New In The Faith? Best Bibles For New Believers

Are you confused as to what are the best Bibles for new believers?

I get it. I remember standing in a Christian bookstore back when bookstores were big and thinking, “There are so many different translations to choose from. How in the world will I know which is the right Bible?

At least in a bookstore you can hold different Bibles in your hands and make some visual comparisons. But if you are purchasing a Bible online, you can only go by the photos they provide in the listing. For first-time Bible readers, this can be a problem.

I want to take the mystery out of Bible shopping. Here is your guide to the best Bibles for new believers.

Why are there so many translations of the Bible?

There are over 450 English language translations of the Bible so no wonder it is confusing when it comes to narrowing down your options for the best Bibles for new Christians

It is important to know that the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. It also was not written all at once. While God is the ultimate author, He used many different men to do the writing.

To create an all-in-one manuscript like we have today, there were many different groups of Bible scholars who over time worked on different versions. This is because modern language is constantly evolving. What could be understood in the 1300s was hard to read in the 1500s or 1800s. Even the King James Version has many English words that we no longer use today.

Additionally, the approach to translations has been varied.

  1. Word-for-word translations
  2. Meaning-for-meaning translations
  3. Thought-for-thought translations
  4. Paraphrases

Which Bible version is the most accurate and easy to understand?

Accuracy is important in Bible translations for anyone, especially for new believers. Otherwise, we can get wrong perceptions of what God is trying to tell us.

Which are the most accurate Bibles?

The most accurate translation of the Bible is a word-for-word translation. However, they are not the easiest to read. These include:

  • New American Standard Bible
  • English Standard Version
  • New English Translation
  • King James Version
  • New King James Version

These are excellent translations but maybe not the best Bibles for new believers.

What are the easiest Bibles for beginners to read?

Generally, the paraphrased versions of the Bible are the easiest to understand for first-time Bible readers, using very modern English.

But here is a WORD OF CAUTION. These translations tend to be the least accurate as they wander a bit from the original words, often containing the personal preference of the author.

So which Bibles are paraphrases?

  • New International Reader’s Version
  • The Message
  • Good News Translation

These would be some of my last choices for a new believer’s Bible. They tend to be biased and in some cases dilute Biblical teachings. 

What kind of Bible should a beginner get?

So if word-for-word translations are harder to read but the paraphrases are not as accurate, it stands to reason that something in between would be the best.

Best Bibles for new believers

The Bibles that remain very close to the original manuscripts and don’t water down Christian beliefs, yet are fairly easy to read are the ones that use thought-for-thought translation or phrase-by-phrase. 

These include:

  1. New International Version Bible
  2. God’s Word Translation
  3. Christian Standard Bible
  4. New Living Translation (not NLB)

​In some cases, some publishers have made available just the Old Testament or just the New Testament rather than the whole Bible. 

Other factors in choosing the best Bibles for new believers

In choosing the best Bible translation for a new believer you will want to also think about their personality and how they will relate to the word of God..

  • What is their educational level?
  • Do they tend to be scholarly and want to know the who, what, when, where, and why of things?
  • Are they an individual who wants to know how facts apply to everyday life?

Besides choosing reading Bibles, there are also study Bibles, notetaking Bibles, and journaling Bibles.

Those who are scholarly will appreciate a Study Bible. These usually have a lot of notes with plenty of background information. You will easily be able to tell who wrote each book and why, the historical context including the customs of that day, as well as what the different authors believe certain passages meant. 

So what is the best study Bible? Here are a few to choose from. 

Notetaking Bibles have wide margins for a person to write study notes from a sermon or their own personal devotions.

photo of one of the best Bibles for new believers with wide margins to write notes.

Journaling Bibles also have wide margins for notes, but often have prompts to help a person apply what they are reading to their own lives.

photo of one of the best Bibles for new believers with wide margins and prompts to help a person apply the Scripture to their own life.

What are NOT the best Bibles for new believers? (or anyone)

Most Bible translations were done by committees who thought long and hard about their work so as to preserve the original meaning.

But there is a long list of Bibles that were translated by individuals. These can be biased on certain teachings and that is why committees guarantee a better and more accurate translation. This is only a partial list of Bibles to avoid.

  • The Living Bible (Kenneth N. Taylor 1971)
  • J.B. Phillips Translation (1958)
  • The Bible in Living English (Stephen T. Byington 1972)
  • Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation (1985)
  • American King James Version (Michael Engelbrite 1999)
  • The Message (Eugene H. Peterson 2002)

The full list is available from Wikipedia under “Individual translations”.

Free Bibles online for new believers

One of the nice things about the internet is that numerous websites let you not only read the Bible but also compare different translations in the same space. Many have audio so you can also listen as you drive, wash dishes, or go for a walk. Here are some of my favorites. 

  • Bible Gateway – type in any Book of the Bible, or specific chapters or verses and you can read it in dozens of translations. 
  • Open Bible – this one allows you to look for verses on topics of your personal preference. They use the ESV as their text. They also have some additional features to help you dig deeper. 
  • Blue Letter Bible – this one is a bit more scholarly, allowing you to use their “tools” to find the original Hebrew or Greek meaning of words or phrases. 
  • Youversion Bible app – This is a really good one. Not only can you read any passage in the Bible, but they also have devotionals and free Bible studies available. Their verse of the Day is great to read as you are going out the door to work. 
  • ESV Bible app – this is another good one for your phone. 

The links above are for a desktop or laptop. For the phone versions, just go to your app store. 

Final thoughts on best Bibles for new believers

In choosing the first Bible for a new believer, you don’t want it to be so difficult to understand that they give up and decide Bible reading is not for them. But you also have to take into consideration the accuracy of the translation as well as the new believer’s personality.

Reading the Bible is one of the most important things we can do. It leads us to God and helps shape us into the person He created us to be. This is why it is important to find the best Bibles for new believers.

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