1 Timothy 6:20 - Is the word “science” wrong in the King James Bible?
1 Timothy 6:20 KJB - “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of SCIENCE FALSELY SO CALLED.”
NKJV (ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Jehovah Witness NWT and the Catholic Versions) - "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called KNOWLEDGE"
Some King James Bible critics tell us that the KJB completely dropped the ball here in 1 Timothy 6:20 by translating the word “gnosis” as “science”. They point out that the word is found 29 times in the New Testament and 28 of those times the word is translated as “knowledge”. So they ask, “Why did the KJV translators suddenly change it to “science” here in 1 Timothy 6:20?”
One such Bible critic is a guy by the name of Reese C. He writes: "The difficulty here would seem to be between the words "science" and "knowledge." The fact is, there would be no way to differentiate the words for "science" and "knowledge" in Greek. Even the King James Version translates this word, gnosis, as "knowledge" 28 times. The literal meaning of the word is "knowledge." The Greek word for science is a different word, eeisteme. The NKJV translation is more accurate than the KJV on this verse." [End of Reese’s criticism of the KJB]
First of all it should be pointed out that not one of these KJB critics has or believes that ANY Bible in ANY language he can show us IS or ever was the complete, inspired and 100% infallible words of God. Not one of them. Just ask them to show you a copy of God’s infallible words in print, in hand and in stock. They can’t and won’t do it.
Secondly, it should be noted that ALL bible translations frequently translate the same Hebrew or Greek word in a wide variety of ways, often with words that have entirely different meanings in English. So the fact that the KJB translates the same word as "knowledge" and only one time as "science" means absolutely nothing. All modern versions do this same type of thing with other Hebrew and Greek words.
And thirdly, since I am convinced that the King James Bible is God’s true “book of the LORD” and the Standard for all written truth, I believe God had a direct hand in guiding the KJB translators to the right texts and the correct translation of those texts into the English language.
I believe the King James Bible translators and others were guided by God to correctly translate 1 Timothy 6:20 with the warning to avoid "oppositions of SCIENCE falsely so called." because 1 Timothy is speaking about what it will be like in the last days, and God knew that "science falsely so called" (Evolution and the "science" of textual criticism) would be the pitfalls that Christians would be facing.
The apostle Paul was writing to Timothy and giving us an epistle that would soon form part of God’s infallible and timeless Book. In this epistle the apostle tells us of what would be happening in the last days before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
”Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that IN THE LATTER TIMES some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1
God Himself is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He knows full well what will be happening in the last days and He knew how He would use the King James Bible to carry the gospel to the far ends of the earth and that it would be the ONLY Bible in the English language that would be believed by thousands even today to be the infallible and inspired words of God.
”Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Isaiah 46:10
The Bible is full of scientific facts that were not known when it was inspired and written by God. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:22 that God is “he that sitteth upon THE CIRCLE OF THE EARTH, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” God knew the shape of the earth was a circle long before man found out about it.
Likewise people may have wondered how it could be true in Revelation chapter 11 when the two witnesses of God are slain by the beast and their bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem and “they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall SEE their dead bodies three days and an half, and they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them and make merry.”
How could people living all over the planet SEE these dead bodies? Now with the advancements of worldwide Television and the Internet, it all becomes clear how this could easily happen.
God knew beforehand that there would be at least three major stumbling blocks causing unbelief that would be operative in the last times - “Tradition of men”, “philosophy” (Colossians 2:8) and “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20)
There is nothing wrong with good science. It is amazing to see the complex intricacies of life and all living forms of animals, plants and of the earth's ecosystem itself. It all bears abundant witness to the fact that there is vastly superior intellect - a personal Creator God - who is the Creator of it all and who set it in motion.
Much of modern day science is very good and beneficial to man, like the fields of medicine, chemistry and biology. But there is also a type of “science falsely so called” like the humanistic lie called Evolution "from molecules to man" so commonly taught in public schools and believed by many today, and it is THIS “science falsely so called” that God refers to his His infallible word.
Evolution is nothing more than a Fairy Tale for grownups who are desperately hoping there really is no God who created us and to whom they will some day be forced to give an account and be judged for their sins.
Another possible reference to this "SCIENCE falsely so called" may well be what the Bible agnostics and unbelievers in the infallibility of ANY Bible like to call their ever changing “SCIENCE" of textual criticism. The modern versionists are constantly changing not only their English translations but the underlying Hebrew and Greek texts as well.
The Bible itself is our rule of both faith and practice, or at least it should be. We see from the King James Bible itself that there is a difference between what is called “knowledge” and “science”.
What does the word Science mean? Oxford English Dictionary give us a good definition. It means: The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”
And what is the origin of this word? The English word “Science” comes from the Latin word scientia, from sciens having knowledge, from present participle of scire to know. It is derived from the basic word “to KNOW” and this is exactly the meaning of the underlying Greek word gnosis.
But the word “science” is not usually referring to knowledge in general, although the word can have this meaning. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary lists under Full Definition of Science - “the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding”
But generally the term is applied to “the specific knowledge or professed knowledge about the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.”
SCIENCE in the King James Bible
The word “science” only occurs twice in the King James Bible. Let’s look at the other time this word is used.
It is found in the prophetic book of Daniel where we read in chapter one of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, giving an order to Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs to bring certain men of the children of Israel who were characterized as - “Children in whom there was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in KNOWLEDGE and understanding SCIENCE, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Daniel 1:4.
Notice that they were to be both cunning in knowledge AND understanding Science. Clearly “science” here is a specific area of their general knowledge.
Also translating this verse in Daniel 1:4 as “understanding SCIENCE” are the Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795 - “of misnamed SCIENCE”, The Thomson Translation 1808, Webster’s translation 1833, the Lesser Old Testament 1835, The Longman Version 1841, the Boothroyd Bible 1853, Calvin Translation Society N.T. 1856, Leicester Sawyer’s N.T. 1859 - “the oppositions of false SCIENCE”, the Revised Version 1881, Darby 1890, the ASV 1901, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1904, the Hebrew Publishing Company O.T. 1936 - “and understanding SCIENCE”, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, the Updated Bible Version 2004, A Conservative Version 2005 - “and understanding SCIENCE”, Context Group Version 2007, the New Heart English Bible 2010 - and understanding SCIENCE”, Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, The New European Version 2010, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Conservative Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “and understanding SCIENCE.”, the World English Bible 2012, The Biblos Bible 2013, and the Hebrew Names Bible 2014.
Lamsa’s 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta - “who were handsome in their appearance and skillful in all wisdom and cunning in knowledge and understanding of SCIENCE”
Many foreign language Bibles did the same thing, translating this as ‘understanding SCIENCE”.
John Calvin’s translation into Latin - “vaniloquia et oppositiones falsò nominatae SCIENTIAE.”, Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569 - “y sabios en CIENCIA” = “wise in SCIENCE”, Cipriano de Valera 1602, Reina Valera Gomez 2010, French Martin 1744 - “connaissant les SCIENCES” = knowing the SCIENCES”, French Ostervald 1996 - “ayant de la SCIENCE et pleins d'intelligence” =“with SCIENCE and full intelligence”, the Portuguese Sagradas Escrituras and the Almeida Corregida - “e doutos em CINCIA” = “and taught in SCIENCE”, the Italian Diodati 1649 - “e saputi in ISCIENZA” = “and wise in SCIENCE”.
We read in Scripture of the kind of good science that king Solomon, in all his wisdom, apparently enjoyed studying. “And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall; he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things,and of fishes.” 1 Kings 4:33
King Solomon was not only the wisest man to ever live, but he was also a scientist.
1 Timothy 6:20 - “oppositions of SCIENCE SO CALLED”
When we get to the New Testament passage in 1 Timothy 6:20 where the apostle Paul tells Timothy to avoid “oppositions of SCIENCE falsely so called”, the King James Bible is by no means the only Bible to translate it this way.
Also agreeing with the King James Bible are Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549 - “and opposicyons of SCIENCE falslye so called”, the Bishops’ Bible 1568 - “and oppositions of SCIENCE, falslie so called”, the Geneva Bible 1587 “SCIENCE falsely so called”, The Beza N.T. 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, Mace’s N.T. 1729 - “objections of a spurious SCIENCE”, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Worsley Version 1770, Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, Thompson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, Thompson N.T. 1816, Wakefield N.T. 1820, Kneeland N.T. 1823, The New Covenant N.T. 1836, The Longman Version 1841, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Murdock Translation 1852, The Calvin Bible 1856, The Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Revised New Testament 1862, The Dillard N.T. 1885, the Clarke N.T. 1913, Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta - "from the perversion of FALSE SCIENCE", The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998, the Lawrie Translation 1998, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Pickering New Testament 2005 - "inconsistencies of what is falsely called SCIENCE", The Resurrection Life New Testament 2005 (Vince Garcia), The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Mebust Bible 2007, Bond Slave Version 2009, the English Jubilee Bible of 2010 - “arguments in the vain name of SCIENCE”, The Far Above All Translation 2011 - “contradictions of SCIENCE falsely so called”
The Conservative Bible 2011 puts it this way: “avoid the vain babbling of atheists, and the false affirmations of JUNK SCIENCE.”
Foreign Language Bibles
Many foreign language bibles also translate 1 Timothy 6:20 as “SCIENCE” as well. Among these are the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, the Reina Valeras 1909 to 2011 - “argumentos de la falsamente llamada CIENCIA” = arguments of the falsely called SCIENCE”, the Spanish NIV (Nueva Versión Internacional) 1999 - “la falsa CIENCIA.”, the French Martin 1744, French Ostervald 1996 - “et les disputes d'une SCIENCE faussement ainsi nommée”, the French Nouvelle Edition de Genève 1979 - “et les disputes de la fausse SCIENCE”, the Italian Diodati 1649, Italian Nuova Diodati 1991 and the Nuova Riveduta 2006 - “che è falsamente chiamata SCIENZA”, the Portuguese A Sagrada Biblia em Portugués and the Almeida Actualizada and O Livro 2000 - “a que se chama falsamente CIENCIA.”
and the Modern Hebrew Bible - “הבל הפסולים ומן וכוחי המדע הנקרא כן בשקר׃” = Science has called it a lie.
It is interesting that ALL the Catholic bible versions say “oppositions of KNOWLEDGE” instead of “oppositions of SCIENCE". So read the Douay Rheims 1610, Douay 1950, St.Joseph New American Bible 1970, New Jerusalem bible 1985 and the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version, as do the RV, ASV, RSV, ESV, NIV, NKJV, NET, NASB, Jehovah Witness New World Version and the Holman Standard.
Since the Pope recently announced that Evolution is true, then I suppose they would not like to see the words “science falsely so called” in their bible versions. It gets a little too close to exposing the errors of their false "scientific" theories.
Some Bible Commentaries
John Calvin on 1 Timothy 6:20 - “Paul, on the contrary, pronounces that “SCIENCE which exalts itself above the plain and humble doctrine of godliness -- to be falsely called and thought A SCIENCE. This ought to be carefully observed, that we may learn boldly to laugh at and despise all that hypocritical wisdom which strikes the world with admiration and amazement, although there is no edification in it; for, according to Paul, no SCIENCE is truly and justly so called but that which instruct us in the confidence and fear of God; that is, in godliness.”
Henry Ironside’s Notes on Selected Books - “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of SCIENCE falsely so called.” SCIENCE is knowledge arranged in an orderly way. It is not mere theory unsupported by facts. WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE SCIENCE OF EVOLUTION, THEY MISUSE THE WORD, FOR EVOLUTION IS NOT A SCIENCE BECAUSE IT IS CONTRARY TO FACT. When they talk of certain other SCIENCES which deny the truth of the Bible, they are using the word in a wrong way. A hypothesis is one thing; SCIENCE is another.”
Matthew Henry - “That SCIENCE that opposes the truth of the gospel is falsely so called; it is not true SCIENCE, for if it were it would approve of the gospel and consent to it. Those who are so fond of such SCIENCE are in great danger of erring concerning the faith; those who are for advancing reason above faith are in danger of leaving faith.”
Matthew Poole’s English Annotations - “avoid also all idle speculations, and disputations, no way serving to the end of preaching, and falsely called SCIENCE.”
Johann Albrecht Bengel’s Gnomon of the New Testament - “ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως, of SCIENCE falsely so called) which in 1 Timothy 6:21is to be referred to SCIENCE, by separating it from its epithet. The Gnostics, who are here denoted by a Metonymy of the abstract for the concrete, boasted of and applied the name SCIENCE to their teaching; but Paul says that it was so named falsely; they are without understanding, 1 Timothy 1:7.”
William Godbey’s Commentary on the N.T. - “and oppositions of SCIENCE falsely so-called!” Satan’s people have always been trying to array SCIENCE against the Bible. Bob Ingersoll arraigns Moses for his mistakes on the days of creation”
Henry Mahan’s Commentary on Selected Books of the N.T. - “The false teachers boast of their SCIENTIFIC knowledge and oppose the scriptures. Avoid them, for some pretending to be masters of SCIENCE and knowledge have departed from the faith of Christ!”
Mark Dunagan Commentary - “Often those who advocate error claim that their error is the true enlightened knowledge on the matter or LIKE THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION, that it is “SCIENTIFIC”. Timothy had to battle false or pseudo-knowledge just like we do today. It is nothing new for someone to claim that they have a superior knowledge to what is revealed in the Bible…Throughout the history of the church, there have been men who have claimed a superior knowledge, and have subjugated Scripture to their boasted intellect. Whether they be termed Gnostics or modern liberals, the attitude is the same.”
The King James Bible is right, as always.
Don’t let the bible agnostics, Bible critics, Version Rummagers and Unbelievers in the existence of an infallible Bible destroy your faith in God’s precious words with their falsely so called “SCIENCE of textual criticism”.
All of grace, believing The Book - the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
Notes from the Internet
What the "science" of textual criticism is really like -
Manuscript Comparison Chart
p 45 agrees with
p 66 agrees with
p 75 agrees with
p 45, 66, 75 agrees with
p 45, 66 agrees with
(The above chart data, taken from A Survey of the Researches into the Western Text of the Gospel & Acts; part two 1949-1969, by A.F.K. Klijn.)
Papyrus (p45) contains excerpts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. It is presently in the Chester Beatty Museum, Dublin, Ireland.
Papyrus (p66) contains excerpts from the Gospel of John. It is presently located at Cologne/Geneve, in the Bibliotheque Bodmer.
Papyrus (p75) contains excerpts of Luke and John. It is presently located at Cologne/Geneve, in the Bibliotheque Bodmer.
Note, please, that these lately discovered manuscript fragments, agree more frequently with the Textus Receptus, than they do with Westcott and Hort's favored Aleph and B. p45 is thought to date from the 3rd century. p66 is dated circa 200 A.D. And, p75 is dated from the beginning of the 3rd century.
Wilbur Pickering, ThM. PhD. writes in his book The Identity of the New Testament Text, 2014 -
"Bruce Metzger said, "It is understandable that in some cases different scholars will come to different evaluations of the significance of the evidence". A cursory review of the writings of textual scholars suggests that Metzger's "in some cases" is decidedly an understatement. In fact, even the same scholars will vacillate, as demonstrated by the "MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED CHANGES" introduced into the third edition of the Greek text produced by the United Bible Societies as compared with the second edition (the same committee of five editors prepared both).
K. Aland, M. Black, C.M. Martini, B.M. Metzger, and A. Wikgren, eds., The Greek New Testament, third edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1975), p. viii. Although this edition is dated 1975, Metzger's Commentary upon it appeared in 1971. The second edition is dated 1968. IT THUS APPEARS THAT IN THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS ('68-'71), WITH NO SIGNIFICANT ACCRETION OF NEW EVIDENCE, THE SAME GROUP OF FIVE SCHOLARS CHANGED THEIR MIND IN OVER 500 PLACES. IT IS HARD TO RESIST THE SUSPICION THAT THEY WERE GUESSING."
The changes between the 25th and 27th editions of the Nestle-Aland NTG are also interesting -- 763 changes, of which 408 occur in the Gospels.
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