What Version of the Bible is the Easiest to Understand?

Easy to Understand Bible Versions

What Version of the Bible is the Easiest to Understand?

Finding a Bible Version That is Easy to Understand

Why are there so many versions of the Bible in the English language? How do you know which Bible is the most accurate? What if I don’t understand the Bible? These are important questions that often go unanswered in today’s society. Believers and unbelievers alike have questions regarding the translation of Scripture and the many versions of the Bible that are available to us. 

So, what version of the Bible is the easiest to understand? The New International Version (NIV) and English Standard Version (ESV) are commonly regarded as the versions of the Bible that are easiest to understand. However, other versions seek to provide ease of use including The Message (MSG). We must never prioritize ease of use over accuracy, however. This is something you must consider in regards to the topic of Bible translations.

With so many different versions of the Bible available today, it can be incredibly confusing to select a Bible for personal use. While the accuracy of the translation is of the utmost importance, it is also crucial that you understand what you are reading. 

In this post, we will cover the versions of the Bible that are considered easiest to understand. We will also look at several things you should consider as you select a Bible for personal use. Through this post, we hope to simplify the process of selecting a version of the Bible. Keep reading to learn more about which version of the Bible is the easiest to understand. 

Versions of the Bible That Are Easy to Understand

Versions of the BibleThe truths found within Scripture are often far beyond our finite understanding. Even so, the version of the Bible that we read can complicate matters due to outdated English or poor translation. 

Generally, the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV) are considered the versions of the Bible that are easiest to understand. The ESV is also known for the accuracy of its translation. Because of this, many scholars, pastors, and theologians recommend the English Standard Version to readers looking for an accurate translation that is presented in a way that is easy to understand.

In recent years, publishers have started releasing paraphrased versions of the Bible. While not considered accurate by any means, these versions can be both easy and enjoyable to read. The language of paraphrased versions of the Bible such as The Message (MSG) reads more like a storybook than the Scripture. A paraphrased version of the Bible should never be your primary source of Biblical wisdom. However, it can provide additional insight into passages that are otherwise challenging to grasp.

What Makes a Bible Version Easy to Understand?

So, what exactly makes a version of the Bible easy to understand? There are a few factors that play into this. However, the Bible translation method that was used seems to make the greatest impact on the ease of use.

Bible Translation Methods

Many people wonder how our modern-day versions of the Bible come to be. This process is quite complex and requires years of dedication and education. Scholars who translate the Bible choose one of three primary Bible translation methods to follow. By using their chosen method, they systematically work through the original manuscripts to create a new version of the Bible. 

Let’s take a look at the three most common methods that are used for Bible translation. 

Word for Word Bible Translation Method

The word for word Bible translation method is often regarded as the most accurate. This method, also known as the formal equivalence method, provides the most literal translation for each word of the manuscript. 

Versions of the Bible that use this method are often regarded as the most accurate as there is little room for human error or faulty interpretation of the text. Although the word for word translations are not always the easiest to understand, they remain some of the most popular versions of the Bible.

Some of the most common versions of the Bible that use the word for word Bible translation method include the following:

  • NASB – New American Standard Bible
  • ESV – English Standard Version
  • NET – New English Translation
  • KJV – King James Version
  • NKJV – New King James Version

Thought for Thought Bible Translation Method

Second in accuracy to the word for word translation method is the thought for thought Bible translation method. This method is also known as the functional equivalence method and aims to make the text easier to read and understand. 

Oftentimes, versions of the Bible that were translated using the thought for thought Bible translation method are recommended for readers who are looking for a version that is easiest to understand. The New International Version (NIV), is the most popular version of the Bible that was translated using this method.

Some of the most common versions of the Bible that use the thought for thought Bible translation method include the following:

  • CSB – Christian Standard Bible
  • NIV – New International Version
  • NLT – New Living Translation

Paraphrase Bible Translation Method

Finally, the third Bible translation method is the paraphrase method. This method translates the Bible as a paraphrase of a passage. Oftentimes, this produces a text that reads more like a storybook rather than the Bible. It is important to note that versions of the Bible that were translated using the paraphrase method are not considered to be accurate.

However, they do provide an easy reading experience. These versions of the Bible can be an excellent tool for study, or for someone who is expressing initial interest in the benefits of being a Christian.

Some of the most common versions of the Bible that use the paraphrase Bible translation method include the following:

  • NIRV – New International Reader’s Version
  • MSG – The Message
  • GNT – Good News Translation

Use of Updated Language

Many versions of the Bible have been around for centuries. For example, the King James Version (KJV) was first published in 1611 using Old English. While this version of our language is certainly beautiful and stately, it is incredibly difficult to understand. 

Versions of the Bible that are considered the easiest to understand are translated using updated English language with which the reader is familiar. 

Things to Consider When Choosing a Version of the Bible

When you are choosing a version of the Bible from which to study, there are many things you must consider. Although finding a version that is easy to read is convenient, this should not be your only consideration.

Never Compromise Accuracy for Ease of Use

Above everything else, you must never compromise accuracy for ease of use. There are many versions of the Bible that one would qualify as “easy to read”. Many times, however, these translations stray far from the original text, acting more as a study tool than a Holy Bible. 

Fortunately, many of the versions of the Bible that are considered the easiest to read are also regarded as quite accurate.

Most Accurate Versions of the Bible

The versions of the Bible that are considered to be the most accurate include the following: 

  • NASB – New American Standard Bible
  • KJV – King James Version
  • ESV – English Standard Version
  • NET – New English Translation
  • NKJV – New King James Version

 

You can read more about the most accurate Bible translation here.

Compare Multiple Versions of the Bible for Clarity

Many people stress over selecting just one version of the Bible from which to study. While there is value in sticking to one Bible translation, it is not a requirement. In fact, it can be highly beneficial to compare multiple versions of the Bible for additional clarity! 

If you are struggling to understand a text, try reading that same passage in a few other translations. Oftentimes, by changing a few words or phrases, the passage comes to light in a new and surprising way! 

Reading through the Bible each year is a tremendous aspiration. If you decide to attempt this goal, many pastors suggest reading through a different version of the Bible each time. Doing so can open your eyes to new truths or passages that you may not otherwise notice.

Select a Study Bible for Additional Insight

One of the ways to gain insight into a passage is to use a study Bible. Study Bibles are written by pastors, theologians, and scholars. They include the original text as well as notes with explanations or insight. Many times, study Bibles even include devotionals that can guide your studies. 

If you choose to use a study Bible, it is important to select one that is written by a notable pastor or teacher. You must remember that only the Bible is the Word of God, anything else is simply man’s perspective on the topic. 

Ask Your Pastor Which Version of the Bible They Use

If you are struggling to follow or understand the version of the Bible that you use, you may benefit from using the same version as your pastor. As you are selecting a version of the Bible, ask your pastor which version they use to teach. Reading the same version your pastor teaches from can make the text easier to understand. 

Have Confidence in the Truth Found in Scripture

With any version of the Bible, we can have confidence in the truth found in Scripture. We know that the Bible is absolute truth. While certain passages may be difficult to understand, we know that they are true nonetheless. 

It is certainly important to find a version of the Bible that is easy to understand. However, we can continue to grow in our knowledge of God’s Word through prayer and the studying of Scripture.

Most Popular Versions of the Bible in 2021

Popularity is also something to consider as you are selecting a version of the Bible. Most pastors, teachers, and preachers use a popular version of the Bible. This can make it easier to both follow and understand.

The most popular versions of the Bible in 2021 include the following:

  • NIV – New International Version 
  • KJV – King James Version
  • NLT – New Living Translation
  • ESV – English Standard Version
  • NKJV – New King James Version
  • CSB – Christian Standard Bible
  • NIRV – New International Reader’s Version
  • MSG – The Message
  • NASB – New American Standard Bible

 

The versions of the Bible on this list are all considered to be accurate and theologically sound. However, we must remember that a Bible should not be considered credible simply because it is popular. It is important to conduct your own research to find a Bible that you feel is both accurate and easy to understand.

Why Are There So Many Versions of the Bible in English?

Do we really need so many versions of the Bible in the English language? Studies estimate that we have at least 50 mainstream versions of the Bible available today. However, if you consider the many revisions, that number is well over one hundred! So, why are there so many versions of the Bible? The answer is quite fascinating. 

Many Bible Translation Methods & Manuscripts

As we mentioned previously, there are several different methods and philosophies used for Bible translation. Additionally, there are hundreds of manuscripts that Bible translators use to translate a new version of the Bible. 

Some versions of the Bible were translated for accuracy, some because there was a need for a more accessible version. The reasons for translating a new version of the Bible are as numerous as the versions that exist in our language today.

New Versions Account for Changes in the English Language

We briefly mentioned the need to account for changes to the English language in new versions of the Bible. Our language is constantly changing and evolving. Having a Bible that reflects our current language is one of the most important factors in ease of use. 

The King James Version (KJV), while accurate, is often quite confusing as it was written in Old English. As the meanings of our words change over time, we must account for these changes in new versions of the Bible.

One example that is often shared is found by comparing 2 Timothy 2:15. In the English Standard Version (ESV), 2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

In the King James Version (KJV), however, 2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

When the King James Translation was first published, ‘study’ simply meant do your best – not learn something new like it does in our modern language. In this way, modern translations of the Bible allow us to more easily study and understand the truths found in God’s Word. 

Success of the KJV Despite Language Differences

While many people find the King James Version to be difficult to understand, this has not had a great impact on its popularity. As one of the oldest versions of the Bible still in print, the King James Version continues to stand the test of time. 

After its first publishing in 1611, the KJV remains one of the most popular versions of the Bible to date. Many people prefer the King James Version for the reverence it portrays and the accuracy of the translation.

Finding a Bible That is Right for You

Finding a Bible that is right for you is no small task. The version of the Bible that may serve you well in one season may not be best for another season. It is important to find a version of the Bible that is both accurate and easy to understand. This combination will provide you with the greatest insight and opportunity for growth.

However, it is important to realize that only God can truly unveil the complex mysteries found in Scripture. If you find yourself struggling to understand the Bible, pray that God would reveal the truth of His Word to you. 

With so many resources and tools available, it is easy to find additional education and insight into confusing passages. By finding the version of the Bible that is the easiest to understand for you, you will be able to enjoy your time in Scripture. 

Related Questions

Is it important to own a physical copy of the Bible? With so many tools available digitally, many people fail to see the need for owning a physical copy of the Bible. It is important to realize that the Word of God is precious. While reading the Bible on our cellphone may be convenient, it seems to decrease the value in a way. 

Additionally, time away from the screen of your phone can force you to reconnect with God in a new way. At the end of the day, every believer should have a physical copy of the Bible. Remember this is not a privilege that believers in every country can experience! Do not take the freedoms we have in America for granted. 

Thank you for reading! You can learn more about preserving equality, liberty, and justice for all here.

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