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The New ESV Translation

by Mark Roberts

I am moving toward using a new translation of the Bible: the English Standard Version (ESV). I have used the New King James Version (NKJV) for years and I love it and appreciate it as a fine translation. However, the new ESV is, in my opinion, just better. It is based on better manuscripts and is more literal while at the same time being easier to read. Reading from it has breathed some new life into my Bible reading and study. More than once I have thought "the Bible doesn't say that!" only to find that when I looked in my NKJV the different language style had obscured the thought. For example, in Ephesians 5:10 the NKJV says "finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." The ESV has "try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." That is just a little sharper, isn't it? Note Hebrews 1:1 in the two translations. The NKJV says angels are "ministering spirits sent forth," while the ESV has "ministering servants sent out." We don't send "forth" much these days, do we? I also like the New American Standard Bible (NASB) but have always chafed under its rather wooden sentences. Amos 1:1 is rendered "which he envisioned in visions concerning Israel" in the NASB while the ESV has the simpler "which he saw concerning Israel." So, after much consideration I am ready to work from the ESV, and I believe it will be a help to my study.

Of course, none of these changes are dramatic, or mean that suddenly a new doctrine has been found in the Bible. A person can learn the truth in the NKJV, or NASB, or in many other versions of the Bible. The NKJV and NASB were and are fine Bibles. If you have one, keep it, read it, and study it. Some folks may get up in arms about a "new" translation, and I am sure there are some that wish denominational headquarters would "authorize" one version and make everyone use it. Here's a news flash: we aren't a denomination and there isn't any headquarters to make such policy! Every Christian needs to carefully consider what is available and purchase a Bible (or several) that will help him get to heaven. Instead of a new translation's arrival on the market being seen as bad news, we ought to be thrilled. It is good news that a lot of people are working very hard to produce better and better translations of the Bible so that you and I can have God's word in a highly accurate and readable form. I believe the ESV fits that criteria and look forward to preaching, teaching and writing from it.