1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJB - “Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil.”
NKJV - “ Abstain from every FORM of evil.”
απο παντος ειδους πονηρου απεχεσθε
Some Bible correctors and unbelievers in the inerrancy of ANY complete Bible have criticized the way the King James Bible reads in this verse. They tell us that “appearance” is a very poor translation and has led to many misunderstanding what the verse is talking about.
They then suggest that more modern versions like the NKJV, ESV, NIV etc. are better when they say we should abstain from every FORM (or KIND) of evil. They tell us that the thing has to be evil itself and not just have the “appearance” of evil.
James White, as he frequently does, completely misses the point when he says: "Here is the difference between the NKJV's "Abstain from every FORM of evil" and the KJV's "Abstain from every APPEARANCE of evil." The word that is translated differently, 'eidos,' can mean "form, outward appearance," but it also can mean "kind." The NKJV captures both possibilities with "form," while the KJV's rendering limits us to only one of the two possible meanings of the term." The King James Only Controversy, page 116.
Actually the NKJV's "form" is the one that limits it to that which is actually evil, while the KJB's "appearance of evil" refers to that which in itself may not actually BE evil, but it can appear to be so to others and cause them to stumble in some way. The NKJV does NOT "capture both possibilities" at all. The meaning of the two Bibles is not the same.
This is not a textual variant issue. It is a translation issue. The Greek word for “appearance” (or form) is the same - ειδους. This word idos is only found 5 times in the New Testament and it comes from the verb “to see”. So the basic meaning of the word has to do with “that which is seen”
It is variously translated in the King James Bible as “shape” - “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily SHAPE like a dove” (Luke 3:22), and in John 5:37 - “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his SHAPE.”
And as “fashion” - “And as he prayed, THE FASHION of his countenance was altered”. Luke 9:29.
As “sight” - “For we walk by faith, not by SIGHT”. 2 Corinthians 5:7
And here in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 - “Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil.”
Even the NASB 1995, though it reads “Abstain from every form of evil.” Yet it footnotes “ Or appearance”.
The New Life Version 1969 says: “ Keep away from EVERYTHING THAT EVEN LOOKS LIKE SIN.”
The Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003 - “from every APPEARANCE OF EVIL be at a distance!”
The Conservative Bible 2011 - “Never APPEAR to do an evil thing.”
The Concordant Version 2006 - “From everything wicked TO THE PERCEPTION, abstain.”
The Far Above All Translation 2011 - “Avoid ANY SEMBLANCE of evil.”
The Faithful New Testament 2009 - “be staying away from EVERY VISIBLE FORM of wickedness.”
God’s First Truth 1999 - “Abstain from all suspicious things.”
New Life Version 1969 - “Keep away from everything THAT EVEN LOOKS LIKE SIN.”
The Resurrection Life New Testament (Vince Garcia) - “turning away from any that APPEAR to be evil.”
The Tyndale Bible 1534, Coverdale’s Bible 1535 and Matthew’s Bible 1549 all read: “Abstain from ALL SUSPICIOUS THINGS.”
Mace New Testament 1729 - “if it has THE LEAST APPEARANCE of evil, reject it.”
"Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil"
Not only does the King James Bible say “Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil” but so do the following Bible translations - the Great Bible 1540, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, Douay-Rheims Bible 1582, the Geneva Bible 1587 - “Absteine from all appearance of euill.”, the Beza New Testament 1599, the Bill Bible 1671, Whiston’s Primitive New Testament 1745, John Wesley’s New Testament 1755, the Worsley Version 1770, The Thomas Haweis New Testament 1795, The Thomson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, The Kneeland N.T. 1823, Webster’s Translation 1833, The Living Oracles 1835, The Pickering N.T. 1840, The Longman Version 1841, The Morgan N.T. 1848, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Smith Bible 1876, The Dillard N.T. 1885, Young’s 1898 - “from ALL APPEARANCE of evil abstain ye”, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The New Testament from the Sinaitic Manuscript, by Henry Anderson 1918 - “abstain from EVERY APPEARANCE of evil.”, the Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Tomson New Testament 2002, The Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003, New Simplified Bible 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, Green's literal 2005, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, The Spoken English New Testament 2008 - “Keep away from every APPEARANCE of evil.”, the Bond Slave Version 2009, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The Conservative Bible 2010, The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “Abstain from every APPEARANCE of ra’ah (evil).”, The Work of God’s Children Bible 2011 - “From ALL APPEARANCE of evil refrain yourselves.” and the Modern English Version 2014 - “Abstain from all appearances of evil.”
The Far Above All Translation 2014 says: "Abstain from every SEMBLANCE of evil."
Matthew Henry - We should therefore abstain from evil, and all appearances of evil, from sin, and that which looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of sin, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to sin, will not long abstain from the actual commission of sin.
John Gill - Abstain from all appearance of evil. Of doctrinal evil. Not only open error and heresy are to be avoided, but what has any show of it, or looks like it, or carries in it a suspicion of it, or may be an occasion thereof, or lead unto it; wherefore all new words and phrases of this kind should be shunned, and the form of sound words held fast”
Adam Clarke - Abstain from all appearance of evil - Sin not, and avoid even the appearance of it. Do not drive your morality so near the bounds of evil as to lead even weak persons to believe that ye actually touch, taste, or handle it. Let not the form of it, ειδος, appear with or among you, much less the substance.
Matthew Poole’s Annotations - as in worship to abstain from the show of idolatry; as to eat meat in an idol’s temple was not always gross idolatry, but had some appearance of it, and therefore the apostle forbids it, 1 Corinthians 10:14.
A clear Biblical example of "abstaining from all appearance of evil" is found in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 where we are told that "All things are lawful for me but not all things are expedient" and then given the example of eating meat that has been offered to an idol. In order not to offend the conscience of a weak brother or the church of God, we should abstain from eating it. It is not evil to eat it, but for the benefit of another, we should abstain. See 1 Corinthians 8 and 10.
The King James Bible is right, as always.
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