Is the NIV the Word of God?
COPYRIGHT ©1998 - James M. Frye
All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.
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I would like to begin by saying that I believe that the Bible is the word of God. The question is, however, which Bible? To many of you who are reading this article, the answer to the question "Is the New International Version (NIV) the Word of God?" may appear to be simple. "Of course the NIV is the word of God", you might say. "And so are the New American Standard Version (NASV), the New King James Version (NKJV) and the Living Bible (LB)", along with a host of other new Bible versions that you might name. But is the answer to this question as simple as it might first appear? It is the purpose of this article to answer this question.
It is beyond the scope of this article to examine all of the various new Bible versions available today. For the sake of space, I will limit myself to the NIV. As for the rest, we will reserve them for future articles.
A Look at the Issue
I used to go to a church where it was common practice to quote from a variety of Bible translations. The pastor would often say, "The NIV says ..., the NASV says ... - Who has the King James?", etc. During church one morning, the teacher was reading John 5:4. The King James Bible (KJB) says:
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
And then the teacher made a statement that caused me to freeze in my tracks (pew). I think my chin must have hit the floor. He said, "For some reason, the NIV has left this verse out". I was shocked. I went and checked a copy of the NIV that I had at home, and sure enough, the verse was missing. This and other similar events caused me to realize that all Bible versions are not the same.
Up until this time, I had believed that the only difference between the NIV and the King James Bible was that the NIV was supposed to be easier to read and to understand. Boy was I wrong. I knew that I needed to look into the matter further. By the grace of God, I was able to do just that. The information contained in this article represents some of the information that resulted from that study.
They Can’t Both Be Right
It is the purpose of this section to show that the difference between the Authorized King James Bible (KJB) and the NIV are irreconcilable. That is, they both can’t be right. For example, In Isaiah 9:3, the KJB says:
Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy ...
The NIV says:
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy
You will notice that the main difference, apart from the rewording of the text, is that the KJB has the word not and the NIV doesn’t. So, the KJB says that God has not increased their joy. The NIV says that God has increased their joy.
You might find yourself saying, "Is it really that big of a difference? After all, we are only talking about one word here." I chose this verse to establish a point: They (the KJB and NIV) say the exact opposite. If one is right, then the other one is wrong. We can’t possibly say that they are both correct. Did God increase their joy or not? Which words did God give to the prophet Isaiah? (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
As I stated in the beginning of this article, many people operate under the false assumption that all Bible versions are the Word of God - despite the fact that they disagree with each other. Are we to suppose that God has written more than one Bible and that He makes statements in one and then disagrees with them in another? - Of course not. God only wrote one Bible.
I’ve actually shown the difference in Isaiah 9:3 to people and had them refuse to admit that they both can’t be right. Please understand that we need to have an open mind, absolute humility, and a sincere desire for the truth. People may think, "Well, my church uses the NIV, and if I believe this ...", or "I just don’t want to make waves." But, understand, to avoid conflict at all cost is not to be the attitude of a Christian. We should rather stand for the truth regardless of the conflict that arises from it. (Jude 3; John 15:20; Luke 12:51; 2 Tim. 3:12)
Our attitude toward this matter should be the same as God’s. Revelation 22:18-19 says:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
God is angry with those who change His words. He promises plagues to those who add to them, and loss from one’s part in the Book of Life for those who subtract from them. In case you think it is just the book of Revelation that God is concerned about, God places similar rebukes against changing his words in Deuteronomy 4:2 and Proverbs 30:6. One rebuke is in the beginning of the Bible, one in the middle, and one at the end. It is his words that God is concerned about - not just where they are located. So we should have the same attitude about this issue as God has.
1 Peter 1:16 says:
... BE YE HOLY; FOR I AM HOLY.
Surely this applies, not only to our actions, but also to our attitudes. If God takes the changing of his words seriously, so then should we. If it angers God, it should anger us. There is a righteous and an unrighteous anger. (See Mark 3:5 and Eph. 4:26) Sometimes it is wrong (a sin) not to be angry.
Seeing It for Yourself
So far, we have looked at just a few problems with the NIV - a missing word here and a missing verse there. But the problem is much greater than just a word or a verse.
For starters, try finding the following verses in the NIV:
Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14.
Mark 7:16; 9:44; 9:46; 11:26; 15:28.
Luke 17:36; 23:17; John 5:4.
Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29.
Romans 16:24 and 1 John 5:7.
They are not there. They have been removed entirely. Now I ask you, what kind of Bible is it that leaves out entire verses? What did these verses say? Among other things, they say that: Jesus came to save the lost, that hell is a place where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, and that a person must be a believer in order to be baptized.
In the last verse (1 John 5:7), the NIV is very deceptive, for it does have a verse 7, but it is really part of verse 8. Verse 8 has been split into two verses in the NIV (verses 7 and 8) so that you won’t know that the real verse 7 is missing. 1 John 5:8 (KJB) says:
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
The NIV splits this verse into two verses: In verse 7, it says:
For there are three that testify (bear witness)
In verse 8, it says:
the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
The true verse 7 has been removed. In the KJB, verse 7 says:
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
This is no insignificant verse. This is the clearest statement of the doctrine of the Trinity in the entire Bible. Is this verse unimportant? Would God want it removed?
But the problems with the NIV do not stop there. In addition to the verses that have been omitted entirely, thousands of verses have partial omissions. Many who have studied this issue in much greater detail than I, have stated that the missing words are in excess of 64,000 - not counting the additions. Remember what God said about those who take away from or add to his words (Rev. 22:18-19)?
Let me give you a few examples of verses that contain these kinds of omissions. In the KJB, the Lord’s Prayer reads in Luke 11:2-4 as follows:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
The underlined portions are missing in the NIV. In Matthew 27:35, the KJB says:
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, THEY PARTED MY GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND UPON MY VESTURE DID THEY CAST LOTS.
Again, the underlined portions are missing in the NIV, hiding the fact that this verse is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. A full 26 words have been omitted this time.
Substantial portions have been removed from hundreds of verses in addition to these. Many key words have also been removed. For example, the word "Christ" has been removed dozens of times. (Rom. 1:16; Acts 16:31; etc.) The word "Jesus" has been removed dozens of times (Matt. 8:29; 2 Cor. 5:18; etc.). The word "Lord" has also been removed in a number of places.
Are There Errors in God’s Word?
John 17:17 says:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
In addition to the omissions in the NIV, one of its most disturbing problems is the fact that it contains many outright errors. For example, who killed Goliath? I know that the answer to this question seems obvious - David, right? Well, it’s not so obvious in the NIV. In 2 Samuel 21:19 the NIV says:
In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.
The KJB has the correct reading, for it says that Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother. This is confirmed in 1 Chronicles 20:5. The KJB says:
And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver’s beam.
Once again, the NIV is in error. It is also seen to conflict with itself, for it says David killed Goliath in 1 Sam. 21:8-9.
One of the most disturbing changes occurs in Isaiah 14:12. The KJB says:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer ...
This passage records Satan’s (Lucifer’s) rebellion against God, and how he was cast out of Heaven.
The NIV says:
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star ...
In this passage, "Lucifer" has been changed to "Morning Star". This is frightening because the Bible defines the Morning Star as Jesus Christ. Revelation 22:16 says:
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
In the NIV, it is Jesus Christ (the Morning Star) and not Satan that rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. That is outright blasphemy. Satan has pulled off quite a disappearing act. Not only has he been removed from the text, Jesus Christ has been inserted in his place.
I think, by this point, many of you are beginning to see that there are some very serious problems with the NIV. Let’s look at a few more errors. Matthew 5:22 in the KJB says:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment ..
The phrase, without a cause, has been removed in the NIV. This would make Jesus Christ a sinner in Mark 3:5, where the Bible says that he was angry. The NIV implies that Jesus is a sinner, despite the fact that the Bible says that he never sinned and is without sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15).
We find another error in Mark 1:2. The NIV says:
It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"
This is actually a quotation of Malachi 3:1. The King James has the proper reading, for it says "as it is written in the prophets". Verse 2 is quoting Malachi, and Verse 3 is quoting Isaiah.
Many of the changes in the NIV, including some that we have already looked at, affect doctrine. For example, the deity of Christ (the fact that Jesus Christ is God) is attacked in a number of places. One example is 1 Timothy 3:16. The KJB says:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
The NIV has changed "God" to "He". This is a big difference. In this verse, the KJB clearly states that Jesus Christ is God, and in the NIV it does not.
Many times I have heard those who support the NIV say, "No doctrine is affected by the changes in the new Bible versions." We have just seen that it is. What they really mean is that no doctrine has been removed entirely. That is, there is still another verse in the Bible somewhere that teaches the doctrine. So then, they believe it is perfectly OK to remove a doctrine in one place as long as they do not obliterate it entirely.
By this same logic, would it be OK with God if we removed the entire Gospel of Mark? After all, most of the doctrines taught in Mark are also taught in Matthew or Luke. No. This is faulty reasoning, and there is no excuse to remove even one word from God’s words.
In the KJB in Luke 4:4, Jesus says:
... MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD.
By the way, "BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD" has been removed in the NIV. If you want to have the words of God, EVERY WORD OF GOD, get a copy of the Authorized King James Bible.
So, is the NIV the Word of God? We have seen omissions ranging from one word to entire verses. We have seen errors ranging from misquoting a prophet, to the removal of Lucifer (Satan) and the insertion of Jesus Christ in his place. We have even seen changes affecting the doctrine of the deity of Christ. After examining the evidence, could you say that the NIV is the Word of God? Could you call the NIV "HOLY BIBLE?"