Christ Aroono Christian life. Let's worship.
Christian life. Let's worship.

Which Version of the Bible is Right for Me?

New King James Version or the New International Version? Choosing a version of the Bible can be daunting.  I’ll cover several of them so you can find a perfect version to fit your life.

Choose a version of the Bible that is right for you.
Choose a version of the Bible that is right for you.
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Version & Type

There are many, many different versions of the Bible, and though they’re all saying the same thing, they’re all saying it in slightly different ways.  Some versions of the Bible are noted for their readability and others for their accuracy to the original texts.  Today, I will not be getting into biblical history and English as an adapting and changing language leading to various translations of the Bible.  Today is all about informing you of some of the major versions of the Bible.

Also for this list, I will be avoiding Bibles in other languages and some of the more obscure and less known Bibles.  I will also not be including any of the specific Catholic Bibles on this list, so if you’re a Catholic, please forgive me. 

One thing to note is that there are different types of Bibles as well as versions.  I will sum them up for you:

  • Word-For-Word: These Bibles are direct translations.  Each word is carefully selected to be an English equivalent to what the ancient texts said.
  • Thought-For Thought: These Bibles are not an exact translation, however, they are translations of thoughts and meaning.  The words may not be exactly what the ancient writers used, but their message and meaning come across accurately. 
  • Paraphrased: These Bibles are loose in translation and in meaning.  They often take the ideas of the words and paraphrase them as a storyteller would.  You get the ideas, but it is not a direct translation. 

Which Version is Right for Me?

Let me start off by saying that I am not a Bible scholar.  This list is going to be more laymen in its explanations and will contain my own opinions.  I have read and studied many different versions of the Bible, and I own about seven or eight.  I like having a variety to study from.  If you would like a more exhaustive list, visit Bible Gateway, as they have a ton of different versions of the Bible.

  • King James Version (KJV)
    • Type: Word-For-Word Bible
    • Reading Level: 12th Grade
    • Description: The King James Version is the 1611 authoritative Bible.  It is best known for the use of “thees” and “thous”.  It is written in 17th Century English, and hard to read and understand sometimes, but on the other hand, some of the language is beautifully poetic.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (KJV) “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
  • New King James Version (NKJV)
    • Type: Word-For-Word Bible
    • Reading Level: 7th Grade
    • Description: The New King James Version is the King James Version with updated English.  It removes the “thees” and “thous” for a more modern vernacular.  However, it maintains its 17th Century style, which can cause some reading difficulty.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (NKJV) “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
  • New International Version (NIV)
    • Type: Thought-For-Thought Bible
    • Reading Level: 7-8th Grade
    • Description: The New International Version is one of the more popular versions of the Bible.  This version takes the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic of the ancient texts and translates them into modern English that is easier to read and understand.  The NIV is fantastic for study Bibles.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
  • The Amplified Bible (AMP)
    • Type: Word-For-Word Bible
    • Reading Level: 11th Grade
    • Description: The Amplified Bible uses a modern English version of the original texts.  It inserts clarification to help explain complex passages of Scripture using bracketed words and phrases.  I like to use this version to study when I really want to know the meaning behind what the passage is saying.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (AMP) “For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.”
  • New Living Translation (NLT)
    • Type: Thought-For-Thought Bible
    • Reading Level: 5-6th Grade
    • Description: The New Living Translation is one of my favorite versions of the Bible.  It’s gender-neutral, easy to read, and easy to understand in both language and style.  It’s perfect for preaching and personal study.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (NLT) “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
  • English Standard Version (ESV)
    • Type: Word-For-Word
    • Reading Level: 8th Grade
    • Description: The English Standard Version is a literal translation that makes use of more recently discovered sources of the ancient texts.  It’s one of the more readable word-for-word versions. 
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (ESV) “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    • Type: Word-For-Word Bible
    • Reading Level: 11th Grade
    • Description: The New American Standard Bible, or “Naz-bee” as I like to call it, is written in a formal modern English.  It’s not the easiest to read and not the best for casual study.  But, I find it to be a fine translation.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (NASB) “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”
  • Contemporary English Version (CEV)
    • Type: Thought-For-Thought Bible
    • Reading Level: 5th Grade
    • Description: The Contemporary English Version is a Bible I used a lot as a teenager.  It’s clear and simple but maintains a mature style.  This is a great Bible for new Christians or someone who has trouble with more complex versions.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (CEV) “Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have faith.”
  • The Message (MSG)
    • Type: Paraphrased Bible
    • Reading Level: 4-5th Grade
    • Description: The Message is an informal translation of the Bible.  It’s full of American English vernacular and idioms. Though it’s easy to read, this translation is criticized for its deviation from Scripture, and its altered context.  I do not recommend it for every day reading or study.  However, if you need clarification on a scripture, the Message can sometimes get the point across easier than other versions.
    • Example Verse: Mark 11:24 (MSG) “That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking.”

In Conclusion

There are many other versions of the Bible I did not touch on.  This is just a list of some of the more popular ones.  There are other options like study Bibles and chronological Bibles as well.  If you’re looking for a new Bible and you’re not sure what version you want, check these out, there’s one for everyone.  If you want my personal recommendation, go with the NLT.  It’s a nice all-purpose version in my opinion. 

Happy studying!

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