Another King James Bible Believer


What about the word NEPHEWS in the King James Bible?

What about the word NEPHEWS in the King James Bible?

  1 Timothy 5:4. The KJV’s “nephews” is wrong. As we now know, the Greek word refers to “grandchildren.” Edwin Palmer of the NIV translation committee.

On a well known site promoting the NIV bible version, one of the chief translators of the NIV first proclaims how much "he loves" the King James Bible. Then he proceeds to give a long list of what he thinks are errors or mistranslations, to convince the unlearned that we should abandon the King James Bible and use his NIV.

I hope to show through this study that the use of the word "nephew" is indeed an archaic term, but it is far more accurate than the word "grandchildren" that is found in the modern versions.

In 1 Timothy 5:4 we read: "But if any widow have children or NEPHEWS, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God."

In the NIV we read: "But if a widow has children or GRANDCHILDREN, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents AND GRANDPARENTS, for this is pleasing to God."

First of all it should be noted that the NIV is mostly a paraphrase instead of a translation. The word "home" has been changed to "family" and the simple words "to shew piety" (RV, ASV, NKJV, NASB) have been greatly expanded to read "to put their religion into practice".

The NIV has also added the words "and grandparents" which occur in no Greek text on this earth. The word "parents" (progonois) simply means progenitors, which are any biological ancestors.

The NIV has also omitted the words "is good and" (KJB, NKJV, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops', and Geneva Bibles) which are found in the texts that underlie all previous English Bibles before the Westcott-Hort text came out in 1881.



Secondly, the word translated as "nephews" in the King James Bible is also translated as nephews in Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 - "If eny wyddow haue chyldren or nevews, let them learne fyrst to rule their awne houses", Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Beza's New Testament 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, Webster's 1833 translation, the Morgan New Testament 1848, the Dillard N.T. 1885,  the Word of Yah 1993, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, God's First Truth Translation 1999, The Tomson New Testament 2002 - "if any widow have children or NEPHEWS",  the Evidence Bible 2003, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2012 -"if any widow have children or NEPHEWS", and the Hebraic Transliteration Scriptues 2010.

According to the Greek lexicons, the word used in 1 Timothy 5:4 (ekgonos) has several meanings, including that of any lineal male descendant.

Liddell and Scott list "any descendant, a son or grandson, offspring, posterity".

Likewise Thayer lists the meanings for the Greek word ekgonos as "descendants, son, daughter, offspring, children, grandchildren";

and Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich say: "ta ekgona - generally "descendants", or specifically "grandchildren".

Dr. Larry Bednar of KJV Textual Technology notes: "Judges 12:14  Modern scholars criticize the rendering nephews in the KJV. This verse in the Hebrew speaks of one of the judges of Israel as having 40 sons and 30 son's of sons, the latter today referring to grandsons. A problem with rendering grandsons is that the Hebrew can be more general in meaning, perhaps referring to an extended family that would include nephews, and the KJV nephews originally had the sense of grandsons, as well as sons of brothers & sisters. In Judges 12:4 the context is not specific enough to allow grandsons, so the KJV correctly covers all possibilities through the use of the inclusive older-English nephews.

A similar situation exists in the New Testament.  KJV: 1 Timothy 5:4


But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.


The Greek here for nephews usually has the general sense of descendants, including sons, grandsons and the modern nephews. The older KJV nephews includes all such possibilities, in keeping with the context that isn't any more specific than this." 


Darby's translation 1890 - "but if any widow have children or OR DESCENDANTS, let them learn first to be pious as regards their own house" 


Likewise the Faithful New Testament 2009 and The Conservative Bible 2010 both say - "If any widow has children OR DESCENDANTS"


The Apostolic Bible Polyglot English Bible 2003 says "if any woman have children OR PROGENY"


Adam Clarke comments on this verse: "This shows that widows indeed are those that have neither children nor nephews, i.e. no relatives that either will or can help them, or no near relatives alive."

Nephew - the meaning of the word (capital letters are mine)

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 Inc.

Neph"ew n. OE. neveu, nevou, nevu, fr. F. neveu, OF. also, nevou, L. nepos; akin to AS. nefa, D. neef, G. neffe, OHG. nevo, Icel. nefi A KINSMAN, gr. ne`podes, pl., brood, young, Skr. nep[=a]t grandson, DESCENDANT. 1. A grandson or grandchild, OR A REMOTER LINEAL DESCENDANT. [Obs.]

But if any widow have children or nephews --1 Tim. v. 4.

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary 1913

Nephew *(n.) A cousin. * (n.) A grandson or grandchild, OR A REMOTER LINEAL DESCENDANT. * (n.) The son of a brother or a sister, or of a brother-in-law or sister-in-law.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

1. The son of a brother or sister. 2. A grandson; ALSO A DESCENDANT.

The Encyclopedia Britannica

"NEPHEW, the son of a brother or sister. The word is adapted from Fr. neveu, Lat. nepos (originally grandson OR DESCENDANT)... the ultimate root is seen in the cognate Greek - DESCENDANTS, KINSMAN, and Sans. napat, napt, descendants or descendant."

The Greek word used in the New Testament passage of 1 Timothy 5:4 occurs only one time. It is eKgonos, and in Diury's Modern Greek Dictionary 1974 this word is defined as "any relative or descendant". It does NOT mean "grandchild" in Greek today.

The word for "grandchild" in the Greek language today is a slightly different Greek word. This word is eGgonos. This is not the word that is used in the New Testament Greek text. - Diury's Modern English-Greek Dictionary.

There is a modern Greek translation online and another one in print. I have access to both modern Greek translations and they both use the word eKgona, meaning "any lineal male descendants" and not the word for "grandchildren" (eGgona).

Regarding the Old Testament use of the word "nephew" which is found in the King James Bible and many others as well, brother Herb Evans, a well known pastor and King James Bible defender, has made some good observations refuting the claims of Bible critic Robert Joyner.

Dr. Joyner tries to prove the KJB is not infallible by pointing out the use of the word "nephew". He says: " In the KJV the word "nephew" actually means "grandson." The Hebrew word means "sons of sons." In Judges 12:14 the "thirty nephews" are changed to "thirty grandsons" in the NASV. The word "nephews" in I Timothy 5:4 in the KJV means grandchildren in the Greek. The NIV says grandchildren. The KJV can bring confusion here because it is telling us who is responsible to take care of the destitute widows in our family. The KJV says children and nephews are responsible. The NIV says children and grandchildren are to do it. It is easy to see which is right." Dr. Joyner

Then brother Herb Evans wisely counters these false arguments with the following comments on the Old Testament passages: "swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son - NIV - descendants (Hebrew neked) Genesis 21:23

"He shall neither have son nor nephew - NIV - descendants (Hebrew-neked) among his people . . . Job 18:19

"I will cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, and son, and nephew - NIV descendants (Hebrew-neked), saith the LORD." Isaiah 14:22

In Judge 12:14, the underlying Hebrew word BEN is general and not specific as to whose "sons of sons" they are, and are indicated by Strong's dictionary to be sons with the family name. This permits a wider sense of usage than Dr. Joyner would ever allow. Oddly, the NIV recognizes this wide sense and translates the KJB "nephew" of Isaiah 14:22 and Job 18:19 as DESCENDANTS rather than grandchildren or "sons of sons" as Dr. Joyner demands in Judges 12:14. The real gasser is when the NIV translates the KJB's son's son as descendants in Genesis 21:23 and not grandchildren. If you can find a pattern to this NIV madness, let us know.

Brother Evans continues: "The other word Ekgonon is used only once in the New Testament in 1 Timothy 5:4. It comes from EK or "out of" and GINOMAI, which means "to become" or "come into being" and is said by Strong's to have a wide latitude in its usage. The root sense here would also seem to be descendants or relatives. And so Berry's interlinear has it, "descendants" and not grandchildren. Herb Evans

The simple facts are these: The word "nephews" has several meanings and applications. We get the word nepotism from this same English word. Nepotism is often used in modern day politics to describe "patronage or favoritism based on family (extended family) relationship." These favors of position and wealth are not just for the grand-kids, but for any relative in the extended family.

The archaic sense of the word "nephews" as used in the King James and all older English Bibles has the sense of any male descendant no matter how far removed. This includes all living male relatives in the extended family.

The modern Greek language still retains this meaning and differentiates between any male member of the extended family and a "grandson".

The King James Bible, even though it employs an "archaic word", is actually more accurate to the original intent of the apostle Paul.

There are several words or phrases that are omitted from the epistle of First Timothy in most modern versions like the NIV, NASB, RSV, ESV and Holman Standard. This is because they are based on a different Greek text than the Traditional New Testament of the King James Bible.

For example the NASB, NIV, RSV, and Holman Standard all omit the following words or phrases I have placed in capital letters: LORD Jesus Christ 1:1; the only WISE God 1:17; I speak the truth IN CHRIST 2:7; NOT GREEDY OF FILTHY LUCRE 3:3; GOD was manifest in the flesh 3:16; we both labour AND SUFFER REPROACH 4:10; in charity, IN SPIRIT, in faith 4:12; FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF 6:5; we brought nothing into this world AND IT IS CERTAIN we can carry nothing out 6:7; we trust... in THE LIVING God 6:17; lay hold on ETERNAL life 6:19.

Among these omissions there is one in particular that definitely changes the meaning as it relates to the family members and the widows, which is the topic of this discussion.

In 1 Timothy 5:16 we read in the King James Bible: "If any MAN OR woman that believeth have widows, LET THEM relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."

This is the reading found in the majority of all Greek copies, as well as the Old Latin and the Syriac Peshitta, both of which texts predate the corrupt manuscripts on which most modern versions are based.

"If any MAN OR woman that believeth have widows, LET THEM relieve them" is also the reading of the Spanish Reina Valera, Itatian Diodati, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops', Geneva, Young's, Webster's and the NKJV.

However the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV and Holman read the verse in this way: "If ANY WOMAN who is a believer has widows in her family, SHE should help them and not let the church be burdened with them..."

What happened to "the man"? Don't they have an obligation to help out the poor widows too? So if you get all upset about the "archaic" word nephews in the King James Bible (which in reality is more accurate than the modern word "grandchildren"), then feel free to use a modern inferior bible version that omits literally thousands of God inspired words and changes the meanings of hundreds of other verses.

You may settle for the Non Inspired Version if you want to, but I and thousands of other Bible believers will not settle for anything less than the Book God has continued to honor far above all others - the Authorized King James Holy Bible.  


Will Kinney


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