Here at King’s Church we recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible and it is the one most frequently used in our services. I say this for two main reasons; the first being that it can be very confusing if we have the different words in front of us in our Bibles as the sermon is being preached. This can be very alarming for new Christians who are not aware of the issues and see a text in front of them that is sometimes quite different from what the preacher is using.
Decades ago, the King James Version. History tells us that it was actually the Geneva Bible, with its Reformation based explanatory study notes, that was the very first Bible to come over to the shores of America on the Mayflower. However, the growing popularity of the KJV eventually made seeing the Geneva Bible a rare event in church services and homes.
The King James Version is certainly an excellent translation which has served the church for many generations. However, the meaning of words have changed a great deal in the centuries since the first printing of the KJV in 1611. Many preachers (me included) found that when using it, much time was required in a sermon to update and explain the archaic language used. A newer translation removes the need for this.
In addition to the archaic language of the KJV, what we know of the original text and languages has improved significantly in the last 400 years or so. The Church in our day has needed a Bible translation which reflects this great advancement in scholarship.
In some church services, there can be as many as 10 to 15 different versions in use. Of course, people can use any translation they like. They are definitely free to do so! Yet I think it is very helpful for pastors and elders to recommend one main translation to eliminate any potential confusion for a congregation.
With this as a foundation, the next question we need to ask is “which is the best Bible to use?”
This leads me to talk about the second reason for choosing the ESV. It stems from the desire to have an essentially literal translation (a “word for word” translation) in use rather than a dynamic equivalent, or “thought for thought” one. The primary advantage in choosing a “word for word” translation is that it gives us confidence that what we read in our Bibles are the equivalent English words for what the authors actually wrote. There is no need to wonder at every point where translation ends and subjective, personal commentary begins or if important material might have been been omitted from the original.
Certainly, there are other excellent translations out there. For years I have used the New American Standard Bible (NASB) which is a tremendously accurate translation. However, a choice needed to be made. The ESV is known for both its very accurate translation and for its language flow. It is very easy to read and to memorize. It is great for both adults and children. Because of this, it is the ESV that has become our Bible of choice here at King’s Church.
While we are still on the subject of Bibles, I am often asked to recommend a good Study Bible. I always point people to either the Reformation Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible, both of which use this same English Standard Version (ESV) text. These are the two exceptional Study Bibles out there. I love using both of them and am confident that in directing people to these notes, they will not be led too far astray. I certainly cannot say that about all Study Bibles out there but these two are remarkable gifts to the Body of Christ at large. Always keep in mind though that the study notes in a Bible, while they can be very helpful and informative, are never inspired. Only Scripture is. The Bible alone is the word of God.
SOME QUOTES ON THE ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION:
“With the myriad of new Bible translations on the market today, few stand out. The ESV is one of the few, and surpasses the others in its simple yet elegant style. In many respects the ESV has accomplished in the 21st century what the KJV accomplished in the 17th: a trustworthy, literary Bible that is suitable for daily reading, memorizing, and preaching.” — Daniel B. Wallace
“We are building all our future ministry around the ESV….The ESV satisfies the preaching, memorizing, studying, and reading needs of our church, from children to adults.” — John Piper, Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary; Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org
“The ESV represents a new level of excellence in Bible translations—combining unquestionable accuracy in translation with a beautiful style of expression. It is faithful to the text, easy to understand, and a pleasure to read. This is a translation you can trust.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“I’m so grateful for a translation that I can trust for its accuracy and enjoy for its clarity. This is the Bible for our entire family.” — Carolyn Mahaney
“I’ve been using the ESV for my personal study since it was released. Then I began to preach from it. Then our congregation switched over to it. I hope others will do the same. The ESV is the simply the best translation for combining accuracy, readability, and fidelity to the rich history of English Bible translation. I thank God for the ESV and pray that it will be the new standard in English Bibles for years to come.” — Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI
“I appreciate deeply the evident commitment to the absolute truth of Scripture, and the willingness of these scholars to yield to the Spirit rather than bend to the wind of cultural trends.” — Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, IL
“The ESV embodies both word–for–word exactness and easy readability. It has quickly become my primary Bible for both personal use and public teaching.” — Jerry Bridges, Former Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Navigators
“We use the English Standard Version as our church Bible because we are passionate about God’s Word—every last word of it—and because we want our children to have the best available translation for reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and serious Bible study.” — Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College
“The great strength of the ESV is first and foremost that it allows readers to trust the words to be the Word of God. I delight to find a clear, beautiful translation that allows me to get as close as possible to the actual words God inspired.” — Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition; author, Living Word Bible Studies
“I recommend the ESV as the best literal translation for Bible study in my hermeneutics class and in Bible study seminars. Congratulations on a job well done.” — Grant R. Osborne
“The ESV shows exactly what the original says—and with elegance of style! I welcome its publication with enthusiasm.” — Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, TN
“Retaining the majesty of language with the clarity of thought, the English Standard Version is a grand accomplishment.” — Ravi Zacharias
“I highly recommend the English Standard Version to you.” — Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
“The translation is outstanding. The ESV achieves a new standard in accurate Bible translations for our day.” — R. C. Sproul, Jr.
“I believe the ESV is the Bible of the future. It is readable, accurate, and reverent.” — Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Elegant in every way, the ESV is certain to take its place as one of the finest translations in the grand tradition of the English Bible. Scholars will appreciate the care and nuance of the translation, pastors will appreciate the cadence and rhythm of the text, and all who read it will appreciate the craftsmanship of this richly textured version. It has become my version of choice.” — Stephen J. Nichols, President, Reformation Bible College; Chief Academic Officer, Ligonier Ministries
“After twenty years of teaching God’s Word and changing translations I have found at last, by God’s grace, a translation that is easy to read and immensely accurate. The ESV is the new first choice for serious students and careful communicators of God’s unchanging Word.” — James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois
“The ESV beautifully blends good, contemporary English with reverence and accuracy.” — Erwin W. Lutzer
“Meticulous care and passionate research make the ESV a crisp, accurate, and valuable translation.” — Max Lucado
“Having now read through the ESV several times in my personal devotional life, I have adopted it as the primary text for my teaching and writing ministry. I appreciate…the ESV [because it] retains theological terminology that is at the heart of the Christian faith and exercises care and precision in the translation of nuances and gender language, so as to preserve a text that is as faithful as possible to the original. By the same token, the translators have maintained clarity and literary excellence, making this an accessible translation for modern readers. My hope is that the ESV will draw millions of people into the reading and study of God’s Word and into a more intimate relationship with the God of the Word.” — Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Radio Host, Revive our Hearts and Seeking Him
“I am so impressed with the clarity, beauty, and power of the ESV that I feel that I am reading the Bible again for the first time. From now on the ESV will be my Bible of choice. I simply don’t have the words to say how thankful I am for the ESV, its faithfulness to the original, and its beauty.” — Stephen W. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando; radio broadcaster, Key Life
“The ESV promises to be true to its name: the English Standard Version for the coming generation. It is a careful rendering that captures and communicates the sense of the original biblical text and does so in flowing modern English….Well done!” — S. M. Baugh
“I thank God for the ESV. It combines up–to–date accuracy in the text and absolute faithfulness to the words of Scripture with a literary skill and beauty in the translation which, in my judgment, is unsurpassed.” — Eric Alexander, Retired Senior Minister, St. George’s-Tron Parish Church, Glasgow, Scotland