Return to the KJV Glossary itself.
This glossary of the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) is made mostly of simple definitions to help modern readers deal with 1611 vocabulary. It defines KJV words and phrases that might confuse many of today's readers. Because Bible geography can be very difficult I have also provided location information for geographic words. I have tried to also define oddly spelled words, spelled differently today. My goal is to provide a one-stop tool to assist in comprehending the KJV Bible.
Scanning through the glossary will be "an eye opener." There are scores of English words in the KJV whose meaning has considerably changed since 1611. There are many other words in the text that are seldom, if ever, used today. You may be startled by some of the words you find here, and by their 1611 meanings! For example, in 1611 the word "let" sometimes meant "to restrain" or "stop". It was hard for me to believe that "let" could ever have meant "restrain" or "stop". Here's a Scripture where it is used in that way:
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." [2nd Thessalonians 2:7]
This glossary is an ongoing work. It will not be finished for some time.
Once in awhile I have discovered that the KJV translators were, for one reason or another, not as precise as I would like them to have been. In those cases I don't deal with the KJV word. Instead, I give the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek word(s) they were trying to translate.
The Bible was not written in English. English did not even exist in Bible times. The writers of the Old Testament wrote in Hebrew and Aramaic. The writers of the New Testament wrote in Greek. To complicate things further the Greek the Bible writers used was a form of Greek that was current with their era, but a form that someone from the Country of Greece today could barely understand, if they understood at all!
Today we have ancient portions of the Old Testament that are in some cases 900 years earlier than anything the KJV translators had to translate from! We also have many, many New Testament portions and fragments that are older than anything the KJV translators had available to them. Today we have copies of the Bible that are much nearer to the "autographs" (The autographs are the lost original, first copies penned by the Bible writers themselves.). Even with the handicap the KJV translators worked under, of not having as old and as accurate ancient manuscripts to work with as we have today, the KJV turned out pretty good. That is because the Holy Spirit had a mighty hand in the KJV translation.
I trust you have not been tricked into believing the "textus receptus" theory! That theory has very little foundation in fact and reality! It is based on the false idea that God only inspired the family of ancient texts and manuscripts that the KJV translators got their hands on. That theory teaches that all the other manuscripts that came from other parts of the Bible family tree of manuscripts were uninspired and somehow corrupted! I have more to say about that later.
Translating the New Testament into English is a hard task. The translators really needed Divine help. One reason for this is that New Testament Greek is a far more precise language than English. For example in Greek there are at least three or four words that we would translate into modern English as the word "love." Because English is so imprecise we use the word "love" to describe our feelings about anything from ketchup to marriage. The Greeks had a different word for each variety of love. Some Greek words are so precise that it takes a whole paragraph in English to adequately explain what that Greek word fully means!
Here is another very interesting fact that most Christians who read the KJV are totally unaware of:
After 1611 there were about seven slightly re-edited versions of the KJV. Most KJV Bibles today are based on the 1769 version. Some recently printed KJVs have updated the older English spellings. Even so, I have tried to include older and variant spellings to help those, like myself, who use a more or less 1769 KJV manuscript.The KJV translation project was a huge effort for 1611. If only those translators could have had computer word processing equipment to help them get their work more unified. Because it was such a tough job to make a new translation in 1611 some words were spelled one way in one portion of the translation and spelled another way in another part of the translation. For example the prophet Hosea's name is spelled in the Book of Hosea as Hosea, but in Romans 9:25 it is spelled Osee. That was confusing for me. In my early years I wondered who Osee might be.
The original 1611 version even included the Apocrypha (this is a group of books written after the Old Testament, but mostly prior to the New Testament).
We need to remember that the Church of England, the Anglican Church, [In the States we call it the Episcopal Church] was the organization behind the KJV translation. The Anglican Church was formed when King Henry the VIII (8th) pulled the Catholic churches in England out of Catholicism, forming the Church of England. Henry and the Pope could not see "eye to eye" on the King's need for annulment after annulment in his search for a wife who would give him a son as his heir to the throne.
The Church of England, retained remnants of its Catholic past. When the KJV translation was made the Church of England was only about 75 years beyond it's divorce from Catholicism!! One of those leftover remnants was that the 1611 KJV included the Apocryphal books as a part of it's text.
I find it very humorous that those believers who go about trying to tell you that you need to watch out for anything Catholic are the same people who tell you the KJV is the only real Bible. But if they knew their church history a bit better they would be shocked to discover that the KJV was translated by a church that had very strong Catholic left-overs, and had separated from Catholicism not for high and holy reasons but for the purpose of freeing King Henry VIII to violate the sanctity of marriage.
To me the KJV is a miracle Bible because even though it was produced by a "lukewarm" or perhaps backslidden church, yet it is not a bad translation! And, in fact, to make the miracle even greater, the KJV was produced to help rid the world of the wonderful Geneva Bible loved by so many. The Puritans loved the Geneva Bible. That was the version they brought with them to America! That is another shocker for many of the folks who tell you that the KJV is the only real and true Bible. They would be shocked to know that the first Bible used in America was NOT the KJV at all!
The Church of England and King James (the head of the Church of England in 1611) were not happy with Puritans or their favorite Bible. It was almost 40 years before the KJV really began to catch on, over the popularity of the Geneva Bible. King James and the Church of England's main reason for conceiving the KJV translation was, as I see it, a matter of evil control and domination. But what King James II might have meant in a negative way, God meant for wonderful and ultimate good!
King James was unhappy with the Geneva Bible partly because it contained politically incorrect marginal notes on key political issues. One marginal note for Exodus 1:9 related that the Hebrew midwives were correct in disobeying Pharaoh's orders. A note for 2nd Chronicles 15:16 said that King Asa should have had his mother executed and not merely removed from office for the crime of worshipping an idol. The KJV came out of the king's dislike for the brief but powerful doctrinal commentaries found in the Geneva Bible margin. King James looked upon those marginal notes as a political threat to his kingdom. In King James' view you never disobey a King, even if the king tells you to kill children!
You can learn more about the Geneva Bible at this address:
What a miracle of God that the KJV translation came out so well in light of it's beginnings!
After 1611 many believers found the Apocrypha to be very much of man and very little of God. As a result it has been removed from the text of the KJV. Protestants removed it because those books were not held sacred by First Century Jewish scholars centered in Jerusalem. And also the Apocryphal books come up short spiritually and factually. The KJV translators included the Apocrypha because of their recent Catholic ancestry. Catholic scholars were influenced heavily by the Jewish scholars centered at Alexandria, Egypt. The Alexandrian scholars influenced Catholic and Greek Orthodox thinking.
A good overview of the background of the KJV can be read at this web address:
Since my goal is to aid readers in understanding their KJV more fully, I have NOT refrained from going beyond word definitions into doctrine and other areas when needed. For this I do NOT apologize. This is an assignment from the Lord. I am carrying out that assignment as HE directs me to carry it out.
This is not intended as a scholarly work to be used by geniuses. This is for people like myself who began reading the KJV as a child. It took me three years before I felt I understood more than a little of what I read. This glossary is what I wish I could have had access to after my Sunday School teacher gave me my first Bible on November 16, 1958. I was eleven years old.
You may be wondering why I am a supporter of such an old translation of the Bible, when there are recent translations that are written in today's English. That is a worthy question that deserves an answer!! Read on.
Because the KJV is just about the only well known English version that is truly and totally in the Public Domain (except in The United Kingdom); and, because most new Bible translations and paraphrases seem to be owned by individuals, companies or foundations, I have decided to return to the KJV.
[For you younger readers "in the Public Domain" means that a book or work of some kind is not owned by any one company, foundation or person. It is owned by everyone. It is public property.]
I believe the Bible should be first the property of God, because it is HIS Word, and second the property of all people everywhere. Previously I was a strong supporter of a newer translation. But when the company that owned my favorite translation was bought out by a secular, international, mega-syndicate, seeking profits, I WAS SHAKEN!! That newer translation is now owned by a parent company that appears to me to be no friend of wholesomeness, goodness and righteousness. That newer translation is the biggest Bible money-maker in the history of mankind. The secular company, led by a multi-billionaire money baron, was drawn to purchase the "Christian" publishing company because that newer translation was a money-maker. So the secular baron owns that new translation and is merchandising the Word of God!
I am greatly saddened to have witnessed this spiritual crime in my day. I am deeply disturbed to see the Holy Word of God being made into merchandise for profit. To me selling the Word of God for profit is outrageous!! I like better what the American Bible Society does. They sell Bibles at cost so they can keep on keeping on. But they are not getting rich in the Bible business. All of a sudden the KJV started to look very good, indeed, to me!!
I want to help others to return to the King James. It is truly a FREE Bible for free people to read with no strings attached in most places. Because it has been around so long no one can change it and get away with calling their modified version The King James. Suddenly I see that is a good thing for a translation of the Bible to be an unchanging standard. The KJV can never evolve into anything else. No one can modify it and fool us. The ink has dried forever in the position it is in. Any more editing makes it something else and not the KJV.
I am not a "Textus Receptus" fan. The "Textus Receptus" folks believe the KJV translators had access to more superior Greek and Hebrew texts than translators today have. That idea is simply not factual, a myth that a lot of people have been tricked into believing. In Israel, this very moment, there are copies of the Old Testament that are more than 1,000 years older than anything seen in 1611. And those newly discovered and older copies have clarified several passages of Scripture that had misspellings. In other words, God has helped us get a sharper understanding of the Bible text, thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls! Praise God! Today we have older, purer manuscripts for translators to use than were ever available in 1611. But, I DO believe the Lord had HIS hand in the translation work of the KJV. It is NOT a bad translation!!! It won't hurt you! God will use it to help you!
I'm not a "King James Only" person! I have a very clear and simple reason for that position. I cannot go along with the King James Version Only argument because it is a position of pride and not humility. Briefly I can turn that position up side down by calling attention to the nation of China. In China there are 1600 various versions of the Holy Bible, none of which is the KJV because the KJV is an English and not a Chinese Bible. There are more Chinese human beings than there are any other race of people. God has given China over a thousand different Bible versions in various Chinese dialects to reach China. None of those translations even existed in 1611 and the scholars who did them were not limited to the "Textus Receptus" texts, which the King James only folks say are the only trustworthy Greek and Hebrew texts that can be used. It sounds to me like the King James only folks are saying that the KJV is the only Bible for the World and you have got to learn English and read the KJV to get God's Word properly. That argument cannot be valid because God has miraculously given the World many versions in many languages to read. The KJV Text is not the secret to getting God's Word correctly received when I read my Bible, although that is my favorite version. The Holy Spirit is the secret to receiving the Word of God properly and that is why I pray for the Holy Spirit to touch me and help me when I read the Bible. There are many false cults that have gotten their false inspiration by reading the King James Bible! Obviously the aid of the Holy Spirit is far more important than what translation you are reading! I will never join the prideful King James Only Argument because it flies in the face of our wonderful Lord who has inspired translators to give the World HIS book in nearly every possible language, and it flies in the face of the blessed Holy Spirit who is the ONE God has sent to interpret and aid us as we read whatever translation we have in hand. I reject the King James Only theory because it is a man concocted, non-Holy Spirit inspired teaching!
I am also deeply saddened when modern translators attempt to cleanse the Bible of what they think is politically or culturally, or scientifically incorrect. The Bible says what it says and if we don't like what it says, or the way it says it, then WE are the ones that are having a problem. The Bible is a constant and true message that has a clear and pure note reverberating down through time.
Translators who modify the message of God's Word are in grave danger of putting words into God's mouth. And that has got to be just about the most fool-hearty move that a person can make!!!!
Finally, mastering the KJV will not only greatly enrich the reader spiritually (which is the most important goal), but it will help them master the best aspects of the English Language. English seems to be in a tail-spin of negative evolution these days. Words are being forced to mean anything vague and foggy that the speaker dreams up.
When word meanings become "silly putty," then truth begins to sink in a sea of confusion. God's Word has a clear message. Hell and the Lake of Fire are terrible destinations to wake up in because you misunderstood God's Book. God has inspired the message of the Bible to save men and women, boys and girls from ending up in an eternal nightmare of agony. God wants people to choose life. But HE has given them the choice. HE has given them the message. It is in our hands where we spend our eternity. The message in KJV Bibles CAN be understood IF you know the vocabulary.
I find a literary beauty and depth in the KJV that newer translations fail to match.
Having the KJV in one's life will give them a true standard that never changes, a standard that helps them see how things around them are changing improperly. We need a standard in these days like the super-true atomic clocks that governments operate to keep the World on time.
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