Matthew 25:31-26:2 Feb 6 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

Why would the NKJV choose to change the English word “shall” to “will?” The answer to this question will reveal to us the main reason given by the NKJV translators concerning why the translation makes many of the word changes from the KJV that we find in its pages.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He willseparate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Before I make any comment on this, I want us to answer a couple of questions.
The first question that comes to mind regarding this change is “when is it proper to use change or will?”

The traditional rule is that shall is used with first person pronouns (i.e. I and we) to form the future tense, while will is used with second and third person forms (i.e. youhesheitthey). For example:

I shall be late.

They will not have enough food.

However, when it comes to expressing a strong determination to do something, the roles are reversedwill is used with the first person, and shall with the second and third. For example:

I will not tolerate such behaviour.

You shall go to the ball!

In practice, though, the two words are used more or less interchangeably, and this is now an acceptable part of standard British and American English; however, the word shall is now seldom used in any normal context in American English. (

The next question that came to mind was “what is the history behind shall and will?”

“From the reams of pronouncements written about the distinction between shall and will—dating back as far as the 17th century—it is clear that the rules laid down have never very accurately reflected actual usage. The nationalistic statements of 18th and 19th century British grammarians, who commonly cited the misuses of the Irish, the Scots, and occasionally the Americans, suggest that the traditional rules may have come closest to the usage of southern England. Some modern commentators believe that English usage is still the closest to the traditionally prescribed norms. Most modern commentators allow that will is more common in nearly all uses. The entries for shall and will in this dictionary show current usage.” (

It would seem the change has been made to “will” from “shall” in the NKJV based on the understanding that will is the more commonly used of the two words in modern times. Both have almost similar meanings in the dictionary in every age. The NKJV’s purpose was to update the language of the KJV to fit the modern man’s common language without losing the text nor the beauty of the KJV. The following is clipping from the book,  “The New King James Version: In the Great Tradition,” written by Arthur Farstad, the Executive Editor of the New King James translation of the Bible. In it, he describes that the main desire in this translation was to update the language to the modern without losing the text.



Whether shall or will is a needed change, I will leave to the opinion of the reader, but, I think it is clear that the NKJV chose this change because of the falling out of use of the word shall in the late twentieth century. They desired to make the translation as contemporary as possible using modern translation methods without losing the original in the process. Do you think that they did well? Leave me a comment wherever you found this on social media and we will discuss.




Matthew 25:1-30 Feb 5 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

There are many words in the English language that mean basically the same thing. They are called synonyms. Merriam-Webster states a synonym is “one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses.” The goal of the translator is to choose the best word to define the original language word despite the many different synonyms that could be chosen. With that idea, let’s look at some synonyms that I found today…

Matthew 25:15 (KJV)

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Matthew 25:15 (NKJV)

15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

Straightway or Immediately?

The Greek word is εὐθέως eutheōs. It means directly, in other words at once or soon. The Greek Textus Receptus New Testament has this word appear 80 times. The KJV translates this word as immediately 35 times and as straightway 32 times.

I find it strange that the KJV had access to the word immediately here, but didn’t see fit to use it. Straightway and immediately both have the same secondary meaning, which is directly, ,at once, or soon. That isn’t there first meanings though. There first meanings are below:

Straightway: in a direct course

Immediately: in direct connection or relation

It would seem that the KJV chose to use straightway here because it is in relation to a journey that was being taken. In that sense, straightway gives us the understanding of “in a direct course” that was taken “at once.” I think this is why the KJV translators chose this word even though they could have used the word immediately.

Matthew 25:24 (KJV)

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

Matthew 25:24 (NKJV)

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.

Strawed or Scattered Seed?

The Greek word is διασκορπίζω diaskorpizō. It means “to dissipate” specially, to winnow or figuratively, to squander.  The Greek Textus Receptus has this word appear 9 times. The KJV translates this Greek word as straw twice, scatter abroad twice,  scatter twice, waste twice, and disperse once.

At first glance, the use of the term strawed seems strange to me. The ideal of scattered seed sounds strange as well though. The ideal that is being conveyed in the Greek according to the context of this verse is an old agricultural practice. The idea was to throw the grain a considerable distance, or up into the air, that it may be separated from the chaff. The dictionary defines this practice of winnowing as “to treat (something, such as grain) by exposure to a current of air so that waste matter is eliminated.” In this way, the chaff is separated from the wheat. That gives us a good idea of the Greek definition which relates “to dissipate.” The chaff is dissipated in the wind.

So, if they are scattering seed by wind in order to gather the grain, why does the KJV use the word “strawed?” Because this is what the ancient practice was called. Strawed is the past participle of “to strew,” “scatter,” or “spread about” referring to this practice. Strawed is the more direct word in this instance, but most people probably wouldn’t realize what strawed meant, but, for that matter, most people probably wouldn’t understand what was meant by scattered seed either though that would give them a quick visual in today’s modern mind. Another reason to study the word deeply.

Matthew 25:27 (KJV)

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Matthew 25:27 (NKJV)

27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.

Usury or Interest?

The Greek word is τόκος tokos. It means interest on money loaned. The NKJV takes this word directly from its definition. This word only appears twice in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament and the KJV translates it both times as usury. So, what is usury?

The modern definition of usury is “an unconscionable or exorbitant rate or amount of interest.” The KJV is using the archaic definition though. It means simply interest.

Here we see a synonym that is exactly the same. The only difference is that one is an archaic way of saying the same thing. It would seem that this type of synonym would make up the most changes I would see the in a KJV/NKJV comparison, but that is not always the case.

Matthew 24:29-51 Feb 4 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

While doing this study, I have been fascinated by the words that are written within the English bible that aren’t in the Greek Textus Receptus New Testament. These words are added for understanding, but aren’t in the original text. The KJV and NKJV are great about showing us this by placing these added words in italics.

Matthew 24:40 (KJV)

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Matthew 24:40 (NKJV)

40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.

____ or Men?

Why did the NKJV add men? The Greek word for two is δύο dyo. It doesn’t make any reference to men at all. The NKJV is showing us that this word isn’t in the Greek by placing it in italics, but I still wonder why would they feel the need to state that it was men? I think it has to do with the KJV’s addition of women in the verse 41.

“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

Here we see that the KJV added “women shall be” after dyo (two) in this verse. The reason why they have added women comes from the type of work being done that is revealed directly after dyo. The English word Grinding is ἀλήθω alēthō. According to Strong’s,”It was the custom to send women and female slaves to the mill houses to turn the hand mills.” Therefore, the KJV gave this extra information based on that fact that this was a common labor for women during that time. The Geneva Bible also makes this distinction without adding men in verse 40.

It would seem though that all of the modern translations, like the NKJV, have decided to add men in verse 40 because women is implied in verse 41. You will find this addition in the ESV, the NASB, the NIV, the NLT, and the CSB. These modern translators must think that men must have been implied by the writer, because women was implied in verse 41 by their workplace. The problem with that is that men and women both worked in the fields in ancient times. It would seem this addition of men is based completely on their thought of making the two verses equal out better. They must assume Jesus wanted us to know that God is coming for both genders, but, just by looking at the Greek alone, Jesus is only telling us that there will be two individuals and one will be taken while the other will be left while working in the field and while working at the mill.

Matthew 24:1-28 Feb 3 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)


Did you ever wonder why the bible uses different words for wrongdoing like sin, trespass, transgression or iniquity? Each of these words reveals a deeper falling into the sinful condition and iniquity is the lowest one.

Matthew 24:12 (KJV)

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Matthew 24:12 (NKJV)

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

Iniquity or Lawlessness?

The Greek word is ἀνομία anomia. It means illegality, in other words, a violation of law or wickedness. It includes the end-impact of law breaking – in other words, its negative influence on a person’s soul (status before God). The Textus Receptus Greek New Testament has this word appear 15 times. It is translated in English in the KJV as iniquity 12 times, unrighteousness once,  and transgress the law once.

The English word lawlessness means “contrary to or without regard for the law.”

The English word iniquity means “gross injustice : ‘wickedness’ or a wicked act or thing : ‘sin'”

iniquityWhen I researched this, I noticed that the KJV has the English word iniquity appear in the New Testament 15 times. The NKJV has the English word iniquity only appear 7 times. The KJV never has the word lawlessness appear. Why the differences?

The KJV is translating two different Greek words as iniquity. The NKJV has chosen not to translate ἀνομία anomia as iniquity at any point in the translation while the KJV translates it as iniquity 12 times. The NKJV actually does translate another Greek word, ἀδικία adikia, as iniquity though. It is defined, in legal sense, as injustice and, in the moral sense, as wrongfulness in one’s character, life or act, according to Strong’s. It is very similar to the definition of anomia. The KJV translates Adikia as unrighteousness 16 times, iniquity 6 times, unjust twice, and wrong once.

Here is the strange thing. The NKJV also translates παρανομία paranomia as iniquity (as the KJV does also) which happens to be a variation of anomia. This Greek word only appears once in 2 Peter 2:16 where it states: “But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” In this instance, it departs from the idea of anomia as being distinctly lawlessness. It would seem that the NKJV is trying to make a distinction between anomia and adikia in all other places besides this one. I found that this is actually a common practice to do in modern translations. “Is that a good practice?” I wondered.

According to, “The Bible uses words such as iniquitytransgression, and trespass to indicate levels of disobedience to God. They are all categorized as “sin” of course, but each one gives us a different understanding of sin.  Iniquity is the most deeply rooted. ” Iniquity, they say,  refers to a premeditated choice; to commit iniquity is to continue without repentance.” “David’s sin with Bathsheba that led to the killing of her husband, Uriah, was iniquity (2 Samuel 11:3–42 Samuel 12:9). In David’s psalm of repentance, he cries out to God, saying, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2).”

The word for “lawlessness,” which the modern translations are using for anomia, is often translated as “iniquity” in the KJV or the even older Geneva bible. Again, according to, when discussing this newer English translation of the word as lawlessness, states, “The word for “lawlessness” in the Bible is often translated “iniquity.” According to the Bible, the root of all lawlessness is rebellion.” Translating this word as iniquity gives us the deeper understanding of anomia. Earlier, I stated that anomia includes the end-impact of law breaking – in other words, its negative influence on a person’s soul (status before God).  Since adikia and anomia both refer to this deepest sin of iniquity, I have to wonder, why are we making a separate distinction with anomia and adikia today?

It would seem, somewhere along the way, a translator has chosen to make a distinction between this word anomia as only dealing with lawlessness. All of the modern translations followed suit. So, the NKJV goes along with the ESV and the NASB and creates a separate distinction for this word than had been previously established as iniquity with the KJV and the Geneva Bible. So, is adding another word for sin into the mix a good idea? I guess I will leave that with the reader to consider.

The one thing I would like for us to take away from all this is that the worst sin we could find ourselves in is to be in a place of complete lawlessness and, when you are in that state, know that you are in deep iniquity. If you are in that state, you need to turn to God as soon as possible. You have almost went to the place of going too far.

“God forgives iniquity, as He does any type of sin when we repent (Jeremiah 33:8Hebrews 8:12). However, iniquity left unchecked leads to a state of willful sin with no fear of God. The build-up of unrepentant sin is sometimes pictured as a “cup of iniquity” being filled to the brim (Revelation 17:4Genesis 15:16). This often applies to nations who have forsaken God completely. Continued iniquity leads to unnatural affections, which leads to a reprobate mind. Romans 1:28–32 outlines this digression in vivid detail. The sons of Eli are biblical examples of reprobates whom God judged for their iniquities (1 Samuel 3:13–14). Rather than repent, Eli’s sons continued in their abominations until repentance was no longer possible.” (

Iniquity. May we all understand what it is… and then….

May all of us keep as far away from it as possible.

Matthew 23 Feb 2 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

Again, minor things are big deals when you are attempting to bring an ancient language’s different understandings into a modern language’s understanding. How accurate do you want a translation to be? How far are you going to go to make certain that it is consistent with the original meaning. These things may seem small that I found today, but I feel they are important.

Matthew 23:12 (KJV)

12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Matthew 23:12 (NKJV)

12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Abased or Humbled?

The Greek word is ταπεινόω tapeinoō. It means to depress or make low. In a figurative way in can mean to humiliate (in condition or heart). The Greek Textus Receptus New Testament has this word appear 14 times. The KJV translates it as humble 6 times, abase 5 times, humble (one’s) self twice, and bring low once.

To be abased has an archaic meaning of “to lower physically.” The modern meaning is “to lower in rank, office, prestige, or esteem.” The archaic meaning meant to physically be brought down. The NKJV’s use of humbled and the KJV’s use of abase are saying much the same thing except the KJV gives us an idea of a more physical push down by using abased. If you exalt yourself, you will be physically brought down. Of course, the same meaning could be incurred from humbled, and the KJV uses this word more times as humble in the translation, but, personally, I think the KJV translators were really trying to show how low you were going to get if you get arrogant. Abased just sounds rougher to me than humbled.

Matthew 23:16 (KJV)

16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!

Matthew 23:16 (NKJV)

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’

Debtor or Obliged?

Jesus is giving the Pharisees a tongue lashing in this chapter. He points out many of the inconsistencies in their walk with God. In this one, He is saying that they have no problem with people swearing an oath by the temple. They say that isn’t a big deal, but, if they swear an oath by the gold of the temple, then they are to owe them money if they fail to do the oath.

The Greek word is ὀφείλω opheilō. Here we have an incidence where the translators are seeing this Greek word in different ways. The Greek word can hold different meanings just like English words can hold different meanings. The KJV is looking at this with the idea of receiving money or benefits by someone in regular or increasing amounts over time. This Greek word is understood as to owe when it is placed in the sense of or relating to money. So, since this Greek word is dealing with money, in this verse, they have chosen to use the idea of debtor even though that might not make it as clear in the English about what is going on.

The NKJV is translating this word in its figurative sense even though it is dealing with money. It is telling us that the Pharisees are putting these people under obligation  to perform their oath, while they weren’t under that obligation when it was a vow to the temple. You will notice that they have placed “to perform it” in italics because those words weren’t in the original Greek. They have added them to make clear what is going on.

You could also translate this word in the moral sense and see it as “to fail in duty.” The Geneva Bible does take it that way here and translates this word as “offendeth” in the ideal that they did something wrong by not paying when swearing by the gold.

The Greek Textus Receptus New Testament has this word appear 36 times. The KJV translates is as ought 15 times, owe 7 times, be bound twice, be (one’s) duty twice, be a debtor once, be guilty once, be indebted once, and many others variations. Again, the reason they have translated this word here as debtor is because it is dealing with money. They will translate this same word differently though in verse 18.

Matthew 23:18 (KJV)

18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.

Matthew 23:18  (NKJV)

18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’

Guilty or Obliged?

The Greek word is again ὀφείλω opheilō. This time the KJV goes along with the Geneva bible where it is translated as “offendeth” again. Since no money is involved, but only a gift is mentioned, they translate this word in the moral sense as “to fail in duty.” They are guilty if they have not paid their dues.

The NKJV translates it with the same phrase in order to make it clear what is happening in English, yet bypasses this subtle distinct difference that the KJV translators have felt that they needed to hold to in the Greek when dealing with money.

Matthew 23:25  (KJV)

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Matthew 23:25  (NKJV)

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.

Excess or Self-indulgence?

The Greek word is ἀκρασία akrasia. It means in “want of self-restraint.” The Greek Textus Receptus New Testament has this word appear twice. It is translated here as excess  and incontinency elsewhere.

Excess means “the state or an instance of surpassing usual, proper, or specified limits.” The term Self Indulgence means “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims.” Both terms are correct in translating this Greek word.

All little differences, but each one important…

Matthew 22:15-46 Feb 1 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

birdsWhen reading the bible with your children, there are certain passages that you would be best to wait on reading until they were older. For example, the Song of Solomon wasn’t allowed reading for young Jewish boys until theirBar Mitzvah, when they become of age so to speak and are considered to be fully adult men by their community. That is because the Jews understood the book to be something of a handbook for sexual love in marriage and they knew they needed to discuss the birds and the bees with them before they read it. I found a passage like that in my reading today.

Matthew 22:24-25 (KJV)

24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

Matthew 22:24-25 (NKJV)

24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother.

Seed/Issue or Offspring?

The Greek word is σπέρμα sperma. It is where we get our English word sperm from.  It means “something sown,” in other words, a seed which would include the male “sperm.” Now, by implication, you could use the English term “offspring,” but it would not be as accurate to the Greek word, which, if we were reading the Greek with understanding, we would automatically understand this term to mean the male “sperm.”

The Greek Textus Receptus New Testament has this word appear 44 times. Each time it translates it with the English word seed except for this one time in verse 25 where it uses the English word “issue” where it is attempting to relay to us that the man could not deliver a healthy seed to the woman or hadn’t had the opportunity to be with her successfully yet. It is remarkable how detailed the KJV will get with the Greek words.

The Sadducees, are describing the law of levirate marriage to Jesus in this passage, found in Dt 25:5–10. This law was a provision to ensure that family lines were kept intact and widows were cared for.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10  (KJV)

If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.

And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.

Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;

Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.

10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

A Levirate marriages (from Latin, levir, “husband’s brother”) provided that the brother of a dead man who died childless was to marry the widow. This was to provide an heir in ancient Israel in order to insure the ancient family lines continued and provide for widows. If a wife lost her husband during that time, she would most likely die in poverty. It was a different time than we live in today.

These were not forced marriages, but were applied as strong options to brothers who shared the same estate. Obviously, this required that the brother be unmarried and have a desire to keep the property in the family by passing it on to a son in his brother’s name since adultery was forbidden. Though not forced, this practice was highly esteemed as a way to keep the family name alive, and, if a single brother refused to conform to this practice, he was confronted with contempt and humiliation by the community by his brother’s wife spitting in his face and relieving him of one shoe in public. His family would forever be known as The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

One take away from all of this is that God’s Word isn’t white washed. It describes real times and real situation. If the word sperm was used, it states it straightforward, and I believe the KJV seeks to get you as close to what it said in the original language as possible, which is a good thing in my opinion. The bible is certainly not meant to be a book that isn’t real or is always politically correct. We have a real God who talks about real things and sometimes that goes past a G rating. I guess just wait to read this one to the kids when they get a little older. 🙂




Matthew 21:33-22:14 Jan 31 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

I saw many changes for change’s sake it would seem today. I saw the KJV’s “time of the fruit” changed to the NKJV’s “vintage-time” in 21:34, the KJV’s “husbandman” changed to the NKJV’s “vinedresser” in 21:35,the KJV’s “reverence” changed to the NKJV’s “respect” in 21:37, and various other variations. All of these are different ways of saying the same thing and I am not sure the NKJV causes me to understand it any better by those changes. The one that stuck out to me the most was Matthew 21:42, because the changes that occurred here seemed to be more intentional. I had heard this phrase before and thought the KJV actually had the NKJV’s version of it and was surprised when it did not!

Matthew 21:42 (KJV)

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Matthew 21:42  (NKJV)

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Head of the Corner or Chief Cornerstone?

A little understanding in architecture will be helpful in this conversation. In old time building practices, the cornerstone was the main stone placed at the corner of the building. The cornerstone was usually one of the largest, most solid, and most carefully constructed of any that was placed in the building because it would become the basis for the entire structure. If it was weak or off in its measurement, the building would not last long.

It would also be helpful to know that there is a prophecy that runs throughout the Old Testament about a promised one or Messiah who is called a cornerstone several times in order to give the reader an idea of His importance. He will be the One who would provide for them a firm foundation if they will trust in Him. In the next passage, Isaiah uses terms that deal with construction in order for the people to understand like a plumb line (plummet) and a measuring line (line) and gives us one of those corner stone Messiah prophesies.

Isaiah 28:16-17  (KJV)

16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

Both the KJV and NKJV translate this as precious corner stone. This Cornerstone description for the Messiah is also referred to in the Psalms. Here is the exact reference that Jesus is referring to in Matthew 21:42.

Psalm 118:22  (KJV)

22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

The NKJV translates this term as Chief Cornerstone instead of Head of the Corner in this Old Testament verse as well. The Hebrew word being translated here as head is  רֹאשׁ rô’š. It is defined as (head, top, summit, upper part, chief, total, sum, height, front, beginning.) The Hebrew word being translated as corner is פִּנָּה p̱inâ. It just means corner. Stone isn’t actually there in the Hebrew in Psalm 118:22 as the KJV translates it with italics to let us know if you have a version that does that. The phrase just says Head Corner in the Psalm. This word פִּנָּה p̱inâ is also the word that we see in Isaiah 28:16 and, there as well, stone isn’t in the Hebrew. Both the KJV and NKJV’s English translations are correct rendering of this Hebrew phrase.

Now, et’s go back to our original passage in Matthew. The Greek word for head there is κεφαλή kephalē. It simply means head, but also has a secondary meaning as anything supreme, chief, or prominent. The Greek word being translated as corner is γωνία gōnia. It just means a corner or a quarter. So, the KJV is correct in its first Greek meaning and the NKJV is correct in the secondary meaning of the Greek words.

Jesus is stating in this verse that He is the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophesies of Isaiah and the Psalmist. Now, at this point, I am getting a little disturbed. I have always heard it preached that Jesus was the Chief Cornerstone. I began to wonder if the KJV even actually said that or did others just say that over the years.

Well, it does…. when that is what is being stated straight out.

In Ephesians 2;19-21, Paul describes to us that Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone upon whom the whole House of God rests. The church is completely built on Him.

Ephesians 2:19-21  (KJV)

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

Peter continues this understanding, echoing the words of Isaiah 28:16-17.

1 Peter 2:6  (KJV)

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Why then does the KJV translate this word as Chief Cornerstone and doesn’t translate it that way when Jesus said it in Matthew? In both Ephesians and in 1 Peter, the Greek word is ἀκρογωνιαῖος akrogōniaios and means belonging to the extreme corner. The English word stone isn’t in the Hebrew in Ephesians, but is implied and thus added with italics. The word translated as stone is in 1 Peter is  λίθος lithos meaning a stone. The Greek word in Matthew for head is, as previously stated, κεφαλή kephalē and the word being translated as corner is γωνία gōnia. Now, we have the answer to why the KJV doesn’t translate this word as Chief Cornerstone in these other places. The KJV translated these words differently because they are different Greek words. It saves the English word Chief Cornerstone for the place where it is flat out saying Chief Cornerstone.

Even though the NKJV helps us see the connections that are being made in the prophecy across the centuries, it still isn’t being as consistent with the original languages as the KJV. The KJV makes a difference in the words in order to be true to the Greek so we can come to our own conclusions about the prophecies. I have to say I appreciate that knowing that I am getting as close to the original languages as possible in this way and can draw the distinctions with a little bit of study.

Matthew 21:1-32 Jan 30 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

While I found some minor changes in today’s comparative reading, there weren’t many that drew my attention in, except one.

I remember standing to read this passage in church and feeling a little uncomfortable as I read it a few years back. I was saying nothing wrong! I was only reading scripture, but it made me feel uncomfortable. I can even remember other pastors reading this verse and substituting another word in its place when they came to this one. What word was it?

Matthew 21:5  (KJV)

Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Matthew 21:5  (NKJV)

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Ass or Donkey?

donkey1050x700.jpgI have read verses like this with my children many times and, usually, I will get a little giggle when I read the KJV’s version of this animal. The Greek word here is ὄνος onos. It is a donkey and the older way of saying that is an ass. The Textus Receptus Greek New Testament has this Greek word appear 6 times and each time the KJV translates the word as ass.

The English definition of an ass is “a hoofed mammal of the horse family with a braying call, typically smaller than a horse and with longer ears.” This word can also can mean “a foolish or stupid person.” There is also quite a bit of vulgar slang that defines ass in our day. For example, it has been used to refer to …

  1.  Buttocks
  2.  Sex.
  3. Used in similes to express something bad or unpleasant.
  4. Used after an adjective to indicate extremes or excessiveness.
  5. One’s self or person, chiefly their body.

So, I can see why the NKJV would want to go with donkey here. In the book that discusses the translation philosophy of the NKJV, “The New King James Version: In the Great Tradition,” Arthur Farstad, Editor-in-Chief of the NKJV, explains why the translators have changed words that might be embarrassing to read in your bible. Dr. Farstad explains that some words have been changed in the NKJV in order to make it “acceptable in polite society.” He argues “The contemporary culture revels in vulgar language. But is it right for Christian children to find in their bibles what they are taught are “no-no” words elsewhere?” I am sure that the change from ass to donkey was within the no-no words policy.

One might ask, why did the KJV use this word if it could be conveyed in such a vulgar way? Well, at one time, the synonym ass was the only term for the donkey. The first recorded use of donkey was in either 1784 or 1785. From the 18th century, donkey gradually replaced ass, and jenny replaced she-ass, which is now considered more archaic than ass. The KJV didn’t have an opportunity to use the word donkey, because, frankly, it hadn’t been coined yet in 1611 or before the update that occurred in 1769!

The change in attitude toward this word in our day almost certainly came from it gradually becoming a vulgar word in society. We can also see how other words have become vulgar over time as well.  The substitution in North American English of rooster for the archaic cock, or that of a rabbit for the archaic coney, which can sound like another vulgar word.

This all just goes to show how vulgar humanity truly is. We can take our common language and, in just a few centuries, turn perfectly fine words into vulgar statements. Just goes to show you that the scripture was most certainly correct when it said in the days of Noah, just a short while after the fall of man, that “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” We haven’t moved very far from that point.

Is the KJV wrong to read in church then? Should we always substitute words while reading it with the latest decent word? In other words, should we substitute ass with donkey or a rooster for cock, or rabbit for coney whenever it appears in the KJV translation? I don’t think so, as long as we use it in its proper context, we aren’t cussing. We don’t have to change the word for the modern church goer because, as humanity has shown us, it will not be long before a donkey, a rooster or a rabbit mean something vulgar as well. Jesus said in Matthew 15,

18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

20 These are the things which defile a man…

Mankind will always attempt to make things vulgar because his heart is vulgar. We must preach the truth of the gospel in order for Christ to change the man, then his heart will not be inclined to the vulgar substitution of a decent vocabulary. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8



Matthew 20:17-34 Jan 29 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

When you follow God, you get low. That is what my Dad told me as a child. The closer that you get to God, the lower you will find yourself on the floor. You see will Him as much greater and worthy than you are and no task that He asks of you is too menial.

That ideal is were most of this comparison comes from today as I ponder words like worship with kneeling down and minister and slave with servant. How low are we willing to go when it comes to Christ?

Matthew 20:20 (KJV)

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

Matthew 20:20 (NKJV)

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.

Worshipping or Kneeling Down?

The Greek word is προσκυνέω proskyneō. This word appears 60 times in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament and, without exception, the KJV always translates this word as worship.

The ideal here is that you have come into the presence of One greater than you and you are paying respect. It literally means “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence. When occuring among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, it meant to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence. When we see this word occurring in the New Testament, it is understood as an act of “kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication” according to Strong’s.

In this respect, the KJV is correct in translating this Greek word as worship, but it is nice that the NKJV gives us the added understanding of how the mother of Zebedee’s sons was showing her worship. She knelt down, in the sense of prostrating oneself, before the Lord because she desired something from the One greater than herself.

Matthew 20:24 (KJV)

24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

Matthew 20:24 (NKJV)

24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.

Indignation or Greatly Displeased?

The Greek word is ἀγανακτέω aganakteō. It means to be greatly afflicted, in other words indignant in a figurative sense. This word appears 7 times in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament.  The KJV translates it as have indignation twice, be much displeased twice, with indignation twice, and be sore displeased once.

Indignation is defined as “anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.” Displeased is defined as to “make (someone) feel annoyed or dissatisfied.” The KJV gives us a closer ideal about what the ten were angry about, while the NKJV gives us an idea of how angry they were. The Greek word allows for both interpretations.

We all get annoyed when we feel that we have been treated unfairly, but even though we find ourselves “greatly displeased,” there is an attitude taught by Jesus that asks us to put our indignation aside and put others before us ….

Matthew 20:26 (KJV)

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

Matthew 20:26 (NKJV)

26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.

Minister or Servant?

The Greek word is διάκονος diakonos and it means an attendant, in the idea of a waiter at table or in other menial duties. You should think of a deacon when you hear this word.  The word appears 31 times in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament. The KJV translates it as  minister 20 times, servant 8 times, and deacon 3 times.

Both of these translations are correct using the word servant or minister. The KJV uses the word minister in this instance instead of the word servant in order to show that, in the Greek, there is a difference with the next word referring to our service in the next verse.

Matthew 20:27 (KJV)

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Matthew 20:27 (NKJV)

27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave

Servant or Slave?

When I researched this, I googled slave. This is the first image that appeared.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 2.29.04 PM

Is that what is being discussed here? Are we to sale ourselves legally to another individual in order to be the true the leader among others?

The Greek word is δοῦλος doulos. This word means an involuntary or voluntary slave both in the literal or figurative sense. The Textus Receptus Greek New Testament has this word appear 127 times. The KJV translates it into English as  servant 120 times, bond 6 times, and bondman once.

This Greek word is certainly a slave, but notice that the definition covers voluntary or involuntary. How many of us today would consider a slave as a voluntary position? Today, the English definition of slave is “a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” In this instance, the word slave doesn’t make sense with the modern understanding of the word using the voluntary sense. So, what did slave mean in the first century?

Daniel B. Wallace has been a teacher of Greek and New Testament courses at a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater. He has this to say about the historical understanding of doulos:

Slavery in the first century was quite different from slavery in early American history. For one thing, Roman slaves were either taken as the spoils of war or were such because they sold themselves into slavery (known as “bond-servant”). They were often well-educated (cf. Gal 3:24 in which the “tutor” or better “disciplinarian” or “guide” of the children was usually a slave). The normal word for “slave” in the New Testament is the term dou’lo”, a term that in earlier centuries usually referred to one who sold himself into slavery; later on, it was used especially of those who became slaves as the spoils of war. 


So, here we have the ideal of doulos in the early centuries. He said that it was a term that in earlier centuries usually referred to one who sold himself into slavery. Now, that sounds more like our modern day understanding of a servant and it would seem that the KJV makes the original meaning clearer here, even though the word slave would have been correct if we understood it in the first century sense.

Now, I want you to know, I also think I understand why the NKJV has chosen to use the word slave. It would seem that most people today don’t understand the ramifications of being a servant either. They aren’t willing to serve others and put themselves aside as a true Servant Leader should. Maybe the NKJV, by translating this word as slave, is saying to the English speaking world, “You should realize that when it comes to God and our fellow man, Christ wants us to get low” and what could be more low in our modern minds than a slave. The closer one gets to God, lower one will see himself or herself… and that is exactly the place where God can actually do something mighty with us.

Matthew 19:16-20:16 Jan 28 (KJV/NKJV Comparison)

In today’s reading, I was reminded that the bible was never meant to be read in a just a cursory manner. It should be read closely in order to gain the meaning behind every word, because each Hebrew or Greek word was chosen by God to give you a better understanding of Him. It should be read like a love letter that you read over and over in order to better understand the heart of the one who sent it to you.

Let’s take a closer look at the differing English words that the KJV and NKJV use to give us an understanding of the original words that God chose…

Matthew 19:16 (KJV)

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Matthew 19:16 (NKJV)

16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

Master or Teacher?

The Greek word is διδάσκαλος didaskalos. The Textus Receptus Greek New Testament has this word appear 58 times.  Whenever the word is connected with Jesus in the KJV, which is 40 times, the capitalized word Master is used. In other places, the word teacher is used 10 times, the lower-case version of master is used 7 times, and doctor is used once.

This word is used similar to the way we would use the word doctor today. It certainly is a teacher, but there is more here than just the idea of a general teacher. It is an instructor acknowledged for their mastery in their field of learning; in Scripture, a Bible teacher, competent in theology.

While the NKJV helps us instantly understand that this one that came to Jesus considered Him as a teacher, the KJV  reveals to us that the man considered Jesus to be a master of theology and, by capitalizing this word, the KJV translators were showing respect to Jesus as being the ultimate Master of Theology. By using the word Master, the KJV shows us the deeper meaning of the Greek word which I have to say was interesting, but, to find it, one would have to look deeper than just a cursory reading.

Matthew 20:1 (KJV)

20 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:1 (NKJV)

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.

Householder or Landowner?

This Greek word is οἰκοδεσπότης oikodespotēs. It literally means the head of a family. There is nothing here about owning land in the Greek. This man is the head of his family and he is hiring out workers for his vineyard. The NKJV may give us a cursory understanding about what is occurring here by translating this as landowner, but that meaning only relates to the subject at hand and it isn’t the Greek word.


Matthew 20:11 (KJV)

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

Matthew 20:11 (NKJV)

11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner,

Goodman of the house or Landowner?

This is the same Greek word, οἰκοδεσπότης oikodespotēs, being used again. The KJV adds to this ideal here by calling this fellow the goodman of the house. When I looked up the definition of a “goodman,” I found that the word goodman was once used as an adjective in England. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, it “is a mark of respect, and is used somewhat as our word “Mr.,” an appellative of respect or civility.” So here, the words “goodman of the house” might be considered as Mr. Head of the family. He was the patriarch of the family, and, in this instance of disrespect that was being shown him, the KJV is attempting to show that this was an individual who deserved respect by calling him the “goodman of the house.”

The NKJV is still using the same word, landowner, that isn’t the actual translation of the Greek word, but gives a generalized idea of who this individual was in relation to the workers. That is good for a cursory reading, but a deeper study gives us a deeper understanding of what is going on here.

Matthew 20:2 (KJV)

And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:2 (NKJV)

Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Penny or Denarius?

The Greek word is δηνάριον dēnarion and is of Latin origin and literally means ten asses (more on that later)! This word appears 16 times in the Greek Textus Receptus New Testament. The KJV translates it consistently with words such as penny, pence (plural of penny), and pennyworth.

The denarius was a Roman silver coin in New Testament time. “It took its name from it being equal to ten “asses”, a number after 217 B.C. increased to sixteen (about 3.898 grams or .1375 oz.). It was the principal silver coin of the Roman empire. From the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, it would seem that a denarius was then the ordinary pay for a day’s wages” (Strong’s).

The NKJV transliterates the word as denarius. According to the Baptist Basics website, “The KJV translators chose not to reintroduce the almost forgotten term of denarius and instead substituted it with what they felt to be an equivalent coin of the time – the English penny. Historians believe that its roots can be traced back to the Roman denarius, as evidenced by its abbreviation of “d.” that was used until 1971. The English penny was a silver coin that began in 785 A.D. and was originally around 1.3 to 1.5 grams in weight. By the time of King James I its standard was around .5 grams.

The general thought as to why they used “penny” instead of “denarius” is for the understanding of the average reader. Their assumption was that the two coins were close enough in value as to make it accurate. It is impossible to determine if their economic values were close, but they would have been the most widely used silver coins at their times.

While it would seem to be a better idea to just transliterate these ancient coins, as the NKJV does, neither translation gives us a clear meaning when you are just casually reading the text. For example, when an American reads the KJV’s penny with a cursory reading, they would hear the lowest valued currency in America. When that same American reads denarius in a cursory reading, they still would have no idea that this word means the worth of ten jackasses in New Testament times! I am not sure how you can make that one clear with one, or more than one, English word. This one Greek word will probably always need to be looked at closer, and from our study today, I hope you can see, that isn’t a bad thing.