Considering the New Living Translation

We know that as a leader in your church, you care deeply about rooting your people in God’s Word. The common denominator of passionate, engaged, gospel-centered believers is their love of God and his Word. We share a deep conviction that reading, hearing, and rightly understanding God’s Word transforms lives and communities.

Tyndale House Publishers has published and distributed millions of Bibles over its history. What we have found through our research is that pastors want to feel confident in the Bible translation they study and recommend to their congregation. We have also found that congregations want a Bible translation that is easy to read and understand. Is there a translation that does both—that is both accurate and understandable? We believe it’s the New Living Translation.

More than 90 of the top Bible scholars in the world worked on the New Living Translation, producing a translation they say is as accurate as any translation on the market. And more and more pastors, scholars, and Christian leaders are telling us about the impact they are seeing in their ministries and in the lives of the people in their care because they are reading the NLT.

There is a common misunderstanding that a “word-for-word” translation is more accurate than a “thought-for-thought” translation. However, the truth is that there is no such thing as a word-for-word translation. For example, here is the literal word-for-word rendering of Psalm 23:1-2 from the NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, followed by the ESV translation and the NLT translation:

Interlinear: Yahweh one being shepherd of me nothing I shall lack in pastures of greenness he makes lie down me beside waters of quiet ones.

ESV: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

NLT: The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.

A quick look at the extremely literal interlinear translation makes it clear that any excellent Bible translation must take significant liberties with the grammatical structure of the original Bible text.

As we set out to determine accuracy, let’s look at the interlinear translation and focus on the phrase in verse 1: “nothing I shall lack.” The ESV translates it as “I shall not want.” The NLT translates it as “I have all that I need.” Both are good translations, but is one more accurate than the other?

Another look at the ESV translation “I shall not want” begs the question, “What shall I not want?” And is it really about what we want? It is actually about what we lack or need. The archaic language of the ESV obscures the meaning of the text.

The NLT is clearer and speaks in today’s vernacular. By saying, “I have all that I need,” the NLT clearly translates the intended meaning. This is just one of thousands of examples of how translating the meaning into today’s language increases the accuracy of the translation.

Check it out for yourself at NewLivingTranslation.com. If it passes the test of both accuracy and readability, would you allow us to list you among a group we’re calling “New Living Advocates”—leaders who recommend the NLT? And we would love it if we could have a statement from you about the New Living Translation that we could use as we introduce the NLT to more people around the world.

We even made it easy for you to participate. Simply drop an email to NewLivin[email protected] to give us permission to use your name in support of the NLT (and if possible, provide a short recommendation). If you include a mailing address, we will send you a beautiful, single-column text, leather-bound special edition of the NLT Select Bible as a thank-you.

In addition, if it would be helpful to your ministry, we will put you on a list to receive a free copy of future new NLT editions as they are published. Finally, do you know other leaders who value and use the New Living Translation that we could contact (mentioning that you recommended them)? If so, please include their name(s) in your email.

Posted on June 16, 2022


Jim Jewell is Senior Director of Marketing & Communication for Tyndale Bibles. Prior to joining Tyndale, his career included agency work in brand marketing and public relations, serving dozens of prominent ministries and businesses, and he was chief of staff for Chuck Colson for more than a decade.
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1 Comment

  • Although I’ll offer the counter. As a pastor it is better to have more than one version or translation of the Bible. Because the differences in versions should be used to dive deeper into the original text and find a more complete meaning for the recorded text. Because the original often doesn’t directly translate into English the ambiguity can be enlightening and challenging in good ways.