Concerning the Doctrine of the Nature of Man

The King James Version & The New Revised Standard Version

Copyright 2000; All scripture is Authorized King James Version, 1769 edition except where otherwise noted. This article may be copied and used without permission of the author, provided it is copied and used in its entirety

Note to the Reader The following verses were selected for comparison as they are commonly used to teach the doctrine concerning the nature of man. This comparison is for the purposes of demonstrating the fact that the ‘modern’ versions do not state the same thing as the King James Version, contrary to what many who support them claim. Briefly stated, the issue is not one of merely updating the language, nor is it an issue of ‘better’ texts. Rather, it is an issue of teaching an entirely different doctrine concerning the things of God. If we understand the import of this, then we will understand that they also teach a distortion of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, if we do not understand our true nature, then we will assuredly not understand our real need for a Saviour, and will not turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in true repentance and faith. The sad and terrible part of this is that one will end up in Hell and not truly understand why until the day of Judgment at the Great White Throne. — Paul W. Davis

Verses Compared:  

  • Isaiah 64:6
  • Psalms 51:5
  • Deuteronomy 1:39
  • Romans 7:8-11

King James Version

Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Deuteronomy 1:39

Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

Romans 7:8-11

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

Isaiah 64:6

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

New Revised Standard Version

Psalms 51:5

Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

Deuteronomy 1:39

And as for your little ones, who you thought would become booty, your children, who today do not yet know right from wrong, they shall enter there; to them will I give it, and they shall take possession of it.

Romans 7:8-11

But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died, and the very commandment that promised life, proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Isaiah 64:6

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Definitions Ordained — past tense of ordain: (1) To put in order, arrange. (4) To set up (something) to continue in a certain order; to establish or found by ordinance; to institute. Promised — past tense of promise: (1) To make promise of; to give verbal assurance of; to undertake or engage, by word or writing to another person, to do or refrain from (some specified act), or to give or bestow (some specified thing: usually to the benefit or advantage of the person concerned. Very — (1) Really or truly entitled to the name or designation; possessing the true character of the person or thing named; properly so called or designated; = True (2) With limitation(usually expressed by the or a possessive) to particular instances: The true or real; that is truly or properly entitled to the name. II(8) Used as an intensive, either to denote the inclusion or something regarded as extreme or exceptional, or to emphasize the exceptional prominence or some ordinary thing or feature. (9) Neither more nor less than (that expressed by the subject qualified); exactly that specified without qualification; = Sheer (d) The very thing, the thing exactly suitable or requisite. Commentary One of the concepts, or Scriptural principles and truths that must be understood for one to be born again is the nature of man. It is our nature to sin, and our subsequent actions that are in accordance with that nature, that is the cause of our guilt before God prior to salvation. Proper Scriptural doctrine plainly states that we have the problem of who we are; and who we are causes us to do what we do. In other words, we are born with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5). The Bible also teaches that children are not charged with sin because of their ignorance (Deut. 1:39 & Romans 7:8-11) and, that as soon as one becomes aware of the commandments (the age of accountability — Romans 7:8-11) that person immediately (because of the sin nature) rebels and transgresses and are now accounted sinners before the LORD God. Now the King James Version is very consistent in the above verses to the point of Isaiah 64:6 where we are all as an unclean thing (child or adult). This is not as it is in the New Revised Standard Version where it is written that we become like one who is unclean. To say that we “become” unclean is to ignore the fact of our inherited sin nature. This is just one of the many inconsistencies in this version. Further, if you examine Psalm 51:5 and Romans 7:8-11 it is apparent they are contradictory. When you look at these verses, look at them with an eye towards a doctrine and the verse support for it. I believe you will find it very difficult to use the verses in the NRSV for much of anything, let alone teaching about our nature and the results of it. Two additional items I would like to draw your attention to are the verb tense changes between the KJV and the NRSV, and the use of the word “very” in Romans 7:10 in the NRSV. As the verb tense changes are plain I will address the word ‘very’. The use of the word ‘very’ is quite strange in this context; for the whole passage speaks of the commandment in the general sense and not any particular commandment. The word ‘very’, when used directly with a subject such as the commandment denotes it as a singular, or specific thing. Furthermore, ‘ordained’ and ‘promised’ do not mean the same thing. This being the case, Romans 7:10 has a most different interpretation in the NRSV.