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Two of the most widely used translations of the Bible are the KJV and the NKJV. To some, there is not much of a difference.

KJV Vs NKJV Bible Translation (11 Major Differences To Know)

To others, this small difference is a hill worth dying on. Its helpful to understand the differences between the two.


KJV – The KJV Bible translation was created in the 1600’s. This translation completely excludes the Alexandrian Manuscripts and solely relies on the Textus Receptus. This translation is usually taken very literally, despite the obvious differences in use of language today. 

NKJV – This translation includes the Alexandrian Manuscripts in order to find more direct information as to the meaning of the original words. This translation was created in order to reflect better readability.


KJV – Many readers consider this a very difficult translation to read, as it uses archaic language. Then there are those who prefer this, because of it sounds poetic.

NKJV – While very similar to the KJV, it is a little bit easier to read. 

Bible translation differences 

KJV – This is also called the King James Bible or the Authorized Version. Compared to the NKJV, the KJV can be difficult to understand.

NKJV – This translation was commissioned in 1975. The translators wanted to create a new translation that would retain the stylistic beauty of the original KJV. This translation is conducted in “complete equivalence”, which is in contrast to “thought-for-thought” as found in other translations such as the NIV.

Bible verse comparison


Genesis 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Zechariah 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

Isaiah 41:13 “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Psalm 120:1 “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.” (Inspirational Christian prayer quotes)

Leviticus 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

John 3:5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Luke 11:14 “And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.”

Galatians 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”

Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Romans 4:25 “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”


Genesis 1:21  So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Zechariah 11:17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd, Who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm And against his right eye; His arm shall completely wither, And his right eye shall be totally blinded.”

Isaiah 41:13 “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.”

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”

Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”

John 3:5 “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Luke 11:14 “And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled.”

Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)”

Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Romans 4:25 “Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”


KJV – The original was published in 1611. Some errors were printed in subsequent editions – in 1631, the word “not” was excluded from the verse “thou shalt not commit adultery.” This became known as the Wicked Bible. 

NKJV – The NKJV New Testament was released from Thomas Nelson Publishers. It became the fifth major revision. The full Bible was released in 1982.

Target Audience

KJV – The target audience or the KJV is aimed at the general populace. However, children may find it extremely difficult to read. Also, many of the general populace may find it difficult to comprehend. 

NKJV – This is aimed at a more general population. With its slightly more easy to read format, more people can understand the text.

Translation popularity

KJV – is still by far the most popular Bible translation. According to the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University, 38% of Americans will choose a KJV

NKJV – according to that same poll, 14% of Americans will choose the New King James – Version. 

Pros and cons of both 

KJV – One of the biggest pro’s for the KJV is the level of familiarity and comfort. This is the Bible that our grandparents and great grandparents read to many of us from. One of the biggest cons of this Bible is its entirety came from the Textus Receptus. 

NKJV – One of the biggest pros of the NKJV is it is reminiscent of the KJV but is much easier to understand. It too is predominantly based on the Textus Receptus and that would be it’s biggest flaw.


Pastors who use the KJV – Steven Anderson, Cornelius Van Til, Dr. Gary G. Cohen, D. A. Carson.

Pastors who use the NKJV – Dr. David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, Dr. Robert Schuller, Greg Laurie.

Study Bibles to choose 

Best KJV Study Bibles 

  • The Nelson KJV Study Bible
  • KJV Life Application Study Bible

Best NKJV Study Bibles 

  • Apply the Word Study Bible
  • NKJV Abide Bible

Other Bible Translations 

Other Bible translations to consider would be the NASB, ESV, NIV, or the Amplified Version.

Which one should I choose?

These are several translations that Christians can choose from. Please research thoroughly all of the Bible translations, and pray about this decision. Word-for Word translation is much closer to the original text than Thought for Thought.

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