which bible should one use?
The King James Version (KJV or AV) and New International Version (NIV) are the most popular translated English Bibles, but are they the most profitable for your spiritual understanding and growth?
Which Bible Should you Chose?
You have many choices when it comes to deciding which bible to use. But not all translations are consistent in their rendering the original Hebrew or Greek. Does it matter?
The Bible is the most translated book in the world. As of September 2016 the complete Bible was available in 636 languages (438 in 2007) according to Wikipedia. The New Testament alone into 1442 languages. At least 4.9 billion people (70% of the world’s population) have access to a full Bible translation in their native language. Incredible, yes. That is great.
One of the major challenges facing a person who is searching the scriptures for understanding is knowing which Bible to study. There are so many translations. Which one is best or the most accurate? Of the English translations some will chose the New International Version(NIV), others the King James (also called the Authorized Version) or New King James and others the New Living Translation.
Other popular versions of the English Christian Bible include:
American Standard Version (ASV)
English Standard Version (ESV)
Good News Translation (GNT)
Holman Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Douay-Rhiems Catholic Bible (RHE)
New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
New American Standard Bible (NAS)
New Living Translation (NLT)
Revised Standard Version RSV
Concordant Literal Version (CLV)
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible (REB)
Deciding which Bible to study
Clearly there are many versions. Some are truer to the original text than others. Some are translated to make it easier for the modern reader to understand, but often contain inaccuracies. Each translation has the power to transform your life. However, although there is great value in reading and studying any of these versions, some can lead to a misunderstanding of the original intent and meaning of verses and words
Some words and parts of the bible seem confusing, inconsistent or contradictory. Not easily understood, it seems. There many varied explanations and interpretations by Bible scholars, Church leaders and teachers. Most offer a conformist point of view based on tradition. This article looks at the development of various translations and why there is so much variation from one to another. It is to bad that there isn’t one excellent English translation that does justice to the original text.
The bibles are not often consistent and often times even contradict the original inspired words.
So how do we decide on which translation to use?
If you desire to get to the real meaning and intent of scripture, you need to read a translation that most closely replicates the original language of the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek text. However some will say that a translation should transfer the message, that is, the exact thought and emotion of the original text. To do this, it should use as many words as are necessary to reproduce the idea precisely in English. This is a noble goal but often results in the translators own preconceived ideas and biases as to what the exact thought of the original inspired writers was. They are often off the mark. An example of this conundrum is:
King James Version (AV) – poor translation for today
Job 36:33 The noise thereof showeth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapor.
New International Version – a better translation
Job 36:33 His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach.
Concodant Literal Version – very accurate translation.
Job 36:33 His thunder tells about it, The cattle, also, about what is coming up.
Of course, since the KJV dates from 1611, it contains some archaic language, but the message of the KJV in this verse is also very difficult to decipher. In the NIV in this case the meaning comes through with more clarity.
It is a common mistake among Christians to suppose that the Bible is written in very plain and simple language, and that the correct meaning is that which lies upon the surface – the most obvious and apparent sense. But the fact is that a person much search beneath the surface to really understand what the scriptures reveal. The Bible often means something very different from what it says. There is a hidden, spiritual sense that is like “the pearl of great price.” It may sound strange and erroneous to hear someone say that the Bible does not mean what it says when you read the literal words. Is that statement unwarranted? As we continue you will see it is not unwarranted. By not understanding this, many honest seekers after truth who read the Bible stumble because of almost innumerable differences of opinion on Bible doctrine. Men equally religious, devoted and learned, are in opposition to each other in regard to Scriptural doctrine, each one pointing in a different direction and are brought into endless perplexity and confusion. The fact is, most of these leaders are wrong.
There is, undoubtedly, among Christians, too great a disposition to acquiesce, without examination, in the religion of their forefathers. There is too great an aversion to the kind of research, which requires time and labour; so that many who are fully competent to examine the foundation on which their religion rests, never take the pains to enter on the investigation. It is to be regretted, that many who are much occupied with speculations on abstruse points of theology such as prophecy. They waste energy on subjects which can yield them little profit and neglect many points of fundamental importance.
By handling the Bible as it is usually handled by the various leaders and teachers, it may be made to prove or disprove, almost any section that man may, possibly imagine or conceive. The great mistake in all this is that men are disputing about the letter. The key to the unraveling of all this tangle, the one foundational word to bring order out of all this confusion, is the SPIRIT of the Word,-“the spirit that giveth life.” But the spirit of the Word is hid away under the letter, purposely hid, so that some shall not understand, hence the ignorance of the great majority.
This does not mean automatically that the spiritual meaning of Scripture is always something entirely different from the letter. Often yes, it is so, but not always by any means. The Spirit of the Word is its real, true, full meaning, whatever that may be; sometimes that true meaning is properly expressed by the letter, but in order to get the full meaning you must take other scriptures in connection with it and you must occasionally refer to Old Testament types or allegories, or prophecies also.
All the scriptures are harmonious with one consistent, grand plan. We need to study these truths not only to learn what they signify in themselves, but what are their connections with other truths and how they all fit together. In this way, we get somewhere near the full truth. This is not to say that under every word, phrase and sentence of Scripture there is hidden away some spiritual meaning entirely different from the letter. But a person needs to search out these things. We just need to be aware how wonderfully the letter sometimes hides (as well as reveals) the true meaning
Do you believe the words of Jesus Christ?
Hear what Jesus Christ says about the words which He speaks.
Jesus spake unto the multitudes in parables, always with a parable. Why?
Mat 13:34 (KJV) All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.
Why? To make it easy for the masses to understand? Orthodox authorities positively declare He spoke to make the subject plain, and easy, to understand. Not true. The exact opposite. Scriptures below are from the King James Version.
Mat 13:10 (KJV) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mat 13:11 (KJV) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mat 13:12 (KJV) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Mat 13:13 (KJV) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Mark 4:11 (KJV) And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
Mark 4:12 (KJV) That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Mark 4:33 (KJV) And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.
Mark 4:34 (KJV) But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
And so when He and His disciples were alone he explained all things to his disciples. Does it not seem strange that Jesus should give these explanations when alone with his disciples, and not in public so that all might have the benefit of them? He spoke to them in parables that they might not understand, and then gave the explanation in private. Does it not look as though Jesus did not want the masses to understand?
The simple explanation of all this is that to the disciples it was “given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but unto them that were without it was not given.” Christ worked according to the great plan-first the promised “Seed” must be perfected, Christ and they that are Christ’s, (Gal. 3:16-29;1 Cor. 15:22,23), then, through that Seed, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” “in the ages to come,”-but “every man in his own order.”
Examine Christ’s conversation with the Jews as recorded in John 6. as a further illustration of the same truth. In that conversation Jesus seems to bewilder and confuse his hearers by the strange statement He makes.
John 6:48 (KJV) I am that bread of life.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. Now we should expect that Jesus would explain to them what he meant, but no, He gives them a still greater quandary by telling them
John 6:50-51 (KJV) This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Is it any wonder that they did not understand Him? Was not His language calculated to completely baffle the wisest among them? Did not his statements seem like dark enigmas and riddles? But does He now explain? No, He still further staggers them by making the bold assertion, without a particle of explanation.
John 6:53, 56-57 (KJV) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
It would seem that this statement was too much even for the disciples, and they began to murmur and concluded that this is an hard saying.
John 6:60 -63 (KJV) Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
All of this should lead us to conclude that we need to look beyond the letter of the word and come to see the spiritual meaning. The words Jesus spoke are SPIRIT. His words of the spirit are understood by those He has specifically both called and chosen.
Christ preached in such a way that only a few were able to fully understand. His method exclude the multitude, and select out a few individuals suited to His purpose. Thus it appears that selection or election was certainly a part of the plan upon which He acted, and hence He says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,”- “to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them that are without it is not given,”- “No man can come except the Father draw him. This indicates that not just anyone who reads the Bible really gets the full spiritual meaning. Nevertheless reading it is a superb way to live a moral and satisfying life.
So a basic question remains. Why is the truth thus hidden under type and shadow and figure in God’s revelation? It is because God has a plan, because there is order, system, and a “due season” to that plan. The plan that God created consists of periods of time called ages (eons). In that plan there are stages, in one stage there are “first fruits” “first born” and later born, a “first resurrection” and eventually a second “resurrection”. There is a “special salvation” (1 Tim. 4:10) and a “common salvation” (Jude 3), and every person is to be dealt with “in his own order”. For each individual God knows the best time to open spiritual understanding and call that one to salvation and ultimately into His Kingdom.
What to Do
Those of us who love God’s Word, have choices on which bible version to buy and study. Many who have a bible will say that theirs is the best. Maybe because it is easy to read, maybe it is the version their parents used, maybe it is the one their church endorses, or maybe it is the KJV (AV) which many people believe was inspired by God. After all, the KJV has been around for over 500 years. But the truth is we have to study versions that are as close as possible to the original inspired scripture. There are a few.
A concordance is often used to derive a deeper meaning of words or phrases. The concordant method of studying the scriptures uses a concordance to discover the meaning of a word, not in any version, but in the original. Look up the occurrences of the word in the Hebrew, Chaldee, or Greek, and determine how it may be translated into English.
So, which bible to use? The solution is to have one or more that is as close a translation to the original text as possible. This includes Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Young’s Literal translation, the Concordant Literal Version or the Emphatic Diaglott (NT only). They are most certainly not the most popular, but they are the most true to God’s inspired word.
The web sites below are valuable resources for those seeking further study of His Word:
http://www.e-sword.net is downloadable and has the KJV, with the Hebrew or Greek, and many additional articles.
http://www.scripture4all.org/ in the original text.
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