What Bible Translation is Right for You?

With more than 50 versions of the Bible, how do you know which translation is the “best” for you and those you teach? You and your church members share a bond with your Bibles, a relationship even with its familiar pages and highlighted passages. But with so many other types of Bibles, you may wonder if the version you’re reading is “right” for you, and if those you teach are making the best Bible choices as well.


1. Readable:
597One of the most important questions to consider is, “Do I understand the version I’m reading?” “Am I comfortable with the language of this translation?” To find the best Bible for you, flip through several Bible translations—you can do this online at BlueletterBible.org—or at a bookstore, and simply choose whichever you feel most comfortable reading.

2. What are Your Needs?
Are you searching for a Bible translation for serious study or a translation for daily Bible reading and devotional time? Consider purchasing both a “word-for-word” and a “thought-for-thought” or “paraphrase” translation. Different translations of the Bible serve well for different purposes and groups.

Here are the 4 main types of Bible translations:

Scholars try to translate each word based on the word usage at the time of writing

Scholars mediate a word-for-word approach and a thought-for-thought approach

Scholars translate the meaning of thoughts into modern English

A re-statement of translation in modern terms, often expanded for clarity

3. What are the needs of those you teach?
You can certainty hang on to your preferred translation, but those you teach may learn toward a more easy-to-understand version. Most pastors and church leaders say they like to use a “word-for-word” translation in their personal lives, but read from or recommend “balanced” or “thought-for-thought” translations for those they teach.

4. If You Want a Bible for Study/Academic Use:

If you are looking for a literal translation for serious study, and the ability to compare English to the Bible’s original language, consider purchasing “word-for-word” translations, where scholars have strived to translate the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic words into modern languages.

Ex: New King James Version (KJV) or American Standard Bible (NASB), American Standard Version (ASV), New American Bible (NAB)

5. If You Want a Bible for Devotional/Personal Use: If you are purchasing a Bible for devotional or personal use, or if you (or those you teach) are new to Bible reading, consider one of the modern “thought for thought” translations. Instead of translating word for word, translators have tried to get to the essence of the text in modern language.

Ex: The New International Version (NIV), Contemporary English Version (CEV), New International Reader’s Version (NIrV), New Living Translation (NLT)

We know the range of Bible translations can lead to debate but it’s important to remember that the “best” Bible is subjective. In the end, while the intent is to come as close as possible to the original text, no version is really word-for-word. Instead, remind yourself (and those you teach) that the “right version” is whichever Bible translation works best for you.

Join our 30-Day Daily Bible Challenge by simply commenting below, “I join!” FREE 2015 Bible Reading Plan included. Share this post to invite (and challenge) your friends, family, and church to join! Happy Bible reading to whichever translation you choose!

What translation do you use? What are your thoughts on our list? Feel free to share your comments!



One Thought on “What Bible Translation is Right for You?

  1. David Rodriguez on January 12, 2015 at 4:58 pm said:

    I have a New Living Translation Study Bible, really enjoy it. It’s the 2007 update and it has a lot of information about the biblical text. My next favorite is the New King James, would like to get the Modern English Version that is supposed to be an update of the old King James Bible.

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