How can we really know God's Word when there are errors in translation?

The naive answer:

The King James version has no errors.

The problem with the naive answer:

The King James version does have errors. Many of these errors are corrected in the New King James version, but it also has errors.

The scholar’s answer:

There are errors in translation, probably in every version of the Bible. People seeking the truth should study the history of each passage to ensure the version they are reading is most accurate.

Here are a few examples of mistranslations:

  • Exodus 22:18 - “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The word “witch” should have been translated as “poisoner”.
  • Acts 12:4 - The word “Easter” should have been translated as “Passover”.
  • 1 John 5:7-8 - In the original version, only the first half of verse 7 existed. The second half of version 7 and all of verse 8 were added by later translators.
  • Matthew 22:32 - “…God is not the God of the dead…” should be “…I AM is not the God of the dead…” .

Most Christians realize that the Bible was not written in English. Books of the Bible were written in several different languages, mostly Aramaic and Greek, and have gone through several translations during the last two millennium. In some cases, no copy of the original book exists. Scholars attempt to identify the earliest written work, and base translations off of that work; often correcting the mistranslations of the past as we come to better understand the meaning of each word used in the earliest Bible sources we have.

Christians trust that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God and recorded God’s message perfectly, but what about the translators? Could they have mistranslated? The answer is definitely ‘Yes’. Several of the mistranslations in the King James Version can be found on Sometimes errors are caused by a typographic mistake instead of a mistranslation. A few of these Bibles have names such as the “The Sinners Bible”, “The Fools Bible”, the “Adulterer’s Bible”, the “Wife-Beaters Bible”, and the “Printers Bible”. Each is named based on a misprint contained within.

Knowing that translation errors exist even in the most revered versions of the Bible leads us to realize that the Bible was written by humans and it is not a perfect document written by God. It is possible that archaeologists will find earlier versions of the books of the Bible than those we have today, and also discover that the early versions we have today contain mistranslations from their originals.

Logically, we can conclude that any Bible referenced may contain errors and therefore any phrase in the Bible should not be obeyed with unquestioning loyalty when doing so will cause harm to others.

Some references for further research: