King James

Most of us refer to our Authorized Version of the Bible by its common title - the King James or KJV. For 400 years it has led brethren to a saving knowledge of the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. It has been referred to as the glory of the English language, having spread across the world reaching generation after generation, its language and contents reflected through speech and writing. Though we use his name, we may not be familiar with King James or with his role in the creation of the Authorized Version of the Bible. As King James I - the founding monarch of "Great Britain," not only did he commission the Authorized Version but he played an active role in developing the rules for translators and encouraging the completion of the work. The King's College website states:

The development of the Bible in English differs from that of other European vernacular translations. Only England has an "authorized version," issued under the auspices of a king who was also the head of the Church. The vernacular Bible was illegal in England long before the Reformation and so began its development at a great disadvantage, but once England became a Protestant country the translated Bible became a symbol of state.

King James boldly testified to his faith in Jesus Christ and was very concerned about the spiritual well-being of his realm. Unbeknownst to many, James I was as much a reformer as was Martin Luther, as is reflected in his Works, published in 1616.

Brief Biography: James Charles Stuart was born in 1566 at Edinburgh castle in Scotland to Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots. The following year James' father was killed and his mother forced to abdicate the Scottish throne due to her suspected involvement in the murder. Little James was crowned King James VI of Scotland at 13 months of age; John Knox preaching the sermon at his coronation. (After 19 years of imprisonment in England, Mary Queen of Scots was executed for her part in a Roman Catholic conspiracy to assassinate her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.)

Upon the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, James acceded to the English throne. Queen Elizabeth had died childless, and it is said that she chose King James as her successor in that he was a proven king and a Protestant descendant of King Henry VII. He then became King James I of England in addition to being King James VI of Scotland. King James was a highly educated man with many firsts, among which he called his new kingdom "Great Britain" and designed the British flag in 1603 by combining England's red cross of St. George with Scotland's white cross of St. Andrew.

The following year (1604) James held the Hampton Court Conference in order to hear of "things pretended to be amiss in the church." (Pictured on the right is the "Great Gatehouse" entry into Hampton Court Palace.) It was here that King James agreed that a new translation of the scriptures was in order. He appointed fifty four men to the work of the translation, to be divided into six groups and to conduct their work at Cambridge, Oxford, and Westminster.

In 1605 the Gunpowder Plot, a Roman Catholic conspiracy to blow up the King and the Parliament, was discovered and the conspirators tried and executed. In response to Roman Catholics within the realm refusing to recognize the Church of England's authority, Parliament issued legislation that included an Oath of Allegiance requiring recognition of King James and renunciation of the Pope. Eager to explore the riches of North America, King James established two companies made up of merchant-adventurers. The first to embark was the London Company, which sent forth three ships in December 1606. "Jamestowne," (Jamestown, Virginia) became the first permanent English settlement on the American mainland, determining King James VI & I the founding monarch of the "New England." On May 2, 1611 the Authorized (King James) Version of the scriptures was published. King James died in 1625 and his son acceded to the throne as Charles I.


The English word Bible comes from the Greek βιβλια biblia meaning "books" which in turn is derived from βυβλος byblos meaning "papyrus." Canon refers to the accepted books of the Bible differentiated from other sacred writings not accepted as inspired by God and therefore not accepted as part of the Bible.