Micah 5:2, and the NIV.

The Conflict

Micah 5:2 happens to be another verse in the New International Version that King James Onlyists detest. This is a prophetic verse speaking of Christ, and his coming. Let’s take a look at the King James Version and then the New International Version:

Micah 5:2 King James Version,
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Micah 5:2 New International Version,
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans [a] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins [b] are from of old, from ancient times. [c] “

The last part of both texts is what we’re interested in. The “origins” and “ancient times” as the New International Version puts it. King James Onlyists teach that by using the word “origins” to refer to Christ, the NIV teaches that Christ is a created being whose existence had a beginning. Furthermore, they teach this beginning was later in Creation, a long time ago during “ancient times.”

Don’t be so Presumptuous

One must always be cautious when they hear “The [insert translation] teaches [insert odd doctrine]” after reading a single verse. You can teach just about anything if all you are required to do is quote a single verse. Teachings in scripture come from studying the scriptures, not from reading a single verse. An equivalent example from the King James could be John 6:54:

John 6:54 King James Version,
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Do you see the harm in suggesting any translation teaches anything after reading only one verse, or a small portion of a context? We’ve just argued, by King James Onlyist standards, that the King James Bible teaches cannibalism of Christ is a Christian teaching. Of course if you fail to study the text, you may indeed come away with some very unscriptural ideas – but that isn’t the text’s fault, it’s the fault of the lazy reader.

Is Christ a Created Being in the NIV?

So, back to our text. King James Onlyists prefer the King James’ “goings forth” over the NIV’s “origins.” Why? Because they assume the origin is in reference to Jesus’ existence. This is not the case though, as we can see from other passages in the NIV. For instance, John 1 in the NIV still teaches that Christ is The Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1 refutes the idea that Christ was created:

John 1:3 New International Version,
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Note the point here, everything that was ever made, was made through Christ. This precludes the possibility that Christ was made, because Christ cannot be made through himself. He must exist for anything to be made at all, and all that was made, was made through Him – again, precluding the option of He Himself being made.  This statement is made in other places in the NIV as well.

Colossians 1:16 New International Version,
“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”

Again, the NIV teaches emphatically that Christ was the Agent by which all that has been made was made. All things created, things in Heaven and Earth, visible things and invisible things – everything. Everything was made by Christ, and through Christ. So don’t permit the King James Onlyist to say the NIV teaches that Christ is a created being – He isn’t. He is the uncreated Creator of all that is created, according to both the King James Bible, and the New International Version.

Back to the Origin!

So if Christ was not a created being, how can he have an “origin”? The use of “origin” is in regard to what place Christ came from, not whether Christ was created. Somebody may ask you where your family originated – they’re not asking how your family came into being, but rather where they came from. This is the same thing with Christ.

The thoughtful King James Onlyist shouldn’t consider this a problem. Or, if he does, he should note that it is then a problem for him as well. You see, the phrase “goings forth” only appears once in the King James, preventing us from getting a better understanding of how it’s used, and what it is intended to mean. But, if you look it up in Strong’s (H4163) you will see that it’s under the noun mowtsa’ah. This word has the following definition.

  1. origin, place of going out from
    • origin
    • places of going out to or from
      • privy

So the word “goings forth” also means “origin” or the “place of going out from,” which is pretty much the same thing we stated above. Christ had an origin in the sense that he came from some location, but not in the sense that he was created. Both the NIV and the KJV are saying the same thing, they’re just using different terms. While the NIV uses a more familiar wording, the KJV uses a very strange and foreign wording.

From Ancient Time?

This is one that baffles me. I’m not sure why the King James Onlyist even finds this alarming. Most of our King James Onlyist friends attend rather conservative Churches which undoubtedly sing Hymns – I’m sure many of them know and love the “Ancient of Days” hymn. Clearly when we refer to God as “Ancient” we are not placing him in history alone, for God is timeless, from eternity to eternity.

We find the “ancient of days” phrase throughout Daniel 3 times. Further, we happen to find the exact phrase “ancient time(s)” found in the King James too five times.

2 Kings 19:25 King James Version,
“Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.”

Psalm 77:5 King James Version,
“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.”

Isaiah 37:26 King James Version,
“Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps.”

Isaiah 45:21 King James Version,
“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”

Isaiah 46:10 King James Version,
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”

So these are the instances of “ancient time(s)” in the King James Bible. Does it sound like we’re just looking at events that took place in recorded history? When does God’s declaration about what will happen really take place? When did God declare the end from the beginning, and the things that are not yet done? This phrase seems to be pushing events back into eternity past.

Although the NIV says Christ is from “ancient times,” this doesn’t mean he is from history. Although the KJV calls God “wise,” this doesn’t mean He learns new things. While we use these terms to help understand our Creator, we must keep in mind how their meanings differ from when we use them against any other object. Man’s origin is unlike God’s origin. Man’s wisdom is unlike God’s wisdom. This distinction must always be made.

Digging a little deeper

The phrase “ancient times” appears in the Hebrew as qedem yowm. This also happens to be the same exact Hebrew words found in Micah 5:2 (KJV), translated “from of old, from everlasting.” While you may hear Onlyists object to the NIV’s wording in Micah 5:2, the fact is that the King James performed the exact same translation in other instances of these words. Hardly sounds like a conspiracy now, right?


So in the end, we don’t have any grand conspiracy, no Satanic secrets, nothing of which to base a Dan Brown book on – just two translations of the same text, using different words but saying the same thing. In fact, we even have strong testimony from the King James that the translation made in the NIV “ancient times” of qedem yowm is a legitimate translation, thanks guys!