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KJV or NASB: The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ

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Based on posts #4 and #5 in the above link I think it would be interesting and informative to have a debate concerning the Deity of the Lord Jesus.

This will NOT be about manuscript evidence but will be about what is actually written or not written in each particular version. I believe that the NASB (c. 1995) does a better job than the KJV in teaching that the Lord Jesus is God.

If anyone is interested please let me know.

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Since no one (so far) has accepted this debate challenge I would like to put forth the evidence as to why I believe the NASB attests to the fact that the Lord Jesus is God better than the KJV.

Three important things should be pointed out. The first is that the KJV does teach that the Lord Jesus is God. I am not saying it doesn't but only that the NASB is better. Second, there are passages where the KJV is clearer in demonstrating that the Lord Jesus is God but once again the evidence will demonstrate that the NASB is still to be preferred. Finally, concerning some of the passages below I also supplied other passages where the same thing is taught in that particular version for I didn't want to imply that it was not to be found elsewhere simply because it didn't appear under the passage I happened to be discussing. I did this for both the NASB and the KJV.


1. God/Deity (Theos/theotēs)


Advantage NASB

John 1:18

NASB: No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

KJV: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

My Comment: The NASB applies 'God' to the Lord Jesus while the KJV does not (but cf. John 1:1; 10:33; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8 and 1 John 5:20).


Advantage NASB

Colossians 2:9

NASB: For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form

KJV: For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

My Comment: Concerning theotēs in Colossians 2:9, "This word is very strong, and is found nowhere else in the New Testament. Yet the KJV also uses Godhead in Romans 1:20 for theiotes, which means, “divine nature” according to Strong’s. It also uses Godhead in Acts 17:29 for theios, which means, “The Divine Nature”. The KJV translates theios as “divine” in other verses. What this means is that the KJV use of the word “Godhead” is not only prone to confusing the issue, but also waters down the power of theotes in Colossians 2:9."



Advantage NASB

Titus 2:13

NASB: looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus

KJV: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ

My Comment: The NASB clearly applies 'God' to the Lord Jesus while the KJV is vague.


Advantage NASB

2 Peter 1:1

NASB: Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ

KJV: Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ

My Comment: The NASB clearly applies 'God' to the Lord Jesus while the KJV is vague.


Advantage KJV

1 Timothy 3:16

NASB: By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

KJV: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

My Comment: The KJV applies 'God' to the Lord Jesus while the NASB does not.


In Summary: There are more places where the NASB applies theos (God) to the Lord Jesus in comparison with the KJV. Furthermore, the NASB clearly affirms the Deity of the Lord Jesus in Colossians 2:9 whereas the KJV is vague in this passage.


2. Prayer (Worship)

The fact that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of prayer demonstrates that He is God.

a. William Mounce: The fact that people pray to both God (Mt. 6:9) and Jesus (Acts 1:24) is part of the proof of Jesus' deity (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, Pray, page 531).

b. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT): In prayer we are never to forget whom we are addressing: the living God, the almighty one with whom nothing is impossible, and from whom therefore all things may be expected (2:857, Prayer, H. Schonweiss).

c. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE): To pray is an act of faith in the almighty and gracious God who responds to the prayers of his people (4:1062, Prayer, P.A. Verhoef).


I have not included the instances where the KJV renders the Greek word proskyneō as 'worship' whereas the NASB will sometimes translate it as "bowed down" (or something similar).

If anyone cries foul to this they can explain why the same Greek word is translated as 'worship' that is rendered unto God's people in Revelation 3:9 as found in the KJV:

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.


Advantage NASB

John 14:14

NASB: If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

KJV: If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

My Comment: The NASB more clearly teaches that prayer is to be addressed to the Lord Jesus as compared with the KJV.


Advantage NASB

Acts 8:22

NASB: Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.

KJV: Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

My Comment: Both the NASB and the KJV employ 'Lord' in Acts 8:24 but the NASB also has 'Lord' here in Acts 8:22 (cf. Acts 8:16) which points more directly in reference to the Lord Jesus as being the Lord to whom prayer ought to be made.

Joel B. Greene: ...although the identity of "the Lord" to whom Peter advises that prayer be made in 8:22 ("Pray to the Lord"), and the identity of "the Lord" in Simon's reply in 8:24 ("Pray for me to the Lord"), may be seen as somewhat ambiguous, the fact that elsewhere in this scene "the Lord" is explicitly identified by Luke as "the Lord Jesus" (8:16) means that we may assume in the exchange between Simon and Peter throughout 8:14-25 that Jesus is in view (Into God's Presence: Prayer in the New Testament, page 188).

Acts 8:22, 24 are the only two instances where deomai is properly applied to the Lord Jesus.


Advantage NASB

1 Peter 3:15

NASB: but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence

KJV: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear

My Comment: The 'Lord', in reference to the Lord Jesus, to whom we are to sanctify is the same "Lord" (YHWH) that is to be sanctified in Isaiah 8:13.

In fact, the Greek word for "sanctify" (hagiazō) is used in reference to the Father in worship in that His name is to be "hallowed".

Matthew 6:9

Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (NASB)

The believer is to "sanctify" (hagiazō) Christ in equality with the Father for both are absolutely holy (God).

a. Peter H. Davids: The point of the text is clear. The heart is the seat of volition and emotion for Peter, the core self of the person. The call is for more than intellectual commitment to truth about Jesus, but for a deep commitment to him (cf. 1:22). Christ is to be sanctified as Lord. This does not mean to make Christ more holy, but to treat him as holy, to set him apart above all human authority. This sense is clearly seen in the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed be thy name." "To 'hallow' the name means not only to reverence and honor God, but also to glorify him by obedience to his commands, and thus prepare the coming of the Kingdom." Peter, then, asserts that Jesus is to be honored, reverenced, and obeyed as Lord. This quotation also reveals more about Peter's Christology, for he takes a passage definitely speaking about God in the OT and refers it to Christ, making clear by his addition that is the sense in which he is taking "Lord." This way of expressing his high Christology is typical for Peter (The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1 Peter, page 131).

b. G. W. Blenkin: The constant transference to Christ of language referring to Jehovah in the O.T. is one indication of the full Divinity ascribed to Christ by N.T. writers. (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges)


c. Kenneth Wuest: Peter was exhorting these Jews to set apart their Messiah, the Lord Jesus as Jehovah, Very God, in their hearts, giving first place to Him in obedience of life (Word Studies in the Greek Testament: 1 Peter, Volume 2, page 88)


Advantage NASB

Revelation 14:1

NASB: Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

KJV: And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

My Comment: Having the name of the Son written on their foreheads gives much clearer proof that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō in Revelation 22:3. This is of vital importance since latreuō is properly due unto God alone.

1. TDNT: The ministry denoted by latreuein is always offered to God (or to heathen gods...R. 1:25...Ac. 7:42) (4:62, latreuō, Strathmann).

2. James Hope Moulton and George Milligan: In Biblical Greek always refers to the service of the true God or of heathen deities (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, WM.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, copyright 1982, page 371)

A closer look at this section of Scripture is warranted.

Revelation 22:3-4

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. (NASB)

The Greek word for 'serve' is latreuō. Since the name of the Lord Jesus will also be written on their foreheads (cf. Revelation 14:1) gives further proof that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō thereby demonstrating He is God. The KJV lacks this particular evidence (but cf. Revelation 3:12 where the Lord Jesus will write His new name on His believers).


Advantage KJV

Acts 21:20

NASB: And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law

KJV: And when they heard it they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law

My comment: The KJV teaches that the Lord was glorified. According to the previous verse this probably refers to the Father (Acts 21:19; cf. Acts 11:18). Nevertheless, it is possible according to the KJV that the Lord Jesus is meant (but cf. 2 Timothy 4:18; 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 1:6 and Revelation 5:12-14 where the Lord Jesus also receives 'glory' in doxologies).


Advantage KJV

Colossians 3:16

NASB: Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

KJV: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

My Comment: Singing to the Lord is one way of praying to the Lord Jesus in worship which the KJV points to while the NASB does not (but cf. Ephesians 5:19).


*Advantage both NASB and KJV*

Acts 7:59

NASB: They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”

KJV: And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

My Comment: I included Acts 7:59 despite the fact that 'God' is an interpolation since it does not appear in the Greek text. The same would apply to 'the Lord' in the NASB.

Either way, that Stephen were to call upon Jesus as 'Lord' or 'God' in prayer would prove that the Lord Jesus is God (Psalm 53:4; 86:5-7; 99:6; 116:4; Lamentations 3:55-57; Zephaniah 3:9).

a. Watson's Biblical and Theological Dictionary: In both the Old and New Testament, to call upon the name of the Lord, imports invoking the true God in prayer, with a confession that he is Jehovah, that is, with an acknowledgment of his essential and incommunicable attributes. In this view the phrase is applied to the worship of Christ. (Call)


b. Here is an article that defends the use of 'God' being used in Acts 7:59.



In Summary: When it comes to the Lord Jesus being the proper recipient of prayer (worship) the NASB succeeds much more triumphantly than the KJV.


3. Appellations


Advantage NASB

James 4:12

NASB: There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

KJV: There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

My Comment: Since the NASB contains the word 'Judge' this more clearly demonstrates that the Lord Jesus is God (one Judge) in that He is the ultimate 'Judge' (cf. James 5:9).


Advantage NASB

Jude 1:4

NASB: For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

KJV: For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

My Comment: The Greek word for 'Master' in the NASB is despotēs. The fact that it is used in reference to the Lord Jesus clearly demonstrates that He is God. The KJV obscures this truth (but cf. 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Peter 2:1 and Revelation 6:10).

a. Joseph Thayer: δεσπότης was strictly the correlative of slave, δοῦλος, and hence, denoted absolute ownership and uncontrolled power.


Notice Thayer also writes this, "Cf. Trench". And this is what Trench say concerning despotēs, as found in Jude 1:4 "it is to Christ, but to Christ as God, that the title is ascribed." (3rd paragraph)


b. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE): ...in Jude 4 the uniqueness of God can be applied without qualification to Jesus (cf. John 20:28; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13 (3:335, monos, Moisés Silva). Unique is defined as “existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics” (Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, page 1554) while qualification is defined as a “restriction” (ibid., page 1174). There is no restriction in that Christ shares in the “uniqueness” (singleness) of the “only one” God.

When asked, "To whom does your only despotēs in heaven refer to - the Father (Acts 4:24) or to the Son (Jude 1:4)?" those who deny the Lord Jesus is God display quite a difficulty in answering the question without contradicting the other passage. For the Trinitarian this presents no dilemma at all for both the Father and the Son are the same Being.


Advantage KJV

Revelation 1:11

NASB: saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

KJV: Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

My comment: The fact that the KJV contains the 'Alpha and the Omega' and 'the first and the last' demonstrates that the Lord Jesus is God. The NASB does not contain these appellations (but cf. Revelation 1:17; 22:13).


In Summary: The NASB does a slightly better job in applying the appellations above to the Lord Jesus which prove He is God.


4. Other Passages


Advantage NASB

Colossians 3:22

NASB: Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

KJV: Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God

My Comment: The Greek word for 'external service' is ophthalmodoulia and as properly defined refers to "service that is performed only to make an impression in the owner's presence, eyeservice, not for its own sake nor to please God or one's own conscience, Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22" (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, ophthalmodoulia, page 744).

This "fear of God" that one ought to have is used in reference "of Christ: Colossians 3:22" (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, phobeō, pages 1061-1062).

Unlike the NASB the KJV does not teach doing service to the Lord in reference to the Lord Jesus in Colossians 3:22 (but cf. Ephesians 6:7) nor does it teach to fear Him (but cf. 2 Corinthians 5:11).


Advantage KJV

Micah 5:2

NASB: But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.

KJV: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

My Comment: On this passage Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, and David Brown wrote the following:

Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting - literally, from the days of eternity, or the days of the ages [ miymeey (Hebrew #3117) `owlaam (Hebrew #5769)].


The KJV is more emphatic concerning the fact that the Lord Jesus is God in this passage (but cf. Daniel 7:9 where the 'Ancient of days' also speaks of the Father's eternity i.e., days of eternity).


Advantage KJV

1 John 5:7

NASB: For there are three that testify

KJV: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

My Comment: The KJV clearly teaches that the Lord Jesus is God while the NASB does not (but cf. Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2).


In Summary: The KJV does better than the NASB in Micah 5:2 and 1 John 5:7 but the NASB is to be preferred in Colossians 3:22.


5. Conclusion: Whereas both the NASB and the KJV teach that the Lord Jesus is God the evidence demonstrates that the NASB does a better job in conveying this fact.


I would appreciate any relevant comments or questions concerning what I have posted. If I left any pertinent passage or passages out please let me know.


Thank you


Edited by Faber
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To the above list Ephesians 5:21 and Philippians 1:14 are to be added in favor of the NASB.

Ephesians 5:21

NASB: and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

KJV: Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

1. Charles Hodge: It ought not to escape the reader's notice that the relation in which this and similar passages suppose us to stand to Christ, is, such as we can sustain to no other than to a divine person. He to whom we are responsible for all our conduct, and reverence for whom is the great motive to the performance of duty, is God.


2. Douglass Moo: The "fear of the Lord" is, of course, a prominent them in the Old Testament, combing a sense of appropriate awe in the presence of God in submission to his will. But the theme is by no means absent from the New Testament (e.g., 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Pet. 2:17; Rev. 11:18; 14:7; 15:4; 19:5), where, in a move typical of the "Christological monotheism" of the early church, the Lord is sometimes defined as Christ (Acts 9:31; 2 Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:21). This is certainly the case here, as the high Christology of the letter to the Colossians as a whole is again brought to bear on the ordinary situation of the Christian household (The Letters to the Colossians and Philemon, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, page 311).

To "fear the Lord" (cf. Colossians 3:22)[*1] means to render supreme worship unto Him.In fact, this fear of the Lord is found in the immediate context of the greatest affirmation of the monotheistic faith (Deuteronomy 6:4; cf. 6:2, 13).


[*1] The NASB is clearer here in relation to the fear of the Lord Jesus compared with that of the KJV (see my previous post)



Philippians 1:14

NASB: and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

KJV: And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

The NASB more clearly puts the focus on trusting in the Lord Jesus[*1] in supreme worship much better than the KJV. To render supreme worship unto the Lord Jesus is a powerful proof for His Supreme Deity.

The Greek word for "trusting" (NASB) and "waxing confident" (KJV) is peithō (Strong's #3982). To "trust in the Lord" refers to having a firm reliance on the Lord in worship.

Psalm 31:6 (cf. Proverbs 3:5; 16:20)

I hate those who regard vain idols,

But I trust in the LORD. (NASB)

Psalm 112:7

He will not fear evil tidings;

His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (NASB)


[*1] The "Lord" in Philippians 1:14 refers to Jesus (see "kyrios" in the 3rd Edition of the BDAG on page 578).

Edited by Faber
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Personally, I would prefer to know what the Greek actually said, rather than what a translator thinks would be an improvement upon what was actually said - even if the intent is to emphasise the deity of Christ.


The idea that the Word of God can be improved upon is dubious at best. So far as linguistically possible, a translation should be word for word.

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Do any of you guys use Bible software with what I think is called a reverse interlinear, where the Greek can be shown below the English text? I don't know the biblical languages, but I find it to be a big help.

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Yes, that's what I'm talking about. It looks a little different in Logos, but it's the same idea. I think the content for the interlinear has to be built into the bible you're using, so that explains why it only works with one and not others. Here's what I see:



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What I've found interesting is that there are KJV onlyists and NAS onlyists. They both teach the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Personally I'm a NKJV person and the older NIV person. And I grew up with and spent many years in the KJV.

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