Fats or vats: does spelling matter?


A certain King James Bible only teacher said, “Some critics like to point to Joel 3:13 where some KJBs read ‘fat’ while others read ‘vats’ as proof the KJB is flawed. Who are these people and what is the answer?” (The word “fat” is the Biblical spelling of was is today spelled a “vat”, which is used in wine making.)

Of course, there are critics of the King James Bible who would indeed seek to cast doubt on the accuracy of the King James Bible and would want to undermine the continuing use of it. They would ask which is correct, should it be “fats” or “vats”? And if some King James Bibles have been printed with one spelling (most have “fats”), and some with another (a few more recent examples have “vats”), they then seek to undermine the Bible itself. If we are supposed to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, what is it, is it “fats” or is it “vats”?

But this KJBO teacher made a presentation where he said that there were King James Bible people who were using a spelling variation maybe to unintentionally condemn people or maybe to promote the particular printing ministry associated with their church. That is not the way Christian charity (love in action) should work, as the KJBO teacher rightly addressed this issue. But sadly, like many of the older KJBOs, he did not quite rightly explain or understand the “fats” versus “vats” issue, because although he said he was against modernising spelling today, he said that the smallest unit of preservation was only words, not letters or parts of words (which would relate to spelling, etc.).


There are several Scriptural passages about the importance of letters and spelling, for example, in Judges 12:6, the difference of a letter (as representing a sound) was a difference of life and death. In Galatians 3:16 a whole Biblical doctrine revolves around the absence of a letter “s”.

In passages like Deuteronomy 4:2, we are warned about adding, changing or subtracting from Scripture. This implies changes even to the smallest point or part.

In Matthew 5:18 it says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” It would be incorrect to say that this is not about letters. The jots mean like a dot of an “i” and tittles mean like a cross of a “t”, and that is essentially dictionary definition material, meaning that God’s word is very accurate and precise, even to the smallest component, a letter, a punctuation mark.

Why is this important? Because words having meaning, and letters, capitals, punctuation has an affect on meaning. You see, all these things are important because these have a bearing on the very minuteist accuracy of Scripture. So it would be a mistake to say that preservation of Scripture is about the words only, and not the smaller parts.


When you compare what was printed in 1611, either with other early editions, or with what is being printed today, people can find all kinds of spelling variations. In 1611 it might have had “Sonne” where today it has “Son”, and so on. Are we to think that if the Bible once had, “Let there bee light,” that this was some reference to the buzzing insect? So, then, there has been a need for spelling conformity. And this is what we find in the history of the printing of the KJB. We find that all the varying spellings of early years were eventually standardised, particularly by the 1769 Edition.

Now, of course, someone could say that seeing as there are variations in spelling, that maybe we should go back to 1611 spelling, which of course would be a denial in both the trend of standardisation that has happened in the editions of the KJB, but would also be a rejection of such work. But instead, we should accept it.

So we come to an issue, where the KJBO teacher is saying that preservation is of the words of Scripture, but there is leeway in spellings. But is this necessarily the case?

We need to understand that there are in fact five different levels of perfection. They are:

1. Scripture itself
2. The version
3. The translation
4. The Edition
5. The setting

Let’s explain this.

1. The Scripture is perfect since Moses or Paul wrote those words. Obviously there are many copies of these which have existed through the centuries.
2. A perfect version or set of readings was made in 1611, known as the King James Version.
3. A perfect translation into English was made in 1611.
4. A perfect Edition exists, known as the Pure Cambridge Edition, which has the standardised spellings, etc.
5. A perfect setting is available of this, which is freed from every last errata or typographical error (see bibleprotector.com).

So now this is important. Variations in spelling in 1611 do not change textual readings or translation. Variations in spelling of the years in the normal progress of editions leading to the advent of the Pure Cambridge Edition do not actually thwart or change the textual readings or translation. Why? Because that would be mixing up point number 2 or 3 with point number 4 or 5.

This also explains why you wouldn’t want to stick with all the printing peculiarities of 1611. But the only way to address that is to uphold having something which has resolved the spelling, which is the Pure Cambridge Edition.


An example of the spelling issue is with “nought” and “naught”. These are two different words with two different meanings. In 1611, in 2 Kings 2:19, it had “nought”. Since 1638 it has been “naught”.

The questions may be asked, does this mean that meaning has changed? Are these words synonymous? Has the King James Bible really been altered in some tangible way from what the translators or printers had in 1611 versus today?

The solution is as follows. When the 1611 had “nought” there, it meant “naught”. That was just because spelling was in flux in 1611. It was not meaning “nought” in the sense now that we have a very distinct delineation between one spelling and another, and that one word has not quite the same as another, in 1611, what was being communicated was meaning what we understand now, but would not be understood then, if we applied our spelling-conceptual relationship retrospectively onto 1611. That is to say, that the 1611 did not actually mean “nought” at that place, but “naught”.

Now, on this kind of issue, the doubters and mockers will seek to make it not so. They will not see it as some harmless spelling variation, but instead try to make this an earth shattering matter. The truth is that God’s words are very precise and true and powerful, and that we allow for the spelling variation which occurred historically, but we rather stand for today, that we have resolved such matters.

A second example of small things (punctuation) would be Luke 23:32, where commas are used today properly, as someone otherwise could say, that Jesus also was a malefactor, which would be incorrect. So the work on punctuation that has occurred is right, after all, there were no apostrophes in 1611, but we can be sure that the Pure Cambridge Edition has the apostrophes right.


The whole point of the Pure Cambridge Edition, and particularly, have a correct setting forth of it, is to show the finality of the editorial work within the history of the printing and publication of the KJB.

That means that any modern publishers who take liberties (as some do) and think to “continue” the trend of “updating” spelling, or making such unauthorised changes, that this must be rejected.

Things are written about minor points, like the capital “G” of the word “God”, when the King of Babylon saw a fourth person in the fiery furnace. What kind of controversies could there be if some said “god” and others said “God”, and that there was no authority or final edition where the correct form would be found? All such issues of spelling, punctuation and capital letters have been resolved.

You can know, then, that the Pure Cambridge Edition is right to have “spirit” not “Spirit” at 1 John 5:8 or even some seemingly minor peculiarity like “Geba” not “Gaba” at Ezra 2:26.

Words are important, because words have meaning, and the meaning of the laws and the conceptual accuracy of the communication of God relies upon even having correctness to every whit, then we ought to be able to even defend the spelling. While the KJB for many years was not with finalised spelling, it was still dependable and dependable as Scripture and as version and a translation. But now we have even dependability to the very spelling of words, the very letter order, we are in a most secure position.

Pr 22:19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Pr 22:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Pr 22:21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Even Dean Burgon said, “The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the Throne! Every Book of it, every Chapter of it, every Verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it, (where are we to stop?) every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High!”

And Martin Luther, “One should tremble before each letter of the Bible, more than before the whole world!” and again, “God is in every syllable. No iota is in vain.”

Joe 3:13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
Joe 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

This article is written to explain and correct this video (which makes other good points): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfjEE8ALCpM

For a booklet on this subject, please read “Glistering Truths”, which you can find on the Bible Protector website as a free download.