“What Version of the Bible do you Read?”

(And why I hate the question)

Recently, a friend of mine asked me which version of the Bible I read. It’s a simple enough question and my friend had no ill intentions or hidden agenda when she asked it, but I have heard this question many times before and quite frequently the conversation that follows puts one or both parties on the defensive. There have been many impassioned discussions that have taken place and I have seen believers who should be building each other up, quickly begin tearing each other down over the subject.

The choosing of one version over another is a dividing line. It creates an “us” and “them”.

If you read the English language, you are blessed with many different versions of the Bible to choose from. A quick count of just the English translations available on Biblegateway.com reveals over twenty-five of them. This is a tremendous blessing that many of us take for granted. Often in my studies I will read the same verse in six or seven different versions.  When I do this, I usually come away with a greater, more well-rounded understanding of the verse than if I had read it in my favorite version only.

But there are pitfalls to having so many versions available. It is my belief that the enemy of our souls has found a way to pervert a blessing into a way to weaken the body. Satan’s plan is to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). He has learned that if he can cause division in the body of Christ, he can keep us from operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. Beyond that, if he can get us to believe that our version is better than someone else’s version; he can encourage us to lift ourselves up over our brothers and sisters. Further, Satan can instill doubt in the Word of God. After all, if my version is better than your version, that means there is some inherent flaw in your translation. By reason, I should come to doubt that your version is even inspired of God. Then, I am faced with asking myself how I know for sure that my chosen version does not also contain some hidden flaw. Can we really trust the Bible at all?

Do not be deceived, the devil is trying to steal the Word from us, he is attempting to kill our faith, he is working to destroy the body!

That is not to say that there aren’t differences in translations; real differences that should be carefully considered when choosing a version to read from. We are talking about the Word of God so it should not be taken lightly. However, these considerations should not come at the expense of the unity of the body. Remember, the Word of God is a living Word; if you approach it prayerfully, God can speak to you through it regardless of minor translation differences.

Yes, there are books out there that are called “scripture” from cults and sects that are far from inspired. They may call themselves Christian, but in fact believe a number of unbiblical things. Let me be perfectly clear that I am not referring to any of these. There have also been Bibles printed that contained outright errors and fallacies. I am not referring to those either, but the Bible, no matter what translation you read teaches that Jesus is God incarnate. He alone was born for the purpose of becoming the ultimate sacrifice. He died to save us from our sins. He rose again on the third day and through Him we have the hope of eternal life. Christians everywhere are agreed on this no matter what translation they read. If they don’t believe this, they are not really Christian, regardless of what they call themselves.

Personally, I have versions of the bible that I prefer and versions that are not my favorite. I believe that I have solid, well researched reasons for these preferences. But those who are partial to the versions I don’t prefer also have reasons for their choices. But here’s the point: if you were to give me my least favorite translation of the Bible, I could still teach someone who Jesus is and why He came. I could still show someone the plan of salvation. I could still experience the spirit of God speaking to me through those words. His Words.

The reason we have so many arguments about what version to read is simply because we have so many versions to choose from. Consider the fact that most languages have only one translation of the Bible, two if they are very fortunate; and many languages only have a small portion of the Bible translated at all. Should we doubt that God can save those people since they are not reading your preferred version?

Satan will use whatever tool he can to divide us. Do not let the sacred Word of God be twisted this way. The Word is our offensive weapon, to be used to defeat Satan. Rather than squabble over it, let us be united in it! The Word of God is able to transcend time, language, and culture. We can have intelligent, sensitive, God honoring discussions about word choices and translations without displaying poor attitudes and judgment toward one another. God gave us His Word to teach, guide and edify us. Let’s put aside petty disagreements and use it to build each other up.

-Rebekah L

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6 thoughts on ““What Version of the Bible do you Read?”

    • Andrew, I think an interesting part is that even Rebekah A and myself (Rebekah M.) have recently had a talk about this and how it can be a trap to be distracted by arguing over things like this instead of getting out there and doing what we were meant to- telling the world that there is a God who loved them enough to die for them and He is alive and can and will help them through this life if they’d just let Him. Too often we let distractions of this world (even those that don’t seem like they are) get in the way of what He truly wants for us.

  1. hi , this is a very good point of discussion but i must say your approach “wise”
    as people have thier prefered version.
    this topic is a matter of maturity because translation really matters!
    when we look at the greek language the meanings of words take on different forms in contrast to the English language, so for me its a matter of meat or milk, what would one prefer?
    there are things i like to go in to but like yourself i’ll use widom.
    great post and God bless!

    pj grace

    • Hi PJ,
      Yes, I completely agree with you that translation matters and that which version of the Bible you read should be carefully considered. I just don’t think that we should defend our version at the expense of the body, which unfortunately happens more often than it should. Thanks for your comment!
      -Rebekah L

  2. Early during my freshman year of college, I went to various churches to find the one the Lord wanted me to join. I walked into a smallish church on Sunday morning with an ESV under my arm ready to engage with God’s people. In the welcome area there was a wall of pamphlets that said things like, “All versions but the KJV is written by Satan” or “The Evils of New Translations.” Needless to say, I didn’t feel welcomed. Eventually, that family didn’t end up being the one I was drawn to. Unity in the body of Christ is vital for the Kingdom to come fully. You are absolutely right, Rebecca L. Picking an accurate translation of scripture is important and helpful but to choose one as superior is like saying, “I follow Paul and you follow Apollos.” There is only One Church with One Mission under One Gospel. You nailed it when you said that we could use the weakest translation to guide someone to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the Truths of Scripture. We don’t have time to bicker about anything when so many people are dying without Christ.

    • amen! I’m glad you found a church home in time and I personally believe that God allows events in our lives like the one you had to open our eyes. It has been in the moments of fellowship with those not in my denomination that have opened my eyes to what the true body of Christ is! It is NOT a specific denomination- but created of those who truly love Him and live according to His Word to go out and be a light and shine in this dark world 🙂

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