Deciding what version of the Bible to read can be exciting, but it’s also a really important decision to make.
If you’re somewhat new to reading scripture or if you’re simply looking for a new version to dive into, it’s important to know which version is going to be the right choice for you.
The good news is that we’ve done the work for you to decipher and determine which versions serve which audiences best. But before we dive into what kind of versions there are and if you should read them, let’s establish why there are different Bible translations at all and how they came about.
Why are there different Bible translations?
Language has changed drastically over the years, inciting the need for new translations of the Bible. As languages modernized, Bible translators along with Greek and Hebrew scholars were tasked with being true to the original meaning of the text while attempting to translate these ancient languages and terms for modern day readers.
Some versions are meant to serve as a thought-for-thought reading, where the ideas of passages and verses are loosely based, and other versions are meant to serve as a word-for-word reading, with a more strict but potentially harder-to-understand basis for the text.
Many, if not most Bible translations fall in between that spectrum and serve to honor the original meaning of the words in a readable, understandable translation.
Most Common Bible Translations
Here are five of the most common Bible translations for you to decide which is right for you.
New International Version (NIV)
The NIV was one of the first modern translations of the Bible, with its first publication in 1978. Since then it has been one of the best selling and most popular versions of the Bible for its readability and close connection to the original texts. It is considered to be a 7th grade reading level.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The ESV is a 8th-10th grade reading level and is favored by those wanting a more word-for-word translation while still being modern and readable.
New King James Version (NKJV)
First published in 1982, the NKJV is an updated version of the King James Version, with newer language making for much easier reading while still remaining faithful to the original text. It is considered to be at a 7th-9th grade reading level.
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
CSB is one of the newest versions to make its way on the scene, having been first published in 2017. It is considered an updated version of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and is at a 7th grade reading level. It is similar in many ways and words to the English Standard Version as it is modern and easy to read.
New Living Translation (NLT)
The NLT is one of the most popular modern English translations of the Bible with a middle school reading level. This is the version our founder, Jordan, started with when she first started reading the Bible.
Resources for a Stronger Prayer Life
We hope this guide helps you decide which version of the Bible is best for you. The truth is, whichever version you choose, what’s really the most important is that you spend time actually reading it.
Note: this is why the Kairos Journal isn't specific to one Bible translation. The prayer journal is simply meant to be a tool to help you spend more time in prayer and in God's Word, whichever version you prefer to read.
Making sure you have the best version for you is certainly important, but it’s ultimately for nothing if you don’t take the time to read it and understand it.
God has made Himself known in His Word (Romans 1:19) and He is eager for you to spend time with Him in His Word!
If you want some encouragement spending more time reading the Bible, we invite you to join our Facebook group to connect with other believers.
You can also sign up to take our free 7-day Holy Habits challenge to build a stronger prayer life and spend more time in God's Word!
Now it's your turn: which version of the Bible do you read?