GENEVA OR KING JAMES BIBLE?
PREFACE: Before proceeding, I will state that there are KJV Bible-believers who call themselves Calvinists who do not adhere to the exact doctrines of John Calvin, and do not hold Calvin up as a hero. Many such brothers do work to spread and preach the Gospel for the purposes of winning souls, but call themselves Calvinists due to the scripture-based belief that we are called by Jesus. I have not addressed these brothers in this article, nor have I criticized them. I do regret that they feel it necessary to describe their theology using the name of Calvin, but that is another issue.
1 Peter 2:13 & 14 "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."
A local brother asked me to respond to an attack against the King James Bible by a gentleman who made the claim that the Geneva Bible is superior due to its allegedly better treatment of the above quoted verse.
Geneva: " 13 & 14 "Submit yourselves unto all manner of ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be unto the King, as unto the superior, Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent of him, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well."
Having long been irritated by similar attacks from some fellow members of the patriot community (a name that I will use for the sake of brevity and due to the lack of a better one), I felt compelled to respond.
The essence of the argument is that the following Geneva translation is superior for using the word "superior" instead of "supreme" as the KJV does. He suggested that the KJV is claiming that the king is supreme over all, including God, while the Geneva's choice of the word "superior" does not make such a claim.
This is what happens when someone who considers himself to be the final authority starts looking for excuses to turn from the Final Authority. In their endless pursuit of forcing the Bible to fit what they want it to say, such Bible "correctors" go out of their way to twist facts in order to make themselves appear wise rather than to study to find themselves approved. As is often the case, this critic has failed to understand the passage in the first place. This reference does not state that kings are supreme over God any more than the Geneva Bible's rendering implies that the king is superior to God. This passage refers to the king as supreme or superior to others in respect to their status in relationship to worldly government. This verse must be read in context with the rest of the Bible, which makes it abundantly clear to whom supreme obedience is due.
A few definitions from Webster's 1828 Dictionary are useful here:
SUPRE'ME, a. L. supremus, from supra.1. Highest in authority; holding the highest place in government or power. In the United States, the congress is supreme in regulating commerce and in making war and peace. The parliament of Great Britain is supreme in legislation; but the king is supreme in the administration of the government. In the universe, God only is the supreme ruler and judge. His commands are supreme, and binding on all his creatures.
2. Highest, greatest or most excellent; as supreme love; supreme glory; supreme degree. SUPRE'MELY, adv. With the highest authority. SUPREM'ACY, n. See Supreme. State of being supreme or in the highest station of power; highest authority or power; as the supremacy of the king of Great Britain; or the supremacy of parliament.
SUPE'RIOR, a. Sp.L. from super, above.
1. Higher; upper; more elevated in place; as the superior limb of the sun; the superior part of an image.
2. Higher in rank or office; more exalted in dignity; as a superior officer; a superior degree of nobility.
SUPE'RIOR, n. One who is more advanced in age. Old persons or elders are the superiors of the young.
1. One who is more elevated in rank or office.
2. One who surpasses others in dignity, excellence or qualities of any kind. SUPERIOR'ITY, n. Pre-eminence; the quality of being more advanced or higher, greater or more excellent than another in any respect; as superiority of age, of rank or dignity, of attainments or excellence.
Noah Webster obviously understood the purport of this verse much better than our critic does.
It was suggested to me that we might also consider that we may look upon a head of state as supreme because he is in a position of worldly authority, but that does not make him superior. Bill Clinton was the supreme government official of the United States, but that whoremongering reprobate was not superior to the average skid row bum, and was inferior to most.
It must also be remembered that this is a letter by Peter to foreigners in the region that he is addressing. He is telling them that they are to conduct themselves as good citizens, not as a disruptive rabble. Furthermore, the second clause of the verse does show that the verse refers to governors and kings that are sent by God. The Geneva Bible's rendering of verse 14, on the other hand, seems to suggest that the governors to be obeyed are sent by the king for the punishment of evil. This could be used to demonstrate the opposite point as that of our critic. The Geneva makes a stronger statement about obeying kings and governors than does the KJV.
However, an honest evaluation of both Bible versions on the whole make it clear that neither the KJV nor the Geneva promote placing God below worldly rulers. I will be dealing with this issue in great detail in a future article on Romans 13, but just a quick look through Acts, or any of the books of Prophets alone is enough to make this indisputable. Men and kings are not to be obeyed when they are in opposition to God.
The most absurd aspect of the Geneva Bible promoters is that they make the false or ignorant accusation that King James was responsible for the contents of the Bible that he only commissioned. These Bible "correctors" blow much smoke over the alleged interference by King James by having his attitudes toward kingship was inserted into the text. Contrary to what these unscholarly parrots seem to believe, King James did not translate the Bible nor did he choose the members of the committee. Some members of the committee were even openly opposed to James' view of the divine right of kingship. He was aware of their opposition and did not oppress them for it. In reality, James had no say or part in the actual translating of the texts and he left the worthy members of the translation committee to do their work unhampered. What is particularly absurd about the accusation is that these apostate critics all praise the Geneva Bible for its inclusion of the notes of reformers, most notably those of John Calvin. To whatever level of despotism King James could have been accused of having attained, it cannot, by any standards at all, be compared with the level of tyrannical and cruel despotism of John Calvin.
Calvin was a murderous monster who ruled Geneva as an absolute dictator, both politically and religiously. His opposition was systematically tortured, murdered, and brutalized into submission to his absolute will. His murder of Servetus by burning was an act of the utmost cruelty for no other crime than having opposed Calvin. Calvin's own words concerning Servetus display his great cruelty: "One should not be content with simply killing such people, but should burn them cruelly." The Big Brother government of Orwell and the modern state had a predecessor in the government of Calvin. Christian morals, as interpreted by Calvin, were monitored and enforced through a draconian system of surveillance that recognized no individual rights or privacy. Houses of those suspected of thought crimes were searched by a secret police not unlike the Gestapo, Stasi, KGB, or the emerging Homeland Security of America. Opposition to infant baptism was considered a capital crime the concept of local church authority was attacked by a government in which Calvin had pope-like authority. Condemning the King James Bible for its indirect association with King James when the KJV includes no notes by the king or any other man, while praising a Bible that includes the notes of one of the worst tyrants in the history of Europe, is the height of idiocy, not to mention duplicity.
We might further look at the issue of notes. What business do the notes of man belong in Scripture? I see no problem with personal notes that are placed by the reader in their own Bibles for reminders, details, cross references, and so forth, but man's opinions should not be printed with God's word. Doing so elevates the words of common men to the level of those of prophets, apostles, and God himself. This should apply to the words of sincere Bible-believers as well as to apostates like Scofield or the commentators of the Ryrie and similar tainted Bibles. One of the reasons that the Geneva Bible needed to be replaced is that the notes, whether good or bad, needed to be removed so that God's word would be left pure. It should be added that the notes of the Geneva Bible often undermine the literal interpretation of the Bible in favor of allegorical interpretations. One example is found in Luke in the notes to Luke 22:36: "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." [KJV]
"(m) He says all this using an allegory, as if he said, "O my friends and fellow soldiers, you have lived until now in relative peace: but now there is at hand a most severe battle to be fought, and you must therefore lay all other things aside and think about dressing yourselves in armour." And what this armour is, is shown by his own example, when he prayed afterward in the garden and reproved Peter for striking with the sword."
Incidentally, this note also contradicts the common rhetoric that the Geneva Bible promotes resistance to ungodly laws of men better than the KJV. An allegorical interpretation of this verse removes one of our best biblical defenses for the Second Amendment of the Bill or Rights, and our right to defend ourselves against godless tyranny. Such an interpretation also would have helped keep Calvin safe from those who would have rebelled against his tyranny. It should be noted that Peter was not carrying an allegorical sword in the garden, and Jesus never reproved him for carrying it, only for trying to hamper what God had ordained to be done. We also need to remember that Jesus told his disciples that the two swords that they had were enough. Are these supposed to be two allegorical swords?
As stated above, Calvin was also a promoter of the blasphemous idea that water baptism of infants cleanses of sin: "At whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life" (Institutes, IV). "By baptism we are ingrafted into the body of Christ ... infants are to be baptized ... children of Christians, as they are immediately on their birth received by God as heirs of the covenant, are also to be admitted to baptism" (Institutes, IV)." As David Cloud points out, this was a clinging to his Catholic upbringing. Cloud further demonstrates that Calvin never really left Catholicism behind, but rather replaced the Pope with himself. He openly praised the heretic Augustine, and placed his words above the authority of the Bible: "If I were inclined to compile a whole volume from Augustine, I could easily show my readers, that I need no words but his" (Institutes, Book III, chap. 22). This is the hero of the Geneva Bible pushers?
It is amazing to witness the hatred that some spew for King James. Some actually act as if they knew him personally and have a personal vendetta against him, while they praise the heretical and murderous tyrant of Geneva. Their real vendetta, of course, is not with King James the I & VI, but with the Bible itself.
God said that he would purify his word seven times.
Psalm 12:6 "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." The Geneva Bible was the fifth English translation. It was a great Bible, but it was not the perfect word of God in English until those notes were removed and other flaws were ironed out. The culmination of this work was with the seventh translation, the Authorized or King James Version. The Psalm 12 verse that follows is also relevant to this discussion: "Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
The Geneva Bible promoters apparently believe that God lied about preserving his words, because the Geneva Bible virtually disappeared from existence along with the Coverdale, Great, Bishops and other worthy predecessors of the King James Bible. It was the KJV that built the church and it is the KJV that is holding together the remnant church during the great falling away in which we currently live. It was the KJV that inspired the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, and it was the KJV that brought about the Bible translations of that period throughout the world. The Geneva Bible advocates never did anything to spread the Gospel, and neither did the strict followers of John Calvin. This is why William Carey's great efforts to spread the Gospel as commanded by Christ "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" [Mark 16:15] were denounced by some during his time. Their Calvinistic views prevented them from obeying the Great Commission and they have not changed, but rather they have gotten far worse.
These advocates of the Geneva Bible would have us believe that all of this was error while the "true" Bible was unprinted and hidden in a few libraries. This should remind us of the claims of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus advocates, although I am in no way comparing the text of the Geneva Bible with those corrupt texts. The Geneva Bible advocates would have us believe that the only ones that have the "true" Bible are largely of a bunch of baby-sprinkling who have and do not give any witness, and foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking, beer-guzzling, racist, ignoramuses, common law shysters, money-grubbing parasites on the patriot community and Identity Cult clods with below average IQs that just arose into view in the last couple of decades.
This latter statement is not a reflection of the Geneva Bible, but rather of the bulk of its modern advocates. No one has printed a Geneva Bible that is of an affordable price, and no one distributes them for free. They range between 45 to 100 plus dollars. This is because the dollar sign is their god. Finding very inexpensive KJV Bibles is very easy, and there are many people supplying them for free. There is an entirely different spirit behind KJV printing. I have yet to see anyone trying to distribute Geneva Bibles for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. Are these profiteers the real remnant? I trow not.
My first encounters with Geneva Bible advocates were among Identity Cult members and at common law meetings. The racist and anti-Christian views expressed by these gentleman, along with their use of four letter words sputtered between puffs of cigarette smoke, were enough to make their real goals obvious. These "gentlemen" did not actually understand the Geneva Bible or even read it. Their purpose was the same as those of the Westcott Hort perversion promoters. It was simply to undermine our faith in the Final Authority and to replace it with our own understanding. It was no more than an excuse for rebellion. If the KJV is not enough, and we need the Geneva Bible, the Fenton Bible, or whatever, why not use the ASV, RSV, NIV or whatever other book suits our personal tastes? It is notable that most Geneva advocates use the exact same lame arguments to attack the KJV that the Westcott Hort and atheist crowd uses. They use the same stupid and baseless accusation that King James was a sodomite, and the same invalid accusations of errors. It is hardly surprising that many of these Geneva Bible advocates and their Identity and common law movement bedfellows also do promote and use multiple modern versions, heretic Pete Peters being a prime example.
One of the best examples of the spirit of this crowd was displayed for me at a survival show at which I was lecturing on the topic of wilderness survival. I was wearing a KJV 1611 cap when a man selling common law reprints approached me and commented on it. He was friendly enough, but he told me that he was selling Geneva Bibles -- which were quite expensive I should add -- and that I might consider getting one. He then proceeded to tell me how a *$%oøT¢ preacher from a ^%$#^&£? church argued that the KJV was a better Bible. He went on and on describing this gentleman using virtually every four letter word that I know, including those that blaspheme God, those that refer to sexual activity, and those referring to human excretions. He told me that the man ended up reading the Geneva Bible and apologized to him later. Even though this man had asked him for forgiveness, although he should not have, the salesman described him with the worst of foul language imaginable. His spiritual position was obvious: Mark 11:26 "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." I walked away shaking my head. I did not argue with him. He was probably the best advocate for the KJV in that building.
A final issue that should not be overlooked concerns the metrical superiority of the KJV. While the overwhelming majority of the Geneva Bibles verses do not conflict with those of the KJV, they do, however lack the metrical flow that greatly facilitates the memorization of the KJV. The King James translators made a conscious effort choose words that flowed easily from the tongue and better enabled the ability of men to retain them in their hearts. The Geneva's style was a heavier and less eloquent presentation of
In summary, Geneva Bible promotion is little more than an effort to attack the inerrancy and perfection of the Bible. It has the exact same goal of those of the leftist Westcott Hort promoting crowd, and it uses most of the same blank ammunition. It may stem from a group with very different political objectives, but it ultimately comes from the same desire to place oneself as supreme, rather than placing God's word as supreme.
My thanks to Jerry Bouey, Herb Evans, and Teno Groppi for their thoughts and assistance in researching this article.
John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
A ministry seeking the translating and reprinting of KJV equivalent
Bibles in all the languages of the world.
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