The other day I posted a video on my Instagram feed about the best Bible. It’s included in this blog post for your viewing pleasure. Now it was posted as an IG Reel, so it was only 15 seconds. And 15 seconds isn’t enough to explain much. Apparently because I happen to throw a hashtag on there for the KJV Bible, I got a few King James only fans getting upset with me.
Like I said though, it was only 15 seconds long. You can’t have a 15 second theology. Or a 30 second one. Or three minute one. Or a 144 character theology. The things of God are much deeper than 144 characters and 15 seconds.
The theme of the video was that the best Bible is the one that you can understand and receive from. “It doesn’t help if you’re reading King James and you don’t understand a word of it.” A lot of people took that as meaning read any kind of Bible translation you want, they’re all the same. Some even thought it meant that I thought the King James Translation was a terrible translation and should never be read. Well, neither of those are true.
If you want to be accurate, the New American Standard Version is the most accurate English translation that we have. Yet, it’s not the most popular. That’s kind of odd, don’t you think? Wouldn’t most people who desire truth want to read the most accurate English translation there is? I would think so. Apparently the vast majority of Christians don’t, especially the KJV only group.
Now, I wasn’t saying one translation is better than another translation. I was saying that you don’t give a second grader a King James Bible and expect them to know what’s being said. If you can’t understand God’s Word, what’s the point of it? A person should be reading a Bible translation that they understand. That doesn’t mean that the 450+ Bible translations out there should all be given equal weight when it comes to accuracy and truth, although many of them probably are pretty accurate. I don’t know for sure. I haven’t looked at them all.
Many of these people that commented probably have no experience working with kids when it comes to learning God’s Word. They’ve probably never seen a kid struggle to understand things like redemption, incarnation, repentance or tribulation – big ideas and big words. They’ve probably haven’t had a kid try to understand the concepts that adults take for granted. Yet, they probably don’t have an issue with giving a 1 year old “Baby’s First Bible.” Pretty sure that’s not an accurate translation.
Since I’ve watched the comments come in and had time to think about it, I’ve had some thoughts about what the best Bible translation is and some thoughts on what the people in the comment thread had to say. Things that I think people, no matter their viewpoint, would find interesting.
In the comments section, there were so many people getting upset because this version left out this verse or that one translated this word differently. I think my favorite was something along the lines of “you need a Bible that is timeless, not changes with the times” I have to wonder if that’s a line they pick up in indoctrination school. The fact is, unless you go back and look at how a translation was made, you don’t know the whole story.
The Amplified Bible, according to one Greek scholar, is a terrible translation because it just throws out translated words for different words without taking in account the context of the sentence or thought. The Passion translation is not an actual translation at all, but a paraphrase – even thought it says it’s a translation, among other issues. Even the King James Version has issues with the Greek text it was used to translate from, it uses words that are no longer in our vocabulary, among other issues. Does that mean any of these (or the many others that have issues) should be tossed out? No! If you think so, then all of them should be. And then that leaves you having to go back to learning ancient Hebrew and Greek and reading those manuscripts. And I’m pretty sure the majority of those with negative comments wouldn’t prefer that.
The truth is, you shouldn’t be just reading one translation. You should be reading multiple translations. In fact, you should be studying multiple translations. Most people only read the Bible. And most people only read the Bible in one translation. God does not say to just read the Bible. He says to study to show yourself approved (2 Tim. 2:15). He told Joshua to meditate on the Word day and night (Josh. 1:8). We’re not told to just read God’s Word. It’s more than just reading it; it’s studying. It’s coming to an intimate knowledge of what God is saying. It’s God’s Word abiding in us and we abiding in His Word. It’s taking in references, study Bibles, commentaries from scholars, Bible dictionaries, etc to be a student of the Word. I’ve known several people that have read the Bible and they’re just as lost as a goose in a snowstorm. If you’re going to grow up in God, you’re going to have to study God‘s Word, not just read it.
Acts 17:11 says, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” That’s the New King James Version in case you were wondering.
Another issue that there is, which honestly is why there was so many negative comments on my thread – is that we now live in an instant culture. Social media has limited to ideal video length to 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute and 3 minutes. 144 characters has become the cage for thought. And in doing this, along with the invention of the scrolling news feed, the attention span of the human race has become severely limited. Most people won’t watch a longer video that contains truth, so we have to compress it, to fit into the confines of the platform we’re on. That short attention span on social media platforms is not limited to there. It’s not limited to a phone or device. It has taken over the entire life of the human being. So now it’s harder to focus our attention on anything for more than a few minutes. It’s harder to study the Word, to hear the Word. We want quick small bites of the Word. We prefer tweets to sermons. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s just that our brain has been trained to get bored.
So most people won’t take the extra steps to investigate how a Bible was translated. They won’t study, just read. And so looking at more than one translation, even though you have them at your fingertips, seems like too much work.
And the last thing that I noticed, that I’ll mention at least, is that even though all these people commented about how terrible it was to say you should read a Bible you can understand, most are missing the most important part. They can debate and throw out their opinions on the Word of God, but how many are actually living it? How many are actually doers of the Word? Does it matter if this version has left out one verse if you’re not even doing the other two things Jesus told us to do that are in the Word and not left out?
Don’t get me wrong, it shouldn’t be left out, but the more important thing is doing what the Word says (and that we know that it says), than debating over which one is better. We have enough Bible translations and commentaries and reference sources that we can find out what the will of God is. But does it matter if we know the truth if we’re not doing anything with it?
I know many aren’t doing anything with it because Christians are told to pray for our leaders so we can live a quiet and peaceable life – so all men might be saved. Yet here we are, not living a quiet and peaceable life, being limited on what we can do and say. Apparently we’re not doing what the Word says. We’re told to be led by the Spirit of God, yet most are led by the spirit of man – by their own thoughts and opinions. It shows in our lives and churches.
Is there a best Bible translation? I’m sure there is. But instead of arguing about which one it is – shouldn’t we be doing what it says and helping others to understand it? Yes we should. Stay with the Word and the Spirit.