Acts 19:20 "So mightily grew the word of GOD and prevailed."
Is it true that the word "God" should have been translated as "the Lord"? How do you answer those who challenge the King James Bible in this way, saying that there is a translational error here in Acts 19:20?
In his book, The King James Only Controversy, James White says on page 67 that the King James translators used the Latin Vulgate to come up with the reading "the word of GOD", rather than the Greek texts. Is this true?
Joining James White is another man who likewise does not believe that any Bible in any language is now the complete and pure words of God. Oh, he will SAY that he believes the Bible is the infallible words of God, but if you ask him to show you a copy of it or tell you where you can get one, he will NEVER tell you.
In his book, King James Onlyism: A New Sect, James Price tells us on page 114: "Scrivener listed two examples of what he called "oversight" and "inadvertence". In Acts 19:20 all English Versions (except Coverdale) read "OF GOD", although the Greek texts all read "OF THE LORD". The only support for the reading "of God" seems to be the Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate."
As we shall soon see, James White, Mr. Scrivener and James Price are perhaps ignorant as to why many translations have legitimately rendered this phrase as "the word of GOD", and they are also wrong about the reading found in "the Greek texts", as they say.
There are a variety of readings here with some Greek texts like E, 88, 436, reading "the word of God" as well as the Old Latin manuscripts ar, c, e, gig, p, ph, ro, w, and the Armenian versions.
Then the well know manuscript D actually reads "the FAITH OF GOD".
The Hebraic Roots Bible of 2015 follows this reading and says "and the FAITH OF ELOHIM strengthened and increased."
The reading "the word of GOD" is also found in the Syriac translations of Lamsa 1936, Murdoch 1852 and Etheridge 1849, as well as Beza's Codex Cantabrigiensis.
Acts 19:20 states, "So mightily grew the word of GOD and prevailed," in the KJB and the most ancient versions.
"The KJV reading "word of God" is based on a long history of ancient manuscripts and vernacular editions. Extant Greek manuscripts from as early as the 5th and 6th centuries, which representing much earlier texts, have the word "God" in this verse (e.g. D, E). The most ancient versions use the word "God" (e.g. Old Itala, it-d , it-w fourth century; Syriac, syr-p fifth century, the Armenian Bible, written in the 300s by Chrysostom et al.) Beza Codex Cantabrigiensis uses "God" in both its Greek and Latin parallel edition" (Bezae Codex Cantabrigierisis, ed. Frederick H. Scrivener. Cambridge: Dcighlon. Bell, and Co., 1864)
Scrivener did not always get it right and there are several instances where he was wrong about which Greek readings the KJB translators followed. But for the sake of argument, let's go with the text followed by the Scrivener's Textus Receptus and see if Mr. Price's assertion is right or not.
People who say this is a translational error are merely voicing their personal opinion, which many other translators do not share. I am not an expert, but I know enough to be able to defend the KJB here. The word found in the TBS Greek text (Scrivener's 1894) is literally Kurios, which usually in the N.T. is translated as Lord. However, in the Greek translations of the Old Testament, the word Kurios is used thousands of times for the Hebrew words God (Elohim) and Jehovah.
It is interesting that the phrase "the word of God" is only found 3 times in the O.T. Usually the phrase is "the word of the LORD". Yet, in the Greek translations of the O.T. two of the three times the phrase "the word of God" is used, the Greek uses "the word of Kurios". The two places where the Hebrew says "the word of God" the Greek translation has "o logos Kuriou" are 1 Kings 12:22 and 1 Chronicles 17:3. The one where the Greek uses Theos is Proverbs 30:5 "o logos Theou".
"the word of GOD"
Not only does the King James Bible translate Acts 19:20 as "the word of GOD", but so also do Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Matthew's bible 1549 - "So myghtyly grew the word of GOD, and preuayled.", the Great Bible 1540- "mightely grewe THE WORD OF GOD, and preuayled.", the Bishops' bible 1568, the Douay-Rheims of 1582, the Geneva Bible 1587 - 1599 - "So the WORDE OF GOD grewe mightily", The Beza New Testament 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, Whiston's N.T. 1745, Wesley's 1755 translation, the Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Improved N.T. 1809, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster's 1833 translation, The Pickering N.T. 1840, The Longman Version 1841, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Revised N.T. 1862, the N.T. American Bible Union 1865, The Alford N.T. 1870, The Revised English Bible 1877, Young's 'literal' 1898 - "so powerfully was the word of GOD increasing and prevailing.", the Worrell New Testament 1904, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Improved Bible 1913, the Douay 1950, the New Simplified Bible, The Living Bible 1971, Green's KJV 2000, the KJV 21st Century version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible of 1998 and the English Jubilee Bible of 2010 - "So the word of GOD grew mightily and prevailed.", .
Other English Bibles that also read "the word of GOD" are The Word of Yah 1993 - "the word of GOD", Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Worldwide English New Testament 1998 - "the word of GOD", God's First Truth 1999, The Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001 - "So mightily grew the word of Yahweh and prevailed.", The Tomson New Testament 2002 - "the word of GOD", The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 (Vince Garcia), The Bond Slave Version 2009, The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "So mightily grew the word of Elohim (אלהים) and prevailed.", Conservative Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "the word of GOD".
The Natural Israelite Bible 2012 says "So the word of YAHWEH grew mightily and prevailed."
Foreign Language Bibles = "the word of GOD"
Among foreign language Bibles that also read "the word of GOD" are the Italian Diodati 1649, the New Diodati of 1991 and the Italian Riveduta 1927, the New Riveduta of both 1994 and 2006 - "Così la parola di DIO cresceva potentemente", the Italian La Bibbia della Gioia 2006 - “il messaggio di Dio” and the Portuguese O Livro of 2000 - "exercida pela mensagem de DEUS" and the Romanian Fidela Bible 2014 - "Astfel cuvântul lui Dumnezeu a crescut cu putere şi a învins.”
A couple of other translations are worthy of note. The Aramaic Bible in Plain English of 2010 reads: "thus with great power the faith of God was increasing".
John Gill notes on this verse: "So mightily grew the word of God, and prevailed. Over conjuring books, conjurers themselves, yea, even the devils; the power of God going along with it, many were converted; which is meant by the increase of it, and were delivered from the power of darkness, out of the hands of Satan, and translated into the kingdom of Christ. Beza's ancient copy reads, the "faith" of God; and the Syriac version, "faith in God".
Notice that though John Gill makes mention of other textual readings, he does not seem to have any problem with the KJB reading of "the word of GOD".
Versions like the NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV and the modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American Bible 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 all read "the word of the LORD" here.
It should also be noted that the vaunted NASB has done a similar thing but in reverse in Acts 12:24. There the Nestle-Aland Greek text, as well as the Majority and the Textus Receptus read "the word of GOD grew and multiplied."
The word here is Theos - God, and so read the RV, ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, Holman Standard, KJB, NKJV and numerous others, yet the NASB says "the word of the LORD" as does the Douay version, thus following a very minor reading and that of the Vulgate too."
Also, the word for Jehovah # 3068 is translated in three different ways in the King James Bible - as JEHOVAH, LORD, and GOD. The NKJV, NASB, NIV all translate it as both LORD and GOD, but not as JEHOVAH.
The Greek lexicons, like Liddell and Scott, 17th Abridged edition 1878 page 400 tell us that Kurios equals the Hebrew Jehovah, and Baer, Arndt and Gingrich on page 460 say Kurios can mean "lord, master, owner" and also is "a designation for God".
Even the NIV has translated this same word Kurios as "master, sir, owner, and his majesty".
Dr. Jeffrey Khoo, Academic Dean of Far Eastern Bible College says regarding Acts 19:20: "The KJV is not a mistranslation, and does not differ from the TR. The Greek word kurios can be translated in a number of ways depending on the context. It can be rendered "Lord", "master", "Sir", "God", or "owner". (see The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 900-1). Acts 19:29 certainly allows for "God" instead of "Lord" since the context is speaking of the Word of God as a whole. If it is rendered as "the word of the Lord" it might be construed as some specific word from Jesus instead of God's Word or the Holy Scriptures in general. In any case, whether it is "the word of God", or "the word of the Lord", both are perfectly acceptable translations of the original."
Acts 19:20 in the King James Bible is not an error, nor a departure from the Textus Receptus, but is a perfectly acceptable and accurate translation of the underlying Greek text.
In closing, let's take a look at a similar example that illustrates the ever-changing mindset of those who refer to the "art and science of textual criticism".
Philippians 1:14 "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word *** without fear."
So read Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops' bible, the Geneva Bible, Wesley, Young's, the NKJV 1982, the NRSV 1989, ESV 2011, Holman Standard 2003, NET version 2006, the 2005 TNIV, Modern English Version 2014 and the 2012 critical text Common English Bible. The Spanish Reina-Valera 1909-1995 as well as the modern Greek Bible also agree with the KJB reading - "to speak the word without fear."
The fickleness of the "art and science" of textual criticism is once again displayed in the handling of this verse. Both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus add extra words here, which are not found in the Majority of all texts, nor in the earlier P46. Vaticanus says "speak the word OF GOD", and so read Darby 1890, the Revised Version 1885, the ASV 1901, RSV 1971, NASB 1995, the ISV 2014, the Jehovah Witness NWT 1961 and 2013 editions and the NIV 1984 edition.
Westcott and Hort originally added the extra words "of God" to their text. Later on the Nestle texts still included the extra words "of God", but put them in brackets, and now the latest Nestle-Aland Greek critical texts have removed them from their text, and so have the more recent Bible of the Month Club versions like the 2011 ESV, the 2003 Holman Standard, the NET version 2006 of Daniel Wallace, the Common English Bible 2012, New International Reader's Version 2014 and now the NIV 2011 edition.
I guess the old NIV is once again out of date "according to the latest findings of $cholar$hip".
The 1984 NIV reads: "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak THE WORD OF GOD more courageously and fearlessly."
However the NIV 2011 edition now says: "And because of my chains, most of the brothers AND SISTERS have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim THE GOSPEL without fear."
You will notice that both NIVs read quite differently from each other when comparing the 1984 edition to the 2011 NIV edition.
If we follow the conflicting opinions of men like James White or James Price, we end up never knowing for sure what or where the true words of God are. These two men certainly do not agree even with each other regarding numerous textual matters.
They only thing they both have in common is their shared belief that the King James Bible is not the pure words of God and that there is NO 100% true and inerrant words of God Bible anywhere on this earth IN ANY LANGUAGE (including their never identified "THE" Greek and Hebrew) that either of these men will ever show you.
All of grace, believing The Book - the King James Holy Bible,
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