How to Pick a Bible Translation

Aug 23, 2021
Pick a Bible Translation

What is the best Bible translation?

TLDR, the one you will use.

No matter who you ask, they have an opinion. And friend, I have my opinions too. But when you are picking, you want to make sure the version you are using fits the goal you are trying to achieve when studying. 

Bible translations are broken into different categories. Word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase. For studying I like to stick to a word for word, for reading I like a thought for thought, and for trying to understand confusing passages, I find a paraphrase helpful. 

When picking, I prefer to stick to the mainstream translations. These have been tried and tested, and have been found reliable. Generally, these translations have a team of scholars that have worked on their translation committees to make sure you are getting as close of a translation as possible. (The paraphrases don't always have a team working on them, so be cautious when using those, and always read those in addition to a word for word or thought for thought translation.)

Some popular word for word translations:

  • NASB (This is the version I use for study)
  • AMP
  • ESV
  • NKJV

Some popular thought for thought translations:

  • CSB (This is one of my favorites)
  • NIV
  • NLT (This is the version I use for longer reading)

Some popular paraphrases:

  • GNB
  • TLB
  • The Message (This is my favorite paraphrase)

When you are picking a translation, read your favorite verses in a few translations to see which translations resonate the most with you. Remember, throughout your study, you can reference more than one translation, so don’t be afraid to note a few that you like. 

The last thing I want you to consider is if you are reading a translation that you can’t understand, is it really doing you any good? Probably not. Pick a translation that you enjoy reading. If you are sticking to one of the mainstream translations, you can’t go wrong. 

Pick a Bible translation, and then read it. Remember - the goal is to connect with God on the pages of His Word!