Which Bible Translation Should I Use?

With so many translations available, and more being published every year, many people wonder which translation they should use.

The truth is there are many translations that are well worth reading. My practice is to use a different translation each year for my personal devotion time. Using a Bible app is an easy, inexpensive way to explore different translations.

Having said that, not all translations are as accurate as others, and some, frankly, should be avoided.

The Bible is a compilation of books, letters, and accounts penned over the course of many years by numerous writers inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The original languages of the Bible are Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Because we believe that, in its original languages, the Bible is inerrant (has no errors) and inspired (breathed by God), it is essential that we use translations that most accurately reflect those original languages.

Today’s biblical translations typically fall into one of three categories:

1. Word-for-word translations are the most trustworthy. Careful detail is taken to ensure that each and every word is translated as accurately as possible from the original languages. These translations are a must-have for every believer as a primary source of Scriptural study.

2. Thought-for-thought translations, although not as precise, convey the basic thoughts of the original language. These translations are great for devotional or supplementary use.

3. Paraphrases are, essentially, a copy of a copy. The contributors typically begin with an already translated version of the Bible, and then reword it. These translations may not be “bad,” but they should always be weighed against a more trusted source.

Here are a few translations to consider (in order of accuracy and in order of my recommendation):

Word-for-word translations:
1. New American Standard Bible
2. Amplified Bible
3. English Standard Version
4. New King James Version

Thought-for-thought translations:
1. New International Version
2. New Living Translation
3. New International reader’s Version
4. The Message

My personal favorite study bible is the New Spirit Filled Life Bible in the NKJV. The accuracy of the translation, coupled with the excellent notes and study materials make it my top recommendation for adults.

For teenagers, I recommend the Student Version of the same – the New Spirit Filled Life Bible. There are other great ones for teens, but I recommend this one to help get our church’s teens into the same type of Bible that we use in our church overall.

For kids I recommend The Hands On Bible (NLT); and then the Read With Me Bible is great for parents with toddlers. Again, there are many good ones, but these are the ones I recommend at our church.

I highly recommend the use of Bible apps and technology to have greater access to the Bible, but I also strongly urge every believer to have a quality, trustworthy study bible – the kind with actual pages. Taking advantage of study notes and cross-references will take you to a deeper place of understanding God’s word and living in His promises! And your own personal handwritten notes make it that much effective to reflect what God reveals to you!

Whether you are just beginning to read God’s Word, or have been a studier of His Word for many years, the Bible is foundational to your life.

The discipline of reading the Bible will illuminate your mind to its context and content.

The devotion of reading the Bible will remind you that this is not just a book, but an encounter with the living, breathing Word of God – Jesus Himself is the Word made flesh.

The delight of reading the Bible is that it holds promises and hope for everyday life, a guide for wisdom, and a refuge for the weary.

The Word of God will change your life!

One Comment on “Which Bible Translation Should I Use?

  1. This has helped me a ton! I appreciate this post. You are right, there are so many translations and I am always stuck.

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