Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

June 2023 Issue

Faith in Focus

From the June 2022 Issue

The Test of Time

Online Exclusive: From This Point Forward

The Test of Time

Not far from the banks of the River Thames, a group of men crowd into a small chamber within the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. It is hot and muggy and loud from the sound of so many voices in such a small space, but the spirit of excitement and accomplishment they all share drowns out any discomfort. After four years of intensive work, these fifty-four linguists, writers, and scholars have gathered to assemble their final product before publication. The book? The Bible. The year? It was 1611—the year the King James Version of the Bible was first published. Originally known as the Authorized Version, this translation is the most important book ever published in the English language, it is also the most influential book of all time. God has used the King James Version of His Word to impact the world in revolutionary ways, and it has stood the test of time after more than 400 years. The King James Version is clearly a product of God’s great providence and divine timing. But how did such an incredible translation come to light in only four short years? 

The answer: teamwork! The King James translation is truly a product of collaboration. King James appointed fifty-four of the greatest minds in England to work on a version of the Bible that would be available for all English-speaking peoples. These men were divided into six teams and feverishly worked on their appointed chapters and books all over the country—from Oxford to Cambridge to Westminster Abbey, where it was eventually all put together.

The impact of this text upon the world cannot be overstated. For the first time, there was a standardized English version of the Bible that was not only used in church services but was also available to the common man. This was revolutionary, for up until this time, only the Church had access to Scripture. But due to the availability of the KJV, the Bible became the focal point of many homes. Children learned to read and write from its text. And with the growth of the British Empire, God’s Word was spread throughout the world as the KJV made its way on ships over the seas to places like India, China, and the Americas.

The early 1600s was an ideal time for this translation to be written, for this was the Elizabethan era of literature, often regarded as the Renaissance of the English language. William Shakespeare was still writing and working when the Authorized Version was completed; indeed, no two forces have shaped and influenced the character of the English language more than the KJV and Shakespeare.

And make no mistake about it, the rhythm and beauty of the language used in the King James Version was not an afterthought. The scholars who assembled this translation painstakingly worked to create a version of God’s Word that was both faithful to the original text as well as conducive to being read aloud in public and private places. Because of the powerful, flowing nature of its rhythms, the KJV has been utilized by some of the greatest orators in history. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted it in his “I Have a Dream” speech, and Abraham Lincoln drew from its pages in the Gettysburg Address as well.

Everyday phrases that have entered our vernacular come straight from the pages of the KJV. Every time you say, “the salt of the earth,” “the blind leading the blind,” “seek and ye shall find,” and “the apple of His eye,” you are directly quoting this version of the Bible. There are literally hundreds of phrases that we have adopted from this text, and our language would be far less rich and vivid without its presence.

The history of this life-changing project offers a poignant opportunity for us to focus on the inspiration, distribution, and proclamation of the Word of God today—not only is it timeless –it has stood the test of time. As we have seen, the King James Version had an extraordinary impact both historically and culturally upon the world. But that is not the secret behind its staying power. Its greatest legacy has been that it is none other than the Word of God! It is because it is God’s divine revelation to man that the KJV has stood the test of time. Today we have the New King James Version and other inspiring versions available to us. God’s Word has been translated from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into more that 704 full Bible translations, and the New Testament has been translated into more than 1,500 languages. The Guinness Book of World Records estimates that more than 5 billion copies of the Bible have been printed to date, with more than 100 million Bibles being printed each year. Today the Bible is available to us in print, audio, and digital formats and yet there are still people who need to hear and read about the Good News of the Bible. It is more important than ever that we remain dedicated to the study and proclamation of Scripture to a lost and hurting world—it is one of the few things in life to stand the test of time.

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