Tag Archives: messianic prophecies

Did Matthew Botch Christmas? (…. Or How World Cup Soccer Helps to Better Understand Bible Prophecy)

It is the season of Advent, which means it is time for critics of Christianity to try to poke holes in the Christmas story, as people scramble to put up what is left of their Christmas decorations, fill their Amazon cart with last minute gifts, and believers in Jesus prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Dr. Bart Ehrman, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, New York Times bestseller author, and perhaps the most well-known public skeptic of Christianity, has been making the rounds on various atheist YouTube channels, promoting a new seminar regarding “Other Virgin Births in Antiquity,” just in time for the holidays.

Croatia beats Brazil at the 2022 World Cup, after a dramatic penalty shootout. Do you think penalty shootouts have nothing to teach us about Bible prophecy?…. Think again.

In one particular promotional video, on the atheist Paulogia channel, Paulogia asks Dr. Ehrman to interact with a video by Dr. Michael Heiser, an evangelical expert in Semitic languages, and perhaps my favorite Old Testament scholar. I posted a blog article asking “Is the Virgin Birth Prophecy a Mistranslation?,” back in 2016, which at the end featured the full-length video of Dr. Heiser’s lecture.

In the recent 20-minute video, Paulogia states in the subtitle: “Dr Bart Ehrman joins us to determine if [Dr. Michael Heiser’s] work is scholarly… or just more Christian apologetics.” Of course, this assumes Dr. Ehrman’s work is purely scholarly with no biased apologetics of his own….  NEWSFLASH: Every scholar has their biases, using their own style of apologetics to defend their views, including Bart Ehrman.

However, if you are interested, the recent 20-minute Paulogia interview with Dr. Ehrman, critiquing the Heiser video can be viewed here. You could just read on for now, and come back to it at a later time:

 

The Virgin Birth Prophecy…. Did Matthew Botch the Whole Thing?

To my knowledge, this is the only YouTube presentation where Dr. Ehrman interacts with Dr. Heiser’s material. I only want to highlight the main controversy here, as it has to do with the famous Virgin Birth prophecy found in Matthew 1:23, which quotes Isaiah 7:14, indicating that the birth of Jesus fulfills this prophecy, made about 700 years earlier.

The English Standard Version (ESV) translation, starting in Matthew 1:22, reads as follows to describe the very first Christmas:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

This closely mirrors what the ESV has in Isaiah 7:14. However, compare the same passage in something like the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition (NRSVue), for Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel.

The highlighted portion demonstrates the controversy. Both Dr. Ehrman and Dr. Heiser agree that the NRSVue rendering is the accurate translation of the original Hebrew. The Hebrew has the word “almah,” which generally means “young woman,” or “young maiden.” However, these two scholars then begin to differ.

Bart Ehrman argues that treating the Hebrew word “almah” to mean “virgin” is a mistranslation. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, produced a few centuries before Jesus, by a group of Jewish scholars near Alexandria, Egypt, then carried this “mistranslation” into that Greek text, which Matthew borrows and places in his Gospel.

Michael Heiser argues otherwise. For the term “almah” is actually a rather ambiguous word in the Hebrew lexicon. Yes, it does generally mean “young woman.” However, an “almah” might also be considered to be a “virgin,” depending on the context. The concept of “virgin” is more restrictive, in the sense that it could refer to a “young woman” who has not yet experienced sexual relations. In other words, you simply can not rule out the idea that “almah” could mean “virgin.”

What the Paulogia video neglects to tell viewers is that there is a clear instance in the Bible when “almah” does mean “virgin,a translation which Dr. Heiser explains in a separate article, that I will summarize here: In Song of Songs 6:8, the ESV reads:

There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
    and virgins without number.

This verse is talking about the women in the king’s harem, where the Scripture writer delineates three different classes of women. You can ignore the obvious moral difficulty of a king having a number of women at his disposal to focus on these three classes. A “queen” would be a wife of the king. A “concubine” would be a “secondary wife” or “slave woman.”  That last category, “virgin” corresponds to that Hebrew word “almah,” for reasons that the Orthodox Jewish Bible gives in a footnote:

….the word means explicitly or implicitly “virgin” and where “young woman” is not an adequate rendering, in this case, since the King was hardly interested in only young women in his harem, but demanded “virgins”; the older Jewish translations like Harkavy’s so translated the word as “virgin” in this verse until it became politically incorrect to do so in later, more liberal Jewish translations into English].

I like to use the online StepBible as a great tool for exploring such a word study, as in how the Hebrew word “almah” is translated throughout the whole Bible, to see this for myself. While Matthew’s method of Old Testament prophecy interpretation may sound weird to us, he was far from being careless or clumsy.

…..So much for Dr. Ehrman’s critique against Dr. Heiser on this point….

The Flight Into Egypt, by Vittore Carpacccio (1466-1525). Based on Matthew’s interpretation of prophecy in Hosea being fulfilled through his Virgin Birth narrative. The Gospel of Matthew takes a lot of heat from critics who think that Matthew was “making things up” as prophecy fulfillment in his Virgin Birth narrative. In this blog we tackle one of those criticisms, namely Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 to announce the Virgin Birth.

 

On the Nature of Bible Prophecy: Why the “300+ Prophecies of Jesus” Can Be Misleading

Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that Bart Ehrman does raise an important issue that is often neglected: There is a specific Hebrew word for “virgin” found in the Old Testament: “betulah.” If the prophet Isaiah really meant “virgin” to be the word here in Isaiah 7:14, why did he choose the ambiguous word “almah” and not the more specific word “betulah?”

To answer that question you have to think more deeply about the nature of biblical prophecy. Both Dr. Heiser and Dr. Ehrman agree in the video that it would have been completely absurd for Isaiah to have one and only one meaning in mind regarding Isaiah 7:14, looking hundreds of years into the future, simply based on the original context of the passage.

A closer look at the whole chapter, in Isaiah 7, demonstrates what is going on. In the 8th century B.C.E., King Ahaz of Judah is being threatened by two kings from the land to the north. Verse 2 even says that Ahaz was “shaking” in fear. Would the God of Israel deliver Ahaz from this military threat?

Ahaz says that he will not test the Lord in this moment, but the prophet Isaiah is not buying into Ahaz’s fake piety. Isaiah then makes his famous prophecy, but then in verses 15-16, Isaiah says that before the promised child is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, those two northern kings will no longer be a threat to Ahaz.

Just think about it. If Isaiah was only prophesying the coming of Jesus, would that have really made any sense to Ahaz? Imagine such a conversation that Isaiah would have had with Ahaz, if this indeed was the case:

“King Ahaz!  I have great news for you. Seven hundred years from now, a child will be born, and before that child reaches an age of moral maturity, those two kings that are causing you to shake in your boots now will no longer be a threat to you!”

Huh???

What type of comfort would that really give to Ahaz? He would be long dead before the prophecy would have any meaning for him.

Unfortunately, there are many Christians who never really think about this problem at all…. and it is a real problem. I had been a Christian for nearly several decades before I realized that this was indeed a problem. It does not help that there are a handful of evangelical scholars who perpetuate this idea that Isaiah 7:14 is solely a messianic prophecy, whose only purpose is to predict the coming of Jesus, at the first Christmas, nearly 700 years after Isaiah and Ahaz were living.

I presume they mean well, but I do not understand the full thinking process used by such scholars who promote this “single messianic prophecy” view. Assigning a prophecy to have a purely future, single meaning to it is attractive, in that it is simple to understand: Isaiah predicts the birth of Jesus… end of story.

But it comes across as a kind of wishful thinking approach to biblical prophecy. While there is not anything necessarily harmful in wanting something to be true, it becomes a serious problem when the evidence is either completely lacking or leads to nonsense, or far worse, the available evidence contradicts with the proposition that we want to believe to be true.

Many Christians familiar with at least some form of Christian apologetics are often told that at least some 300 prophecies in the Old Testament have been fulfilled by Jesus. In fact, several friends of mine have told me that they became believers in Jesus because of those 300+ prophecies. Understandably, many Christians want to see how Jesus fulfills centuries of Old Testament prophecies, hundreds of years into the future. But the story is more complicated than what you get in a typical Sunday morning sermon, particular during the season of Advent…. and frankly, the story is far more rich and profound.

Many imagine Jesus was probably walking around at some point in his life with clipboard underneath his tunic, checking off things to make sure they were being fulfilled: “Born in Bethlehem…. CHECK…. Born of a Virgin…. CHECK…. Avoiding the wrath of Herod by escaping to Egypt with Joseph and Mary and then returning…. GOT THAT, TOO!

Well, it just is not that simple. While there are some prophecies that have a single, direct fulfillment in view, such as most probably with Micah 5:2’s prediction that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the weight of the evidence overall points to something more nuanced.

More often than not, both Second Temple-period Jewish and early Christian interpreters used a particular form of Bible interpretation to understand how prophecy works: typology. A typological interpretation of prophecy suggests that there is a “type” or pattern of prophecy fulfillment or partial fulfillment that anticipates a later, full fulfillment of the prophecy, or the “real thing” being prophesied. Some scholars refer to this as a “double-fulfillment” view of prophecy, but the terminology of “typology” is a theologically richer way of thinking about it.

Perhaps the best example is in Roman 5:14, when the Apostle Paul describes Adam as the type of the one who was to come, namely Jesus. In this example, Adam is the “type” while Jesus is the “real thing.” Or to put it another way, Jesus is the “Second Adam.” The curious thing about a lot of typology is that it is typically not that easy to figure out how a particular statement in the Old Testament anticipates its New Testament fulfillment, just by reading the Old Testament itself.

Most Jews today associate Isaiah 7:14 with a more near-term fulfillment of the prophecy, namely in the birth of Ahaz’ son, Hezekiah, the future king who would live beyond the deaths of those two northern kings who threatened Ahaz. When the Jew Trypho had his famous 2nd century C.E. debate with the Christian apologist Justin Martyr, Trypho made the case that Isaiah 7:14 prophesied the coming of Hezekiah, whereas Justin argued that it was Jesus who was prophesied.

However, many scholars have since argued that the prophesy initially referred to the birth of Isaiah’s own son, described in Isaiah 8, who actually receives the name of “Immanuel” in Isaiah 8:8-10.

Furthermore, there is nothing specific in the Old Testament that links Isaiah 7:14 to any particular, future messianic expectation. Also, we have no demonstrable pre-Christian Jewish texts after Isaiah that associate Isaiah 7:14 with a future coming Messiah, according to Beale and Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. 

However, when the Septuagint translators translated “young woman” into “virgin,” this might indeed suggest that at least some Jews eventually began to think that there was something more to the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy, as a future son having some type of supernatural conception, centuries beyond the days of Isaiah, Ahaz, or Hezekiah. It is difficult to know for sure.

Nevertheless, Matthew in the New Testament ultimately settles the matter by linking the “virgin” to Jesus’ mother, Mary. For in Matthew’s mind, Jesus does more than simply deliver two northern kings from threatening King Ahaz, back around the 8th century B.CE. Instead, Jesus delivers the whole world from the deadly grip of sin, from Satan, and other powers of darkness.

World Cup 2022 Penalty Shootouts : a match of wits and skill.

 

The Cryptic Nature of Bible Prophecy: A Lesson from World Cup Soccer

Back to the discussion by Bart Ehrman that raises an important question: Why so cryptic?

Why is it that the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is so ambiguous? If the whole point of Isaiah 7:14 was to point to Jesus, why did Isaiah not settle the matter himself and use the word “betulah” to describe the mother of the promised child?

The answer is found here: … think about World Cup penalty shootouts.

As I am writing this, the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar is wrapping up. Once you get into the semi-final and final rounds, games where the score is tied is settled by a penalty shootout. Each team brings up a shooter against the other team’s goalie. The standoff is almost all mental. Both the shooter and the goalie has to somehow anticipate what the other is going to do. Will the shooter feign a shot to the right, when the shot is really meant to go into the left side of the goal? Will the goalkeeper dive to his right, anticipating that the shooter will try to put the ball in that side of the net? Will the shot come low and straight-on, or will it go high and up to a corner?

It is all a battle of wits and skill, trying to read what the other player plans on doing.

In other words, the key to success in a penalty shootout in the World Cup is in trying to be as cryptic as possible, regarding what one intends to do.

The lesson of World Cup penalty shootout strategy can help us to understand why Bible prophecy is so cryptic: The key to understanding it is not by saying that Isaiah 7:14 was mistranslated, or that Matthew misused Isaiah’s prophesy. Instead, it is to recognize that the cryptic nature of the prophecy was cryptic by design. It was not some “mistake” that crept into our Bibles, sneaking under the radar of the early church fathers who affirmed the New Testament canon of Scripture. Instead, Matthew does what he does on purpose, to make a theological point. The Apostle Paul explains why this was the case in 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (ESV):

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

The big clue here is the meaning of “the rulers of this age.” Some suggest that these are political rulers in Paul’s day, but Paul is thinking of a bigger, supernatural picture here. In Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm these “rulers of this age” are supernatural beings that seek to challenge the authority of the God of Israel, and who wish to derail God’s program to reveal the messiah to the world through the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle location 2134).

In order to thwart these dark powers who wish to thwart the one True God’s plan to bring about the redemption of humanity, God veils his plan in the Old Testament to reveal Jesus as the Christ in such a way that these “rulers of this age” would not be able to figure out what God was up to, until after the fact. By then, the “rulers of this age” would be powerless and too late to stop God’s redemption plan. The only way you would then be able to discern what God was doing was through hindsight.  This was what Matthew was doing by understanding in hindsight what the prophet Isaiah was getting at with Isaiah 7:14, whether Isaiah himself was fully aware of this added typological dimension or not.

In other words, the powers of darkness thought that God would strike the ball hard and low to the right side of the net, but instead, God feigned a move and then cranked the ball into the upper left hand side of the net.

Game over.

While this way of interpreting Isaiah 7:14 may not be as exhilarating as the “single messianic prophecy” view propagated by some Christians, it is still a defensible position to hold, given the available evidence. The “single messianic prophecy” view faces the onslaught of critics, like a Bart Ehrman, who can tear down such a indefensible thesis into shreds, which he manages to do in the Paulogia video.

On the other hand, a more nuanced, typological reading of Isaiah 7:14 is supported by the weight of evidence that undergirds it, and it can withstand the volley of criticisms  that skeptics might throw against it. Plus, it makes sense of the broader contour of the Bible’s story, of how God has sought to reveal his plan of redemption through the history of Israel, despite the opposition of the powers of darkness.

SO… back to the question in this blog article title, “Did Matthew Botch Christmas?” Hopefully the case has been made that the answer is “NO.”

At Christmas, the light of Christ breaks through the darkness to show to a hopeless world that there is still hope, and that Jesus himself is the living incarnate expression of that very hope.  The powers of darkness, intent on destroying God’s plan, were caught off guard, unaware of the deeper reality of God’s plan of redemption. Recipients of God’s mercy and grace instead benefit from that Good News. With that truth in mind, we have a wonderful reason to celebrate a Merry Christmas!

If you want a deep dive look at this, consider Dr. Michael Heiser’s full presentation regarding Isaiah’s Virgin Birth prophesy, as opposed to Paulogia’s heavily edited version with Bart Ehrman above. While I am not saying that the truth of Christianity rises and falls on the Virgin Birth story, I am saying that Christianity makes more sense with the Virgin Birth than without it. For that reason, I would consider the Virgin Birth to be an essential doctrine of the Christian faith, a hallmark of orthodox faith and belief. However, I would also add that Christians should learn that there are defensible ways of upholding the Virgin Birth, that we should consider, and let go of certain wishful thinking fantasies that simply can not be defended…… But before you check out the Dr. Heiser video, you can re-live the moment when Argentina beat the defending champions, France, in a World Cup penalty shootout in the 2022 Final!


The Micah 5:2 Christmas Prophecy (…and How “King James Only” Apologetic Arguments Only Tell Part of the Story)

During the season of Advent, churches will read from the Gospels, directly referencing Old Testament prophecies, as being fulfilled at Christmas, with the coming of Jesus as Messiah. One of the most familiar prophecies is found in Micah 5:2, which is said to predict that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem, which is confirmed by Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, by Matthew (Matthew 2:1-6) and Luke (Luke 2:1-7). Such prophecies can stir up controversy, even among those who claim to be Christians, as I will point out.

10th century image of the “Massacre of Innocents” from Matthew 2:16-18. Why would Herod take the drastic action, of murdering young children from the town of Bethlehem? The Scriptures prophesied that a descendant of King David would arise from Bethlehem, posing a threat to Herod, but a quirky dispute promoted by King-James-Only advocates only confuses the matter.

Skeptics of the Christian faith will reject such predictive prophesies. For example, the well-known critic, Bart Ehrman, focuses on the problems of Jesus’ birthplace, contending that it was really Nazareth and not Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Erhman claims that the Gospel writers invented the Bethlehem birth story to make it all fit within Micah’s prophecy. This objection has been answered elsewhere (here by apologist Tim McGrew). But there is actually another problem, brought on by misguided thinking propagated by King-James-Only advocates, that only complicates things unnecessarily.

Let me first set the record straight: I do love the King James Version (KJV). Some of my friends simply prefer the KJV, and I can appreciate why. In several ways, modern translations have yet to improve upon the old trusty KJV. However, I also believe that other, more modern translations can help us to better understand God’s Word, expanding upon what the KJV gives us.

“King-James-Only” advocates, on the other hand, believe that only the KJV translation can be trusted, and that all modern Bible translations are the works of the Devil. I read a great book this past summer, Mark Ward’s Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, that I reviewed, that gently shows why some over-enthusiastic fans of the KJV can go completely overboard. Sadly, such King-James-Only folks can ironically raise unnecessary doubts in the minds of some Christians, as to the Bible’s trustworthiness, particularly among those who are new to the faith, regardless of which translation someone uses.

Here is a sample of the rhetoric from YouTube sensation, Steven Anderson, who cites the NIV (New International Verision) translation as denying the pre-existence of Jesus. For Anderson, the very Bibles most Christians use today actually undercut the doctrine of the Incarnation, that Jesus as God experienced a human birth in Bethlehem :

You can pretty much substitute “NIV” with just about any other modern English translation, and you get the power of Anderson’s rhetoric: “Do not believe modern English translations of the Bible, because they are lying to you!

Here is how Anderson’s argument works. First, let us contrast how the KJV and the ESV (another modern translation) handle Micah 5:2:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah,
though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me
that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old,
from everlasting. (KJV)
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days. (ESV)

Here we see, in both versions, that one shall come from Bethlehem, to be ruler in Israel, which explains why Matthew and Luke have such an interest, showing that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Anderson’s argument is that the KJV teaches that Jesus is from “everlasting,” his “goings forth,” thus emphasizing Jesus pre-existence as a non-created being, whereas translations like the ESV, that have “ancient days,” suggest that Jesus was created in time, his “coming forth,” or “origins” (in the NIV), and therefore, is not pre-existent.

In other words, please put your ESVs and NIVs in a pile and burn them, according to Anderson.

But worse than that, such varied readings of Micah’s prophecy can make some think that no Bible translation can be trusted. That is; if a modern Bible translation can not be trusted, then why trust something older, like the KJV?

*SIGH*

Sadly, Anderson leaves out some really important details. First, Anderson makes it a big deal that “everlasting” is the correct translation of the Hebrew here, and not “ancient days.” However, the KJV uses the very similar term “ancient of days,” three times in the Book of Daniel to refer to God Himself. I am not aware of any King James Only advocate who would call for a rejection of the KJV, for using such terminology, “ancient of days,” to refer to the pre-existent, non-created God. If the KJV is okay with identifying “ancient of days” with God in other places, why should we be bothered here in Micah 5:2?

Secondly, Anderson does not reveal why modern translations generally favor “ancient days” over “everlasting.” From the prior verse, Micah 5:1, we see that the former might be more accurate, with respect to the immediate context:

Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
    siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
    on the cheek (ESV).

This would indicate that Micah has in mind that the one coming from Bethlehem (v.2) is associated with the judge of Israel (v.1). This judge of Israel is thought to be the ruler of Israel, none other than a king from the line of David. Therefore, Micah has in mind that the one from Bethlehem is a son of David, an heir to the Davidic kingly throne, which chimes in with the Gospel of Luke’s insistence that Joseph, the husband of Mary, was in the line of King David (Luke 2:4 ESV).

Mmmm…. So, why do “King James Only” people neglect to tell you these things?

Well, one of the main characteristics of conspiracy theories, such as King James Only-ism, is a propensity to only tell you part of the story, and then assign the worst possible motives to your antagonists, in this case, the majority of modern, evangelical Bible scholars.1

Here is some background: As Old Testament professor Claude Mariottini shows, the translation of “ancient days” ties the one coming from Bethlehem to a promise given within earthly time (Micah 7:14). Note that the covenant made with David, that there would be someone from the line of David, who would rule Israel, was made at a particular point in Israel’s history, in earthly time. In this context, there is no need to make the reference back to eternity (1 Chronicles 17:11-14).

So, does this mean that the King James Version was simply wrong to translate Micah 5:2 with “from everlasting,” instead of the more modern “from ancient days?” Not necessarily.

The debate among scholars today points more to a “BOTH/AND” answer, as opposed to an “EITHER/OR.” There were no earthly kings reigning in Israel prior to Saul and David, a fact that favors the “from ancient days” translation. And yet the translation does not preclude one from saying that God’s covenant with David was an expression of God’s larger, eternal purposes for His people, “from everlasting.”

While the immediate context of Micah 5:2 suggests that the Old Testament prophet has the connection with the Davidic covenant in mind, established from the “ancient days,” there could be a broader understanding in view as well, that ties this one from Bethlehem to having some “origin” from beyond created time, stretching back into eternity. The Hebrew phrasing here could just as well be interpreted as referring to a divine or eternal origin.2

Which is it then? Did Jesus come “from everlasting,” or “from ancient days?” The best answer is “YES.”

In other words, a good case can be made for both views, that Micah 5:2 refers to the Davidic covenant, established in time, and the pre-existence of the Messiah, established in eternity, that points us towards Jesus, who is not only the promised son-of-David, the king of Israel, from days of old, but also the very revelation of God, in human history, pre-existent from all eternity.

So, despite the rather misguided thinking that some King James Only-ist promoters like to push, modern Bible translations can be trusted. While there are different opinions among scholars as to what constitutes the best translation, there is no conspiracy here. No, the purveyors of modern translators are not trying to deny the Trinity. Instead, they are trying to find the most accurate way of rendering the original text for the contemporary reader.

A Christian may prefer the KJV. Someone else may prefer the NIV. I prefer the ESV. All of that is fine. But better yet, having access to more than one Bible translation can actually help you better understanding the full meaning of Holy Scripture.

It is very easy to browse the Internet, and find plenty of King James Only websites, or YouTube channels, that try to bombard you with pious sounding arguments and half-truths, that would cause you to doubt the reliability of modern Bible translations.3 They often raise some very good points, but sadly, they rarely tell you the full story.

Notes:

1. What you typically hear from King James Only advocates is that modern Bible translations have some type of nefarious theological agenda, bent on undermining the doctrines of the Bible, in their efforts to move beyond the King James Bible. What King James Only advocates do not tell you, on this point, is that the modern Bible translations are mainly following the latest archaeological and literary research to try to produce more accurate Bible translations. For example, in 1 John 3:1, the old KJV has: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” Compare this to a more modern translation, like the ESV, that has: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” Notice how the ESV adds a supposedly new phrase, “and so we are.” Does the addition of this phrase indicate some type of wicked, theological agenda, reinforcing the idea that Christians really are children of God? Does it even make sense to contend for the reverse, that the KJV removed the phrase, in order to minimize the theological truth that we are children of God? No, there is no corruptive theological agenda here, going either way. It is simply that the latest research on ancient biblical manuscripts indicates that the oldest manuscripts have the phrase “and so we are,” whereas the more recent manuscripts do not. Medieval scribes were not always perfect in making copies of the Scriptural text. In other words, the supposedly “new” addition of “and so we are” in the ESV is not “new” at all! See the notes in the NET Bible, for 1 John 3:1 (note 3), for additional explanation…. Oh, and by the way, the word for “children” in the ESV is a translation of the gender-neutral Greek word “tekna,” which is more accurate than the gender-specific “sons of God,” as found in in the KJV. 

2. The controversial Hebrew phrase being debated in Micah 5:2 is mimei olam qedem.  The mimei is understand as “from the days,” but are they temporal or eternal? From Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Messianic? (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), p. 98: “…Micah predicted that this king’s origins would be from eternity past. The two Hebrew temporal nouns used can speak of eternity when they stand alone, although this is not always the case. Used chronologically, qedem, ‘antiquity,’ can refer to ancient times as in ‘long ago,’ to the earliest imaginable times as when the mountains first came to be (Deut 33:15), or to the ‘eternal’ God and His eternal dwelling place (Deut 33:27; Hab 1:12; Pss 55:19; 68:33). The second term ‘ôlām, ‘eternity,’ usually refers to the distant or unending future (although sometimes within the context of one’s lifetime). But it is also used of ancient times in the past (Ps 24:7) or of the beginning of creation (Ps 25:6; Joel 2:2) or before. According to Ps 93:2, God’s ‘throne has been established from the beginning [lit. ‘from then’]; / You are from eternity.’ And Ps 90:2 declares, ‘Before the mountains were born, / before You gave birth to the earth and the world, / from eternity to eternity, You are God.’ When qedem and ‘ôlām are used together, however, as in Prov 8:22-23, they always denote eternity past (cf. Deut 33:27). In Mic 5:2, these words are placed together to emphasize the ruler’s true origin, being far earlier than his arrival in Bethlehem or even antiquity. Rather, he comes from eternity past.” See the NET Bible notes on this passage for more analysis and this answer from Dr. Michael Brown. Consult Fred Sanders, et.al. for a very technical discussion.  

3. The Internet is filled with a plethora of King James Only propaganda, that while intended to honor the great value of the King James Version, has the unintended negative consequence, of causing uninformed persons to doubt the validity of the Scriptures altogether! What a sad tragedy! Robert Plummer, a professor at Southern Baptist Seminary, explains why the thinking of King-James-Onlyism is so misguided: 


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