Maybe you have a shelf full of Bibles, all well-read and worn and it’s time for a new one. Maybe you’d like to give a Bible to a friend or relative. Maybe for the first time you’re interested in knowing more about what this book says about Jesus and Good News.
Whatever the reason, you need a Bible.
But what Bible should you get?
The Bible is the best-ever book. And so, it should matter which one you use, especially for personal study. Here are some common Bible-related questions and thoughts on each.
Which translation of the Bible is best?
There’s not a definitive answer to this question, but here are some basic guidelines to consider.
Choose a translation that’s readable. In other words, you’re not obligated to read “thees” and “thous” (of the King James Version, for instance) if that 400-year-old style doesn’t suit you. The Bible is meant to be read – to be devoured! So pick a translation that you enjoy reading.
That being said, for personal Bible study, avoid only using Bibles that have been too modernized. These versions (like The Message and the New Living Translation) are beautifully written, but they don’t usually put a unique emphasis on translating the meaning of each and every word of God’s Word. A “word-for-word” translation – versions like the English Standard Version or Christian Standard Bible – best allows you to read the most literal version of Scripture and interpret it for yourself.
Also, when selecting a Bible translation to use, it might be helpful to consider the translations used in your church. You surely aren’t required to use the same translation, but it can be helpful to follow along in the same version. At SGBC, sermons are preached in the ESV (most of the time), and most Sunday School curriculum uses either the ESV or the CSB.
Should I only use one translation?
For personal Bible study and Scripture memorization, it’s best to choose a translation that you can faithfully rely on and return to again and again.
But of course, there’s beauty (and value!) in reading a particular passage in a variety of translations for comparison. Sometimes, one particular version will highlight the text in a way you hadn’t considered. Most Bible translations are available for free online (at sites like www.biblegateway.com, for example).
Should I use a study Bible?
A good study Bible is a worthwhile investment. Study Bibles have maps and author biographies and historical context and commentary – a myriad of tools that can lead us to a fuller understanding of God’s Word. (The ESV Study Bible is our favorite!)
But for personal study, consider first reading your Bible passage without the aid of study materials (particularly, the commentary notes). Consult those resources after first having read and prayed through and mediated on the Word yourself.
Will I benefit from a journaling Bible?
Journaling Bibles are trending. These are Bibles with extra space on the sides for note taking, writing prayers, and so forth. If a journaling Bible will encourage you to interact more with the Word of God, then get one!
But again, a caution: Make sure the most time you spend in your Bible is not in the margin, but rather in the God-breathed Words.
What Bible should I get my kids?
Lots of great children’s Bibles have been published, and they can help engage your kid with the stories of Scripture! (We’re big fans of The Jesus Storybook Bible, for one.)
But give your kids a copy of the actual Bible, too! Kid summaries of the Bible, no matter how great, can’t compare to Scripture itself.
Have other Bible-related questions? We’re always excited to talk about God’s Word! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.