Potential Issues on the Doctrines and Other Teachings with Using the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, with Comparison to the English Standard Version (ESV)

The purpose of this report is to make a list of the potential issues of the translation of New King James Version (NKJV) related to the doctrinal teachings of True Jesus Church. Six doctrinal teachings are included: baptism, holy communion, footwashing, the Sabbath, the Holy Spirit, and monotheism. Alongside the 6 doctrinal teachings are what I personally consider as important teachings that may have significant influence on the church, and also other teachings that may cause potential issues in the long term.

To make the list, the biblical verses used for comparison are based on the verses quoted in the teaches of the 5 doctrines in our church’s book “Essential Biblical Doctrines”. A scan through all the NU-Text notes in NKJV footnote is alo made to find further issues. Finally, the entire New Testament text of NKJV has been scanned through to locate other issues that may have been missed out. Despite the effort, I can never claim this list to be complete. The list is but the effort of one man who is limited in his abilities.

No translation is perfect. NKJV is an excellent translation, but its great weakness lies in the use of Textus Receptus (or Received Text, TR) for its New Testament. This weakness may be considered fatal for our use. The translators of NKJV obviously know that the use of TR is highly controversial, and therefore include NU-Text and M-Text in the footnotes. When compared to Critical Text (CT), none of the readings of TR can be recommended except John 3:13, where CT shows too much bias for the doctrine of Trinity. Other nuances that may show NKJV’s potential issue is the King James Version (KJV) tradition NKJV inherits.

To fully understand my purpose of this comparison, one must be acquainted with the basics of biblical textual criticism and the textual differences indicated by the TR and CT. To make things quick, TR is considered unreliable and full of interpolation and modifications made by those who handled the text. CT is the best effort made by today’s scholars to restore the most original text of the Bible. CT is called NU-Text in the footnotes of NKJV. NU-Text stands for Nestle-Aland / United Bible Societies Text. The other related NKJV footnote is the M-Text, or the Majority Text, which is still considered less reliable than CT. TR is the result of the work of a scholar named Erasmus some 400 or so years ago, and he published TR by using but very few manuscripts. TR is related to the M-Text, but it is by no means representative of M-Text.

Commentaries on textual criticism of Bruce M. Metzger and the footnotes of NET Bible are included to help the reader understand the textual differences and why a certain reading is considered superior. Unfortunately, due to time constraint, the commentaries on textual criticism are not translated into Chinese. The commentaries of some English scholars are also not made available in Chinese. Only the English reader is privileged with the information. Alongside these commentaries, I have also added my own comments to explain why I believe the verses may have potential issues, and my view on the verses. These are but personal remarks (the comments that are not supplied with references), and are by no means representative of the view of the church.

Chinese versions of the Bible are included alongside with what is based on the comparison between NKJV and the English Standard Version (ESV). Since the comparison is made solely with the two English versions in mind, the verses that show potential issues are in no way representative of the issues one may find in the Chinese versions. As the English versions have their own issues, so do the Chinese versions have their unique issues.

It is my best wish that the church finds this list useful and helpful. May God continue to guide the church. All glory be to God.

PDF eBook: Potential Issues on the Doctrines and Other Teachings with Using the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible