Happy Tuesday, friends! This post is the first on the Bible Study series. I will be covering a few topics on Bible study over the next few weeks. I hope this series will bring you something to think about! As always, I love and appreciate all the comments you leave.
You can always also skip right to the end to participate in the GraceFull Tuesday Link-Up! I love getting to read what the Lord has been doing in your life.
What Translation Do You Read?
A while back, I asked on my Instagram what translation of the Bible people read. This was not to push my preferred translation on people. Or even to advocate it. Honestly, I was just interested in what translation of the Bible people read. But it turned out to be such an interesting topic.
For myself, I read and study the Bible using the New King James Version (NKJV). In all honesty, this is because my first own Bible (that was given to me by my brother and still is the Bible that I use) was a NKJV. My pastor teaches from the KJV because that is the one he has always read. Our church doesn’t require us to use the KJV or NKJV. However, those are both solid translations so we recommend them at our church.
I also use the New Living Translation (NLT) at times. I find it is easier to read, for sure. Sometimes, it also has a beautiful way of wording verses. Finnish is actually my first language but I have always read the Bible in English. Of course I have a Finnish translation of the Bible, too. Now, I don’t often read the Finnish Bible since I prefer my English one. I have found, however, that the NLT actually words some verses in a similar way that the Finnish translation that I use, does. That is also why I like the New Living Translation.
Why Should We Consider the Bible Translation We Use?
When I asked about the translations on Instagram, I found out something interesting. Many of us read the translation of the Bible that we were first given. That, I find, is very understandable. We start reading a certain Bible translation for reasons and then we get used to it. That’s the reason why I read a NKJV Bible — because it’s the one I started reading when I came to Christ.
However, people actually weren’t really sure about how the translations were different from one another. Also, they weren’t sure why it mattered. So I’m here to tell you that it does matter. Or at least I think it matters.
As far as translations go, there are a few clear differences between them. Some translations are Word-For-Word, as in, they translate word for word. Some translations are Meaning-For-Meaning, so they look more at the meaning behind the passage and translate that. Then some translations are Thought-For-Thought, whereas the rest are Paraphrase.
This is why it can matter what translation we use. If we want to understand the original text, I would recommend going for Word-For-Word or Meaning-For-Meaning translations. Such would be NASB, ESV, and NKJV, for example. On the other hand, Thought-For-Thought translations usually are easier to understand as the language they use is easier. These kind of Bibles (like NLT or NIV) could be better for teenagers, new believers, and such. However, I think it’s then important to point out the differences between translations at some point.
Then there are the Paraphrase translations. A well known one is The Message Bible. And honestly, I have a bit of an issue with these ones. I keep reading posts based on a verse or a passage from the Message. And I get it. The Message really does sound nice. But we need to consider that it’s paraphrasing the Bible. So while it is okay to read a verse here or there, I don’t think anyone should study the Bible using the Message. Mainly because it is all paraphrasing, which is the same as someone telling the stories of the Bible in their own words. It sounds nice, yes. But it isn’t the original text.
What Translations Should I Use Then?
The hard question is, then, what translation should we really use? Honestly, I don’t really have an answer for you. I also don’t really have a preference for one translation over the other. Like mentioned, I use the NKJV. I know many love ESV. Of course, NIV is very common, too.
Now, I want to point this one out. There is a difference between a Bible study and doing devotions. I think it’s very important to consider the translation we use when we study the Bible. As was pointed out earlier, some translations are Thought-For-Thought translations. I would say that those are not the best ones to use for Bible study, though they usually are a lot easier to understand.
So I would venture out to say that it isn’t necessarily about which translation is the best out of all. Rather, I think it’s important to reflect on when and where we use it. Is it for Bible study only? For devotions only? Or do you want a Bible you can use for both of those?
In the end, I would say the most important thing is that you do read the Bible. Which translation, is less important.
GraceFull Tuesday Link-Up