Choosing a Bible can seem confusing, even for people who have been Christians for a long time. Most translations have their strengths and weaknesses, and, as with ice cream flavors, there is no unanimous consensus among Christians as to which is best. They all convey the same doctrinal truths, though their wording style varies from formal to casual.
However, make sure the Bible version you choose is an actual translation, and not a paraphrase. Translations have been carefully taken from the original languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic), while paraphrases are just rewordings of those translations. Paraphrases tend to change much, and lose much, of the text’s original meaning.
The following versions are what we recommend:
New American Standard Bible (NASB): This is probably the most “word for word” translation available, and is great if one wishes to read Scripture in the form of the original languages. Because the individual words are translated and then put into complete sentences, some find its phrasing a little more difficult to understand, but it is a very reliable version of God’s Word.
New King James Version (NKJV): The New King James Version is also a “word for word” translation, but instead of using the archaic language of the King James Version, it has been updated to more contemporary English while still retaining its beauty and eloquence. It is very literal, and very trustworthy.
New Living Translation (NLT): This is a very readable, easy-to-understand translation that puts emphasis on conveying the meaning of the text rather than on providing a word-for-word translation. This makes it an excellent Bible for those new to Scripture to help you understand its main messages. If you can manage two Bibles, we recommend having a copy of the NLT available to refer to whenever anything in the NASB or NKJV is difficult to grasp.
In addition to print Bibles, there are numerous Bible apps available so you can take God’s Word with you wherever you go. One excellent option is the YouVersion app, which offers multiple translations and countless added features to help you integrate the Bible into your daily life.
Whichever translation you choose, commit yourself to reading it daily. Set aside a time each day that works for you, and determine to listen and act as God speaks to you through His Holy Word!