While I tend to use the KJV (because it is free), the NKJV is a good translation. It is not good in the sense of being amazingly accurate or properly worded. When people talk about the quality of the translation, they are missing the point. The NKJV is good in the sense that the translation is based off of the Majority text of the Bible (also known as the Byzantine text which is represented by over 80% of existing Greek manuscripts). Most every other Bible is based off a fraudulent “cut and paste” version of the Bible known as the Wescott & Hort (or Critical) text. Wescott and Hort grabbed what were incomplete and shoddy texts and cut/copy/pasted them together based on faulty criteria (such as favoring more difficult sentences over the more simplistic). Entire sections of the Bible are missing from the Wescott Hort text. Check the footnote of any Bible (except the KJV and NKJV) concerning Mark 16 9-20. The Great Commission (11 verses) is not present in the Greek text on which the NIV is based!
The King James, on the other hand, is based off of the Textus Receptus. The KJV has some problems of its own. For example, sometimes the KJV used the Latin Vulgate to fill in some missing pieces, and it also renders words like “ox” as “unicorn”. Overall the Textus Receptus mirrors the Majority text quite well, and the KJV does have its advantages over the NKJV.
Take for example God repenting. “KJV only” preacher Pastor Anderson points out that the NKJV removes the word “repent” in reference to God. He points to this as proof that the NKJV is not a valid Bible. As pointed out in a previous post, flaws do not make a translation unacceptable, but his evidence is valid. The NKJV, translated by modern Calvinists, downplays God’s repentance. Note that repentance is a change of mind, not “turning from sins”.
(KJV) Gen 6:6 And it repented (nachan) the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
(NKJV) Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry (nachan) that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
“Sorry” is a good translation, but repent is better. We can see the word being used elsewhere:
Exo 13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent (nachan) when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
In Exodus 13 “repent” is used to indicate that people changed their minds. In fact the NKJV has an excellent translation that says just that. The problem is that they never use “change of mind” when the exact same word is used of God, even when it is appropriate:
(KJV) Exo 32:14 And the LORD repented (nachan) of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
(NKJV) Exo 32:14 So the LORD relented (nachan) from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
“Relent” implies a partial action. “Repent” is total and complete. In Exodus 32 God said he was going to destroy Israel. He intended to do it, but then he did not. This is repentance. “Relent” is a bad translation. In Samuel, the bias of the translators is even clearer:
1Sa 15:11 “I greatly regret (nachan) that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.
1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent (nachan). For He is not a man, that He should relent (nachan).”
1Sa 15:35 And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted (nachan) that He had made Saul king over Israel.
Although the exact same word, just verses apart, the translators hide the clear text of the Bible. This was definitely a change of mind. Samuel declares in verse 28: “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.” So God “repents” of making Saul the King and promptly takes his throne away. This is a change of mind, not merely regret. And when the text says God will not “relent”, a better translation is that he will not “repent”. God states he “repented” of making Saul the King, is taking away his land, and will not “repent” of taking away his land. The NKJV hides this.
In short, the NJKV has its problems, and the KJV has its problems, but they both are fairly good for the average reader. Having both and also access to the original Hebrew and Greek is probably the best way to understand the text.