Pastors' Forum


Which Translation(s)?

I wonder which translation pastors preach from the most? Study? If you use one predominant version in preaching, which other translations do you most often refer to in order to provide other shades of meaning? What is it that you like about the translation(s) you use the most, and why do you consider it to be the most effective for you?


Pastor Rick Renner – Moscow, Russia
I was raised on the KJV and I still deeply love it. When I travel and preach, I still preach from the KJV and find that the vast majority of people in the pews still carry KJV Bibles—that is, if they bring Bibles to church, which seems to be getting rarer and rarer all the time. That is the subject of another important conversation that needs to be addressed.

I also love the KJV because it’s so easy to memorize. However, in my personal devotional life, I must admit that I do not use the KJV so often. Strange, but I use KJV for serious study, but for personal, devotional time, I use the New Living Translation—a translation that I have found to be very close to the original New Testament Greek. I do not read Hebrew, so I cannot authoritatively speak about the NLT’s Old Testament translation, but I can speak about the New Testament translation and vouch that the NLT’s translation of the New Testament is simply outstanding. In my studies, I find that it properly translates Greek texts that other translations and paraphrases miss completely. In fact, I am so “taken” with the NLT that I recently sent hundreds of them as gifts to a group of our partners in the United States with a note to tell them how much this translation has personally meant to me. In addition, I occasionally use the Amplified, and I rarely ever use a paraphrase because I find most of them are so inaccurate in keeping to the original ideas conveyed in the Greek text. As I preach in Russia, I use the KJV for public ministry because it is the closest to the translation used by Russian-reading believers.

Pastor Bob Yandian – Tulsa, OK

After being raised on the KJV, I had a hard time turning away from it. I would quote other translations to clarify what I was teaching, but used the King James as my foundation. I even went so far as to change the Old English of the translation into more modern terms because I did not particularly like the NKJV. Then the English Standard Version came out a short time ago and I really like it. Although I still use the King James at times, I mainly use the ESV. The writers chose accurate words to bring across the meaning and it has the powerful diction of the Authorized.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA

With so many options out there to choose from, I find that I most often use the translation that makes the exact statement that I like…regardless of which translation it is! (Just kidding—sort of.)

In reality, I have developed a deep love for the Amplified Bible. In most cases, when studying a particular verse, I find that the manifold meaning of specific words is often hinted at in the Amplified. This usually promotes even more study, checking out yet more translations and versions and throws a nice dash of fuel onto the fire as I become more and more in love with the Word of God.

When it comes time for memorization of scripture, I usually burn into my mind both the translation which I’ve found to be the best usage of a scripture AND the King James version. In my world—many people don’t take scripture seriously unless you can quote it in the King James version. They often reject any other version and act as if everything else “sucketh” in comparison to their old stand-by.

A translation that I’ve recently picked up and began reading through the Bible is the Contemporary English Version. I’m really enjoying the easy read that it provides and the basic, down-to-earth style it’s been written in. It isn’t ALWAYS dead on (in my humble opinion), but it always offers interesting and thought provoking perspective.

If I were talking to someone on my staff or in my congregation about reading the Word, I would adamantly promote the following idea. WHATEVER TRANSLATION YOU ARE WILL WILLING TO READ—PICK IT UP AND GET TO READING IT!

Pastor Mark Cowart – Colorado Springs, CO

I have been using the King James Version for study for so many years that it has become my primary translation. (I am not a “King James Only” preacher-although I do pull a trailer behind my vehicle through town every once in a while that has a black 4′ X 8′ replica of a black King James Bible with gold lettering and a sign on the trailer—”if it was good enough for the apostle Paul it oughta be good enough for us”). KJV is probably one of the most trusted and well done but not the easiest for the new believer and there are some verses that have certain words or phrases that really convey the meaning better than others. I lean this way only because of many years of using it and habit. Sometimes people want to have the translation that there pastor has and I encourage the NKJV—which I like very much. If I had to choose a translation other than KJV, I would most definitely choose NKJV.

Because of technology we have the blessing of many great and varied translations and it is just as fast, sometimes faster, to utilize the different translations on my iPhone, iPad or computer. I usually put my sermon notes in a word doc and place the scripture translations that help to communicate the message right into the notes. On occasion I will have one scripture with several translations of the same verse for emphasis. I rarely turn in my actual Bible to scriptures any more. The translations I like the most are KJV, NKJV, NTL, TLB, NIV, sometimes the Message Bible, Amplified and every so often NASB. My reasoning is that this saves time and makes my communication a lot more effective. I love to read the Message Bible but would never use it as a primary. On many occasions the Message Bible says things in such a way that it is the icing on the cake and I watch people light up when some of the verses are quoted from it.

Pastor Walker Schurz – Lusaka, Zambia

The main translation I preach and read from is the New King James Version. I also preach from the New International Version, as both are very readable and accurate to the original text. I supplement those with the New Living Translation and The Message. Quite often in preaching, I will re-read a verse or passage from those more modern accounts to help the listener hear something from another angle. I would encourage you not to use translations as a “multiple choice” exercise—that is you keep looking for a translation that agrees with a pre-assumed point of view. Always let the Bible speak to you and your listeners rather than the other way around.

Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA

Personally, I preach from the KJV and use it as my base of reference. I also reference other translations and paraphrases in order to get a clearer picture of what’s being said.  Such as: the New American Standard, New Living Version, Bible in Basic English, Douay-Rheims, Phillips Twentieth Century New Testament, Weymouth, Young’s Literal Translation, The Amplified, and others. The Bible from 26 Translations is available to make comparing translations quick and easy.

Online, you can log on to, click on search the Bible and have quick access to many translations.

The most important thing is to depend on the Holy Spirit for personal revelation and meaning. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. While all the above translations are excellent and each has advantages over others in certain areas, it’s the Spirit who brings the Word to life and makes it a reality in our lives. The Word of God and the Spirit always agree and we must have both to be effective.

Pastor Matt Beemer – UK and North Africa

I like the Arabic translation… It’s the one that I get the most from! :-)  Just kidding… I do have an interesting comment though…

When studying, like most ministers, I like to use many different translations to gain a more full understanding of the scriptures I’m studying. However, when ministering, my goal is to connect with the people I’m ministering to. I personally think the King James is a beautiful version; however, its language is very out of date for today’s church attendee’s. In the UK I almost always use the NIV, as that is probably the widest used version. I don’t use it because I like it; I use it because people I’m ministering to use it, and every translation has its strengths and weaknesses. I like using it so I can help people work through some of the drawbacks, while emphasizing the strengths.

In the USA, I often use a New King James, especially if the people are used to the King James version of the Bible—but I quote often from all the more modern translations. In Nigeria everyone uses the King James, so now I have to get used to using that version again.

There is a new translation that is excellent—it’s the first one to come out of the UK in 50 years and comes from a strong Word and Faith heritage. It’s called The Truth, by Colin Urquhart. Pastor Colin is very strong in ‘In Christ’ realities and understands dynamics that many translators in the past may not have understood. He translated it from the Greek and presents the ‘meaning’ of the Greek in context. Do a search for it and check it out!

Pastor Keith Trump – Carmel, IN
I am probably an odd bird on this issue. I like to use my own translation from the original languages. However, I also like to compare and contrast with NIV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, and NLT—all of them very fine versions. I will weigh them all against the original. Then, I will often take portions of a verse from one translation and another portion of the same verse from a different translation.

Mark 11:23-24 serves as a prime example. Regarding that passage, I believe the KJV gets it right. Keep in mind, I do not take the “King James only” position. In other words, I do not take my position as a means of marshalling support for good ‘ole King James. Instead, I believe that in this passage, the KJV translators portray the words with more power. Actually, let me be so bold as to say that, in my opinion, a few of the modern translations appear a bit weaker. The concept of believing that you receive “when you pray,” speaks of a powerful principle regarding faith. This truth shines through in several other verses.

Thus, my position, in no way has its roots in proof texting. Of course, most modern English translations do convey this concept by properly translating the aorist tense of the verb in Greek “to take hold of” as “have received it.”

Actually, I had better stop here. The more I peer into both the wording and grammar of Mark 11:24, the stronger the urge to keep on expounding. I would translate it, “If, while in the act of praying, [at that moment] you believe to the point of laying a firm grasp, then [in the future] you will (assuredly) have it.” In other words, if, while one stands praying, one exercises faith (the evidence or title deed of things not seen) to the point of actually laying hold of what one desires, one will, in the future, lay hold of the same thing in the physical. I realize that what we ask for must be in line with God’s will. However, we understand that His Word is His will. Faith comes by hearing that Word, not some fleshly desire springing from our own egos.

Pastor John Brady – McAllen, TX
I really like to teach and preach from the NIV. My purpose is not to follow tradition but to use a translation that is accurate, but easily understood. For me this translation is a good mix.  I will also use other translations to make a passage clearer. Some of my favorites are NLT, Message, NET, GW, and ESV. In our area we are dealing with many people who have little to no knowledge of the bible, and we want to bring it down to their level as much as possible without compromising the text.

For personal study, I really like the NASB95 because of its accuracy. I also like reading from the Wuest translation. I think they give you a great foundation to make sure that you’re staying in line with the text. They are not always an easy read; therefore, at times they are difficult for the new believer or non-Christian to follow.

Pastor Terry Scheel – Fenton, MO

I preached from the KJV for years until my wife hid it and told me I needed to preach from a Bible version the congregation could understand. I finally saw she was right. I changed to the NKJV, which is just the KJV in modern English. It was a good move, and my congregation has enjoyed the change.

I do my personal Bible reading and studying out of the KJV, probably because I grew up reading it and have many passages memorized from that version.

When studying to preach, I use a variety of translations on my PC Study Bible computer program. I start with the KJV and then move to the NKJV, then NIV, then Amplified, then NAS, then the NLT. After reading these, I feel I have the full essence of what a Scripture is saying. I also use Strong’s Concordance, W.E. Vine, and other study tools to get the full meaning of certain words within the passage.

A good reason to read other Bible versions before preaching is that if you only use the KJV or NKJV, sometimes these versions include verses that are not in the original text. John 5:4 is one good example of this. When I first started preaching (only using the KJV), I read from John 5 and after the service someone wanted to know why verse 4 was not in their Bible? They were using the NIV. At that time, I didn’t know how to reply! I told the person I would get back with them. So I did my homework and gave them the answer. From that day to this, I never preach on a passage without first reading it (or not reading it) from all the versions I mentioned above.

Pastor John Larkam – Austin, TX

Study—KJV since it is a standard for so many other reference tools. Also, the AMP (Amplified Bible) is great to study from since it expands and defines key words.

Devotional Reading—several modern translations including NKJ, NLT, NIV and even paraphrases such as The Living Bible and The Message Bible. They are refreshing and use today’s language.

Preach—Primarily the KJV, but supplemented with many translations to help get the point across.

I use a Bible software called Bible Works, which has a tremendous number of translations—very helpful when teaching line upon line or trying to get the most out of one verse. I also look at some “modern” translations as well (such as NLT) to help bring the meaning into our current language. Even paraphrases such as the Message Bible can truly bring certain portions of scripture to life, although I wouldn’t use a paraphrase to study from (for obvious reasons regarding accuracy).

Overall, I would have to say that the AMP is my all around favorite since I find it both accurate and very easy to understand. I use it in a parallel version with the KJV.

Pastor Tim Phillips – Harrison, AR

Growing up in a denominational church, the Bible translation choice was the King James Version. When I became Spirit-filled in 1973, I began to earnestly read and study the King James Version of the Bible. Because of its poetic nature, it was easy to memorize and then in our Charismatic small group, we even sang the Scripture choruses based on the King James Version. So the foundation for my personal life has been the King James Version.

I have now been in the pastoral ministry for twenty-five years. I have moved from the King James Version to the New King James. It removes “thee” and “thou” and replaces those words with more contemporary language.  The New King James Version keeps the beauty and integrity of the King James Version but in a more readable format. The New King James is my favorite Bible to study and preach from.

My second choice in Bible reading and preaching is from the New Living Translation. I believe that it stays true to the original text and translates it into contemporary language well. I will also refer to the New American Standard, the Amplified Bible, The Message and J. B. Phillips translation of the New Testament. I trust these translations.

The reading level of people today varies greatly and each translation is geared for an appropriate level. These levels are approximate:

KJV – 12th grade
NASB – 11th grade
NKJ – 7-9th grade
NLT – 6th grade
Message – 5-8th grade

Each of these translations serves me well in my Bible reading, study and preaching.

Pastor Tim Kutz – Bartlesville, OK

The NKJV is my version of choice.  I enjoy passages from the Message Bible, and also from the “Cotton Patch” (Jordan) Bible for their thought-provoking speech. But for accurate translation and for the audience, I prefer the NKJV. I do not like the NIV. It is always the last thing that I will look at, if at all. Of course, the Amplified Bible is good many times. Some others that I enjoy are Moffatt, Williams (NT), Wuest, NLT, NCV, and the Good News. Also, every minister needs a set of Barclays.

Dr. Dan Beller – Tulsa, OK

The version of the Bible I read and preach from depends on the type of church in which I am ministering. There are some churches who think the KJV is the only one to use and that all other versions are unacceptable. In some cases they will accept the New KJV. The difficulty in reading from the KJV is that the Old English expressions are not easily understood, especially by the younger generation. However, if I am ministering in a small church which has a bias in favor of the KJV, I will use it. When I was in Seminary, my Greek teacher taught that it is a good translation but is hindered because of the Old English language.

To really be authentic, you would need to read from the Hebrew in the Old Testament and the Greek in the New Testament. All other Bibles are translations of these original texts. I personally like the NIV because it is a good translation and the language is more up-to-date and accepted by a wide range of scholars and believers. It is easier to communicate with the younger people because the English is more like they are studying in school. In our denominational Bible Quiz meetings, the NIV text has been used for several years.

Whatever version a person uses, it is probably good to also quote from other versions and compare the verses. It is usually easier to get an unsaved person or an unchurched person to read from The Living Bible or the New Living Translation.

It is good to observe that all of our versions have a clear message of Salvation and other basic issues of Christianity.

Pastor John B. Lowe – Warsaw, IN

I use the NKJV, as a standard version, to preach out of. I quote many others; all of which are common to us: Amplified, Weymouth, Moffatt, etc. Occasionally, on a rare basis, I will use the Living Bible or some others.

I use the NKJV because it is the closest thing to what I memorized all of the verses in (of courses, the KJV). I cut my teeth on the KJV, so it is my first love and the one I quote the most from memory. It is not a paraphrase either, but a translation.

Pastor Chris Pugh – Parkersburg, WV

I use the New American Standard for all my reading, studying, and preaching—not exclusively, but at least 90% of the time. The main reason for this is two-fold—when I got saved, I asked my Pastor what was the easiest to read, yet an accurate translation, and that’s what he recommended. Also, in services at church and also at Rhema, when someone would use a scripture from the King James and then say “what this word means in the Greek is…,” that is how it would be translated in the NASB. As far as other translations I use for clarity or to bring a little different light on a scripture, I also use the Amplified, New Century, God’s Word Bible in Basic English, Message, New Living, Contemporary English Version, and Weymouths, as well as a few others.

Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA

The best translation is the one that you’ll read the most!

I still use my Thomas King James Version Bible that I had at Rhema. I put a nice elephant hide cover on it and it’s done a great job of keeping this Bible in good condition. But from the pulpit, I read from the NKJV because it reads better. I have a pocket NIV that is a good travel Bible and I find it’s easy to read, but I’ve always preferred KJV and NKJV for scripture memory and pulpit ministry.

I take my Thomas KJV Bible to conferences and classes and take notes in the margins so that when I re-read this Bible I can also read my notes from great speakers like Tony Cooke. Doug Jones quotes just might be in there too.

I use the PC Study Bible on my computer when working on sermons and the Greek/Hebrew translation modules are often very helpful. I go to for the Amplified Version and other translations in sermon prep too.

In my Spanish/English Parallel Bible, I’ve found some great revelations this way. John 15:7 “…if my words abide in you, you shall ask what you wish and it shall be done for you” In Spanish, “shall be done” is translated “hecho” or “made.” Wow! So I checked the Greek on PC Study Bible, and sure enough, the Greek word comes from the word “geneseo,” literally, “genesissed.” So this means “if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you wish and it shall be “made,” or “genesissed,” “created” for you!!! Glory!! A friend said that the Spanish translations were made from Greek texts and it appears that they found a better word for translating the Greek word “geneseo.”

Along those same lines, the French translation often uses the word “demanderez” (litterally – demand) where the KJV uses the word “ask.” Brother Hagin said that when he looked it up, the correct meaning of the Greek word translated as “ask” is “demand as your right.” So if you have people in your Bible studies that use foreign language translations, ask them to translate key verses from their Bibles. Sometimes the insights and shades of meaning can be very helpful.

Again, the best translation is the one that you’ll read the most!

Pastor John White – Decatur, AL

The first Bible I ever owned was a King James Version and it became the one I studied, memorized, and developed spiritually from. Most of my mentors also used it as their main study and preaching Bible. Therefore, it is natural that I feel most comfortable with the KJV. I too feel that it is the most accurate of all the Bibles in English print. I own just about every other version in print and have read most of them from Genesis to Revelation. I use them all and often quote them in my sermons, but I always use the KJV as my main study and pulpit Bible. Also, because I am in the “Bible Belt” of the United States, the KJV seems to be the most accepted and recognized.

I encourage you to use whichever Bible that exalts and magnifies Jesus Christ as Lord the most. Use the Bible that God speaks to you from the most and the one that you can easily communicate to others. As you grow in the Lord and in the ministry one version will seem to surface to the top that fits you and your congregation, and that version will become your faithful go-to.

Pastor Dan Morrison – Farmington, NM

A few years ago I chose to use the NKJV in my speaking for the sake of clarity. In my opinion, it is not far from the original KJV and yet modernizes some of the outdated wording of the KJV. When I encounter passages that are still difficult in their reading and understanding, I may read from the Message translation to help the audience really grasp the meaning.

When it comes to study, my favorite resources are the The Word (26 Translations) by Mathis, PC Study Bible on computer, and the classic Thompson Chain Reference Bible. For even greater insight, I often refer to Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems for insights into some selected passages.