Why I Gave Up On The New International Version

I am sure that my professors were not personally lying and that they meant well, but apparently they fell for a sales pitch and passed their enthusiasm unto us. However, just over twenty years later I would stand before those whom God had entrusted to me and apologize to them for making the New International Version (NIV) the main translation used by our church and for encouraging them to use it.
Why I Gave Up On The New International Version
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2016 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete)

It was the 1970s and I was in either my junior or senior year at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI), an Assembly of God (AOG) school at that time situated in Green Lane, Pennsylvania, for training those called to various aspects of ministry. The New International Version New Testament had just been published and a number of our professors were excited after hearing that it was more accurate to the Greek than any existing version.

Before I continue, I might need to explain a few things to some. The Word of God was perfectly accurate when first penned by the direction of

the Holy Spirit through godly people in its original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. Logically, however, it needs to be translated into the language of those who are going to read it.

While the ancient texts do not change, many of our languages, if not all, do change. For example, if you speak English occasionally you will use the word “perhaps.” Centuries ago instead of saying “perhaps” you might say “peradventure.” “Peradventure” is used in the Authorized Version, the King James Version (KJV), and a few others.

As the English language has changed, other versions or translations have been developed to keep up with those changes {1}. When I committed to Christ I first used a King James Holy Bible. However, it contained a number of archaic words that I struggled with. While attending NBI certainly helped to understand the KJV, I realized many new converts under the ministry that God would give to me would have a struggle with it too.

Upon hearing my teachers’ enthusiasm about the New International Version (NIV) I was enthused too. Eventually we were given free copies of the NIV New Testament (NT). Immediately I did an accuracy check. However, at that time such a check for me was an examination of the passages from where major teachings were derived, such as John 1:1. In my mind, and no doubt to many of my professors, all the major points were accurately covered by the NIV. On top of that, the language was up to date. So, upon graduation, that was the Bible I promoted in my ministry.

As I pastored my first churches, I used the NIV in conjunction with the KJV since many in those congregations were trusting and using the KJV. However, in preaching and teaching I gave preference to a rendering found in the NIV when there was a heavy conflict between it and the KJV, or when it seemed the NIV had made things more clear.

In the 1990s we were sent by God to the city of Cambridge, Maryland, to establish a church. At that time, we were still under the AOG. When Cornerstone Assembly of God opened in 1992, it was with every good intention that I immediately made the NIV the main translation of use for the church and had the church supply NIV Bibles to new converts.

Opening My Eyes

Though I really trusted the NIV, God saw to it that I would come into situations that would open my eyes to the fact that, at least in the New Testament, it was not always true to the original language. For me, I always wanted to know what the ancient languages said, but for years I blindly accepted how the NIV rendered the NT. However, when the Internet came to our home and I began to discuss things with others I quickly learned that just because I heard something in Bible Institute does not mean it was correct.

For example, in discussing end time prophecies with someone on the Internet, from the NIV I quoted Revelation 19:7b, “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” My friend responded that the KJV was correct instead, “for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready,” where “wife” and not “bride” is used.

While this might be a minor thing to some, it is not for me, for I feel I must declare exactly what the Word says. And while it might seem to some there is no difference between “bride” and “wife,” there is. In our society one can be a bride, but not be a wife if the vows were not mutually agreed to. If the actual word in the Greek was “wife,” this would promote the fact that when prophecy emanates from the mouth of God, it is considered finished, done. God is omnipresent in space and time (Revelation 4:8). He is into our future.

So, I went to the Greek. In checking the Greek, my habit is to refer to “The Greek New Testament,” second edition, produced by United Bible Societies in 1968 (GNT-UBS) {2}. I find it of great value because it notes any variants amongst the available manuscripts for a given passage at the time of its publication. Although more than a thousand more manuscripts have been discovered since 1968 I doubt there has been much change in the occurrences of variants.

By looking up Revelation 19:7 at BlueletterBible.org and using the available tools you can see for yourself, without knowing one speck of Greek, that “wife” and not “bride” is the actual word used in that verse. If you can get a copy of the GNT-UBS you will see the passage is “squeaky clean.” There are no variants. That means at the time of the publication of the GNT-UBS no manuscript contained the word “bride.” The NIV is not being literal when it substitutes “bride” for “wife.” So, I found I was wrong and my friend was right.

The “Last Straw”

A number of such instances with the NIV had occurred over the years, and it just seemed like it was getting worse. What finally did it for me was a visit by some cult members to my home. In the process of mutually trying to convince the other, it was alleged by them that I, who believed God subsists as Trinity, believed in three gods. Well, of course I do not. I fully believe there is only one supreme being, God, Who, for our benefit, subsists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As I was talking with them I was using the NIV. Somehow the conversation migrated over to 1 Corinthians 15:27. There, the NIV reads, “For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.”

Well, you can see from this it was hard to show God is One as Father, Son and Holy Spirit with such wording as the NIV used. It also muddled the relationship between the Father and Son. I think that during the conversation I recovered my point by referring to the context (often neglected by cult members), specifically to verse 24 where God is expressed as the Father. However, after they left, I again headed to the Greek.

I found that nowhere in verse 27 does the word “God” (Theos in Greek) appear. It was added by the NIV translators. I surmise they thought they were doing us a favor, thinking perhaps it made it more clear. All that it did though was to muddle the natural distinction within the Godhead.

By contrast, checking the King James, I saw that it held true to the Greek! The KJV translates that verse as it should be: “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.” This correct translation fits well with verse 24 where the term “Father” is used. Getting back to my religious cult friends, that was not the first time I had trouble discussing the Godhead with cults by using the NIV, but it would be the last time.

My

Confession

At that point my conscience really bothered me. What was I teaching those entrusted to me? How can I expect them to be grounded in the Word when the translation I had them using was defective? And, if I did not correct the situation, God would hold me accountable (1 Corinthians 3:10).

So one Sunday, sometime before 1999, I told those entrusted to me of my error of accepting what someone said about a translation without doing my own thorough research. I apologized. Of course, I asked God to forgive me. I also asked Him to help me listen to Him better, to be guided by His Holy Spirit in research.

AOG Error

My denomination, at that time {3}, was also being caught up in error, and it is my opinion the NIV had a part to play in it. For years, every doctrinal point, whether in the AOG Constitution or their By-Laws, was supported by Holy Scripture from the King James Version. Sometime after the full NIV Bible was produced, the AOG began to use both versions for doctrinal support. Apparently as the years progressed the NIV carried more clout with them. In its General Council of 2001, the AOG reversed a long held Scriptural position concerning remarriage in regard to those holding the office of pastor, and the last I heard along these lines was that they made further concessions in 2007.

I am of the opinion that many in the AOG were influenced in regard to marriage by passages from the NIV like 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. Let us compare both of these with the KJV, NIV and Young’s Literal Translation (YLT):

1 Timothy 3:2
KJV--A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
NIV--Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
YLT--it behoveth, therefore, the overseer to be blameless, of one wife a husband, vigilant, sober, decent, a friend of strangers, apt to teach,

Titus 1:6 (in regard to elders)
KJV--If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
NIV-- An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[a] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.
YLT--if any one is blameless, of one wife a husband, having children stedfast, not under accusation of riotous living or insubordinate — 

Using the YLT as the “umpire” we see that the NIV decides to avoid the Holy Spirit’s command through the Apostle Paul that an overseer or elder must be the husband of one wife. Checking the Greek the phrase word “faithful to his wife” does not occur in either verse. What does occur, and feel free to confirm this at BlueletterBible.org, is literally “one wife husband.” That would exclude a polygamist from holding either office.

Additionally, when we look at the entire counsel of God, focusing upon the Words of Christ, carefully reading the Holy Scriptures and permitting the Holy Spirit to guide us we see that in the eyes of God divorce does not really dissolve a marriage, otherwise verses like 1 Corinthians 7:39 would be incorrect. Why else would Jesus say in Luke 16:18, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”? With God’s help I give further insight on verses that speak about divorce on my “Marriage Pages” at my “Oasis Of Hope” {4}.

The NIV had no grounds to substitute “faithful to his wife” for “husband of one wife.” God specifically gave the words to the Apostle Paul to indicate that the overseer or elder of a church must be the husband of one wife. Along with the rest of the Holy Scriptures it is seen that not only are the polygamists to be denied these offices, but also the divorced and remarried. And, again, there are no variants for 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. It should be apparent by now that if you read and use the NIV you are not reading and using the Word of God but the word of man.

Away with the NIV!

With all of this, I did away with the NIV both for personal and ministerial use. There are many more problems with the NIV but I felt that pointing out just three or four verses should suffice. If not, there is much on the Internet against the NIV. Just steer clear of the unscholary sites and most of the “King James only” sites. Continue to check with BlueletterBible.org.

Cornerstone is now using a King James based version, the New King James. To my knowledge, so far there is nothing in contradiction with the ancient texts, and the English is more in line with current usage. I also have an electronic copy of the 21st Century King James Version. I have not used that enough to recommend it, but from what I have seen, it also adheres to the actual meanings of the words in the ancient texts.

If you are using the NIV I strongly urge you to switch to the New King James. Get the Word of God and not the word of man. While this article dealt with only NT passages, if one cannot trust the NT of a version then that leaves little room for trusting the Old Testament (OT) portion. Again, there is more information on the Internet if you care to investigate the OT of the NIV. Above all else, if you do not personally know the Author of the written Word of God, I also strongly urge you to make Christ King in your life, turning from sin and turning to Him.

Notes:

{1} However, this is not the only reason why new translations or versions are created. For more information please Holy Bibles Good And Bad at http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/article/holy-bibles-good-and-bad .

{2} The Greek New Testament printed in 1968 by the United Bible Studies. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikren, editors, in cooperation with The Institute For New Testament Textual Research

{3} On August 31, 2003, I resigned my credentials with the Assemblies of God and withdrew the home missions church I was pastoring from that denomination. I have never regretted my decision.

{4} Please see The Marriage Pages at http://oasisofhope.neocities.org/ma00.html .

Find more apologetics information at http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/ , and please visit this ministry’s apologetics index at http://sapphirestreams.com/life/api.html .

God bless,
Pete Macinta


Always go to the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek texts to see if a translation or version is accurate. You can do that BlueletterBible.org .


Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Posted on: 130 1

Please login to comment on this post.
  • nbillett  07-02-2017
    This is truly eye opening. I have never used NIV. There are so many Bible translations worldwide. One that is popular where I am is the New American Bible. Is that one good to use?
    reply 0
Better Than The Confessional Booth
Nine Fallacies About Speaking In Tongues