This subject has caused many heated debates over the years, for there are those who claim that the King James Version (of 1611) is the only true translation and that ALL OTHERS are to be REJECTED. Before we consider any verses, it is vital to see why there are differences in these two translations. It is really quite simple; the KJV translators used Greek manuscripts called the “Textus Receptus” and the NKJV translators also used older Greek manuscripts which were discovered after the KJV was written (the most well-known being the “Dead Sea Scrolls”). They did use the Textus Receptus but included what has been called the “Alexandrian Manuscripts” in an effort to be more accurate in various passages. So, in the mind of the NKJV translators, there are NOT “missing verses” or “missing words,” but changes were made that are closer to the original scriptures and thus more accurate. In short, they insist that the verses or words that are changed “were never in the Bible to begin with.”

It should also be noted that the NKJV usually leaves the verse/passage as it is found in KJV but includes a footnote to explain that it is not found in older Greek manuscripts. A case in point is in John chapter 5 where the NKJV has an attached footnote after verse 4 stating, “NU-Text omits waiting for the moving of the water at the end of verse 3 and all of verse 4.” The translators wanted readers of the Bible to know that “older” and (in their mind) “more accurate” manuscripts did NOT include these words. Other passages with such footnotes are Mark 16:9-20; Acts 8:37; Romans 8:1 (the latter half of the verse); and

1st John 5:7-9 (where certain words in each verse are said to be omitted in the NU-Text). It needs to be said that even though there are differences in these two translations based on what Manuscripts were used, the meaning of the passages is NOT compromised in any way, which means the TRUTH OF GOD was not compromised in any way, shape, matter or form. God has sovereignly PRESERVED all vital and foundational truths of Scripture; the truths about creation, the Trinity, the fall of man, heaven and hell, the Person and Work of Christ, salvation through simple faith in Christ, the Second Coming of Christ, et al. Let us remember that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2nd Peter 1:21) and thus “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2nd Timothy 3:16).

I would add in closing that there are some passages where the NKJV translators did indeed change words without adding a footnote. For example, in 2nd Thessalonians 2:7 the NKJV reads, “For the mystery of LAWLESSNESS is already at work,” whereas the KJV says, “For the mystery of INIQUITY doth already work.” There is no footnote explaining the reason for changing the word “iniquity” to “lawlessness,” yet no one should argue that this changes the real meaning of the verse. In the rest of that verse we read (in the NKJV), “only He who now RESTRAINS will do so until He is taken out of the way.” The KJV uses the word “letteth” instead of “restrains.” Again, there is no footnote explaining the difference, yet in this case I’m sure the NKJV translators changed the word because when the KJV was translated the word “letteth” meant “hinder” but today it means “permit.” Surely the One “who now RESTRAINS” is not “permitting” lawlessness; rather He (the Holy Spirit) is “restraining” (which means “hindering”) lawlessness.  (410.5)  (DO)