First World Problems: ESV or NIV?


This is the epitome of a first world problem.


I get that we all want the “best” version.  We all want to be faithful in glorifying God, and in choosing a version that will be easy for our kids to understand. But I have to say. I watch with utter amusement (not sure I should be amused about it) as people get heated over defending their favorite versions.

There are smouldering straw men everywhere…

I wonder how much money has been spent on Bible translations for the English language?  Millions?  Billions? I don’t know, but how many scholars sit on each committee and how many hours are poured into each version?  I am not saying there is anything wrong with new versions, but what is our motive in creating them?  Red flags go up, when a company stops making a particular edition of their version and updates their version with significant changes and then refuses to make the previous edition available…I don’t see honouring of God, I smell capitalism at it’s finest.  I have 3…yes THREE…of their previous edition study bibles, all in fantastic condition. if I highlight every word and write in every margin, those three books should last me a lifetime…

But I have to switch now.

To put things in perspective, there are over 7,000 living languages spoken in the world today. And of these, only 518 have a complete Bible in their language.

That’s it.

There are 518 languages with a full translation of the Bible out of approximately 7000. We have 500 english versions to choose from…or 3 if you are a canreffer. 🙂 I get that we have to choose a version for corporate worship.  So let’s pick one. Instead of bickering over what translation to use at home, why don’t we all pick up one and read it? It is staggering to think that there are currently over 500 translations in the english language. About half of which are faithful.  The issue then comes due to “readability.”


Are you really going to quote the Amos 4:6 toothpaste verse, or the one about two women grinding, as an example of why not to read the ESV?  If I read a chapter a day, it will take me 1189 days or about 3.3 years to get through the entire Bible with my family. That means, if I am faithful to this reading plan, that I just came up with as I type, I will read that verse once, every three years and four months. Hopefully I am explaining things as I go, so the next time it comes up, they will be ready for it! Personally I think those verses would make for a fantastic family discussion.

Anyway, I digress.

Oh you want to know my preference?  Glad you asked.  Let me get in on this first world problem. 🙂

I grew up on the KJV and the NASB. In my late teens I switched to NIV84 and used that for about 15 years. I have used the ESV for about 3 years for private devotions, because I want a word for word translation when engaged in private study. But I want a thought for thought translation with the family and the NIV84 is faithful and fits that bill.  Yes the ESV is choppy.  But I won’t be using the NIV11. I have been trying the ESV for family devotions, and am considering going back to the NIV84 until the kids get older… since I have 3 NIV study Bibles…

No I don’t care if the kids have to memorize scripture in one version and we read as a family in another.  Why?  Have you heard me recite Psalm 103 with my “King James New American International English Standard Version” mongrel mix up?  Trust me they will be fine.

As I read this post back, I don’t see way to coherently bind it all together, or segue into what I really want to say… so essentially what i want to say is, please send some money to Wycliffe Bible translators to help get some translations going in other languages – or you can help support my Brother in law who is serving with Wycliffe in SE Asia with his family…click below! 🙂


That is all.


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  1. Kevin says:

    I like both versions, but the ESV is hard to follow when I’m tired. So, NIV it is for devotions 😉

    It’s definitely a blessing to have so many translations at hand.