My Favorite Five

I know you probably think there is no way I can pick only five Bible translations, but even though I have several, I have found I hover around the same five. So today, I figured I’d do a fun post (fun for me anyway and hopefully of benefit to you) and tell you why my top five translations are in my top five.

I’ve watched several Bible reviewers over the years and lectures on which translation is the best, the two types of translations, and so on. So, it may be no surprise that the first on the list is a word-for-word translation.

The New King James Version

The New King James was published in 1982 and has never been updated. This is the primary reason I like it. All modern translations go through updates every few years initially and typically every ten or fifteen years after that; this makes using those translations somewhat tricky. Does it ever throw you off when the text on the screen on Sunday mornings doesn’t match your Bible even though it’s the same translation? You won’t have that problem with the NKJV; the text is the same no matter which edition you buy.

I used the KJV growing up, so the language in the NKJV is familiar. In addition, I like the NKJV because the cross-references are extensive, and it provides many alternate renderings, more so than other translations. So if you’re looking for a faithful translation, one that is consistent across editions and resources, the NKJV is your best pick.

My current NKJV: Large Print, Ultra-Thin Reference Bible (No Longer in Print)

My next NKJV: Large Print, Wide Margin, Reference Bible

The New Living Translation

I am currently using the NLT as my primary Bible at the writing of this post (April 29, 2022). I got my first NLT Bible when I was twelve years old. My mom let me skip the first day of Vacation Bible School, and she took me to Lifeway to get a new Bible. I was twelve, and it was time to get a more adult Bible; you can’t be twelve going to church with an NIV Adventure Bible. So I picked up an NLT Life Application Study Bible. I picked the NLT because Pastor Robert Morris preached from it at the time, and I got the Life Application edition because I wanted a big Bible.

Gloria Copeland also used the NLT when she taught, so I heard it a lot. Although, over the years, I always gravitated to either the KJV or NKJV, I also did a stint in the ESV and NASB because everything I always heard was that a word-for-word translation was best. There were periods, though, two to be exact, when the Lord impressed me to read the NLT to break away from being bogged down in word studies to the point I was missing the overall point of Scripture. I became more focused on “accuracy” than letting the Word transform me and draw me closer to God. I’m a fan of word studies, but something is refreshing and freeing about the NLT for me. A few weeks ago, I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to put my NKJV aside and start reading the NLT. It’s one of those things that has made me feel like I’m reading the Bible for the first time. I highly recommend the NLT for a fresh perspective on the Scripture.

NLT Life Application Study Bible Third Edition

My current NLT: Slimline Center Column Reference Edition Large Print

My next NLT: NLT Wide Margin, Filament Enabled Edition

The Complete Jewish Study Bible

I use and recommend the Complete Jewish Study Bible because the notes provide you with such clarity and give an insight into the text many Christian commentaries don’t. I don’t say that as a knock on Christian commentaries, but by and large, we forget that the Old and New Testaments are written from a Hebraic frame of mind and not a Greek way of thinking. The text keeps many Hebrew words and idioms that bring a deeper meaning to the reader. The footnotes and articles give an even deeper understanding that connects us as Christians to the Jewish roots of the faith and reminds us we have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel.

The Complete Jewish Study Bible

The Tree of Life Version

The TLV is more than a translation; it’s a movement to restore the roots of the faith by encouraging the reading of the weekly Torah portion, receiving the rest of the Sabbath, and entering into the joy of celebrating the Feasts of the Lord.

The Bible gives us a rhythm for life, and the TLV brings that out by bringing back Hebrew names for main Bible characters, using worlds like shalom for the English word peace, Pesach for Passover, and more. The TLV brings us back to the first century and gives us an interactive Jewish experience with the Old and New Testaments.

The Family Bible Edition comes with artwork that makes the Bible come alive in the original context; in the back, you will find Shabbat prayers, articles, a place for your own book of remembrance, and a glossary. The Thinline edition does not include pictures and has abridged prayers.

If you download the TLV app, you get an even more fantastic experience of being immersed in the Jewish culture of Scripture. The app comes with the complete translation, extra articles, teaching videos, and a biblical calendar. Plus, you can subscribe for even more content. You will love the TLV Bible and the TLV app!

TLV Thinline and TLV Family Bible

The Amplified Classic Bible  

Unfortunately, the original Amplified has been updated and has removed some of its amplification. You can still read the Amplified Classic (AMPC) on Bible apps, but you can only get physical copies of the updated version, but it’s not as good as the original. The Amplified is just that, Amplified putting the original meanings right in the text. Here is an example from one of my favorite verses,

Matthew 6:33 AMPC “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.”

Matthew 6:33 AMP “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”

The Amplified Bible is a great study help, and I have preferred to memorize several verses from the Amplified Classic over the KJV or NKJV.

Well, there you have it, why my favorite five are my favorite five. If you like these translations or have another favorite, or maybe a favorite edition of one of these, let me know.

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