How to Pick a Bible Translation

bible study how to Jun 19, 2019

I absolutely love shopping for books. It is one of my favorite pastimes. The smell of the books, the rows and rows of shelves combined with the hushed atmosphere is the best way to spend a Saturday morning. But there is something even more special to me about picking out a new Bible. I know it is the book I will spend the most time with over the next year, and I want to find one that is just right.

[Now at this point you could be thinking that I am obsessed with books. To that I say, you are not wrong.]

Bible translation plays a huge role in what Bible to get. If you get a translation you don’t understand easily, but the cover is pretty, you are probably less likely to read it. So that brings us to the first point.


If you can’t understand it, it’s not worth it. We are lucky that in English, we have so many different translations to choose from. They range on a scale from word for word translations, to a thought for thought translation. The thought for thought translations aren’t as close to the original language as a word for word translation is, but reading that is better than not reading the Bible at all! Common thought for thought translations are The New Living Translation (NLT) and the Living Bible (LB). If you are just starting out reading the Bible go read a couple verses in the NLT to see if you like that version.

Some translations that are closer to word for word are the English Standard Version (ESV) and the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). The CSB is my personal preference for my daily reading. I use the She Reads Truth Bible, which has space to write next to the Scriptures. I also use the ESV for reference at times too. You can’t go wrong with either one of these versions.

A translation that is middle ground from these two categories is the New International Version (NIV). It has a mix of the two translation styles, and is easy to understand.

When you are picking out a Bible, I like to open to the same verse in each Bible and read the same passage of scripture to see which one is easiest to understand for me, and I pick that one. However, you don’t have to stick to just that one version.


It is beneficial when studying to use more than one translation. Like I mentioned, I use both the CSB and the ESV regularly. But when I am studying, sometimes I will look up a passage in 4-5 different versions. One translator may have translated a thought slightly differently than another translator, and I want to get as much information out of the text as I can! Using multiple translations helps me to do that effectively. The Youversion Bible App and sites like make it easy to use different translations. You simply have to pick a different version from a drop down list, and there you go! You have a great study tool for free right on your phone.

Taking the time to do a little work on the front end to pick out a good Bible translation will help tremendously when it comes to your time in the Word. It will be more enjoyable to read, and will be much easier to understand.

Have you picked out a favorite Bible translation? Which one do you use?