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Bible Study Basics: Which Bible to Use? What are their differences?

Updated on July 27, 2012
Knowing how to read the Bible and how to study it is key in a Christian's life. But more often than not, we let trivial matters prevent us from doing it properly.
Knowing how to read the Bible and how to study it is key in a Christian's life. But more often than not, we let trivial matters prevent us from doing it properly.

Bible Study Basics: The Bible

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. (Matthew 13:19 NIB)

God's Word bears the Good News for us. Christians regularly come across these words. Some are good enough to stick them on their cars. On Facebook, you have people sharing and liking Bible verses sown with moving pictures or stories. Regular church goers would listen to the Word every Sunday. But there is a warning from Christ. Even though we listen to His Word regularly, we are at risk of losing it. Not only the knowledge of the Word, but the joy that God's covenant to us bring. So, as Christians, it is our individual duty to ourselves, and to God, to do Bible studies and reflections.

Sadly, this seemingly simple task is usually put of by trivial issues. One of them is which Bible version to use.

Bible Study Poll

In a week, how often do you study the Bible?

See results

So You Want to Study the Bible, But Where Is Your Bible?

Go borrow one from a friend. Maybe beg permission to use one from another. Otherwise, buy one from the bookstore. You have a Kindle, a Galaxy Tab or an iPad? Download the free versions available on YouVersion Bibles! You only have a laptop? There's e-Sword! Have a Bible or two. A digital and one physical at least.

Access to a Bible has never been easier! But access also means flooded by options. Which Bible to chose from?

Bible Translations
Bible Translations

Which Version Should I Choose?

You have the likes of King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), American Standard Version (ASV), English Standard Version (ESV), The Message, New Living and scores of others! On top of that, you have the New King James Version, the New Revised Standard Version, the Anglicanised Revised Standard Version! Yet, all these Bibles are in English.

I'm sure you have heard literary criticisms for each text. The newer translation being more confusing, or the NIV losing hundreds of verses, for example. Which one to choose?

These Bibles can be classified into two categories. They are:

  • Translations: The version translates the original Hebrew and Greek texts as accurately as possible.
  • Paraphrases: Original meaning of the Bible texts are kept and communicated, but words would either be added or omitted. More so where the language use is aimed to engage in a simple manner.

A detailed discussion of this can take up too much of your time. In the end, you'll be reading about "criticisms on methods of Bible translations". Where a simple Bible study is concerned, that is too much! It's a totally different case if you are preparing for your Bible Translation Master's degree or Bachelor's degree.

As a layperson who want to learn and study God's Word, knowing that there are differences shouldn't take up most of your time. If I may boldly say, the beauty of God's living Word is no matter what the language or version, everyone who takes up the Holy Scriptures knows the salvation brought by Christ's sacrifice, God's love for humankind, the parables among many.

You should be comfortable with your primary Bible version. It can be your only version, but it shouldn't cage you up from reading other versions.

Which Bible Version do You Use?

Which Bible Version do You Use?

See results

Not Mankind, but Humankind

Since the 1990s, some Bibles have the "inclusive" language editions. This is Christianity being politically correct and sensitive. You probably find Matthew 4:19 being altered from "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men" to "Come. Follow me," Jesus said. "I will make you fishers of people."

But, personally, choosing one for another doesn't mean that you are any less of a Christian. It shouldn't imply, or fuel, sexist sentiments as well.

Again, it has to be something you are more comfortable with.

A Variety to Choose From

Bible Study has become more easier today. If the classical language of the "Thees" and "Thous" of the King James Version intimidates you, go for the more easier - and modern - New International Version. Here are some examples of John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ASV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

This is the consequence of God's love for the world: He gave his unique son that all who believe in him might not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 MIT)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

for God did so love the world, that His Son -- the only begotten -- He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during. (John 3:16 YLT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)

Again, the decision is yours.

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