1 Corinthians 4:4 "For I know nothing BY myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord."
This verse is fiercely attacked by many "noted scholars" as being a blunder and a defect in our beloved King James Bible. Most modern versions, like the NKJV, NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, have altered the translation to mean something else. Here is a site that lists several "defects" in the King James Bible.
Notice how these learned men exalt themselves and heap praise on one another, all the while "correcting" the Book of books with degrading insults. They suggest that "volumes, instead of a few pages, may easily be written to illustrate the defects of the A.V.", while they refer to themselves as "this honored body".
I have read through the entire list and every one of their criticisms can be refuted by showing parallel examples, other versions and commentators who agree with the KJB readings, or instances of where the modern versions like the NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV have done the exact same thing they criticize in the KJB.
Here is what this "honored body" of scholars and one Professor in particular has to say regarding 1 Corinthians 4:4.
"Volumes, instead of a few pages, might easily be written to illustrate the existing defects of the Authorized Version. From a few of the many existing compilations on this subject, some specimens will be drawn. Members of the Revision Committees have a special right to be heard on these points, and Professor Hare of this honored body gives the following illustrations:
"St. Paul says, in the Authorized Version (1 Cor. iv., 4), 'I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified.' This seems incongruous, because 'to know nothing by one's self' means 'to know nothing originally or independently.' In the older English, 'to know nothing by one's self' meant 'to know nothing lying at one's door,' and this is the only sense of which the Greek words in the passage which seems so incongruous are susceptible."
Notice the reasons given for correcting the KJB, and how sure they are of themselves. First, they say the reading of "I know nothing BY myself" SEEMS incongruous, and they then conclude "this is THE ONLY SENSE of which the Greek words...are susceptible".
Secondly, they redefine the simple term "I know nothing by myself" with some very dubious and obscure definition, and tell us the simple sense cannot possibly be right because it doesn't make sense to know nothing independently.
Well, it may come as a shock to some, but there are a whole lot of things about God and how things are being worked out in His plan that we do not know independently. Only God knows them and the context of First Corinthians clearly shows this.
The apostle says: "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing BY myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."
Most modern versions actually create a contradiction while supposedly correcting the "defects" of the King James Bible. The NKJV (NASB, RSV, ESV, Green's interlinear, etc.) say: "For I know nothing AGAINST MYSELF, yet I am not justified by this."
Many of them totally paraphrase the verse. The NIV says: "My conscience is clear". There is no word for "conscience" and certainly no words here for "is clear".
The Greek text reads: "ουδεν γαρ εμαυτω συνοιδα αλλ ουκ εν τουτω δεδικαιωμαι ο δε ανακρινων με κυριος εστιν" and the specific phrase that is being called into question is composed of these 4 words - ουδεν γαρ εμαυτω συνοιδα"
The 2011 Thomas Nelson Expanded Bible says: "I know of no wrong I have done". The 2012 version called The Voice says: "Although I am not aware of any flaw that might exclude me from this divine service."
Once again, it seems these versions have just jumped on the bandwagon and make up words not found in ANY text so they can give it the meaning they want it to have. There is NO word in the text for "wrong" or "I have done"; neither are there any words for the entire phrase "any flaw that might exclude me from this divine service" - they just made it all up and pass it off as "the latest in advanced scholarship"!
The 2007 New Living Translation (a total paraphrase) says: "My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide."
Again, there are NO words here for "My conscience is clear" nor "that doesn't prove I am right", nor "himself who will examine me and decide." They just made all that up. This is what they call "dynamic equivalence".
Which of us can truthfully say "I know nothing against myself"? All of us recognize that we have failed miserably in the past and still continue to fall way short of the character and image of Christ.
Paul himself certainly knew of many things "against" himself. He says of himself in 1 Timothy 1:13-15 "who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief...Christ came into the world to save sinners: OF WHOM I AM CHIEF." Notice he does not says I WAS chief, but I AM chief."
The whole of Romans chapter 7 deals with many things Paul and all real Christians know against themselves. "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin, for that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not: but what I hate, that I do...For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not...the evil which I would not, that I do...O wretched man that I am."
Can any of us honestly say that we know nothing AGAINST ourselves? Apparently the apostle Paul could not; unless of course you use a modern version.
The context of 1 Corinthians 4 is speaking about stewards. The Lord Jesus Christ gave many parables about stewards who were entrusted with certain duties. It was not until they finally reported to their Lord that they heard from his mouth either a rebuke or a praise regarding how they had done.
The apostle tells the Corinthians that it was a small thing of no importance how they judged him or any man. Paul obviously was also a man. Yea, he says, I judge not mine own self. According to the modern versions, Paul had already judged himself.
The modern versions have him concluding that he knew of nothing against himself, and this creates two contradictions. One - he certainly knew of things against himself as he testifies in other places of the New Testament.
And Two - How can he say he does not judge himself, and then say he didn't know of anything against him and that his conscience was clear? This would imply that he already was judging his faithfullness as a steward.
Rather, the King James reading of "I know nothing BY myself" is the only one that correctly fits the context. Paul concludes in the next verse: "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts."
We do not know by ourselves how well we are doing in our Christian walk. We may think we are doing better than we really are, or we may criticize ourselves more harshly than we deserve. God alone knows how we are doing and it is only when He appears that each of us will learn the truth of how faithful we have been with what He has given us.
My understanding of the passage is that he is saying we cannot really know how well or poorly we are doing in our stewardship. We may think we are doing well, when we are not, and vice versa. I don't know whether I am doing everything right, but my ignorance does not make me right before God (justified). God won't say, in effect, Oh you didn't know you were teaching false doctrine, so it is OK. Or You didn't know that was not what I wanted you to do, so it is OK too.
If I do or teach something out of ignorance, I still will be held accountable before God, and He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and the counsels of the heart.
1 Corinthians 4:4 does not have any significant textual variations. It simply reads: "οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐμαυτῷ σύνοιδα" = The "problem" all has to do with how they translate the word ἐμαυτῷ. The KJB translators and many others saw this as being exactly what it looks like in Greek - the dative of instrumentality, which simply means "BY myself"; and they were right.
"For I know nothing BY myself
Not only does the King James Bible read: "For I know nothing BY myself...but he that judgeth me is the Lord." but so also do Tyndale 1525- "I know nought BY MY SELFE: yet am I not therby iustified. It is the Lorde that iudgeth me.", Miles Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible (Cranmer) 1540 - "For I knowe nought BY my selfe", Matthew's Bible 1549, Bishop's Bible 1568 -"For I knowe nothing BY MY SELFE, yet am I not thereby iustified", the Geneva Bible 1587 -"For I know nothing BY my selfe", the Beza New Testament 1599, the Bill Bible 1671, Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745- "For I know nothing BY MY SELF", the Hussey N.T. 1845, The Commonly Received Version 1851, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Smith Bible 1876, The Dillard N.T. 1885, the 21st Century KJV 1994 -"For I know nothing BY myself", and the Third Millennium Bible 1998.
Other Bible translations that also read "For I know nothing BY myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord." are The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson Bible 2002 - "for I know nothing BY myself", The Evidence Bible 2003, Bond Slave Version 2009, Revised Geneva Bible 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "for I know nothing BY myself", Conservative Bible 2011 - “I don't know anything BY myself, but I still don't have sufficient justification. The Lord is the one that judges me.”, Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2010 (Mebust) - "for I know nothing BY myself",
The Lawrie Translation 1999 says: "For I’m conscious of nothing BY myself, nor by this have I been justified, but he who judges me is the Lord!"
Green’s Literal 2005 and the Hebraic Roots Bible 2012 both have: “For I know nothing OF myself, but I have not been justified by this; but He judging me is the Lord.”
The Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003 - "For nothing BY myself am I fully conscious"
The King James Bible is right, as always, and the modern versions that try to "correct" it have actually ruined the true sense of the passage.
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