The Word of a King, Ecclesiastes 8:4
Not formalized but Authorized
The question arises, was the Authorized Version ever officially authorized?
Dr Laurence Vance2 notes that Dr Miles Smith refers to King James 1st in The Epistle Dedicatory as “the principal Mover and Author of the work” that became the 1611 Holy Bible. Dr Vance concludes, rightly that the 1611 Holy Bible is indeed authorized because according to Ecclesiastes 8:4, “Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?”
It is interesting that the 1611 Authorized Bible was the last English Bible to be translated under the direct authority of a king. The committee that produced the Revised Version of 1881 appealed twice to the Crown3 in order to get royal approval for their new version, as for the 1611 Bible.
Queen Victoria refused each time.
Dr Vance highlights another reason why the 1611 Holy Bible became Authorized and that is, its universal acceptance by the English-speaking peoples across the world. This was the real reason for the Book’s authorization after its publication in 1611. Gustavus Paine agrees. He states4:
“The Puritans fought their way forward. The 1611 Bible by its own worth was making itself welcome throughout the country, for those on both sides needed the best modern texts with which to fight their doctrinal skirmishes. High churchmen in greater numbers began to use the 1611 version, which in centuries to come would be the sole bond uniting the countless English-speaking Protestant sects.
“In 1629 the Bible was again revised, but only in small ways, and once more in minor respects in 1638. The last issue of the Geneva Bible was in 1644. By then the King James Version was ahead of all others, and now the strife over forms and doctrine helped it on.”
As Paine also said, “The Bible has always thrived on turmoil.”
Alexander McClure states that “It (the AV1611) speedily came into general use as the standard version, by the common consent of the English people; and required no act of parliament nor royal proclamation to establish its authority. Some of the older versions continued to be reprinted for forty years; but no long time elapsed ere the common version quietly and exclusively occupied the field.”
“Give me that Book” - Bunyan, Wesley, Spurgeon, Ryle, Shaw
This is from John Bunyan, The Immortal Dreamer, by W. Burgess McCreary: “A university man met Bunyan on the road near Cambridge. Said he to Bunyan, “How dare you preach, not having the original Scriptures?” “Do you have them - the copies written by the apostles and prophets?” asked Bunyan. “No,” replied the scholar. “But I have what I believe to be a true copy of the original.” “And I,” said Bunyan, “believe the English Bible to be a true copy too.””
John Charles Ryle7 was the first Church of England Bishop of Liverpool. In the 1870s, he wrote a book entitled The Christian Leaders of the Last (i.e. 18th) Century, about the great revival preachers like Whitefield and Wesley. He said this about these preachers and the 1611 Holy Bible, his emphases.
“The spiritual reformers of the last century taught constantly the sufficiency and supremacy of Holy Scripture. The Bible, whole and unmutilated, was their sole rule of faith and practice. They accepted all its statements without question or dispute. They knew nothing of any part of Scripture being uninspired. They never allowed that man has any “verifying faculty” within him, by which Scripture statements may be weighed, rejected or received. They never flinched from asserting that there can be no error in the Word of God; and that when we cannot understand or reconcile some part of its contents, the fault is in the interpreter and not in the text. In all their preaching they were eminently men of one book. To that book they were content to pin their faith, and by it to stand or fall. This was one grand characteristic of their preaching. They honoured, they loved, they reverenced the Bible.”
One of those men was John Wesley. He said this about the 1611 Holy Bible.
““I want to know one thing – the way to heaven – how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.””
Bible critics are quick to point out that Wesley wasn’t consistent because he compiled his own New Testament. That raises an interesting question that will be addressed shortly.
In the meantime, consider what Charles Haddon Spurgeon had to say about the 1611 Holy Bible.
“The Bible is God’s word, and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice saying, ‘I am the Book of God, man, read me; I am God’s writing: open my leaves, for I was penned by God’...I plead with you, I beg of you, respect your Bibles, and search them out. Go home and read your Bibles...O Book of books! And wast thou written by my God? Then I will bow before thee, thou Book of vast authority! For He has written this Book Himself...let us love it, let us count it more precious than fine gold!”
Once again, Bible critics are quick to point out that like Wesley, Spurgeon was inconsistent, because at times he thought parts of the 1611 Holy Bible should be changed. We come to the interesting question mentioned before and it is this.
When Wesley and Spurgeon said what they said about the 1611 Holy Bible that has just been quoted, who prompted them to say it, God or the Devil? Ultimately, it must have been either one or the other, either “the spirit of truth” or “the spirit of error” 1 John 4:6.
“If this book be not infallible, where shall we find infallibility? We have given up the Pope, for he has blundered often and terribly; but we shall not set up instead of him a horde of little popelings fresh from college. Are these correctors of Scripture infallible? Is it certain that our Bibles are not right, but that the critics must be so?...
“But where shall infallibility be found? “The depth saith, it is not in me”; yet those who have no depth at all [spiritually] would have us imagine that it is in them; or else by perpetual change they hope to hit upon it...
“We shall gradually be so bedoubted and becriticized, that only a few of the most profound [intellectually] will know what is Bible, and what is not, and they will dictate to all the rest of us. I have no more faith in their mercy than in their accuracy: they will rob us of all that we hold most dear, and glory in the cruel deed. This same reign of terror we shall not endure, for we still believe that God revealeth himself rather to babes than to the wise and prudent, and we are fully assured that our own old English version of the Scriptures is sufficient for plain men for all purposes of life, salvation, and godliness. We do not despise learning, but we will never say of culture or criticism, “These be thy gods, O Israel!””
In the English-speaking world, even up until World War 2, the attitudes toward the 1611 Holy Bible expressed by those men; Bunyan, Wesley, Ryle and Spurgeon, were not as exceptional as we might think, as this statement shows:
“In all these instances the Bible means the translation authorised by King James the First…to this day the common human Britisher or citizen of the United States of North America accepts and worships it as a single book by a single author, the book being the Book of Books and the author being God.”
What a bibliolatrous thing to say about the Britain and the United States of a mere 60 to 70 years ago! Who could possibly make such an outrageous statement?
However, Shaw was of course an accomplished and well-known writer, so he was in a position to know what Britons and Americans of his time thought about literature.
We’ll now look briefly again at how closely the 1611 Holy Bible is part of our national life and how you can’t get away from that Book, no matter what you do.
“God save the king!” - The national anthem and a paratrooper’s farewell
The expression “God save the king!” is of course part of England’s national anthem and well-known as such. However, that expression turned up in an unusual place in World War 2. On September 17th 1944, British Army paratroopers captured the north end of the road bridge across the Nederrijn or Lower Rhine in the Dutch town of Arnhem11. This action was commemorated in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far.
After four days of heavy fighting, the paratroopers were finally overwhelmed by superior German forces but on the morning of Thursday September 21st, a paratroop signaler “known unto God” Acts 15:18, Philippians 4:6 radioed a final message from somewhere near the Arnhem Road Bridge.
The expression “God save the king!” comes straight from a 1611 Authorized King James Holy Bible. The words occur 5 times. They are found in 1 Samuel 10:24, 2 Samuel 16:16 twice, 2 Kings 11:12, 2 Chronicles 23:11 and they have stood there undimmed and unblemished for 400 years. They will stand there forever.
That reading illustrates something about the 1611 English Bible for English-speaking folk who believe the Book. The Author of the Book said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
And the Book is like its Author.
The Book of course was found not only in a world war but it would be found worldwide, as we will now see.
Gone into all the world
English time, English longitude, English empire, English text
Remember what the ex-priest of Rome, Charles Chiniquy said about “the glorious British Protestant flag [that] floats on the breeze.” By the 19th century, that flag floated on the breeze the world over and with it went the British Protestant Bible. Dr Peter S. Ruckman of Pensacola Bible Institute has summed up what happened in history14, his emphases.
“To fulfill Acts 1:8 [for the Lord’s witnesses to go to “the uttermost part of the earth”]...All the Lord needed was a Bible in line with what He had already written and preserved; since He had already decreed (in 1000 BC) that there had to be present “the word of a King” Ecclesiastes 8:4 before there could be any spiritual “power” in that word (Romans 13:1-4), and since His king was a JEW (John 18:34)...God needed a king with a Jewish name; He got one...this time it was JAMES. James is the English word for JACOB”…
“After 1588, “Britannica ruled the waves,” and…with absolute time determined by England (Greenwich Observatory), with absolute location on the earth’s surface located from Greenwich, England (longitude)…by 1850 the sun “never set on the British Empire.”
Britain was a seafaring nation and wherever Britain’s seafarers went, British missionaries went with the 1611 Holy Bible and to “the regions beyond” 2 Corinthians 10:16, as Dr Ruckman explains, his emphases.
“The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries sport the greatest host of Bible-believing witnesses the world has ever seen…These battle-scarred storm troopers crossed mountains, prairies, deserts, lands and seas and cast themselves into martyrs’ graves…They counted their life-styles in terms of the chains they loosed, the souls they liberated, the hungry they fed, and the heathen they transformed. They lived and felt Jesus Christ in every fiber of their being… They believed one Book and they preached and memorized that Book, taught that Book, and lived and died by that Book…”
So with the English Protestant Bible spreading throughout the British Empire and therefore the world, it is no wonder that today, the DVD that has been released in observance of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible has a simple but compelling title.
The Book That Changed The World – on DVD
You can get it from Amazon:
The Product Description states that “The greatest translation of Holy Scripture emerged into a world and culture that would never be quite the same again.”
Queen Victoria, who reigned over the British Empire for more than 60 years understood that statement. She was the queen that challenged the world.
The Queen that Challenged the World – a magnificent painting
“That Book accounts for the supremacy of England.”
However, it was not for the purpose of empire that God made England supreme and Britain Great. God made Britain great so that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God” according to Isaiah 52:10.
We close with a compelling illustration of how this worked out in the days of the British Empire, from the lives of some of those “battle-scarred storm troopers” that Dr Ruckman described.
Dr William Grady18 relates how Charles Darwin visited the islands of Tierra del Fuego at the southern end of South America in 1833. The natives were in such a savage state that Darwin was convinced that he had found his so-called ‘missing link’ between animals and humans.
In about 1870, Darwin visited Tierra del Fuego again.
His time, he was astounded to discover that many of the natives had become Christians through the work of the South American Missionary Society, or SAMS19.
The society was founded in 1844 by Captain Allen Gardiner of the Royal Navy. Gardiner and six of his missionary companions died in the society’s service in 1851 in Patagonia. They had endured several months of sickness, starvation and extreme cold, reaching 20 degrees below zero.
After suffering for weeks on starvation rations and in sub-zero temperatures, Captain Gardiner wrote the last lines in his diary on September 6th 185120. He said this: “By God’s Grace this blessed group was able to sing praises to Christ for eternity. I am not hungry or thirsty in spite of 5 days without eating; Wonderful Grace and Love to me, a sinner...”
Captain Gardiner died near the upturned boat in September 1851(It is this author’s opinion that Captain Gardiner died with more joy in his heart, than even Kate and William will know on their wedding day if they know not the Lord Jesus Christ. “Rejoice in the Lord alway [all the way]: and again I say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4.)
Thanks to his 1870 visit to Tierra del Fuego, Charles Darwin was so impressed by the work of SAMS that he became an Honorary Member and gave an annual subscription to the society for the rest of his life
It needs only to be added that the missionary workers of SAMS ministered to the tribes of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego through one Book, the Book that John Wesley and Charles Haddon Spurgeon called “the Book of God.”
That Book didn’t stop at the ends of the earth.
400 years on, we find that the Book that had its precarious beginnings at Hampton Court in 1604 went from there to the imperial throne of Queen Victoria, to “the regions beyond” 2 Corinthians 10:16 in darkest Africa, “unto the uttermost part of the earth” Acts 1:8, literally, to Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost end of South America, to the road bridge at Arnhem during the “perilous times” 2 Timothy 3:1 of World War 2 and even into outer space, with the Apollo 8 mission.
That Book changed the world for the better.
The testimony of the last 400 years is that it can change you for the better according to 1 Peter 2:2.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
The last word should go to Dr Miles Smith, from The Translators To The Reader.
“Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them with the Philistines [Genesis 26:15], neither prefer broken pits before them with the wicked Jews [Jeremiah 2:13]. O receive not so great things in vain, O despise not so great salvation!...a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to read it; when he stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I, here we are to do thy will, O God. The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the holy Ghost, be all praise and thanksgiving. Amen.”
Earthrise - from Apollo 8, “And God made the firmament” Genesis 1:7
(Detailed appendix to The Critics’ Den available on request)
2 King James, His Bible And Its Translators, pp 92-93
3 Which Bible?, p 286, kjv.benabraham.com/html/chapter-10.html
4 ‘O Biblios’ The Book, Chapter 11, Section 11.1
The Christian Leaders of the Last (i.e. 18th) Century, by Rev J.C. Ryle, T Nelson and Sons, 1878, Preface, pp 26, 90
12 http://shop.davidshepherd.org/detail.php?max_perpage=9999&id=000137, Google: Arnhem Bridge photos
14 ‘O Biblios’ The Book, p 25
The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship by Dr Peter S. Ruckman, Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p 119
The History Of The New Testament Church Volume II by Dr Peter S. Ruckman, Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1984, Chapter Five
Bible Believers’ Bulletin, Bible Baptist Bookstore, June 2002, p 15, October 2006, p 2
18 Final Authority, p 182. Note that in an otherwise excellent account of the post-1611 history of the KJB, Dr Grady refers incorrectly to missionary John Paton with respect to the mission work on Tierra del Fuego, which was begun by Captain Allen Gardiner RN
www.archive.org/details/romance_missionaryheroism_0910_librivox, 17 – The Sailor Missionary of Tierra del Fuego