careful to make sure that the words had their true meaning and that it was on the common man’s level. But 1798 was the last year that this happened. So when the New King James Version (NKJV) was released, it was nothing more than what the KJV scholars had done for almost two complete centuries, and yet the KJV-onlies were against it. All the NKJV did was change the thou’s to you’s and leave off the eth’s (they also corrected the hell/Hades problem).
To be clear, I do not support every translation that comes down the pike. My last blog (The Message by Eugene Peterson, http://tommycmann.blogspot.com/2011/11/message-by-eugene-peterson.html) shows that, and my next blog will as well. I am a textus receptus fan, which I will blog about next, and that is where the KJV came from. A KJV only pastor, who was one of my college professors, said that he supported the KJV because it came from the textus receptus. I asked him if he would support a newer translation if it came from the textus receptus, like the NAS, and his reply was, “Just stick to the KJV.”
It has become apparent to me that the real reason that people are KJV only is that they were raised that way. When confronted with simple logic that refutes their beliefs, they become explosively angry and spout out verses like, “Forever, oh Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.” (That verse in no way proves their point, and once again shows that they think that Paul and Peter directly wrote the King James) There is no logic that affirms that the KJV is the only accurate English translation.
This blogeth wast copyrighted; thou shalt not add unto nor taketh away from, lest thou be smitten with copyright infringement.
 To be clear, these commands are in reference to people changing God’s Word for their own gain. When translating a document from one language to another, there will always be words added or subtracted. There are thousands more Greek words than there are English words, so entire phrases have been added to English Bibles. Good translations will italicize those added words.