Please will someone comment on the doctrine the apostles taught, the very doctrine of Christ, the gospel of Christ—the gospel Paul speaks of in 2 Cor. 4:3-4. I cannot abide using any Bible but King James. It frightens me for people to do so. It’s close to Rev. 22:18-19. I see no need for any other interpretation of God’s Word.
Your question brings up several words which need careful definition before we can understand each other correctly.
A doctrine is a set of religious beliefs; it may be true or not true, depending on its foundation.
An interpretation is someone’s explanation of a portion of the Bible. Like a doctrine, this may be true or false depending on the interpreter’s understanding.
A translation is an equivalent word-by-word rendering of the Bible text in a language other than its original. The accuracy of the translation depends on the translator’s knowledge of the languages he is using, and his skill and fairness in choosing equivalent terms according to the context of a particular passage. (The King James Version is a translation of the Bible made in seventeenth century England by a group of scholars chosen for the task by King James.)
A paraphrase is much nearer an interpretation than a translation, not being an exact word-for-word equivalent of the original. It cannot be relied upon as a translation, although it may sometimes contain a more understandable wording.
The Gospel, as used in the Bible, is the teaching of Jesus and His apostles, their message of salvation as affirmed by Paul who wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
What you call “the doctrine the apostles taught, the very doctrine of Christ, the gospel of Christ, the gospel Paul speaks of in 2 Cor. 4:3-4” are all one and the same.
We read in Mark 1:14-15 that after John the Baptist was put in prison, “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel.’” In Luke 8:1 we read that Jesus “went throughout every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”
After Jesus was taken to heaven, the Apostles went everywhere preaching Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and coming Kingdom and the life we must live to have a part of that Kingdom. Paul, commissioned by Jesus Himself to be a minister to the Gentiles, preached the same Gospel and declared that he had received it directly from Jesus. “I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it of man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). Maintaining the purity of the Gospel message was a very serious issue to Paul, as it has been to every other loyal Christian teacher. Paul himself spoke of the danger of holding the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-19), and pledged his own personal loyalty to Christ.
In summary, the Gospel was, and is, the message about “the kingdom of God” and “those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We cannot, however, equate “the Gospel” with the King James Version or any other translation. A translation is simply that: a word-by-word rendering of the original text in another language. But translation does not impart inspiration. The King James Version is no more or less inspired than the New English Bible, or the New Revised Standard Version or the New Jerusalem Bible. The original text is what God inspired, not the translation.
Ideally, the process of translating the Bible has nothing to do with the content of “the Gospel” or any Biblical doctrine if the translator properly understands the passage and gives the proper equivalent renderings.
We today are very grateful for reliable translations, we who do not read easily the original Greek and Hebrew. And not having a copy of the Bible in its very original form as the inspired author wrote it down, we must rely on a translation of a copy of the original.
But actually this situation is very good. It shows us that God was guarding His Word because so many copies of the original exist and there are so few differences between them. And though the translations have been done by scholars and some passages are unclear, by comparing one translation with another and looking at the original text, one is usually able to arrive at an understanding in harmony with the general teaching of the Bible.
Actually, scholars have shown that when the manuscript copies are compared, no significant text is affected by copyists’ errors, and we are able to get a complete understanding of the Gospel message from almost any translation that has been made.
King James or Modern English?
Shall we say that we prefer the King James over the modern English Bibles, or the reverse?
As far as the accuracy of translations is concerned, the newer translations have been shown to be more accurate than King James for two reasons: They are translated from manuscripts which are older (and therefore nearer to the original writing) than the text (the Latin Vulgate) which was used as the basis for the King James Version. Also, they are worded in modern English, to which we are accustomed, not the Old English, and so some of the unfamiliar wordings are clarified.
But it is very important to distinguish between a translation and an interpretation. The King James Version is a translation, not an interpretation. The translators who chose the English equivalents for the original words of the text were not (or should not have been) trying to interpret the text, though at times any translator does just this—he chooses a word in keeping with his understanding of the passage. This is a good feature if his understanding of the text is good; a bad feature if his understanding of the text is limited, or misled.
The King James Version in use today was translated from the Greek into English by a group of 47 scholars during the reign of King James of Great Britain (not by the King himself), in about the year 1611. The English used was that in common use in England at that time—which is very different from English as we speak it today. For this reason the KJV is sometimes regarded as “sacred” because the English is out of date. But this fact alone does nothing to make the King James Version superior. Just as the King James Version was more understandable to a large number of people in seventeenth century England because it put the Bible text into their common language, so the newer translations today make certain portions more understandable to us by being written in our everyday speech.