Review of the NIV Bible

New International Version Bible Review

It is not an Accurate Translation of God’s Word!

Avoid the NIV: Use the KJV or the NASB instead


Today there are hundreds of Bible versions available each claiming to be an accurate rendering of God’s holy word. As Christians, we must be very cautious in determining what constitutes an accurate translation (Rev. 22:18f). Few decisions in life will have a stronger influence on our faith than will the selection of the Bible we will use for study and teaching. 


This article considers the accuracy of the New International Version (NIV). The NIV is reviewed because it is (1) the top-selling Bible today; (2) widely endorsed by modern “scholars” as being highly accurate; and (3) often the default version used in search engines and Scripture look-up sites. As an aside, I personally spent 30 years attending very liberal churches of Christ and can attest that using and memorizing the NIV proved a hindrance in abandoning some doctrinal errors.


It is important to realize that any Bible version may be used as an interpretive aid or tool. Indeed the thoughts and opinions of men are often invaluable when wrestling with a difficult passage.  This article instead focuses on whether the NIV should be relied upon as one’s primary Bible and viewed as a literal rendering of the word of God. The alternative readings that exist among the more literal versions are modest and do not substantively affect doctrine; they arise primarily from minor variations in the underlying Greek textual base. The same cannot be said of the alternative readings that emerge when a literal translational approach is abandoned.


Note that in the comments to follow, no questions are being raised in relation to the underlying Greek text: The focus is singularly on how the Greek words were translated into English in the NIV versus the more literal versions.


An Unscriptural Approach to Translating God’s Word


An accurate preservation of the word of the Lord allows a searching soul to discover God’s will (Matt. 24:35; 7:7; Ps. 119:105). God’s word must be intact and whole to accomplish this task (2 Tim. 3:16). Yet the Preface of the 1978/1983 NIV states that the translators purposefully sought to achieve a “dynamic equivalence” (i.e., thought-for-thought) translation and “have striven for more than a word-for-word translation.” Although modern scholars argue that a dynamic approach is necessary, if one believes that the Lord used a verbal, plenary inspiration process to produce the Scriptures, as is clearly taught in Exo. 4:15, 2 Pet. 1:20f., 1 Cor. 14:37, Mat. 22:31 and other places, then only a literal word-for-word translation would reveal and preserve the exact WORDS selected by the Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly, most modern scholars do not assume a verbal inspiration process. Bible translators must occasionally deal with idioms and other phrases that cannot be rendered literally into the English language without loss of meaning, but the vast majority of passages can and should be translated in a word-for-word (“concordant”) fashion so as to allow God’s words to accomplish their task. When translators take up the role of commentator and attempt to infer the THOUGHTS behind a passage, the text is almost certain to be colored by their personal religious views. Such an approach also prevents the reader from considering alternative meanings for a text because the translators have decided for the reader what the passage really means.


Any version that has as its primary goal to convey God’s thoughts rather than His words will exhibit a strong tendency for man-made doctrines to find their way into the actual text, and that is exactly what we observe in the NIV. This can be illustrated using the NIV’s well-known systematic mishandling of the Greek word sarx, which literally means “flesh.” Consider Rom. 8:8. The Greek manuscripts agree that the text literally reads (preserving word order): “the ones and in the flesh being, God to please cannot.” The literal versions render this into English as: “So they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” But the NIV reads “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” The NIV translators have changed the original words to reflect what they believe Paul is thinking (“thought-for-thought”), which conforms to Calvinism. The literal versions have retained the precise words selected by the Holy Spirit, with only minor adjustments for readability, and thus allow the reader to decide what thoughts may underlie the phrase “in the flesh” within the contextual bounds of the passage.


The NIV’s oft-cited mistranslation of “sinful nature” is by no means the most egregious of its errors. In fact, the 2011 NIV finally relegates this poor rendering to footnote status. Though some errors were corrected in the 2011 edition of the NIV, the majority of errors from the earlier editions were retained, and many new errors were introduced.


Problems Created by the NIV


#1  Identical Greek Words are Translated Dissimilarly

The NIV Committee frequently translates a given Greek word or phrase differently within the same linguistic context. Although translators are certainly not expected to render a Greek word identically in every passage, alternatives should not be selected merely for word variety, to avoid sounding like other versions, and especially not to promote a personal doctrine. This is done much more frequently in the NIV than in more literal versions, and often for doctrinal reasons.


Many examples could be presented, but nowhere is this tendency more evident than in the handling of “works.” The NIV causes great confusion when it comes to the subjects of faith and works, and tends toward promoting Calvinism. When works (erga) are spoken of in a POSITIVE light as the basis for eternal judgment or as necessary for salvation, the NIV translators typically avoid “works” and use a synonym instead (e.g., “what he did,” “action,” “deed,” “doing good” [for “good works]). Yet, conversely, when works (erga) are viewed in a NEGATIVE light, such as in considering meritorious works performed to earn salvation, the translators typically adopt the English word “works” and avoid the synonyms. This tendency not only biases the reader’s thoughts to view works negatively, but also prevents the reader from making important linkages between passages.


A striking example of the NIV’s destruction of the biblical concept of works is found in Jam. 2 where the translators did not see fit to render even ONE of the 11 positive occurrences of erga as “works”! Although there are a few passages that do not fit this pattern (notably Eph. 2:10 and the book of Galatians), the majority conform to this usage. Illustrative examples of avoiding the word “works” in positive passages include Acts 9:36; 26:20; 1 Tim. 2:10; 5:10,25; 6:18; Tit. 2:14; 3:8,14; Heb. 10:24; Jam. 2:14,17,18,20,21,22,24,25,26; 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:12; Rev. 2:2,5,9,13,19,23,26; 20:12-13; 22:12.


As an example of negative passages where the NIV freely renders erga as “works,” consider Rom. 4:2-6: “If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about...Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work...his faith is credited as righteousness....God credits righteousness apart from works.” Also, consider Rom. 9:12,32; 11:6; and of course Eph. 2:8-9. The translators have no hesitancy in using the word “works” repeatedly in these negative verses.


Some may try to minimize this obvious bias by saying that “deeds” or "what one does" is synonymous and equivalent to "works." Yet that does not excuse a practice in which non-Greek readers are being led to believe that a different word occurs in the positive references to works such as throughout James and Revelation, as opposed to the negative references throughout Romans. Further, when a Bible student opens Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance or visits (which uses the NIV by default) to learn what the Bible says about “works,” the chapter that speaks most clearly on the topic (Jam. 2) does not even come up in the search results! Readers should be wary when a translation team employs such a devious technique to systematically downplay the importance of works of obedience.


#2  Dissimilar Greek Words Are Translated Identically

Consider the reverse practice of translating two dissimilar words as if they are identical. In 1 Cor. 7:15 and 7:39, the NIV translates both Greek words as “bound” instead of maintaining Paul’s important distinction of being free from “bondage” in v. 15 in the sense of bondage under slavery, versus being bound by the marriage “bond” in v. 39. The two Greek words are different, as are the thoughts underlying each. The NIV’s mistranslation of v. 15 equates the two “bonds” and promotes the error of allowing divorce and remarriage (i.e., not being under the marriage bond) for the Christian abandoned by a non-believing spouse. Translating v. 15 as “bondage” would allow the reader to understand that a Christian married to a non-Christian is not in bondage/enslaved; if the unbelieving mate wishes to leave, they are allowed to do so, but that does not break the marriage “bond” (per v. 39).


To cite a second example, in Matt. 5:17 the NIV has “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” This leaves Jesus contradicting Paul's words in Eph. 2:15: “by abolishing in his flesh the law....” Yet there are two different Greek words used in these passages. The translators of the more literal versions have selected English renderings that do not suggest contradictory teachings.


#3  The Inspired Words are Not Separated from the Words Inserted by the Translators

For all practical purposes, the NIV has abandoned the established practice of using formatting queues (e.g., italics, brackets) to indicate additional words that have been added to the Scripture for improved clarity. Abandoning the use of italics hinders the Bible student from separating the actual WORDS breathed by the Holy Spirit from those occasional words supplied by man in an attempt to clarify possible meaning (THOUGHTS).


To illustrate, the NIV renders 1 Cor. 7:9 as: "But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." The words “with passion” are not in the Greek (and are not italicized in the NIV). Thus the NIV forces the reader to interpret the passage as referring to burning passion, and prevents the possible alternative interpretation of burning in Hell fire. Or again, in 1 Tim. 4:13 the NIV has: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” Unbeknownst to readers of the NIV, the Greek does not contain the word “public” (nor “of Scripture,” for that matter). Thus the NIV has excluded its readers from considering the possible admonition for this preacher to study both publicly and privately, if Timothy had personal possession of the writings referenced (cf. 2 Tim. 4:13).


Although these examples may be minor, numerous others could be provided. By robbing its readers of the actual words of God, the NIV has stunted the potential knowledge of many Bible students. In fact, use of a concordance is pointless when studying from the NIV because there has been no attempt to separate God’s words from man’s explanations, nor to retain the actual words chosen by the Holy Spirit.


Additional Illustrations of Problematic Renderings


#4:  The NIV Promotes the False Concept of Salvation by Faith Alone

As suggested above in discussing the mishandling of “works,” the NIV encourages a faith-only view of salvation. Gal. 5:6 reads: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Literal versions have: “...nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” Paul is explaining that the basis of salvation lies in faith, not in works of the Old Law. Nowhere is faith said to be "the only thing that counts"!


Similarly the NIV renders 2 Tim. 1:9 as “God who has saved us...not because of anything we have done” which would exclude baptism. Again in Rom. 10:10 the NIV reads: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” However, the Greek word eis (“unto” rather than “and are”) indicates a leading up to the desired end (i.e., resulting in righteousness or justification). The NIV suggests that justification has already taken place at the point of faith, which directly contradicts Jam. 2:24. Further, the 2011 NIV edition changes "confess" to "profess your faith," which implies that Paul is referring to the type of personal testimony common to denominationalism, rather than the good confession of Jesus as Lord.


In Rom. 5:14 the NIV has: “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” This rendering contradicts numerous passages defining sin as a breaking of the commandments of God. The literal versions correctly reference these sins as those not “according to the likeliness of Adam's transgression” (i.e., not breaking the same commandment that Adam broke).


For Matt. 15:9 the NIV has: “They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” In using the NIV one cannot reference Christ’s important teaching that some were “teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Instead, we are left with an unclear and misleading statement that implies that rules are wrong in and of themselves, which differs greatly from the Lord’s emphasis on substituting human teachings for divine teachings. Similarly, Philp. 3:6 is rendered: “As for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” The NIV artificially contrasts faith in Christ with “legalistic righteousness,” rather than with “the righteousness which is in the law” [under the Old Covenant] as in the literal versions.


#5  The NIV Perverts the Biblical Teaching on the Holy Spirit and Miracles

In 1 Cor. 13:10 the NIV reads: “But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” This encourages the erroneous view that miraculous gifts would remain until Jesus comes and makes all things perfect. In truth, “that which is perfect” is a neuter adjective that likely refers not to Jesus (a masculine noun), but to the completed revelation of God to man (cf. Jam. 1:25; Ps. 19:7), which is being contrasted with the imperfect revelation then bestowed via gifts of tongues, prophecy, and miraculous knowledge. This is one of the few errors actually corrected in the 2011 edition of the NIV.


In 1 Cor. 14:19 the NIV promotes the view that tongue speaking was gibberish: “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” The literal versions have “five words with my understanding.”


In Col. 1:23 the NIV has: “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel,” rather than “if you continue in the faith.” The NIV loses the connection between the gospel and the faith and indeed frequently obscures the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the gospel/word. For example, “the earnest [deposit] of the Spirit” is replaced with the Spirit himself as the earnest in 2 Cor. 1:22 and 5:5. In the literal versions, 1 Joh. 5:10 reads: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him,” while the 2011 NIV has: “whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony,” thus removing even the possibility that John is referring to a representative indwelling through obedience to the word.


#6  The NIV’s Inconsistent Rendering of Time Causes the Bible to Contradict Itself

Translators of the original NIV (1978/1983) inconsistently rendered the times mentioned in the New Testament. The literal time language was retained in all four gospels (e.g., “third hour,” “sixth hour”); yet in Acts, inexplicably, the NIV attempted to translate time into modern parlance (e.g., “about noon,” “at three in the afternoon”). This was done in spite of a single author having composed both Luke and Acts! Moreover, in the 2011 NIV the translators changed ALL times into modern (Roman) time (e.g., “three in the afternoon”). By so doing, the times of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion are now in contradiction, and the possibility that John may have used Roman time while the Synoptic authors used Jewish time is disallowed (e.g., the trial in John 19:14 could have taken place at 6 A.M., instead of the “noon” of the 2011 NIV which forces a contradiction with Mark 15:25). 7


#7  The NIV Presents Jesus as Promoting Drunkenness

The NIV in Joh. 2:10 has Jesus promoting drunkenness by giving wine to those “who have had too much to drink.” In truth, Jesus gave wine to those who had only “drunk freely” (i.e., had sufficient/plenty to drink, but not implying drunkenness).


#8  The NIV Confuses Leadership Roles

The 2011 NIV unequivocally states that Phoebe was a female deacon in its footnote on Rom. 16:1: “The word deacon refers here to a Christian designated to serve with the overseers/elders of the church in a variety of ways.” Further, the 2011 NIV renders Rom. 16:7 as follows: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” The underlying Greek does not require (a) this person to be designated as an apostle or (b) Junia/Junias to be translated in the feminine case (i.e., as Junia). At most, this rendering should have been placed in a footnote as an alternative reading. The literal versions (a) leave the text inconclusive as to whether these two persons were noted by the apostles or were themselves apostles, and (b) render Junia/Junias as a masculine name (i.e., Junias), both to maintain consistency with the rest of the New Testament teachings and because this name could be translated either way depending on the position of the noun within the sentence (i.e., the Greek case). Numerous examples of the NIV’s gender-neutral language could be presented, which follows contemporary thinking on changing leadership roles.




When translators cannot be trusted to reproduce what is written in the original language, the result is a paraphrase or a commentary, not the Bible itself. Some argue that a handful of questionable renderings in the more literal versions make them no different than the thoroughly Calvinistic NIV. Such reasoning does not follow. If we believe that God inspired the actual words and not just the thoughts of Scripture, how can we possibly endorse a translation that freely admits to pursuing “dynamic equivalence”—having no intention of preserving the actual words selected by the Holy Spirit?


Let us not only sing “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,” but also take steps to ensure that it is indeed God’s very words that light our way. Only by so doing will we be prepared to speak “as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). 


SUPPLEMENTAL TABLE:  Additional Errors in the NIV (with notes on the 2011 revision)

1.      IMPORTANT NOTE: All errors listed in this document are unrelated to the underlying textual base.  Many NIV reviews incorporate criticisms that would equally apply to all versions that are not based on the Textus Receptus (including ASV, NASB, ESV, etc.).

a.       The NIV has for all practical purposes abandoned the use of italics.  Thus the NIV should be avoided if one sees importance in knowing that a particular word or phrase is not in the original, but has been added to aid in interpretation (ostensibly).

b.       How often have Christians been drawn to a deeper level of devotion in knowing that Eccl. 12:13 literally reads, "the whole [duty] of man is to fear God and keep his commandments"?  Yet these indicators are lost in the NIV.

c.       However, the italics added by the KJV translators have not been included in this illustrative spreadsheet (please see a published Bible to see which words are not in the underlying Greek/Hebrew test).

2.       Translators claim that the 2011 revision of the NIV is 95% identical to the earlier NIV (1978 and 1984 editions).

a.       Most changes made to the 2011 edition stray even further from the underlying Greek, as the translators loosely insert whatever words they wish in an effort to explain what they believe the text teaches (rather than let the reader determine meaning).

b.       The only significant improvement in the 2011 edition that I have found is in reverting back to "flesh" rather than "sinful nature" when translating sarx in the book of Romans.

c.       There have been a few minor changes for the better as well, but in general, the 2011 edition is even less accurate than the earlier editions, especially considering the new usage of "gender-inclusive language."

3.       The errors listed below are not ordered by importance. Readers may not agree that every item listed is "problematic," but surely most of these issues would be so viewed by those who hold to verbal plenary inspiration.


KJV (similar reading in ASV and other literal versions)


Potential Error (also noting any substantial changes in the 2011 NIV)



In negative contexts:  Acts 9:36; 26:20; 1 Tim. 2:10; 5:10,25; 6:18; Tit. 2:14; 3:8,14; Heb. 10:24; Jam. 2:14,17,18,20,21,22,24,25,26; 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:12; Rev. 2:2,5,9,13,19,23,26; 20:12-13; 22:12.
In positive contexts:  Rom. 4:2-6; Rom. 9:12,32; 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9.

The NIV frequently translates erga as "works" when works are spoken of in a negative sense, but employs a different word or phrase (e.g., deeds, what is done, actions) when works are viewed positively.

Mat. 8:12

"But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

"But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The NIV obscures the association of the "children of the kingdom" with the descendants of the Jewish nation.

Mat. 15:9

"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

“They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”

The one reading from the NIV is unable to reference the important teaching of Christ that some were “teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”  Instead, we are left with the unclear and misleading statement that implies that rules are wrong in and of themselves (cf. Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21), rather than an emphasis on substituting human teachings for divine teachings.

Mat. 19:9

"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery."

"I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

The NIV uses a term that is too broad ("sexual immorality"), which might include lusts or other sins of the heart of a sexual nature.  "Fornication" was selected by the Holy Spirit to refer specifically to unlawful intercourse outside of marriage.

Mat. 24:30

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory."

The NIV's inaccurate rendering disallows any interpretation of the passage that would view the sign as occuring in heaven where God dwells (Ps. 2:4), which is one possible interpretation of this passage.

Joh. 2:10

"And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now."

"And said, 'Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.'"

The NIV implies that Jesus provided wine to drunken wedding attendees by using a colloquial phrase meaning to be drunk.

Acts 1:4 and 2:33

“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.“
"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.“

"On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.'"
"Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear."

In Acts 1:4 the NIV takes great liberties by inserting "the gift" (not found in any Greek text) coupled with "my Father promised." The Greek simply states: "the promise of the Father."  With the NIV rendering, one is not able to consider the possibility that Jesus is referencing a promise rather than to the "gift" of the Holy Spirit. 
Similarly in Acts 2:33 the NIV forces the view that Christ received the Holy Spirit himself, rather than allowing the possibility that he received the promise of (or made by) the Spirit (cf. Acts 2:27).

Acts 3:1; 5:7; 10:3; 10:9; 10:30, etc.

"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour."

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon."

Only in the book of Acts did the NIV decide to use Roman time when rendering "the third hour," "the sixth hour," etc. The NIV retained the literal language in the four gospels (including one book written by Luke but not his other!).  How is a reader to make sense of this? Additionally, the NIV's loose tendencies are evident in beginning the account with "One day..." which is not in the Greek text.

Acts 4:24

"And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord"

“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.”

The Greek word for "voice" is singular, not plural.  The Holy Spirit said that one voice was raised by all in one accord, which supports one man praying for the entire congregation.  Modernists frequently claim, "you cannnot pray for me," which this verse dispels, if translated as written in the Greek.

Acts 5:20

"Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."

"'Go, stand in the temple courts,' he said, 'and tell the people the full message of this new life.'"

The NIV changes "all the words of this Life" to "the full message of this new life," slightly changing the meaning.  The 2011 NIV further distorts the actual inspired words by the rendering, "and tell the people all about this new life."

Acts 7:59

"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Pray (proseucew) has a specific meaning in Scripture;  yet here we have epikaloumenon  (epi = upon; kaleo = call), which in this tense often means "calling upon as a witness" (BDAG).  Paul used the same word in Acts 25:11 to "call upon" Caeasar.  Stephen may have been calling upon Jesus to attest to his innocence (Jesus stood as a witness during this mock trial when no one else would support Stephen), rather than encouraging direct prayers to Jesus. The NIV reading does not allow this possible interpretation.

Acts 16:14

"...whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."

“The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.”

The NIV implies that God must operate directly on a person’s heart to receive salvation.  The Lord did not open Lydia's heart to become a Christian (“to respond”), but to listen (“attend unto”) to the words of Paul. It was up to her to accept or reject what she heard.

Acts 17:34

"Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed"

“A few men became followers of Paul and believed.”

Suggestions a contradition with 1 Cor. 1:12:  "every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos..."

Rom. 3:27

"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith."

"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith."

The NIV implies that "law" is necessarily bad through its handling of this verse. The 2011 NIV makes things even worse: "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith." The implication is that only one law requires that works be present, which directly contradicts Jam. 2.

Rom. 5:14

"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come."

"Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come."

The NIV leaves the impression that one may sin by not "breaking a command," rather than the type of sin in view being one according to "the similitude" or likeness of Adam's specific transgression.

Rom. 9:16

"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

"It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy."

The NIV's Calvinistic tendencies are on display in this passage.

Rom. 10:10

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

"For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

“Unto” in Greek indicates a leading up to the desired end (in this case, righteousness or justification). The NIV rendering suggests that justification has already taken place at the point of faith rather than faith being one component that leads "unto" salvation.  In addition, changing "confession" to "profess your faith" suggests that Paul is referencing a personal "testimony," as is common in denominations, rather than the good confession of Christ as Lord.

Rom. 11:25

"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."

"I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited:Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in."

The NIV inserts "number," thus changing and restricting the possible meaning of the passage, and thereby supporting premillenial doctrine.

1 Cor. 3:15

"If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

"If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

The NIV's rendering of "escaping through the flames" requires the interpretation that this person will barely be saved; while the passage could be interpreted as teaching that the preacher will be saved, but not his congregation. The literal versions separate "yet so as by fire" in such a way that it could be modifying the entire verse (the judgment process itself), and not specific only to the saving of the individual being described.

1 Cor. 7:9

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” 

"But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion"

Literal versions place "with passion" in italics, if included at all.  NIV removes the possible interpretation of burning with fire in hell.

1 Cor. 7:15 vs. 7:39

"But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."

“But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.  A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”

Different Greek words are used in these two versions, which is made clear by literal versions. The "in bondage to" in 7:15 refers to being in bondage or servitude to the unbelieving spouse, which God does not require.  Whereas the marriage bond is referenced in 7:39 and elsewhere.  NIV’s faulty rendering allows Christians to argue that a deserted mate is grounds for remarriage. This false teaching has likely spread more rapidly today as a result the NIV’s faulty translation of these verses.

"The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth;

“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.“

1 Cor. 9:25

"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training."

The NIV distorts the meaning of the underlying text.

1 Cor. 13:9-10

"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”

The NIV's translation of "that which is perfect" as "perfection" does not allow for the view that reference is to the completed revealed Word of God.  Instead, it encourages the view that spiritual gifts will remain until Christians reach perfection (i.e., in heaven), which is a common denominational view today. The 2011 NIV rendering is marginally better "when completeness comes", but still leaves room for the misinterpreting promulgated by the earlier NIV.

1 Cor. 14:19

"Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."

"But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."

The NIV's rendering fosters the view of tongue speaking as gibberish (not intelligible), rather than a tongue that is "intelligible" but simply not understood by the speaker himself.

2 Cor. 5:5

"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit."

"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

The NIV's rendering takes liberties with the Greek text. See similar distortion in 2 Cor. 1:22.

2 Cor. 10:2

"But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh."

"I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world."

The NIV acts as commentator rather than translator, and thus the reader misses the connection with "flesh" used elsewhere in the NT.

Gal. 2

"Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain."

"Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas.  I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain."

Tne entire chapter of Galatians 2 contains numerous additions and distortions of the underlying text. A few examples of the lack of respect shown to the individual words selected by the Holy Spirit are presented here from vv. 1-2.

Gal. 5:6

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

This translation encourages a faith-only view of salvation.  In this passage Paul is simply emphasizing that the basis of our salvation is in faith and not in works of the Old Law.  The Greek text does not say that faith is "the only thing that counts."

Col. 1:23

"If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel"

"If you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."

The NIV loses the connection between the gospel and "the faith" by translating it as "your faith."

Col. 2:17

"Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."

“These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

The NIV interprets this phrase in a way that does not allow the reader to decide for himself what is being referenced here. Is it referring to the church as Christ's body and under his subjection? the physical body of Christ offered in sacrifice?  or per the NIV is the meaning of body "reality"?  The NIV's interpretation could be correct, but a literal translation would at least offer a footnote of the possible alternative rendering of swma as "body."

1 The. 1:5

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."

"Because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."

The NIV has changed "only" to "simply." Second, the NIV reading implies that the Holy Spirit's working must be referring to a subjective conviction in the heart (deep conviction), rather than the assurance that arises from seeing miracles, a possible meaning.

1 The 4:12

"That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."

“So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”

The NIV confuses dependence on others, which is not being referenced, with not having need in terms of the necessities of life.

2 The. 1:11-12

"Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:  That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

The NIV moves into commentator rather than translator in rendering the subject matter of the prayer. The NIV drops the important phrase "work of faith," which could otherwise be used to teach against faith-only salvation.

1 Tim. 4:13

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”

The NIV does not use italics to indicate their assumption that public reading of Scripture alone is in view. The reader is not able to interpret this passage to encourage private reading of Scripture as well (cf. 2 Tim. 4:13). On a minor note, the word for "preaching" is not used here, but rather "exhortation."

2 Tim. 4:5

"But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

"But you, keep your head in all situations..."

The NIV is too loose here. Pauls' charge to Timothy to be watchful as an evangelist is more than just "keeping your head".

Heb. 4:1

"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."

"Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."

The NIV changes "let us fear" to "let us be careful," and thereby excludes the possible reference to godly fear.  In fact, the NIV frequently minimizes the "fear of the Lord" that is taught in both testaments (this error could easily occupy a separate bullet in this list).

Jam. 5:13

"Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.

"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray."

Being "in trouble" conveys a slightly different meaning than being "afflicted," a term referenced throughout the Bible. 

Jam. 5:14

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:"

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

There is no "kai" (and) in any Greek manuscript here.  One of the several possible interpretations of this passage holds that prayer of the elders is symbolically equivalent to anointing with oil (cf. Heb. 1:9). The NIV translation disallows that interpretation by explicitly indicating two separate activities: prayer and anointing.

2 Pet. 3:17

"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness."

"Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position."

The NIV changes the focus to one's "secure position" rather than Peter's emphasis on having a steadfast faith in service to God.

1 Joh. 2:29;  4:7;  5:1

"every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."

“Everyone who does what is right has been born of him.”

The Holy Spirit used the same Greek word and tense in all 3 passages.  Yet the NIV only translated the phrase in present tense when reference is made to belief, thus encouraging the view that one is saved prior to any works (2:29; 4:7) yet not prior to belief (5:1), the view taken by most Calvinists today.

"every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."

“Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”

1 Joh. 5:10

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."

"Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart."

The NIV, and even more so in the 2011 revision ("whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony"), removes the possibility that John is referencing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the word. 

Rev. 20:4

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded...and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded... They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

The NIV's rendering furthers premillennial views of a literal reign on earth, rather than the martyrs continuing to live and reign from heaven.


Additional Errors in Original NIV, Which Have Been Corrected in the 2011 Revision


KJV (similar in ASV and other literal versions)


Potential Error and Adjustments in 2011 NIV

"sinful nature"

[numerous passages throughout the New Testament]

NIV renders sarx as "sinful nature" rather than "flesh" throughout the NT.  In the 2011 version the NIV has partially corrected this error by footnoting this rendering.

Mat. 5:17

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

The NIV rendering has Jesus directly contradicting Paul's words in Eph. 2:15: “having abolished...the law of commandments.”  Two different Greek words are used in these passages, and the translators of more literal versions have respected this difference by selecting English renderings that accurately reflect Jesus' purpose.  The 2011 NIV maintains the reading of "destroy" in Mat. 5:17, but changes Eph. 2:15 to read "setting aside" rather than "abolish."

Phlp. 3:6

"Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."

"As for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless."

The NIV artificially contrasts faith in Christ with "legalistic righteousness" rather than with "the righteousness which is in the law [under the Old Covenant]."  The 2011 NIV corrects the error.

I The. 5:6

"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled."

Being sober is contrasted with drunkenness in v.8, which is lost in the NIV's rendering "self-controlled." The NIV repeats the error in I Pet. 4:3-7, where the same comparison is made.  The 2011 NIV corrects the error.

1 Joh. 1:10

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

"If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."

This passage suggests an indwelling by means of the word, but that meaning is disallowed in the NIV's rendering.  The 2011 NIV corrects the error.


New Errors Introduced in the 2011 Edition


KJV (similar in ASV and other literal versions)

2011 NIV

Potential Error

Luk. 17:3

"If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him."

"If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them."

This passages illustrates how the 2011 NIV very frequently adds feminine language when not present in the original.

Joh. 19:14
vs. Mar. 15:25

"And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!"
“And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.“

"It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. 'Here is your king,' Pilate said to the Jews."

"It was nine in the morning when they crucified him."

In the 2011 version, the translators changed ALL times into Roman time. This places the time of Jesus' trial and crucifixion in direct contradiction with the synoptics, not allowing for the possibility that John used Roman time while the synoptics used Jewish time (which would allow the trial in John's account to take place at 6 A.M. rather than "noon").

Rom. 16:1

"I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea"

"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconof the church in Cenchreae."
1984 NIV:  [fn = "servant"]
2011 NIV:  [fn = "The word deacon refers here to a Christian designated to serve with the overseers/elders of the church in a variety of ways."]

The 2011 NIV goes even further in promoting the idea of female deacons as an office in the church.

Rom. 16:7

"Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

The NIV translators have changed this passage such that one is left with a single interpretation option:  there must have been at least one female apostle.  Such a conclusion is not justified by the underlying Greek texts, and at the very least should have been listed as a footnote alternative. The literal versions leave the text inconclusive as to whether these two persons were noted by the apostles or were themselves apostles, and have left Junias as masculine for consistency with the rest of the New Testament teachings (the name could be either Junia or Junias, depending upon which case the noun is occupying here).

2 Tim. 2:20

"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour."

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use."

The 2011 NIV implies that those Christians corresponding to vessels "for common use" are still saved, unlike in the Greek ("to dishonor").

Numerous passages

[Gender inclusive language--replacing "him, man" with "him or her, man or woman, humans" etc.]

The NIV has followed the trend of moving to "gender neutral" language throughout the word of God, even when the Holy Spirit has specified the gender.

Main Article above by Jason King 2017


Comments by Steve Rudd:

1.      Avoid the New International Version because there are much better Bible’s available like the New American Standard. (NASB) or the new NET bible.

a.       It is inconsistent in translating key phrased that confuses simple things and promotes false doctrine of Calvinism

b.      It is a dynamic translation (thought as opposed to word for word). This is the kind of translation that attempts to clarify the meaning but actually changes it based upon the sectarian bias of the translators. Leave the choice of meaning for the reader to decide.

c.       It never uses italics to inform the reader when it adds words and phrases not found in the original languages.

d.      The translators are more interested in what is popular in modern culture than what the ancient word of God says.

2.      If you are a serious student of the bible throw out your NIV and use the NASB, the NET bible or the good old KJV.



Conclusion By Steven Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.


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