Which Bible Translation Do I Use?

Continually, people ask me what Bible translation I personally use when preaching and when writing. I wish there were a good answer to this question, but there isn’t. I’ve been asked this question many times over the years.

The Word of Elohim is something I take very seriously. It is something to be trembled before with a contrite heart (Isa 66:2). Sadly, there are numerous designer Messianic Bibles out there being peddled by money-grubbing charlatans or self-proclaimed experts who have just enough knowledge of the original languages to be dangerous, but not enough to competently translate a Bible. These individuals are duping those who know less than they do, and preying unsuspecting and naive people who are hungry for truth. They are proving the old adage that says “an ‘expert’ is simply someone who knows more than the next guy.” Most of these “translators” have little or no academic training or linguistic expertise in ancient biblical languages, yet this doesn’t stop them producing a constant stream of “new and improved” Bible translations. I actually have some academic background in foreign and biblical languages and have done translating work in both French and Koine Greek at the academic level, so I speak with some understanding on the subject. Yet, I am not an expert, and am not qualified to translate anything.

There is not a single Bible translation on the market today that I can unreservedly recommend. Some of the more popular ones have been translated by questionable individuals who have little or no linguistic training, yet they (dishonestly) refuse to disclose publicly what their qualifications are for translating the Bible. I find this to be a huge red flag to me. If you have linguistic qualifications, why not state them? If you don’t, it’s probably because you have none. I suspect that most of these self-proclaimed Bible translators simply sat down with a copyright free English version (e.g. the KJV) and along with the help of a concordance and a few other lexical aids, made a translation, which they now peddle for big bucks. This is dishonest and unrighteous.

Which Bible version do I personally use? I still use the KJV and NKJV, since at least they were translated by competent linguists. Because I’ve been studying Greek and Hebrew for more than 45 years, I know where all the translation biases are, and I know the Hebrew and Greek words behind many of the English words in our Bibles. As I’m reading the Bible (when preaching) or quoting (when writing), I start with the base of the NKJV, and as I am going along, I “clean” up the English. For example, I insert Hebrew words for the names of deity (i.e., God becomes Elohim, LORD become Yehovah, Jesus becomes Yeshuah, Christ becomes Messiah, Holy Spirit become Ruach HaKodesh, and so on). In cases where there are Hebrew or Greek words that the translators have translated into English using misleading words, based on the lexical meanings of the words I make changes. For example, in Romans 10:4, I change “end” to “final aim, goal.” This is totally consistent not only with the meaning of the Greek word telos but also consistent with biblical truth. Another example would be Matthew 5:17 where fulfill (Gr. pleroo) means “to fill up, to make full, to complete, to fill to the top.” In any place in both the Tanakh (Old Testament) or the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament) where the word law occurs in referring to “the law of Moses”, I replace it with the Hebrew word Torah meaning “instructions, teachings and precepts [in righteousness of YHVH Elohim].” I could give many other examples, but hopefully the reader gets the point. I don’t carelessly or haphazardly substitute words, but do so full well recognizing the meanings of the words in the original languages, and how the biblical authors use them in the full context of the whole Bible. Again, I tremble before YHVH and his Word, I cringe at the thought of being labeled a false teacher, or bringing  curses upon myself for adding or subtracting from the Word of Elohim.


5 thoughts on “Which Bible Translation Do I Use?

  1. Hi Nathan, so if I sit down with my NKJV what would you recommend as its best companion book or translation, and I mean one book, (as much as I would love a library space and cost prevent this) Shalom to you all in the USA, much shaking going on over there, and here in GB. Bob Williams.

    • It’s been awhile! Great to hear from you again.

      Shaking going on in America is right! Some people think we’re on the verge of a civil war. Certainly, there’s a cultural, moral and spiritual civil war going on in certain circles in this nation. For most of us in our day-to-day lives, things are pretty normal, but the tides of evil are beginning to oppress and squeeze us more and more like everywhere else. What is your spiritual perspective on this? Please share as an outside, more objective observer.

      I use the NKJV, but some people prefer the NSAV or the ESV or something else. I have no problem with this. In fact, it’s wise to read from several translations and to compare. My personal Bible is a Cambridge Press NKJV wide margin French Morocco leather Bible. It’s the best quality I could find out there with the largest margins for notes. I’ve been through so many Bibles in my life, that I wanted to find the best money could buy that would last me the rest of my life. For those who want lots of Bible helps, I recommend either the NKJV Spirit-Filled or NKJV Key Word Study Bible by Zodiahates. My preference is the latter one.

      One linguistic tool/book? Are you taking a lexical aid? I use a lot off them. But if stranded on a desert island and I had to limit myself, I’d probably take the latest version of a Strong’s Concordance and for the NT, David Sterns Jewish NT Commentary, and for the OT, The Theological Dictionary of the OT.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Thanks for sharing your learning and insight with us newbies to the Hebrew Roots movement…I’ve been learning about the Agro-bio-liguistics (ie:the principle of the seed) language that is Hebrew and I just love it and can see why YHVH is restoring the pure language…so, in the first line of Genesis in Hebrew, next to the word for God, there are two letters, the aleph and the tav…the alpha and the omega, the first and the last..the end from the beginning and it’s right there in the beginning! Also that first line in Hebrew has 6 alephs..which I see corresponding to the first 6 days of creation.or am I reading into the text…but it brought me joy when I saw it…it is after all the Word of God! Hallelu-YAH! Would value your take on this..blessings to you and yours..

    • There’s definitely a lot of hidden things in the Hebrew language, but we have to be very careful not to read too much into everything. I’m not sure where the exact balance on this is. I’ve read and studied a lot on the mystical, esoteric things in the Scriptures, but I don’t find Yeshua and the apostles focusing on it. They preached the transforming power of the gospel message, so I’ve come more back to that. It’s so easy to get side-tracked on all the mystical head knowledge, but that’s not what necessarily transforms us spiritually. A relationship with Yeshua does. If the mystical stuff helps to deepen your walk with Yeshua, okay, then dip into it a little. But be careful. It can become a black hole. Use it as seasoning on your spiritual food, not as the main diet.

  3. Food for thought..thanks for getting back to me on this and yes, of course what you say is true…yet I find the study helpful in my walk with Yeshua and will not allow it to mislead me…thanks again teacher!

Share your thoughts...