Favorite Verses In Various Translations

I don’t have any favorites verses, but I have some favorite verses and passages in various translations that I don’t normally read. So I thought this might be a little more interesting of a blog post. I also have a couple of favorite changes the NIV made. That was my main translation for a couple of decades until I switched, but I still use it for comparison, and have had the two that are changed memorized. I thought I’d post them.

Any italic has been added to show what I like about it.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
John 14:23 KJV

I’ve never read the KJV–only have seen it quoted and heard it (you can close your mouth now). For some reason I like the word abode in addition to the whole idea of being in Christ. See the article Union with Christ by Michael Horton.

The dread of you makes my flesh creep;
I stand in awe of your decrees.
Psalm 119:120 REB

I like the vocabulary of the British-born REB, which is also very wide among the modern translations, in addition to being a fine literary translation. I almost switched to it at one time, but my reading comprehension wasn’t quite good enough, along with a few other reasons.

The TNIV was a revision of the NIV (1977), done in 1999. Then it was revised again in 2010, this time dropping the T and going back to NIV. I left it as TNIV to show the revision done at that time. These wordings are retained in the new NIV.

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.
Philemon 1:6 TNIV

This used to be rendered, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith,” which over time apparently came to mean “explaining the gospel”, which isn’t what Paul is saying. Over time, the word ‘share’ among Christians for some reason has come to mean any time anybody says anything, and it got pretty out of had in the 90’s and 2000’s, enough so that some translations modified the traditional rendering.

I can do all this everything through Christ who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 TNIV

One of the most popular verses among the successful, optimistic, or aspiring, mainly because they forgot to notice Philippians 4:11-12.*

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a man, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 NRSV

I never understood what ‘grasped’ meant, and by just changing the word to exploited, I suddenly could grasp what it meant. This is of course just as much my fault for not looking into it.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Colossians 1:11-12 NRSV

I read the NRSV for three years after switching from the NIV. I especially like how this is worded. I recite it often.

For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.
Romans 3:25 NLT1 (original 1996 version)

I love the freer (short) explanation of propitiation here. In the 2005 update, they changed it to the bland, “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.”

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13 NLT

I really like the wording here. This isn’t to say that I can judge the accuracy or faithfulness to the original language.

If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
Psalm 119:92 The Message

For some reason I was looking into this verse in the commentaries, and The Message was the only translation I could find that conveyed what they were saying the verse meant. Maybe the other translators didn’t really pay attention and just used the traditional rendering. Some people hate that translation, which is understandable, but sometimes he really got it right. I feel sad when people call it an abomination or even satanic. Eugene Peterson loves God’s Word and is a pastor who loves his congregation enough to write an understandable translation of the whole Bible for them. (You have to wonder what he thought the intelligence level of his congregation was though.) He didn’t intend for it to be sold, and didn’t intend for people to laugh at it, although he probably should have had somebody check on some of those wordings. Some people just don’t know what’s cheesy and what’s not.

*HCSB Study Bible note:
4:13 All things refers to the economic fluctuations of life (v. 12). Through Him who strengthens me teaches that Christ empowers believers to live in God’s will. Paradoxically, Paul was strong when he was weak[2 Corinthians 12:10]; independent only when dependent. Such is the life of a disciple.”

5 Responses to “Favorite Verses In Various Translations”


  1. 1 Eric

    Jeff, as always, I enjoy your take on Bible translations (because they’re so similar to mine) and I think we both really have a love of Scripture and all the details of how it’s expressed and the different ways it can be translated. I’ve never really read the KJV either but “caught” many verses that I heard orally and have memorized them. I’m not a huge fan of The Message usually, but some of the renderings are truly inspired. The bottom line is there is NO perfect translation. Thanks for letting me “share” this (wink). Eric

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    I’m glad you like it.

    I wish there was either a perfect, or nearly perfect translation, or that I wasn’t so particular. I’d love to just read the ESV reader’s Bible but I really don’t like reading that translation. I really like reading God’s Word translation though.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Jeff

  3. 3 Eric

    I want to like the ESV and I really should – I grew up on the RSV and it’s a conservative update of it – but I honestly am disappointed over and over with it and feel the NASB (or even the NKJV) does a much better job as that type of Bible (formal, literal). Even though I have issues with some of the (perceived) liberal and gender neutral tendencies of the NRSV, it’s still my go-to Bible. For me, its advantages outweigh its disadvantages and since there is no perfect version, I think that’s the best I can hope for – till I get to see the real Word in person!

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    I think the NRSV was more carefully translated than the ESV. I read from others who also feel like some parts of the ESV were ‘rushed’, however that’s perceived, where the NRSV wasn’t. I don’t care about the gender thing one way or another. If I really want something more on the more literal (formal equivalent) end I would also go to the NASB.

    I read the HCSB for about a year and then realized how close it is to the NIV, which people told me about, but I didn’t believe them. Do you like that one? That would be my 2nd or 3rd favorite though.
    Jeff

  5. 5 Eric

    I thought the same thing about the HCSB and NIV. I’m impressed with the new NIV (2011) – and the former TNIV – in that they seem to be daring with trying to express what the original really said and not just what we’re used to hearing. Ex: Philippians 4:13 – I can do “all this” verses “all things.” I think that’s why I like the NRSV (i.e., Ps. 23). When they take those pains to break with tradition and give a new rendering, it makes me feel like I can really trust it. I too felt like the ESV was rushed and I think they missed some things.

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