King James Only
Where did the term originate?
By Dr. Ken Matto
The term “King James Only” has a tremendous history to it. Over time, the term has become a derogatory accusation by proponents of the modern versions. It has become synonymous with the understanding that King James Only means a bunch of King James nuts dancing around a King James Bible and worshipping it. Those who are totally void of reality in their lives will honestly believe that it is a worship of the King James Bible. Nothing could be farther from the truth but since most Christians get their understanding of Bible history from the comic pages, it is necessary to give a brief understanding of this term and how it came to be and the extreme wisdom behind it.  In 1603 when King James VI of Scotland was about to ascend to the English throne as King James I, something called the Millenary Petition was given to him. It was the signatures of over one thousand Puritan ministers who were thoroughly repulsed by the serious spiritual decline in the Church of England.
The Petition reached its high point with the Hampton Court Conference where the outcome was a suggestion by King James for a new Bible version. Up to the time of 1603, the churches in England were using several versions of the Bible, they were the Geneva Bible of 1560, The Bishops Bible of 1568, The Great Bible of 1539, Taverners Bible of 1539, Matthew’s version of 1537, Tyndale of 1526, and the Coverdale of 1535 (burnt according to the decree of Henry VIII in 1546). What was happening in the churches of England was there were many translations of the Bible and there was some confusion, even though they were from the same manuscript line which led up to the King James Bible 1604-1611.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
(Tyndale 1526) and for to loke for his sonne from heven whom he raysed from deeth: I mean Iesus which delivereth vs from wrath to come.
(Matthews 1537) and for to look for his son from heaven, whom he raised from death: I mean Jesus which delivereth us from wrath to come.
(Geneva 1560) And to looke for his sonne from heauen, whome he raised from the dead, euen Iesus which deliuereth vs from that wrath to come.
(Bishops 1568) And to tary for his sonne from heauen, whom he raysed from the dead: euen Iesus which delyuereth vs from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 gives us a good look at the four versions which convey the same message but with different English in some places. It must be kept in mind that the English language was still in flux in the sixteenth century and that is why there was much difference in translations into the English. By 1604, the English language had started to become solidified and this is where the wisdom of King James came in concerning the term “King James Only.”
What King James wanted to do, was to unify all the churches in England with one Bible version so there would not be any confusion. King James was a strong Christian but was weak in body. He wanted unity in the churches between the pulpit and congregation, and between churches. That is the history behind the term “King James Only.” In fact, even up to 100 years ago here in the United States, there was unity of Bible usage as the King James Bible was still in use. The 1881 RV and the 1901 ASV never really made any serious inroads into the churches. The first serious threat to Biblical unity in Christianity was the Revised Version of the Communist Group National Council of Churches completed in 1952, then in 1959 came the New American Standard Version, and then Satan’s crowning achievement, the New International Version in 1973.
Now, not only do you have absolute confusion in bibles when you go from church to church, but now within every congregation in every church is a number of modern versions, all saying something different and you never get past, “What does your version say?” With Christian approval, Satan now marches into every church with a new version every six months, each one being more corrupt and neutralized than the one before it.
Now do you see the extreme wisdom of “King James Only?” It was for the purpose of making sure Christians can grow in the faith and when the Bible is discussed or preached, all will be on the same page with the same words and therefore no confusion in the mix. How many times I have heard preachers preaching from a modern version and then have to state in their sermon, ”Well the NIV states it this way,” and “The Message states it that way.” King James was more prophetic than he realized when he wanted one translation for unity in the churches.
Now you know what “King James Only” stands for and the next time you hear it used derogatively, you will know the person is ignorant about it and you can correct him or her. Let us not continue to believe a lie!