The NIV

Let me say from the outset that I like the NIV and read it often! This might stir emotion from some readers, but I freely confess that I do. Why? Despite its shortcomings, it is an easy-to-read English translation that [I think] flows well and is still evangelical & conservative enough to be trustworthy. That being said, it is not without its faults, as with any translation.

1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
-Psalms 1:1-3

There are many fine editions of the NIV to choose from, which is another reason I often read the NIV (because it is the text used in some of my favorite study resources, such as the Zondervan Study Bible, Faithlife NIV edition, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Life Application, Life Principles Bible and now the much-heralded MacArthur Study Bible (one of my favorites). I know there are others — I am just naming the more popular editions.

The fact that the NIV is so popular and comes in so many flavors is not of itself a good reason to read it. I should also add that it is not my primary translation (The King James still is, followed by the ESV and NKJV). But I find its easy readability and rendering of various passages useful when I am trying to grasp the meaning of certain parts of the text. (This can be especially true when trying to impart something to younger members of the faith who are new to the Bible).

I watched a video in which Dr. MacArthur was defending his choice to allow his study Bible to be published in the NIV flavor. He was happy to do that because so many people around the world read the NIV as their primary translation and he wanted them to have a better understanding of what the Bible has to teach us. Moreover, it gave him an opportunity to correct the text of the translation in spots by offering [what he believes to be] a better alternative rendering in certain cases. His claim is that around 40% of the world’s Bible readers use the NIV. Perhaps so; I know it’s a lot. That is a good reason to try to reach them with sound doctrinal teaching, for sure. But that fact alone is not a particularly good reason to read the NIV. Although it is very popular with a large percentage of people, there is also a large percentage that will find themselves in Hell because of their poor choice in refusing Christ and embracing heresies (I am not saying their choice in Bible translations). My point is that often being popular in this world is not saying much — at least not anything positive.

What have I found is that, despite its popularity, I consider it to be a decent translation and have learned to ignore some outright lies and bad press about it. Of course, the KJV-only crowd hates it because it is not KJV. That is a given. The only translation they will accept is the King James Version.

I am enclosing this link to a page that offers [what I consider to be] a pretty fair and favorable opinion of the NIV from a Reformed perspective. I can tell you that a great many reformed people don’t care for it, so this particular post does not speak for all [or even a majority] of reformed people. The same can be said of many evangelicals who do not approve of the way the NIV handles the issue of gender in many of its renderings. That is a [sometimes] hotly debated issue in the Church today. The Pastor of the church we attend has referred to translations as “commentaries on the original text.” I rather like that description of what they are and how they function.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  -2 Tim. 2:15 (NIV)

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