We are inundated with various versions of the Holy Bible. Most differ. Many differ greatly. Why is that? How are we to know which to choose?

Start by reading the preface. There you should be able to determine whether the version is a translation or a paraphrase. A translation will be an effort to translate the words of the original text. A paraphrase will be an effort to translate the meaning of the original text. The paraphrase will express the meaning of the text as the writer understands it. If his interpretation is slanted or wrong then your bible will be his thoughts, not God’s words. Yes, there are many versions that greatly differ, but some of them do faithfully translate the Word of God.

Let me give you an example. In Luke 5:1-8 Jesus told Simon to let down his nets. Notice nets is plural. Simon let down his net. Notice net is singular. The word of God makes it clear that Simon disobeyed and his net began to break. Had he let down his nets – as Jesus had said – very probably they would not have broken. There’s a great lesson here on fully obeying God’s word. But if you have a paraphrase this lesson is very probably lost because “net” is translated “nets” in verse 5 & 6. This is just one of many mistakes in many paraphrases.

Skeptics have scoffed at the many versions asking, “why is there not just one.” Let them scoff. They probably wouldn’t be satisfied even if there was a standard translation.

Most translations do have a good framework of the plan of God and more than ample guidance into God’s salvation. There may be a valid place for paraphrases – for the beginner or casual reader. But the serious student of God’s word wants nothing less than all of what God has said. There are some very good translations of God’s word. Read the preface.