In light of the availability of multiple English Bible translations, I am often asked why Real Life Community Church uses the English Standard Version (ESV). I love the Word of God and consider it an incredible privilege to have the Scriptures in our own language! To be sure, I don’t believe that the ESV is the only good translation available. I do believe it to be best for me and our church. God has used many different translations to bring people to know the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” This post is written primarily for the people of Real Life Community Church. Here are three reasons why I encourage the use of the ESV.
There are three main categories that our English translations fall into: “Word-for-Word,” “Thought-for-Thought,” and “Paraphrase.” The ESV is considered a “Word-for-Word” translation, as is the King James Version, and this category offers the most accuracy to the original text. “The English Standard Version (ESV) is an “essentially literal” translation of the Bible in contemporary English. Created by a team of more than 100 leading evangelical scholars and pastors, the ESV Bible emphasizes “word-for-word” accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning.”
Often, people take an approach to the Scriptures, that is birthed out of postmodernism (where truth is relative), often asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” This is an appalling way to handle God’s Word. According to 2 Timothy 3, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” The correct approach to Biblical text is to ask, “What is God saying in this passage?” Having an “essentially literal” translation (along with the help of the Holy Spirit), helps to accurately grasp what God means for the Scriptures to say.
There are other “Word-for-Word,” English translations available, that— in my estimation— aren’t quite as readable as the English Standard Version. I choose not to use the KJV for my congregation, because, at Real Life, we don’t speak in Elizabethan English. I had one “King James Only” pastor argue that we have the Holy Spirit, so we should be able to clearly understand the KJV. I wanted to hand him a Spanish Bible and ask him to read and explain it, because by that same logic, he should have no trouble. I am thrilled with the precision/readability balance that the English Standard Version affords.
*If you choose the King James Version for your congregation, I am in no way putting you down. It simply doesn’t work for us.
I encourage my congregants to read the ESV— even in their personal Bible Study— for the sake of consistency. Bible memorization is much more feasible when it is studied using a consistent translation, thus, I deem it beneficial for the people of Real Life to study the same version from which they hear preached each week.
**Whatever translation you use, read it, treasure it, savor it, delight in it, meditate upon it, and walk in it daily.