Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Black Cloud and KJV

I'm not a King-James-Only kind of person. This isn't what this post is trying to imply. But, I was reminded of something the other day and something was pointed out about a specific verse that REALLY validated something in my life. Let me explain...

I love all different translations of the Bible. My personal favorite for just reading pleasure is the New Living Translation (NLT). I also really like the Amplified, it's pretty thorough. Others swear by the New American Standard (NASB) and the New International Version (NIV), so I throw those into my mix as well. Some are of the persuasion that the King James Version is the only accurate version (it is the authorized version after all). While I don't go that far (although they have great arguments), when I'm really studying or teaching on a passage, I always look at it in the KJV too. There is reason for that. Several times I have read something in the NLT or even NIV, then read it in the KJV and it seems to be very different. I actually have a side-by-side Bible with NIV and KJV, so it's easy to see. Like I said, over the years I've noticed several verses and passages where things were left out or seemingly changed. Since I know neither Greek or Hebrew, I rely on others to translate for me.

On to the specific verse I was talking about at the beginning. Romans 8:1 in NLT reads:

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."

In the NIV it reads:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,"

In the NASB it reads:

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

That's what I've heard taught for years now...that there is no condemnation if you belong to Christ. Conviction yes, but no condemnation. Basically, there should be a Godly sorrow when you've wronged, but God forgives you and you shouldn't have this heaviness that comes on you and should confess, be truly sorry and turn from your sin, and move on. I totally agree with that order of things. But there was one particular thing that happened in my life that I just couldn't explain according to that verse and that teaching.

At one point a few years ago, when I was totally running after God with all I had and things were so amazing, I totally messed up bigtime. I won't go into details about what it was, just because it involves other people and that wouldn't be respectful. But, let's just say that it was a huge setback in my holiness. Oh, it was horrible. I felt horrible. I was so sorry, I confessed, I cried out to God, I definitely turned from my sin. But...there was this very, very heavy heaviness that would not leave. I cried and cried. I cried at work, I cried in my car, I cried at home...I just couldn't stop crying...for 3 weeks solid. I am not exaggerating. Finally it lifted. The Message describes condemnation like this (in Rom. 8:1): "to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud." When I have shared about that time with others, I would always say, "I know that there is no condemnation in Christ, but it felt like it. If that wasn't condemnation, I know I definitely never want condemnation." In my heart of hearts, I knew it was condemnation. I had definitely felt the low-lying black cloud over me.

Recently in our Sunday School class, our awesome teacher, Mrs. Donna Cheatwood (she was one of my youth teachers also, back in the her) was quoting Romans 8:1. She read it from her Bible. She read, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Then she looked up and said that she just hates it when people leave off the last part of this's a pet peeve of hers. Then she read on, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

What? What did she say? A huge light bulb came on over my head. I'm sure everyone in class saw it. All at once, that past event in my life made sense. It was condemnation and there it was, validated in the Bible itself.

Isn't it true that the toughest times, if you cling to Jesus and grow through them, end up being the most precious and important times to you? Many times people hear the word "condemnation" and they get the picture of some lost soul...surely a Christian is not really a Christian if he/she is feeling condemnation. I tell you, I felt it and it is one of the best tools of my testimony that I have. I'll tell you another thing too...I never ever again fell into that sin for which I felt that condemnation. Condemnation did me good.

Another great lady in that Sunday School class that day (Mrs. Gail Ferguson) read one of the newer translations along with the KJV of Romans 8:1 and pointed out that no wonder people leave that part's not in there on most translations.

The Amplified:

"Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit."

Let us walk after the dictates of the Spirit, for when we don't, when we walk after the dictates of the flesh...yes, condemnation will come. I believe it. I am also thankful for it.

I pray that we all get a good dose of condemnation when we walk after the flesh.


R. Mansfield said...


The phrase "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" found in the KJV rendering of Rom 8:1 is certainly a doctrinally sound expression. However, the reality is that this phrase was not written by the Apostle Paul; that is, it does not appear in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

The NET Bible offers this note of explanation:

The earliest and best witnesses of the Alexandrian and Western texts, as well as a few others (ℵ✱ B D✱ F G 6 1506 1739 1881 pc co), have no additional words for v. 1. Later scribes (A D1 Ψ 81 365 629 pc vg) added the words μὴ κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦσιν (mē kata sarka peripatousin, “who do not walk according to the flesh”), while even later ones (ℵ2 D2 33vid M added ἀλλὰ κατὰ πνεῦμα (alla kata pneuma, “but [who do walk] according to the Spirit”). Both the external evidence and the internal evidence are compelling for the shortest reading. The scribes were evidently motivated to add such qualifications (interpolated from v. 4) to insulate Paul’s gospel from charges that it was characterized too much by grace. The KJV follows the longest reading found in M.

In other words, a scribe (probably a monk during the middle ages or perhaps earlier) added the phrase to the text.

All this to say that your New Living Translation is MUCH MORE accurate than the version your teacher was using (no disprespect intended for her). Often people who use the KJV complain that newer versions remove verses, but the reality is that the KJV (based on much later copies of manuscripts) ADDS to the biblical text words and phrases that were never meant in the original.

Don't get me wrong--the KJV is a beautifully rendered translation, and in its day, undoubtedly it was the product of the very best scholarship and research. But newer translations today such as your NLT will better reflect the message of the biblical writers.

Michawn said...

Very interesting. What's really interesting is that I have no idea who r. mansfield is, but thank you for your insight. :) Seriously.

There will always be lengthy discussions concerning translations. Thank God that He can speak to us directly. He can speak to me using a cereal box, for heaven's sake...I know that He can speak to me in His Word, whatever the translation.

I did read somewhere in a footnote of only one of the translations that leave out that phrase..."some later manuscripts read 'Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.'" I do believe, whether the phrase "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" was inspired by God Himself or not, that I experienced condemnation. Maybe it is just a matter of semantics. But, I've felt convicted before and what I felt was much more than conviction.

Either way, I praise God for it. Whatever you want to call it, it did the trick in my life. And I still pray for a good dose of it whenever we aren't walking in the Spirit. Thank God I haven't ever felt that again though.

Here's another interesting article that I read about this subject earlier...

If anyone else has anything to offer concerning this subject, please do so. I love to discuss things like this at length, even though I often have not much to add. This is how we learn from each other though.

Sid Stewart said...

Hello; my blog is
Nice thoughts about the KJV; I am a Bible teacher and there is no condemnation at the judgment from God if we accept Christ. We might feel guilty because we have not forgiven ourselves, but there is no condemnation if we are in Christ.

see www.parchmentministries.coom for many more Bible topics that I have written.

also: I find that the KJV is very accurate.


Anonymous said...

Hakdaddy said...

Michawn...great post. Your new "buddy", R. Mansfield, used an interesting editorial note from my favorite (although heavily tinged with a DTS theology) bible...the NET bible. I enjoy it because it actually compares (openly) the various interpretations of other translations at the same time it describes how its contributors chose the words they chose.

One of the elders at our church who teaches college Greek/Hebrew noted that the KJV was a great translation at the time it was created but lacked manuscripts that have been discovered since its inception which have "corrected" and added to what we currently accept as accurate biblical history. His opinion was that the NASB was probably regarded as the "most accurate" ( though still subjective) or literal word for word translation but may lack a bit in the usefulness of today's cultural and linguistic intersection. Gordon Fee's "How to Read the Bible for ALL ITS WORTH" is a wonderful commentary on this subject.

Anyway, my present intention craves little desire to discuss translations.

My comment is that it can be far too easy for Christians to be linear in terms of digesting and regurgitating scripture. If A, then B.

However, as Jesus constantly used nonlinear reasoning to counter the linear beliefs of the Pharisees (and non-pharisees for that matter), we must use wisdom and discernment along with concurrent beliefs stated elsewhere in the Word.

The term, "Godly sorrow", is not an on/off switch that we either have or don't have. Fact is, we as imperfect humans may struggle with one weakness this month and a totally different temptation/sin next month. There is no such thing as just applying "Godly sorrow" as though it were some type of construction tool in our toolbox that we pull out whenever that tool is needed. This is a constant maturing that we grow into and learn to apply in new and exciting ways as we receive new insights and revelations through the Spirit. True pastors "get this" because they never run out of love, support and empathetic grace when dealing with people...but that's another comment for another day. (you and Joel have been called to bear that burden for everyone you minister to "down south", lol).

The closer we walk in the Spirit and allow Him to marinate our entire heart, mind and lifestyle (which means we have to be aware of every possible weakness--good luck) in a transforming way through His blood, the more we get to experience the miracle and wonder that is GRACE, hallelujah!!! (sorry, i feel a sermon coming on)

Linear people (left-brain dominated people who process information in black/white ways) may fare better in certain ways in terms of correcting problems in their own life but may suffer in the areas of extending grace towards those who live their life in the grey zone. ;o)

All that to certain areas of life "in the flesh" is an ever-present reality.

This is why 90-year old Christians who are rocks in the faith are still subject to falling. However, they recognize that when they fall, Jesus has already helped them regain their upright posture over 2000 years ago and see themself through the rose-colored glasses of love/grace rather than looking in the mirror of condemnation.

This was SUCH a GOOD WORD, Michawn!!! What a blessing you are and what amazing insights you offer! I can't wait to hear more...

anyway, i'm sorry for rambling...i have a lot to say (write) but I wanna go spend some time in prayerand thanksgiving now. Thanks for sharing your heart with us and blessing the lives of others in such a sacrificial way!!