Bible Versions

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11 KJV, AV).’

There are some Christians who will never consider reading any version of the Bible other than the Authorised Version – that is the King James Bible written in English, which was first published in 1611. 

In this day there are multiple versions of the Bible that are published in as many as 683 languages [2018], and they all differ in part. In order to be the most accurate of translations, translators of God’s Word need access to the original autographs of Scripture, extant ones where possible. The more removed from them, the more opportunity there is for error.

I am no expert on Bible translations, but I understand that the King James Bible has foundational roots in the Geneva Bible, the first full copy of which was published in 1560. [The New Testament in 1557.] This was the Bible used by John Calvin, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, John Dunn and John Bunyan. It was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, and it included the Apocrypha which was translated from Greek and Latin.

In recent times there’s been a plethora of published Bibles, all written from different viewpoints for various reasons. Presenting God’s Scriptures in this way can be traced back to the Great Bible published in 1539. Henry V111 wanted passages from the Bible to be read aloud during services of the Church of England. So the king’s secretary, Thomas Cromwell, was authorised to commission the publication of a Bible acceptable to the clergy, and he directed them to provide “one book of the Bible of the largest volume in English.” These very large Bibles were placed in churches where they could be read by parishioners.  

Similarly the King James bible, first published in 1611, was sponsored by the monarch, James V1 (1), and written at his request, specifically to be inline with the ecclesiology of the Church of England, and the structure of the church. [More in-depth information about this can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version].

Dilemma – What Bible should I read?

In view of the above, perhaps we should be astute, and give due consideration as to what Bible is best for us?

Those searching for God’s ‘truth’ are left with this dilemma. 

Much will depend upon the fluency and level of a person’s understanding of their mother tongue. For example, one who can barely read may possibly understand some elements of God’s truth by persevering with a Contemporary English Version [CEV]. The *Bible Gateway says it is not a paraphrased presentation of God’s Word – rather it is an accurate and faithful translation of the original manuscripts. The great thing about it is, people with minimal reading skills stand a chance of understanding parts of it, even children of a young age.

The New Living Bible contrasts with the CEV, in that it is written to convey the ‘thoughts’ of the original writers of the Scriptures, and to present them in everyday English, particularly with a view of motivating readers to live their lives in accordance with its doctrines. This Bible is not a ‘word for word’ translation, as is the case with the Berean Literal Bible [BLB]. Instead, it is a ‘dynamic equivalence’ rendering of the Scriptures, i.e., a ‘thought for thought’ presentation. The emphasis is not on words, but rather a meaningful representation of what they express for bringing about understanding. 

When I first started reading the Bible with the endeavour of discovering God’s truth (John 14:6) I chose the Good News Bible. It is similar to the CEV, in that it sets out a ‘thought for thought’ or a ‘sense for sense’ presentation of the Scriptures. 

As my knowledge and understanding grew, I wanted a Bible with a more precise rendering of the original scripts, and the New International Bible [published in 1978] met my needs. It translated the Scriptures into equivalent everyday English, which made for easy reading. [Note: I have not yet read the 2011 edition; therefore I have no opinion about it.]

Continuing my journey of discovery I fortuitously chose the New King James Bible, which I came to love and habitually use today. I would describe it as a modern English version of the King James Bible, and I believe it is an accurate interpretation of the earliest Hebraic, Aramaic and Greek scripts.

I also love the King James Bible, especially for its archaic English, parts of which are beautiful, elegant, and even lyrical – for indeed, much of it is pure poetry that was penned by the God’s chosen vessels as they were moved by His Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). They wrote of profound matters affecting them in their times; primarily their relationship with God and their relationships with surrounding nations. The Prophets were moved to speak God’s words, and to foretell of His workings – even of our own times.

More recently, I have come to appreciate the English Standard [Study] Bible [ESV], although my copy is in American English, and I’m trying to get used to some of the spellings, not least ‘Savior’ instead of ‘Saviour’. In the Introduction to my ESV it states that it is an “essentially literal” translation “especially suited for Bible study”. 

Comparisons 

If you are considering using a different Bible, I’ve set out below samples of Philippians 1:9-11 from twelve different versions. They may help you with your choice. As there are more than 450 English Bibles to choose from, you could be a while sorting out the one for you!

King James Bible [KJV], otherwise known as the Authorised Version [AV] 

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; that ye may approve things the are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

New King James Version [NKJV]

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

New International Version [NIV]

‘And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.’

English Standard Version [ESV]

‘And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

Good News Bible [GNB]

‘I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.’

New English Bible [NEB]

‘And this is my prayer, that your love may grow richer and richer in knowledge and insight of every kind, and may thus bring you the gift of true discrimination. Then on the Day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, reaping the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

New Living Translation [NLT]

‘I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.’

Contemporary English Version [CEV]

‘I pray that your love will keep on growing and you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day, Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God.’

Amplified Bible (Standard Edition) [AB]

‘And this I pray: that your love may abound more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognising the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble]. 

Berean Literal Bible [BLB]

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment, for you to approve the things being excellent, so that you may be pure and blameless unto the day of Christ, being filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

Greek Interlinear Bible [GIB]

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’

New Revised Standard Version [NRSV]

‘And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.’

Conclusion

If we are to be ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘discerning’  (Philippians 1:9) we must immerse ourselves in God’s Word (Joshua 1:8). We must ‘hear’ and ‘understand’ it (Matthew 13:23), and we must take it to heart. Through faith we must live to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and by His grace (Ephesians 2:8) He will enable us.

“Praise His holy name. Amen.”

*Bible Gateway

https://www.biblegateway.com 

Note

For more about the Bible, you may like to visit my article:

The Unchanging Word of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/02/28/the-unchanging-word-of-god/

About thebiblicalway

I am a Christian by the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8, 9 Jesus loves me and I love Him. I love my wife, my family and my larger family, the true Church of God.
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