A fellow King James Bible believer writes: "This may be a small matter but in the KJV in Ephesians 5:8 it says "For ye were SOMETIMES darkness". In most all others versions I have checked the verse is "for you were ONCE darkness or it will say at ONE TIME. It poses a problem for me because it sounds like the KJV is saying that unregenerate man is sometimes darkness?? This poses a problem in light of other verses that say unregenrate man is in darkness, loves the dark etc etc. Like I said this may be minor but we read that verse today in church and that stuck out to me. Any info will be greatly appreciated."
This is a good question and I appreciate the fact that this brother asks about this apparent difficulty with a desire to learn and not to criticize the King James Bible or assume that it is just flat out wrong. So, let's see what we can find out about this verse and why it is correct.
There are no significant variant readings for this verse. The underlying Greek text is the same for all versions. The words "For ye were SOMETIMES darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." looks like this - ητε γαρ ποτε σκοτος νυν δε φως εν κυριω ως τεκνα φωτος περιπατειτε".
The "problem" all has to do with the meaning of the English word "sometimes". The Greek word "ποτε" (pote) is translated here in the King James Bible as "sometimes". It is not so hard to solve once you understand more about our own English language. This particular Greek word is translated in a variety of ways, not only in the King James Bible, but in others as well.
It is found almost 30 times in the New Testament and is variously translated as "when", "aforetime", "at length", "once", "in times past", "sometimes" (Eph.2:13 "ye who were SOMETIMES far off", Eph.5:8 "ye were SOMETIMES darkness"; Col. 1:21 "you, that were SOMETIME alienated and enemies", Col. 3:7 "ye also walked SOME TIME"; Titus 3:3 "we ourselves also were SOMETIMES foolish" and 1 Peter 3:20 "Which SOMETIME were disobedient") "any time", "in old time" and "at any time".
The NASB likewise translates this single word as "at any time, formerly, former times, at last, ever, never, once, when and "when once."
The NIV translates it as "once, at one time, ever, formerly, used to, ago, never, now at last, of the past, and previous." Most difficulties like "sometimes" as used in several passages of the King James Bible and others, are easily cleared up by just learning more about our own English language.
The English word "sometimes" has basically two different meanings. One of them is now considered to be "archaic" or even "obsolete" and the other one is more modern.
Collins Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary and others tell us that the modern usage of the word "sometimes" means "now and then; from time to time, or occasionally." However, though now considered to be obsolete or archaic, the word "sometimes" also means "formerly; sometime" and it still has the meaning of "at one time; opposed to another time."
The King James Bible does NOT use the words "sometime" or "sometimes" in the sense of "once in awhile, or occasionally" but it does use the words "sometime" (2 times - Col. 1:21 "you, that were sometime alienated" and 1 Peter 3:20 "Which sometime were disobedient") and "sometimes" (3 times - Eph.2:13 "ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh" and Eph. 5:8 "ye were sometimes darkness" and Titus 3:3 "we ourselves also were sometimes foolish") to mean simply "formerly" or "at one time".
Not only does the King James Bible use the words in this way but so too do the following Bible translations: Wycliffe 1395 - "For ye were SUM TYME derknessis, but now `ye ben liyt in the Lord.", Coverdale 1535 - "For SOMETYME ye were darkness", the Great Bible 1540 - "Ye were SOMETIME darknes", the Bishops' Bible 1568 - " For ye were SOMETIMES darkness", Whiston's N.T. 1745 - "For ye were SOMETIMES darkness", Webster's 1833 translation, The Word of Yah Bible 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998 - "For ye were SOMETIMES darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.", The Resurrection Life New Testament 2005 (Vince Garcia), The Hebrew Transliteration Scripture 2010 and The Bond Slave Version 2012 - "For you were SOMETIMES darkness, but now are you light in the Lord"
Young's 'literal' 1898 uses the word "sometime" in the sense of "formerly" in 1 Peter 3:20 - "who SOMETIME disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah" as do Wycliffe, the Great Bible, the Bishops' Bible, Whiston's N.T. and the Cambridge Paragraph Bible 1873 by Frederick Scrivener.
Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta uses the word "sometimes" in Ephesians 2:13 - "But now, through Jesus Christ, you who SOMETIMES were far off are brought near by the blood of Christ." and in Titus 3:3 - "For we ourselves also were SOMETIMES foolish, disobedient, misled, and serving divers lusts and passions, living in malice and envy, hated, and also hating one another."
So once again we see that this is not a case at all of there being an error in the King James Bible. It is just another example of learning the accuracy of an English word whose definition we may not have been familiar with.
For further examples of an "archaic" word and what the alternatives are, see Of Kine and Cattle in the King James Bible -
The King James Bible is still the ONLY English Bible believed by thousands to be in complete and inerrant words of God. Nobody holds up any other English translation or UNtranslated Bible "in the original languages" as being that Book. They simply do not believe that such a thing as a complete and inerrant Bible exists in ANY language.
Don't believe it? Just ask the Bible critics to show you a copy of their "infallible Bible". They will never do it.
All of grace, believing the Book - the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
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