Article: Acts 5:30 slew and hanged; 19:20 word of GOD by Will Kinney

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Acts 5:30 "whom ye slew and hanged on a tree"

King James Holy Bible 1611

"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew AND hanged on a TREE."

Mr. James White says on page 225 of his book The KJV Controversy: "The NKJV corrects the problem seen in the KJV rendering. Peter did not say that the Jews HAD SLAIN Jesus AND THEN HUNG (caps mine) him on a tree. Instead they put the Lord to death BY hanging Him upon the tree. It is difficult to see exactly where the KJV derived its translation, as there is no "and" in the text to separate "slew" and "hanged on a tree."

James White objects to the AV's "and" but has no problem with the insertion of "by" in the modern versions. As a matter of fact the NIV, NASB, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, all insert the little word "by". There is nothing incorrect about "adding" the word "and" when used before a participle, as is the case here. In fact, ALL bible versions do this scores of times. To see just a few of the numerous examples of this, look at the NASB adding the word "and" in Acts 2:23; 5:40; 9:37,39; Matthew 2:21; 4:9,13; 26:56 and John 19:2.

In Acts 5:30 the word "and" does not refer to a sequence of events, but to an additional description of what took place. James White reads into the passage something that is NOT there, and then criticises the KJB for something it does not do. He said: "Peter did not say that the Jews HAD SLAIN Jesus AND THEN HUNG him on a tree." He is right; but neither does the King James Bible say this.

The use of "and" in this manner is common English grammar describing events which take place simultaneously. "We watched the college football game, and had a great time, and we ate hotdogs and drank Cokes, and clapped and yelled till we were hoarse."

It is also of interest that Mr. White chose not to use the NASB, for whom he now works, in his faulty illustration. The NASB says: "whom you had put to death BY hanging Him ON A CROSS."

The NASB not only adds the word "by" which also is not in any Greek text, but more importantly it translates the word xulon, which means "tree" or "wood", as "cross". The word for cross is staupos, not xulon, and by translating it as cross instead of the proper "tree", the NASB misses the whole point of what the Holy Ghost is saying through Peter.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says: "And if any man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a TREE: His body shall not remain all night upon the TREE, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (FOR HE THAT IS HANGED IS ACCURSED OF GOD;)" (caps mine)

We can then see the significance of the "tree" when we cross reference these verses with Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a TREE."

For the Jews to hang another man on a tree was a special mark of the curse of God upon such an individual and was an additional insult heaped upon the person who committed the crime. (Notice the use of "and" in this last sentence).

Peter is saying in effect, Not only did you kill the Messiah, but you also hung Him on a TREE - you marked Him out as an object of the special curse of God. You humiliated and debased Him to the lowest degree allowed under the law. Peter is drawing the sharp contrast between this Jesus "whom God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour", and the shame, degradation and calumny to which the unbelieving Jews subjected Him.

John Calvin remarks in his commentary: "Neither was your cruelty satisfied with a plain and common death; for he was hanged upon a tree."

The King James reading is by no means in error here. Mr. White, with all his professed scholarship, is simply reading something into the passage that is not there, and he misses the whole point of the significance of Christ's being hung ON A TREE.

Not only does the KJB render this verse as "whom ye slew AND hanged on a tree", but so also do Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Cranmer, Daniel Mace New Testament 1729, Whiston’s Primitive N.T. 1745, John Worsley Version 1770, John Etheridge Translation 1849, Luther's German translation (welchen ihr erwürget habt UND an das Holz gehänget), John Wesley Etheridge's translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1846 "The God of our fathers hath raised up Jeshu whom you killed and hanged on the tree", Webster's 1833 translation, Green's Modern KJV, the 1993 Word of Yah translation, the New Life Version 1997, God’s First Truth translation by Theron Miller 1999 -, the 2001 Urim-Thummin Version -, the 2003 Evidence Bible, Ray Comfort, the 1994 KJV 21st Century, and the 1998 Third Millenium Bible.

Another excellent article dealing with this verse and James White's unjust criticism see Marty Shue's comments at:

Will Kinney

Acts 19:20 "So mightily grew the word of GOD and prevailed.

Is it true that the word "God" should have been translated as "the Lord"?. How do you answer those who challenge the King James Bible in this way, saying that there is a translational error here in Acts 19:20?

In his book, The King James Only Controversy, James White says on page 67 that the King James translators used the Latin Vulgate to come up with the reading "the word of GOD", rather than the Greek texts. Is this true?

Joining James White is another man who likewise does not believe that any Bible in any language is now the complete and pure words of God. In his book, King James Onlyism: A New Sect, James Price tells us on page 114: "Scrivenir listed two examples of what he called "oversight" and "inadvertence". In Acts 19:20 all English Versions (except Coverdale) read "OF GOD", although the Greek texts all read "OF THE LORD". The only support for the reading "of God" seems to be the Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate."

As we shall soon see, both Mr. Scrivenir and James Price are perhaps ignorant as to why many translations have legitimately rendered this phrase as "the word of GOD", and they are also wrong about the reading found in "the Greek texts", as they say. There are a variety of readings here with some Greek texts like E, 88, 436, reading "the word of God" as well as the Old Latin manuscripts ar, c, e, gig, p, ph, ro, w, and the Armenian versions. Then the well know manuscript D actually reads "the FAITH OF GOD" instead, and this is the reading found in the Syriac translations of Lamsa, Murdoch and Etheridge.

But for the sake of argument, let's go with the text followed by the KJB translators and see if Mr. Price's assertion is right, OK?

People who say this is a translational error are merely voicing their personal opinion, which many other translators do not share. I am not an expert, but I know enough to be able to defend the KJB here. The word is literally Kurios, which usually in the N.T. is translated as Lord. However, in the Greek translations of the Old Testament, the word Kurios is used thousands of times for the Hebrew words God (Elohim) and Jehovah.

It is interesting that the phrase "the word of God" is only found 3 times in the O.T. Usually the phrase is "the word of the LORD". Yet, in the Greek translations of the O.T. two of the three times the phrase "the word of God" is used, the Greek uses "the word of Kurios". The two places where the Hebrew says "the word of God" the Greek translation has "o logos Kuriou" are 1 Kings 12:22 and 1 Chronicles 17:3. The one where the Greek uses Theos is Proverbs 30:5 "o logos Theou".

The Hebrew use of God and Lord. Are the Hebrew words for God and LORD interchangeable? Yes, we see that they often are.

For example (and there are many more) in 1 Chronicles 13:12-14 we read: “ And David was afraid of GOD that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of GOD home to me? So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of GOD remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had.”

Yet when we read the parallel passage in 2 Samuel 6:9-11 we clearly see that the three words “God” in Chronicles is now LORD in 2 Samuel. “And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me? So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household.”

Again, in 1 Chronicles 14:16 we read: “David therefore did as GOD commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer.

But in 2 Samuel 5:25 the verse reads: “ And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.”

And again in 1 Chronicles 13:8 we have: “And David and all Israel played before GOD with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.”

But in the same passage in 2 Samuel 6:5 it reads: “And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.”

Not only does the King James Bible translate Acts 19:20 as "the word of GOD", but so also do Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, the Geneva Bible 1599, Matthew's bible, Bishop's bible 1568, Wesley's 1755 translation, the Italian Diodati 1649, and the Italian Riveduta 1927 -"la parola di Dio", the Douay-Rheims 1950, Webster's 1833 translation, Young's 'literal', the KJV 21st Century version and the Third Millenium Bible. So the KJB is by no means alone in translating this phrase as "the word of God".

It should also be noted that the vaunted NASB has done a similar thing but in reverse in Acts 12:24. There the Nestle-Aland Greek text, as well as the Majority and the Textus Receptus read "the word of GOD grew and multiplied." The word here is Theos - God, and so read the RV, ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, Holman Standard, KJB, NKJV and numerous others, yet the NASB says "the word of the LORD" as does the Douay version, thus following a very minor reading and that of the Vulgate too."

Also, the word for Jehovah # 3068 is translated in three different ways in the King James Bible - as JEHOVAH, LORD, and GOD. The NKJV, NASB, NIV all translate it as both LORD and GOD, but not as JEHOVAH.

The Greek lexicons, like Liddell and Scott, 17th Abridged edition 1878 page 400 tell us that Kurios equals the Hebrew Jehovah, and Baer, Arndt and Gingrich on page 460 say Kurios can mean "lord, master, owner" and also is "a designation for God". So, when the KJB translated this word as God here in Acts 19:20 they were well within the acceptable meanings of the Greek word.

Even the NIV has translated this same word Kurios as "master, sir, owner, and his majesty".

Dr. Jeffrey Khoo, Academic Dean of Far Eastern Bible College says regarding Acts 19:20: "The KJV is not a mistranslation, and does not differ from the TR. The Greek word kurios can be translated in a number of ways depending on the context. It can be rendered "Lord", "master", "Sir", "God", or "owner". (see The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 900-1). Acts 19:29 certainly allows for "God" instead of "Lord" since the context is speaking of the Word of God as a whole. If it is rendered as "the word of the Lord" it might be construed as some specific word from Jesus instead of God's Word or the Holy Scriptures in general. In any case, whether it is "the word of God", or "the word of the Lord", both are perfectly acceptable translations of the original."

Acts 19:20 in the King James Bible is not an error, nor a departure from the Textus Receptus, but is a perfectly acceptable and accurate translation of the underlying Greek text.

In closing, let's take a look at a similar example that illustrates the ever-changing mindset of those who refer to the "art and science of textual criticism".

Philippians 1:14 "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word *** without fear."

So read Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops' bible, the Geneva Bible, Wesley, Young's, the NKJV 1982,the NRSV 1989, ESV 2001, Holman Standard 2003, NET version, and even the 2005 TNIV. The Spanish Reina-Valera 1909-1995 as well as the modern Greek Bible also agree with the KJB reading - "to speak the word without fear."

The fickleness of the "art and science" of textual criticism is once again displayed in the handling of this verse. Both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus add extra words here, which are not found in the Majority of all texts, nor in the earlier P46. Vaticanus says "speak the word OF GOD", and so read the RSV, NASB and the NIV. Westcott and Hort originally added the extra words "of God" to their text. Later on the Nestle texts still included the extra words "of God", but put them in brackets, and now the latest Nestle-Aland Greek critical texts have removed them from their text, and so have the more recent Bible of the Month Club versions like the 2001 ESV, the 2003 Holman Standard, the NET version of Daniel Wallace, and the 2005 Todays NIV. I guess the old NIV is once again out of date "according to the latest findings of $cholar$hip".

If we follow the various opinions of men like James White or James Price, we end up never knowing for sure what or where the true words of God are found. These two men certainly do not agree even with each other regarding numerous textual matters. They only thing they both have in common is their shared belief that the King James Bible is not the pure word of God and that there is NO pure Bible anywhere on this earth.

Will Kinney

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