“How sweet are Your words to the taste of my mouth! Sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103
There are a lot of Bible translations available for every Christian today, whether in paperback or in digital form. But of the many translations currently available in the market today, which one should we use?
The Best Version for you
Today there are dozens of Bible versions available. There’s the King James Version (KJV), which although beautiful, can be a challenging read for those not accustomed to old English; there’s the easy-to-read The Message (TM) version, although it’s actually a paraphrase, not a translation, which is an issue for critics; and the widely-accepted New International Version (NIV), among others. There’s a lot more to choose from, so which one should we use?
Asheritah from One Thing Alone says there are three different kinds of translations. All of them are based on the original Greek and Hebrew languages used in Scripture:
- First, Literal Translations are those versions that attempt to stay as close as possible to the words and grammar of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. They work as great study Bibles. These include the English Standard Version (ESV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the Revised Standard Version (RSV).
- Second, Free Translations are those that paraphrase original concepts in an attempt to make the Scripture more intelligible to the reader. They are deemed less accurate and might carry with them meanings not originally intended by the authors, but they are popular with young people and helpful for non-native English speakers in understanding the Bible better. Among them are The Message, New Living Translation (NLT), the Amplified Bible (AMP).
- Lastly, Dynamic Equivalent Translations are those that try to balance accuracy in translating and relevance. They try to make precise translations of the words used and meanings conveyed by the original languages. These include the New King James Version, the KJV, and the NIV.
Now, how do you choose a Bible version for yourself?
- First, prayerfully pick a version that allows you to understand what God is saying. If you find it hard to understand God’s Word, maybe that version isn’t a perfect fit for you.
- Next, make cross-references. After choosing a Bible version, do take time to re-read in another translation what you’ve read in your chosen version. It helps to get a better understanding of Scripture.
- Third, remember that some versions are paraphrases only. Certain versions such as The Message might be easy to swallow, but they are mere paraphrases – not accurate translations. Read some literal translations too.
It’s between you and God
Friend, I can’t choose a translation for you. While I read the NLT on a daily basis, I also countercheck it with various versions such as the KJV, NKJV, and the Modern English Version as it helps me get a better grip on what God is saying. It helps me hear Him better.
And that is what I will advise you: there is no absolutely perfect or correct translation, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses, so devour God’s Word in various translations. Prayerfully seek to know Him through His Word, obey what He says in His Word, and let your heart and mind be saturated with His Word.
I will leave you with this piece of Godly counsel from Pastor John Piper:
“What matters most of all is that all of us immerse our minds in the Scriptures every day until we are conformed in our thinking and in our feeling to the mind and the heart of Christ.”