Is “Jesus” a mistake in the King James Bible in Hebrews 4:8?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Does our King James Bible contain an error in Hebrews 4:8? Before we naively agree with its critics—and before they pat themselves on the back for their “faithful” Bible proofreading—we need to be Berean Bible students. Just as the Bereans studied the Scriptures to see whether Paul and Silas were telling them the truth (Acts 17:10-11), so we must study the Holy Scriptures. If the Bereans questioned the teachings of the apostles, we today should certainly investigate the claims of the Bible critics!

A professing Christian, who had heeded my advice about using the King James Bible, once had a very interesting Bible question for me, and I was most delighted to answer it for her. In her personal Bible reading, she discovered that her NIV read “Joshua” in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, but her King James had “Jesus” in those two verses. She asked me why that was. In this study, I will explain it to you in the same manner I did to her.

Firstly, we will look at the two verses in question: “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day” (Hebrews 4:8 KJV). “Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;” (Acts 7:45 KJV).

Regarding these two verses, all modern English translations—including the NKJV—have “Joshua” in the place where our beloved King James reads “Jesus.” Critics of our perfect King James Bible use such an instance to further their pro-perversions agenda. In order to make us relinquish our “hard-to-read and obsolete” King James Bible and embrace “fresh, clearer” modern translations, they make every attempt to plant in our minds the thought of our Authorized Version not being inerrant. They admit that although their translations have flaws, they say our King James Bible has flaws and it is “hard to read.” They want us to buy their modern versions because their mistakes are easier-to-read! It is an ingenious sales pitch, but the Scripturally-grounded saint is well aware of their duplicity and Satan’s subtlety.

The King James translators were some of the most brilliant men of their day—linguistics, mathematics, church history, Bible manuscript readings, et cetera. Most of all, they were humble, Holy-Spirit filled, Bible believers—how many modern Bible scholars could we say that about (humble, Holy-Spirit filled, Bible believers)? Originally 54 men, only 47 of our Authorized Version translators lived to see their project from start to finish (1604-1611). The review process was highly intensive, with each verse going through many groups of men and many individuals (one estimate is that each verse was reviewed at least fourteen times by various parties, individual or group). If “Jesus” were a mistake in Hebrews 4:8 and Acts 7:45, surely one of the KJB scholars would have caught it. For this reason, it is highly unlikely that a mistake crept in, and even more improbable that the same mistake occurred twice. The Bible believer’s view is that the Bible is right all the time, no questions asked. So, why did our scholarly 1611 translators render these two verses in such an oft-derided manner? We are convinced that they were aware of a doctrine that the average Christian—or average Bible translator—has no idea about.

Emulating countless others, an arrogant seminary professor—a professing Bible “believer” and “defender” as well!—once wrote a scathing article about so-called “King James Bible errors” (an atheist was thrilled to email that article to me after one of our Bible studies had greatly troubled him!). The wayward professor included Hebrews 4:8 in his list of flaws: he criticized our 1611 translators by arguing that the Greek word they rendered “Jesus” should actually be “Joshua” to fit the context (as you can imagine, the modern Bible publishers were thrilled to receive publicity and backing!).

Beloved, before we grow angry with God’s Word for being right 100 percent of the time, and before we attack the 400-year-old King James Bible, we would do well to let God teach us instead of us “correcting” Him. A quick lesson in anthroponomastics will cause us to appreciate why our King James Bible says “Jesus” not “Joshua” in Hebrews 4:8 (and Acts 7:45); the related anti-KJB remarks will also be manifested as pointless.

“Joshua” is the contracted version of the Hebrew “Jehoshua” (which is pronounced “yahowshuwa”)—Hebrew is the language of most of the Old Testament Scriptures. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, “Joshua” is “Iesous” (ee-ay-sooce), and in English, “Jesus” (meaning “saviour, deliverer;” see Matthew 1:21). Interestingly, “Jehoshua”/“Joshua”/“Iesous”/“Jesus” means “Jehovah-Saviour” (in English, we pronounce “JEHOVAH,” the name of Israel’s God, as “jahovah,” but in Hebrew, it is pronounced “yahovah”).

Hebrews 4:8 and Acts 7:45 most certainly refer to Israel entering the Promised Land under Joshua, Moses’ successor (recorded in the Old Testament book of Joshua). According to Numbers 27:15-23, which see, Moses said Joshua was to be Israel’s “shepherd,” the man to lead Israel into God’s Holy Land to possess it (God would have then established His earthly kingdom). Historically, Israel rebelled against God by following pagan idols, thereby delaying God’s earthly kingdom. Jesus Christ—Israel’s true Shepherd (John 10:1-30) whom Joshua pictured/typified (see Acts 7:45)—will lead God’s people Israel into her Promised Land to establish His earthly kingdom (see Isaiah 35:1-10; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Hebrews 4:1-11).

Basically, our King James translators alerted us in Hebrews 4:8 and Acts 7:45 that Joshua’s leadership represented Jesus Christ’s future headship of Israel. To remove “Jesus” and insert “Joshua” in the text is to sever the cross-reference between Joshua’s actions and Jesus’s actions. Our Authorized Version translators are hereby vindicated, and their critics still puzzled!

Also see:
» Should the King James’ term “Christ” actually be “Lord” in 2 Thessalonians 2:2? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?
» Do not Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?