Sunday, December 9, 2007

ASK THE PASTOR: What Bible Version Do You Recommend?

"Ask the Pastor" is a short article that appears in our church's monthly newsletter. Since space in that format is a premium, the articles are generally very brief and concise. We are now publishing those articles online, as well other other questions/answers not chosen for print publication.

What Bible translation do you recommend?

This is one of the most often questions I am asked. As most of you know, I heavily use two English translations. The first is the English Standard Version, which is the version I use for personal use, scripture memorization, family devotions, and general reading and study. In my opinion, it is the most accurate translation available in English. The other is the New King James Version, which is the version I use in the pulpit. It is a solid, accurate translation, and certainly one of the best versions available on the market today. I also regularly consult the New International Version, which is very good. By God’s grace, I have been some skill in Greek and Hebrew. Therefore, I rely on these more than any English translation for study purposes.

In general, I dislike paraphrases (sometimes referred to as “though-for-thought translations”). However, these can be effective aids in understanding your regular Bible. These versions sometimes drastically change the words to make it more understandable in English. Conversely, more literal versions sometimes are confusing because they try to stay as close to the original as possible. Many people wrongly put the New International Version (NIV) into the former category. In fact, the NIV is about the mid-way point between the two.


American Standard Version

King James/ New King James Version

English Standard Version

New American Standard Version


New Living Translation

Good News Bible

The Message

I strongly recommend purchasing and using a more literal Bible translation. This should be your main Bible for general reading and study. Next, purchase a ‘thought-for-though’ translation to assist in your Bible study. This will refresh and invigorate your Bible reading.

In the coming month, I plan on publishing a series of pamphlets called Viewpoints. The first one printed will be A Guide to the Modern English Bible Versions, where I go into more detail on this issue.

If you have a question for “Ask the Pastor”, submit this to Pastor Josh via email (see church website for email & other contact information)


  1. What Bible?
    In Bible studies I used to not like everyone with different translations because I could not follow along while reading. Though as we would get deep into the study having different translations helped the less informed to know what God meant. i.e. "reconciled" meaning to Bring into alignment or friendship with.
    I would then bring with me a NIV, Message, and a Greek Parallel Bibles. though I feel that the NRSV is the most accurate, but then again, Im just a carpenter with a 10th grade education.

  2. I don't know if you ever came across the verse in Revelation 22 (verses 18-19 specifically KJV) that says no man shall take away or add to the book of life, so therefore using different versions of the bible is changing it. How can you think that this is ok.

  3. Well, Anonymous, then by that logic your use of the King James Version equally condemns you, since it wasn't translated until 1611, which the last time I checked is a good 1,600 years after the time period of the New Testament. There were multiple English versions BEFORE the King James. If you really believe what you are saying, then you must demand that all believers must learn Greek and read from the original manuscripts. Muslims do that with the Koran, insisting that it is sinful to translate it.