When I first became a Christian, I was given my first Bible from a friend. That version was the NIV. I read it and could understand it easily and thought nothing about which version I was reading. Then I started attending a different church who read the KJV exclusively. They shared all the reasons of why I should be reading the KJV only and how I didn’t want to be in “danger” of being led falsely. I bought into it. I went home and took my NIV and threw it in the trash. I then proceeded to pick up my KJV and began reading it. It took much more concentration and I had to reread a bunch of the words as I could not get past all the new wording. But I felt it was the “right thing to do.”
I can honestly say that in my early years, years when I should have gotten more into the Word of God, I didn’t. I would listen to others and their doctrine and sermons and take what they said. To pick up and read entire passages of scriptures, to myself was boring. Did I just say that? I would read, and my mind would wander. I would fall asleep after reading each night. I can honestly say, I did not read my KJV Bible as much as I SHOULD or COULD have read because it was more difficult to understand.
As I started buying Bibles for my children, I ONLY got them the KJV. Do you think they ever read those bibles? NO WAY! If I could barely understand and get past all the “thee’s and thou’s,” do you think that they could?
I went for years like this. Then my Bible was getting old and I needed a new one. I went online and bought and ESV version.
I have had my Bible for awhile now. I have read through it and enjoy it many times. I have been able to focus and read entire passages of scriptures and I “get them.” But do you think I’d admit to people that my Bible version was not a KJV or a NKJV? No, I hid which version I had. Sounds so silly, doesn’t it? Afraid to share with others which version I had?
The Bible is supposed to be a spiritual book. The scriptures are written so that they can reveal to individuals what the Lord is speaking to them. I have heard numerous, older, Bible reading people that say they have read through the Bible multiple times over the years and that each time, they learn something new. Why is it that you can read the same scripture numerous times and get something new from it each time? Because God speaks through those scriptures. He reveals to us what He wants us to see.
I love that I can read a scripture and then look it up in the different versions of the Bible so that it is worded more clearly for me to understand. If one word sticks out more than others, I can search for it’s originally meaning in the Hebrew or Greek form. That could lead to a larger study of how God used that word and what it means. It helps to deepen my understanding of the scriptures.
I heard a speaker this past weekend speak on the different versions of the Bible and what we should be allowing our children to read. This man had some learning disabilities and he asked us if we knew why the different Bible versions were written? He stated do you think it is because these publishers wanted to “cash in” on God’s Word? No, these different Bible versions were written so that people of ALL levels of learning can understand them. Not all people can read and learn the same, we know that is true from teaching our children. So why would we think that everyone should ONLY read a KJV Bible and understand it?
The different and easier to read Bible versions, were written for a sole purpose….To get God’s Word into the hands of people of all levels of reading. You can’t just hand a KJV to a person who reads at a 4th grade level and expect them to try and get it. But hand them a ESV version or some other “easier to read” version and let them see God’s Word come to life. Let them get immersed and interested in reading the Bible so that they can begin to understand God’s truths. God will speak to them in whatever version they choose to read. He isn’t going to “withhold” from a person who isn’t as “educated” and can’t understand the harder to read version.
If you handed a comic book version of the Bible to the individual who couldn’t read, do you think that God is not going to speak to them through that because it is not the KJV? What about the person who reads and can understand the NCV version(which is written at a 3rd grade level), do you think God is going to punish them because they read that?
Here’s a list of translations and their suggested reading level:
- King James Version (KJV): 12th grade
- Revised Standard Version (RSV): 12th grade
- New American Standard Bible (NASB): 11th grade
- New Revised Standard Version (RNSV): 11th grade
- English Standard Version (ESV): 10th grade
- New International Version (NIV): 8th grade
- Holman Christian Standard Version (HCSV): 8th grade
- New King James Version (NKJV): 7th grade
- New Living Translation (NLT): 6th grade
- God’s Word (GW): 5th grade
- The Message (MSG): 5th grade
- New Century Version (NCV): 3rd grade
Do we hand them a KJV when they are young and expect them to fall in love with His Word? We could, or we could find a version that is easier to read and let the Lord help mature their minds and grow in them a heart that longs after reading the Word. If I want my children to be interested in God, I have to put something out there that is geared towards them. It may be a “fun cool” Bible but if it gets them interested in reading the Word, is it bad? Can I let them grow and mature when they are young and as they get older and want to learn more of scriptures teach them that they can study further with the different versions?
I can share with them that the original scriptures were written in Hebrew and Greek and that they would have to learn those if they wanted the EXACT words from God. Or they can take a Bible that they can understand and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to them through the scriptures and leave it up to God. I think that is the better choosing. I think that if we were to ask Jesus which version we should be teaching our children, He isn’t going to frown if I hand them an ESV or a KJV or an Amplifed Childrens Version. He will be pleased that I am handing them a Bible and willing to train them to love His Word.
Nourish your child’s heart at a young age. Get picture Bible’s and easier to read ones for your children. Cultivate an interest in their hearts and minds. Let them read a version so that they can understand what it is they are reading. Find ones that have captions on the side with “real life” stories and things that they go through in their culture today.
Let them understand it.
Ask the question WWJD, which Bible would He choose? I think He would hand them something that would give them a life giving message. One that would cultivate a love in their hearts for Him. One that would open their minds to His Word. Something they would understand.