Many people ask what Bible translation we recommend. As you can imagine, the Bible was not originally written in English, which is why there are many translations available today. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, while the New Testament was written in Koine Greek. All of the translations that we recommend are translated from the original languages. The primary differences in the following translations are:

  • How recently they were translated, which can also indicate how comprehendible they are in our context
  • Whether it was translated based on a word-for-word translation or a meaning-for-meaning translation. Sometimes the original meaning of a passage can be lost if a translator is focused on translating specific words. 

When purchasing a Bible, you will want to pay attention to the size of the text. Many inexpensive Bibles keep costs lower by using less ink and paper by keeping the font very small. Look for one that specifically says “Standard Print.”

New Living Translation (NLT) The New Living Translation is a great translation for individuals who are new to the Bible or looking for a translation that is easy to read and comprehend. It is translated in a way that focuses on translating the original meaning of the text and is written at a 6th grade reading level.

New International Version (NIV) The New International Version has been one of the most popular translations in churches for decades. If you want a Bible that feels familiar since the mid-90s, you will like this translation. It is a good blend of word-for-word and meaning-for-meaning translating.

New International Version Study Bible If you are interested in a Bible that has fantastic notes and insights to go alongside the text, you will want to check out the New International Version’s Study Bible. Please keep in mind that the Holy Spirit desires to speak directly to you from the text so you should work to spend more time reading the text than you do reading the notes, but God also desires to use other people to help us grow in wisdom. We have a hardback and leather version of this listed in our website’s store, but you can also purchase one through other web stores or at the LifeWay store in Wilmington. Keep in mind that a study Bible is going to be a bit more bulky. Some people enjoy taking it everywhere because of the insight the notes can provide. Others prefer to leave their study Bible home and carry something less bulky when they attend Bible studies outside their home. The NIV also has a “Life Application Study Bible” which isn’t my favorite personally. Just look for a plain “NIV Study Bible”.

English Standard Version (ESV) The English Standard Version is a modern version that is focused on word-for-word translating as much as possible. It is written on a college reading level and is popular in Christian colleges.

King James Version (KJV) The King James Version has been greatly loved by many for centuries. For those familiar with it, they feel like they are “coming home” when they read its words. For those new to reading the Bible, the translation can feel very difficult to understand. The King James Version is focused on word-for-word translation.

Written by Tim Williams, Associate Pastor