King James vs. NIV? – Precept upon Precept vs. Do and Do

My wife and I were discussing Isaiah 28:9-10 this morning. This is a verse about teaching your children about God. It is in the context of fallen Ephraim.  (Ephraim had strayed from their former glory. Ephraim had fallen because both the people and the priests were drunkards.) Could it be they had forgotten to teach their children God’s truth?

Our discussion then went to the devastating consequences of modern Bible versions, such as the New International Version (NIV).  Could it be that our children have not been taught rightly because of watered-down Bibles like the NIV?

Let’s compare Isaiah 28:9-10 from the King James Bible (KJV) with  the NIV.

First the King James:

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Next, the NIV:

Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast?

For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there.

The footnote to verse 10  in the NIV does even more damage to the verse:

Hebrew / sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav (possibly meaningless sounds; perhaps a mimicking of the prophet’s words also in verse 13

I would say that the NIV does a good job of rendering Verse 10 meaningless.

The footnote, in the NIV, also mentions Verse 13. Here is verse 13 from the King James Bible.

But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. — Isaiah 28:13 (KJV)

This verse states that these people will be judged by the word of the LORD. It is not some meaningless sounds as the footnote indicates.  It is the word of the LORD!

Compare the two verses for yourself. The meaning is very different! Be careful and avoid the modern versions of the Bible. God preserved his word in the King James Bible.

God bless, Mike

6 thoughts on “King James vs. NIV? – Precept upon Precept vs. Do and Do”

  1. Unless we enjoy playing religious games and disregarding a Bible version that saw our family, friends, and an untold number of Christians follow Christ for more than 400+ years – then we need the KJV Bible. How did all these poor,unfortunate Christians manage with only the KJV? I’ll tell you – they did just fine. From Children’s Bible class to Theological giants Christians excelled armed with only the KJV Bible. These Christians, who were burned alive, led millions to Christ, founded some place called America, led the world in foreign missions, fought two World Wars, who make Christians today feel ashamed – had nothing but the KJV Bible. Think about that. Also, we cannot forget that the KJV Bible is in the public domain. Free to you and I to use without permission. No one company can control it. Isn’t that offensive? Free. As free as we are in Christ Jesus. I’ll bet your grandparents used the KJV Bible. Poor unsophisticated folks. They did just fine. And so will we. There is no app needed. You don’t have 17 notes for each verse. It is plain and to to point with maybe 20 words that we can easily learn to understand their meaning. Thee and thou we learn in school reading Shakespeare. Pretty simple if we only apply ourselves. We need not wait every year for the latest fad in Bible versions which is always strictly for making profit and almost certain to be forgotten about. Man has tried for many years to replace the KJV Bible and has lost every time. If it was used to groom a young farm boy from North Carolina named Billy Graham to be one of the earth’s greatest soul winners, then friends we will manage to get by today using the KJV Bible as well.

  2. King James is a great translation, our Pastor reads fromit, yet at times his wife and I find the NIV has a better translation and he often asks us to read from the NIV to compare. When I study, I read and cross reference to make sure I have the best understanding from all translations, especially when I’m preparing to preach.
    Praise God for His word, many people don’t have the priviledge of having a bible.The Holy Spirit will still speak through all translations! God Bless You.

  3. Hi Mike,

    I believe the message and context of the NIV and KJV passages are consistent: judgement on Ephraim for its indiscretion of hearing and following the ways of God.

    Note the themes:
    drunkards/drunkeness (vs. 1,3, 7-8)
    mockery/scoffing (14, 22)
    contrast of teachings of Ephraim and the ways of God (v. 3 with v. 5; v. 15 with 18)

    With these pervasive concepts, I think the passage in 9-13 can be understood correctly as saying essentially this: your drunken priests (who err in their judgements and are not led by God) are trying to teach the people but are ineffective and silly.  These same people, to whom God wanted to provide rest for the weary, did not listen to God –>and because of that the word of the Lord will be ineffective and silly to them and they will stumble and fall. 

    The scoffers boast about their covenant with death (v.15), and what is the word of te Lord to them now?  That this covenant with death becomes ineffective, annulled (v. 18). 

    To me it seems that the phrase “sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav” (translated as “precept upon precept, line upon line” in KVJ and as “Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule” in NIV)
    intends to portray how one teaches small children (note the similarity in sound in the original language, and the idea of “little by little”) — You could say that the teaching of these priests were uninformed, nonsensical, and useless.  Contrast this with what God teaches (v.23-26) and that God is “wonderful in counsel” (v.29).

    The contrasted of images in this passage are very beautiful: between the stumbling, staggering, filthy, drunken priests  and v.16-17 where God says He will set a “precious cornerstone” as a “sure foundation” and how He will make “righteousness the plummet” (KJV)  or (in the NIV “justice the plumb line”) — what the priests offer is unstable, errored, and insufficient, wherewas what God sets up is always secure, unwavering, stable, and precious.

    I said all of this because I believe it is important to evaluate the entire passage for context and meaning.  It seems to me that KJV and NIV present the same message.  I disagree with you that the NIV presents the word of the Lord as rubbish in this passage.  Note that in the NIV v.16-19 is the what the Lord “says” and His word and is certainly not presented as rubbish, v.23-26 is example of God’s useful and correct instruction, v.27-29 culminate with the conclusion in the NIV that the Lord is wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom” — just because the KJV says “excellent in doing” does NOT imply that here the KJV is trying to deny the wisdom of God! 

    In conclusion, simply because one difficult phrase in the middle of the passage is translated differently by different biblical translators is not itself problematic (anyone who speaks multiple languages knows that some phrases have many different and valid translations) — the meaning of the entire message of Isaiah 28 seems to be intact and consistent between NIV and KJV. 

    God bless,

  4. The most important issue of all Bible versions is the underlying texts used in translation. The pure and preserved texts are known as the Greek Textus Receptus and the Hebrew Masoretic text. It is also important to consider the lexicons that were used in modern translation work. All the modern lexicons and Bible dictionaries are corrupted by word definitions rooted in the Greek classics, not the definition given in the context of the Bible. The men who wrote these lexicons were Bible critics!

    These are issues that every Christian must examine!

    When I go into a Christian bookstore and look for a Bible, I am confronted with a literal “Bible babble” of versions.   One local bookstore even has a Bible consultant to help you choose which Bible is right for you.

    I recommend that you get a King James Bible without notes or study helps. Read the Bible daily.  When you don’t understand a word, look in the verse or verses around it for a definition.  The King James Bible contains definitions for the words in it. Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you.  Find a good concordance and use it to locate related passages through word studies.  Do not use the Greek references in the back of the concordance, for these are corrupt too.

    God gave an English Bible for English speaking people. We don’t need to learn Greek or Hebrew to understand the Bible.  Please investigate the line of translations that came after the King James Bible, starting with the Revised Version of Wescott and Hort. Look into the character and motives of these men.

    God will not leave us without his word. He provided it in the King James Bible. Satan wants to destroy your faith by changing the word of God.

  5. The rendering in the ESV is very close to the KJV… and the commentary is nothing like that in the NIV… I’ve never been fond of the NIV, though Linda and I read THROUGH it once.
    My ‘old reliable’  had been the NAS for many years, but I’ve used many versions, including TEV, Jerusalem, New English, New King James and now ESV. The latter especially for its extensive references.
    When you say ‘modern’ do you mean a departure from word for word translation?
    I would say, stick to central themes, read prayerfully, keep the ENTIRE context in mind, particularly when it comes to the NATURE and CHARACTER of God.

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