Is the NASV an improvement over the KJV? (Comparison)


We received an email from a listener who made the following comment:

“I agree that some of the new texts have gotten WAY out of hand but think that some such as the NASV are very accurate translations in today’s English language.  I am interested in knowing your reasons for relying only on the KJV since the English is so old and many words are difficult for many to understand.”

Our listener’s comment prompted us to do a comparison of the NASV with the KJV to determine if in fact it would be a good substitute for readers who did not want to look up the words in a King James Bible that they did not understand. Our listener cited accuracy and today’s English as two good reasons to switch to the NASV.

Concerning accuracy, most people who say that a modern bible is accurate are simply repeating something that they read or that they heard someone else say. Frankly, there are few qualified scholars who could render a serious and honest opinion about the accuracy of any translation. They would have to do at least three things before they could authoritatively comment on a translation’s accuracy.

First, they would have to study Greek, Syriac, and Hebrew, at a minimum, until they were literate in these languages, and not just schooled in vocabulary and the use of a Strong’s concordance and Vine’s dictionary. Second, they would have to personally examine multitudes of manuscripts scattered around the world, comparing them diligently. Third, they would have to evaluate the Holy Spirit’s giving of scripture by inspiration (2 Tim 3:16) throughout history to isolate those copies that had been corrupted (2 Cor 2:17) from those that had not. Even in Paul’s day, many were corrupting the words of God.

The fact is that when people say a translation is accurate, they are relying solely upon the scholar who rendered that opinion. The trouble with scholars is that they are limited in their ability to determine the accuracy of a particular translation because none of the original manuscripts are in existence today. Often, scholars intentionally lie to their audiences when they refer to “the originals” as if they had seen them and compared a translation to them. No one alive today has ever seen an original autograph.

In our personal three-year study of the Greek language and the manuscript evidence cited in Nestle’s 26th edition New Testament, we found repeated occurrences where highly recognized scholars like Kenneth Wuest purposely twisted evidence or mistranslated words to change a verse of scripture.

In addition, we found that they did the very same things in translation for which they criticized the KJV, knowing that few people would check them out. Trusting scholars’ opinions of modern bibles is bad business because they typically “wrest the scriptures,” (2 Pet 3:16). They cannot be trusted. Many of them stand to personally gain ($) from the recommendation of a particular translation.

Concerning “today’s” English, we have found over the years that there are more common expressions in use today found in a KJV than there are in modern Bibles. True, modern bibles get rid of the “thee’s” and “thou’s” and the “begat’s” and the “begot’s.” But who ever had a hard time understanding those words? In their attempt to modernize the language, translators have removed many words and expressions that are ingrained in our English language today. Here are just a few examples of this FACT.

Reference Common Word or Expression
Ps 105:22 “Senators” as in the government
Ps 106:29 “Inventions” as in something made by man
Prov 4:25 “Right on” – expression
Eze 24:16 “Stroke” the way some people die
Jer 51:20 “Battle axe” – expression
Eze 23:17 “Alienated” as in alienation of affection
1 Cor 7:31 “fashion” as in fashions and fads
Lk 15:13, 14 “wasted” and “want” as in waste not, want not
Ecc 10:1 “ointment” as in a fly in the ointment
Deut 32:10 “apple” as in the apple of his eye
Eph 1:14 “earnest” as in earnest money
Job 4:15 “stood” as in it made my hair stand up
Gen 30:27 “learned by experience” — expression
Acts 21:3 “unlade” as in bills of lading
Gen 23:17 “made sure” as in title insurance or surety
1 Sam 25:10 “nowadays” — expression
Jud 8:16 “taught” as in he taught them a lesson
Lev 11:35 “range” – a kitchen appliance
Gen 23:16 “current money” as in currency
Gen 42:34 “traffick” as in drug traffic
Ex 14:8 “high hand” as in poker or the upper hand
Num 1:2 “polls” as in counting votes
1 Sam 20:40 “artillery” as in munitions for war
Num 1:18 “pedigree” as in the descendants of an individual
Acts 27:3 “liberty” as in shore leave
Acts 27:15 “bear” as in a ship’s bearing
Acts 21:15 “carriages” as in baby carriage
Acts 21:40 “licence” as in a license to preach
2 Ki 9:5 “errand” as in go on an errand (a verbal message)
2 Chr 30:6 “posts” as in postal carrier or post office
2 Ki 9:26 “plat” as in a survey plat

On and on this list goes into the hundreds and hundreds of common words and expressions that are in a KJV and that have been changed in the NASV. If the words were already in today’s English and completely understandable then why were they changed? These words are in common use today and there is nothing difficult about them. These are not old expressions that have gone out of ordinary use.

Isn’t it strange that teachers and preachers today who are so concerned with accuracy and modernity continue to refer to “the Greek” for a better word to use when they don’t like the one in the Bible they are using? Greek is harder to understand than English.

Today men would rather look up a Greek word used to translate an English word in a text and then look up the definition of the Greek word to find out what the English word should have been, rather than look up the handful of words in the KJV that they don’t understand. This is strange indeed.

In Part II, next week, we will actually examine changes that were made in the NASV that directly attack the deity of Jesus Christ and some other very important doctrines of the Bible. Hold on to your hat!

Part II

In the forward of the NASV, we find the four-fold aim of the Lockman Foundation in publishing the NASV. Aim 3 states, “They shall be understandable to the masses.” This aim is in reference to making “the translation in a fluent and readable style according to current English usage.” In order to accomplish this aim, the editorial board changed many words. The trouble is that, as we saw in Part I of this answer, the NASV failed in its attempt to make many of the words more in line with “current English usage.” Most of the words in current usage are in the KJV.

Aim 4, in the forward of the NASV states, “They shall give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place…” In this part of the two part answer, we will see that the NASV editorial board also failed miserably to achieve this aim. Instead of giving Jesus his proper place, they ended up attacking his deity. The deity of Christ simply means that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. The NASV causes a lot of doubt about this doctrine.

The areas of Jesus’ deity that are attacked are his:

Virgin Birth

— In Lk 2:33, the KJV says, “And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.” The reason the verse says “Joseph” and not “father” is that Joseph was not Jesus’ father; God was. A little later in the chapter, Mary referred to Joseph as Jesus’ father when she said, “thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing,” (Lk 2:48). Jesus quickly clarified that Joseph was not his father when he answered in the next verse, “I must be about my Father’s business.”The NASV says, in Lk 2:33, “his father and his mother marveled,” thus stating absolutely that Joseph was his father. When you combine this with what Mary said, you have a real problem. Some members of the editorial board were just like the Pharisees who believed that Joseph was Jesus’ father and that Jesus was born as a result of fornication (Jn 8:41). Therefore, the change in the NASV is a serious attack on Jesus Christ.


— In Jn 1:18, the KJV says that Jesus is “the only begotten Son.” As much as people who promote modern Bibles detest the “begats” and the “begots,” they are very helpful here. Begotten means that Jesus was born. He was born “the Son of God,” (Lk 1:35). In eternity, he was the Word (Jn 1:1). But on the day of his birth to Mary he was “begotten” as the prophesied Son of God (Ps 2:8; Is 7:14; Is 9:6).The NASV makes a terrible mistake in Jn 1:18. The NASV says that Jesus is the “only begotten God.” That change alone gives more ammunition to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons than perhaps any other single change in the Bible. Those two heretical groups teach that Jesus is not the same God as God Almighty but that he is a lesser God that was created later. The NASV editorial board concurs completely with these heresies. The NASV professes that the one true eternal God begot another God that is not eternal, because he had a beginning when he was begotten.

Blood Atonement

— In Col 1:14, the KJV says that our redemption and forgiveness are through the blood of Jesus Christ, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Without the blood of Jesus Christ, there would be no salvation. As Heb 9:22 says, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.”The NASV eliminates the blood of Jesus Christ from Col 1:14. The NASV says, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Who besides the devil would be interested in cutting the blood of Jesus Christ out of our redemption and forgiveness? This is an appalling attack on the blood atonement.


— The doctrine of the incarnation simply states that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. The best verse in the Bible that reveals this doctrine is 1 Tim 3:16. The KJV says, “God was manifest in the flesh.” There is no doubt about what the verse says or means. It is 100% clear that God showed up in a man’s body (Heb 10:5). That body was the body of a man named Jesus (Lk 1:31-35).In the NASV, 1 Tim 3:16 has been clouded beyond recognition. It says, “He who was revealed in the flesh.” Who is “he?” It doesn’t say. Jesus is revealed in the flesh. But unless the verse says that God was manifest in the flesh, there is no way in this verse to show that Jesus is God. There is no legitimate reason for taking God out of that verse except to attack the deity of Jesus Christ.


— This one is one of the most glaring problems of all. In the KJV, 1 Jn 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” There is not a more obvious verse on the doctrine of the trinity in the entire Bible than this verse. If this verse is true, and we believe that it is, then Jesus, God Almighty and the Holy Ghost are all the same God. They are one.In the NASV, 1 Jn 5:7 is gone in its entirety. Oh, you’ll find a verse 7 in there, but it is not this verse. The editorial board took the second sentence of verse 6 out of verse 6 and moved it down to replace verse 7. They took verse 7 out completely. They could have had only one valid purpose in mind for removing this verse. They did not want such an evident verse on the Trinity in their translation of the Bible. It was an all out attempt to attack the deity of Jesus. They justified this deletion with some manuscript evidence, but their evidence is faulty. See our question What about 1 Jn 5:7? for an explanation.

Holy Spirit

— In the New American Standard Bible, The Open Bible, Expanded Edition, copyright 1985 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., there is a note on page 1272 that attacks the Holy Spirit in Jesus. Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit incarnate according to Lk 1:35 and Matt 1:18, 20. However, this note says that “He was the same indivisible person from the beginning (His baptism) to the end (His crucifixion) of his public ministry.” That statement comes from a doctrine that teaches that the Spirit of Deity (the Christ) came on a man named Jesus at his baptism and departed at his crucifixion. In other words, this statement says, in essence, that Jesus was not the Sprit incarnate from the time of his birth to his baptism and that he was not the Spirit incarnate after his crucifixion.As you can see from these examples, there is something horribly wrong with the NASV. These are not minor doctrines that are affected. When you consider why the editorial board made these changes, it is impossible to conclude that they did this to simply “modernize” the KJV. They had another motive in mind. While they cite manuscript evidence as their justification, their true motive was criticism. They did not like what they saw and they changed it to suit what they wanted to see.

Truthfully, the KJV cannot be so hard for you to read that you would willingly accept these changes in the NASV and think that you had purchased a better Bible.

Hope this helps,

Pastor Bevans Welder