John 3:16 in the KJV

One of the best ways to begin to understand how the Authorized [King James] Version of the Bible differs from all of the other versions published today is to compare verse with verse in the KJV and in different versions. Today we’ll be looking at a very familiar verse, John 3:16 in the KJV.

The big publishing companies, seminaries, and even pastors will try to tell you that the new versions do not alter the important doctrines of the Bible.

As you start reading the King James Bible, however, you’ll begin to notice that in fact some verses are completely missing from newer translations. And others have been reworded in such a way as to diminish God’s truth, even the gospel, as you’ll see in just a minute when we look at John 3:16.

What to look for in the Bible versions

As I get more consistent with this blog, I’m hoping to spend a few minutes each week or two focusing on specific verses or passages that have their fullest meaning in the King James Bible, so you can begin to know what to look for when you are studying for yourself.

I promise it won’t take long before you begin noticing these alterations in the modern Bible versions. And pretty soon you’ll be amazed at just how much is missing from whichever new translation you had been reading.

John 3:16 in the KJV

Last week, we looked at Genesis 22:8, one of the clearest presentations of the gospel in the Old Testament.

Today we’ll look at perhaps the most well-known verse in evangelical Christianity, John 3:16, in the King James Bible.

It’s the verse that often gets chalked on large pieces of cardboard at NFL football games and sporting events, and other large gatherings of people.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

— John 3:16

Many people know this verse by heart, but the question is, did they memorize the words of God, or man’s paraphrase?

You might be shaking your head right now, wondering, “Does it really matter? Don’t all the versions share the good news, regardless which words we memorize?”

I actually have two things to say about that:

The virgin birth matters

First, the virgin birth of Christ is one of the foundations of the Christian faith. Here’s why….

If Christ were not born of a virgin, he would not be God. Therefore, he would not be the perfect, spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The virgin birth is extremely important in order that the sacrifice for us be holy and acceptable to God.

In John 3:16, the word “begotten” is necessary to convey the truth that Jesus is both God and man. If Jesus were not born of a virgin, begotten by God, he would not be God. And if he were not God, he would not be able to present himself as the perfect, spotless Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus Christ has to be the only begottenof the Father — both man and God — in order to take our place on the cross for our sins.

So in John 3:16, the word “begotten” is necessary to convey this truth. Beware of any bible translations that remove it. (In fact, the men who corrupted the manuscripts did not believe in the virgin birth, so we should not be surprised to see this verse perverted in versions that translate from them.)

John 3:16 in the KJV: God’s only begotten son

Secondly, some of the modern Bible versions say instead God gave “his only Son,” or “his one and only Son.” Here’s why this is important:

If your version says anything other than “his only begotten Son,” you might have accepted it without question. (I did!)

But if you turn to Romans 8:14, Philippians 2:15, or 1 John 3:1-2, you’ll see all who are born again are sons of God!

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

—Romans 8:14

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world,”

—Philippians 2:15

So if we believe a Bible version that says God gave his “one and only Son,” then we know right away we are reading a Bible that contradicts itself.

How can we trust a Bible version if we find one verse has been changed?

And if that Bible can have an error so great as this one, how can I trust all the other verses to be true?

That is the question I began asking myself over and over again, the more I read the King James Bible and noticed the differences between Bible versions.

I know some people think this is splitting hairs, but I hope you’ll prayerfully ask God to guide you as you earnestly contend for the faith. And I’ll be cheering you along, because I’m with you — these are hard questions, and ones we probably never thought to ask before!

You’re not in this alone, my friend. God has got your back, and, if you’re reading this, I am praying for you too!

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Are you interested in studying the Bible but you aren’t sure which version to choose?

Have you ever wanted to read the King James Bible, but someone told you it was too difficult?

My name is Michele, and I’ve had those same questions too. 

In my 23 years as a Christian, I’ve read many of the modern Bible versions. But once I started reading the King James version, I discovered it was unlike anything I had ever read before, and I want to share that joy with you.

I’m here to dispel the myth that the KJV is hard to read. To give you tools and tips to get started. And to encourage you as you begin reading the greatest book that’s ever been written!

Thank You

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