God Forbid!

by Benjamin M. Shropshire
via Lifeline, 7/15/00

My use of the New King James Version in my preaching and teaching was criticized a few years ago on the basis that the phrase "Certainly not!" is used in the place of "God Forbid!" in the old King James Version (see Rommans 3:4,6, etc.). It was alleged that the translators of the NKJV had changed the word of God.

While we appreciate the respect for God's word that such a charge might indicate, we recognize in it also a case of zeal without knowledge. The writers of the New Testament were inspired by the Holy Spirit in what they wrote, even to the extent of the choice of the words they used. They wrote in the Koine Greek (the common language of the first century). For us to be able to read the New Testament, it had to be translated into the English language, but the process of translating the scriptures was not inspired.

"God forbid!," as used in the King James Version, is a strong expression that a thing just absolutely cannot be true; it is an idiom expressing that thought. Actually, in the original text, the word "God" is not even in the phrase. The phrases, used in some more recent translations, "Certainly not," "May it never be," and "Not at all" are correct translations and express the thought of the original text as well, if not better, than "God forbid." They do not change the word of God.