A Brief Look at Different Bible Translations

During online Bible study, one of our participants was frustrated with a discrepancy in Bible translations and asked a great question: Why aren’t all Bible translations “accurate?” She was confused why Habakkuk had a different date in her NIV translation than the one mentioned in her Bible study workbook using the HCBS version. We had a wonderful online discussion via Facebook and I decided to share it here as well.

First, the Bible is written by the Divine Author.

It was originally written in languages that we would not understand today. For this reason it needs to be translated and has been translated into 150+ versions. One of the first translations was the King James Version in the 1500-1600 time range. Many years AFTER this was written, the Dead Sea Scrolls, containing ORIGINAL manuscripts of scripture were discovered in 1940-1950 time frame.

Now the Bible translators have NEW and verified documents and they discovered the original Bibles were missing some of the scriptures originally written OR they had actually translated and added verses that were NOT in the original manuscripts.

Okay…so we now have 150+ Bible translations, some written before Dead Sea Scrolls and some written after. To see all the translations visit Bible Gateway.

Second…we have legends and other historical documents that have been discovered through historical research.

So when the Bible was originally translated, these legends were believed true and then later discovered the time frames might be wrong or the stories might be a legend and not a fact. One example is Simon the Magician (I just wrote a long research paper on him) and there were legends that he claimed to bury himself alive in the ground and waited three days to see if he resurrected. Seriously! This legend says he died, yet other legends said he died another way. It was not mentioned in the Book of Acts because 1) Luke kept to his original message and didn’t want the focus on Simon and 2) it was legend and not verified by any supporting documents.

Third… there is difficulty in Bible translators verifying dates.

I highly recommend Acts (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Darrell Brock, or one of his other commentaries because the author actually will tell you ALL THE DIFFERENT DATES. So he says “document xxx says 600-400BC” and then “document yyy says 650-550bBC” and he presents all the different verified data, then he explains why Bible scholars have concluded a specific date. It’s actually fascinating to read…I highly recommend reading ONE of his books.

Why are Bible dates important?

It’s valuable to the historical context: who was the king or leader at the time, what was the moral and social environment at the time. Especially with the Greek gods…A date range is often more preferred than an exact date where there are no historical documents to date the time.

In our workbook Read the Bible For Life, on page 81 George Guthrie puts Habakkuk on the timeline with “610?” and his question mark indicates there is some confusion on the exact date for this prophet. I have the John MacArthur Bible Commentary and he lists Habakkuk as 620-605BC. I have the Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary and he lists Habakkuk as four different dates. He writes “Some suggest the time of Jehoikim (609-597BC), others maintain Josiah’s time (621 BC), and still others in the time of Manasseh (686-643BC).” I’m going to stop there…because while I don’t know the exact date of this prophet what I do know is that there is confusion with Bible scholars over his exact date.

What are the differences in Bible versions?

KJV and NKJV, NASB, ESV are word-for-word transaltions. NIV, HCSB, NET, NLT are thought-for-thought translations. AMP and Message are paraphrased Bibles, Message is translated by one author rather than a team of scholars. The word-for-word is closer to the original source language. The thought-for-thought is easier for understanding and therefore recommended for new Bible study students. For this reason, there will be variances in Bible translations. Choose the translation that you understand and use the Life Application Study Bible if you are new to Bible study, as you will find help applying what you learn.

What are the warnings of Bible inaccuracy?

Not all Bibles are accurate. Some have added books. Some have removed text. Some have suggested God is a Mother and Jesus is not the Messiah. Some are dangerous and false teachings.

How to Select a Bible That is Right For You

We often get asked about differences in Bible translations. Here are some helpful things to remember about different Bible versions.

  1. Pick the same Bible translation your pastor is using at church. Much of your denomination doctrine will be based on that version.
  2. Pick a study Bible. Beginners will find “Life Application Study Bible” easy to understand. Or the “New Spirit Filled Life Bible” which is a comparison of differences in doctrine and emphasis on Holy Spirit in Scriptures.
  3. Pick a commentary from your favorite theologian. Examples would be Tony Evans, Charles Stanley, Matthew Henry, John MacArthur, David Jeremiah, Warren Wiersbe, Moody, Holman, NKJV Commentary, NIV Commentary, Dallas Seminary, etc.
  4. Advanced Study: Some Bible teachers use Keyword Study Bible with Hebrew and Greek references. Many Bible scholars use the Thompson Chain Bible.
  5. You might use more than one Bible. For study, I use the Tony Evans Bible, Charles Spurgeon Bible, Keyword Study Bible, New Spirit Filled Bible. For journaling I use the Illuminated Faith Bible. 


    Simple Method to Organize Prayers

    Many women have been asking about my Simple Prayer Box and sharing my photos with their friends. I started this a few years ago when my I selected “simplicity” as my one focus word for the year. I wanted a simple method to organize my prayers and a method to intercede for family and friends. I’ve made a few changes since then and here is the prayer box I’m using today.

    How to Create a Simple Prayer Box

    You’ll need these items for your prayer box:

    1. Index card file box with key
    2. Index card blank tabs
    3. Index card 1-31 tabs (optional)
    4. Index cards

    I found my file box at Walmart and another one at the local office supply store. You can also find them at Amazon in pretty colors: pink, white or silver and black. I was not able to find the index blank tabs locally so I bought them online.

    Debbie Oliver Prayer Box

    How to Use Your Simple Prayer Box

    Organize your box using the index tabs. Here’s how I have organized my box using these tabs:

    1. Ministry leaders at Womens Bible Cafe
    2. Ministry Leaders in other ministries
    3. Scripture Verses- (Beth Moore SSMT my memory verses)
    4. My Bible study small groups
    5. Family
    6. Friends
    7. Church- my local church, other churches, pastors
    8. Fasting- when I am fasting I keep cards on my prayers and answered prayers
    9. Prayer Room- these are the women who post prayer requests online
    10. Country and Government
    11. Daily tabs 1-31

    Behind each tab I keep the names in alphabetical order, it’s easier for me to find the name of a friend and add her prayer to her card. If someone has a scheduled surgery, mammogram, doctor’s appointment, job interview, etc.- I use the numbered tabs and move her card there so I remember to pray for her on a specific date. I also use the numbered tabs to remember birthdays. Under monthly tabs I keep a record of the dates to celebrate the life of a loved one, anniversaries, or special events.

    During my quiet time with the Lord, I pull a stack of cards and pray through them.  If I am convicted of a Scripture verse, I write it on the prayer card including the date. Several of my friends have breast cancer, so I keep all their names on a single card and set aside time to pray for them as a group. When prayers are answered, I write this on my card.

    You could write the address, phone number and email of your friends on the top or back of the card. Then as you are praying send them a text message, or if you have the time, a handwritten card. Don’t complicate this…as you create your own prayer box pray and ask the Lord how to keep it simple so that you will use it.

    I’d love to see photos and ideas from your own prayer boxes, so please post them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. These are wonderful gifts ideas for your girlfriends and Bible study leaders. It’s also a good activity for local small groups to create their boxes together.

    Do not buy index cards at Walmart, I discovered the paper is really thin and doesn’t hold up well. If you want to save money, split the cost of the blank tabs with a friend, or don’t use the 1-31 tabs. Keep in mind this is something you’ll use for years, so the initial cost is small compared to the long-term use!

    UPDATE: it’s been four years since I started this and I love seeing your prayer boxes. Women are telling me stories on how these boxes remind them to pray and what to pray. They are PERFECT GIFTS for friends and family.


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    Locking Index Box (many colors available)

    3 x 5 Index Cards

    Blank File Tabs 

    1-31 Daily Tabs

    Le Pens

    Notes: I tried the larger 4×6 box and it was too bulky, so I went back to the 3×5 box. I keep index cards near my computer and when I am online and see a prayer request, I write this on the card and put into my box so I don’t lose it.



    Bible Cafe™ Founder & Director

    CHRISTINE ABRAHAM is the Bible Cafe™ Founder and helps people understand the Bible, fellowship in small groups, and develop a lasting relationship with Jesus. She earned a Graduate of Theology degree in Biblical Studies from Liberty University. Christine has facilitated more than 100 Bible Cafe™ studies. She is a popular Christian Life & Leadership Coach. She lives in California with her husband and two rescue dogs. 

    40 Days Spiritual Fast

    Throughout biblical history we see 40 days of testing, waiting and drawing closer to God. Ash Wednesday and 40 Days of Lent typically mark a spiritual quest for Christians, though it’s often recognized as a Catholic tradition. It’s a time of prayer, service, sacrifice and self-examination.  Look beyond the face of religion and into the heart …and see if God is calling you for the next 40 days. Does He want your attention and your heart focused on Him?

    (image: Bigstock)

    40 day spiritual journeys are well known in the Bible.  In Genesis 7 Noah spent 40 days and nights on a boat while God destroyed everything he had created. In Exodus 34 Moses was on the mountain with God 40 days without eating bread or drinking water, while God wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 16:35 the Israelites ate manna 40 days until they arrived in the promised land. They then suffered 40 years in the wilderness for disobeying God. In Deut 2:7  we’re reminded “The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. ”
    Jesus was called by God and immediately a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:11-13 NIV

    Below are some ideas about spending 40 days with God.

    Remember to choose a DAILY sacrifice or event for Lent. Giving up surfing, for example, is not a daily event. Look for something you do daily! -Christine Abraham

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    40 Days of Lent

    Financial Fast- One year during 40 days of Lent, my husband and I decided to give up (fast from)  all luxury expenses. Since we use budgeting software, we were able to look at 12 months of luxury expenses (pizza, movies, coffee drinks, dining out, etc) and estimate the daily cost. We multiplied the cost by 40 days and then gave up these luxuries with a promise to God to give the money saved to charity. In the final two weeks my husband lost his job and we were tempted to keep the money. By faith, we donated the money and trusted God with our finances. By blessing others we were blessed by God. We learned how to live on less and continued to give up luxuries until he found new employment.  It was truly amazing! You can learn more about this in the book “Fasting for Financial Breakthrough” by Liberty University co-founder Elmer Towns.

    Food- Another year, we practiced 40 days of Lent by traditional fasting. We gave up specific foods or eating at specific times of the day. The concept is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. One word of caution when fasting: watch your blood sugar! I ended up hospitalized after 40 days of liquids until 5pm and light meals in the evening. It turns out I had hypoglycemia and the artificial sweeteners in those high-calorie coffee drinks made me incredibly sick! Know your threshold and guard your health. You can learn more about this in the popular book Fasting: Opening the Door to a More Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful relationship with God by Jentezen Franklin. Recently I fasted 40 days from coffee (my daily addiction) and grown in wisdom as I pray. It was during a 40-day coffee fast where our NEW membership site was crafted!

    Events- My children are making decisions about their own level of participation. They might fast from television, texting, Facebook or specific foods such as sweets, pizza or fast food. I’ve been fasting from technology each week, filling my day with scripture, fellowship and prayer. Unplug from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites… and plug in to Jesus. Finish a Bible study you never completed. Devote some time to Him…and be richly blessed. Elmer Towns explains the different types of Biblical fasts in his book “Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough.

    40 Days of Prayer

    Devotionals– Now is a good time to start reading a devotional and praying each day. One year I read ten devotionals a day, for 40 days. One of the most popular devotionals is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, where each day you read a sample of what Jesus might write to you.  The Life Application Study Bible Devotional is more scripture based and focuses on Jesus’ life as seen through scripture. My Utmost for His Highest is a classic devotional with powerful words. I enjoy reading the Henry Blackaby devotional Experiencing God Day-by-Day and the Christine Caine devotional Living Life Undaunted. Beth Moore has some awesome devotionals too, especially Praying God’s Word Day by Day. Stormie Omartian has a popular series of prayer books, such as The Power of a Praying Wife, or the Power of a Praying Parent.I

    Psalms– Pick up your bible during 40 days of Lent, and pray through the Psalms each day or read the book Praying the Psalms by Elmer Towns. As you read the verses, focus your mind on how you can apply the verses to your life today. Select a few favorites and memorize them.

    Prayer Walk– Each day when you exercise (or just driving the car to work and carpool) go on a “prayer walk.” Notice your surroundings and pray for those people around you. Pray for your neighbors as you walk past their homes, pray for the person parked at the stoplight beside you, pray for those people in your path. Read the book PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by Janet Holm McHenry.

    Body Prayer– During the next 40 days of Lent, pray through your body. Start at your feet and toes and pray something similar to this “Lord, examine my toes and feet. Search for anything that is not pleasing to you, find anything that is toxic and does not honor you. Wash over my feet and toes with the blood of Jesus and allow my feet and toes to honor Him.” Repeat for each body part, from toes to head as you lie in bed and prepare to fall asleep.

    Read– Turn off the television and read your Bible or Christian books for 40 days.

    Memorize Scripture– Get some index cards and write out scripture verses to memorize. I use a spiral notebook, small enough for my handbag so I can carry it with me. There are also apps for your smartphone or computer which help memorize scripture. Make sure the verse is visible so you can read it often during the week.

    Pray For a Child– If you are a parent or grandparent, pray for your children each day for the next 40 days. Pray for your nieces and nephews. If you sponsor a child through Compassion International, Gospel of Asia or World Vision then spend the next 40 days praying for your child. Pray for children who are waiting to be adopted. For the next 40 days, find children you can pray for.

    Pray For a Relationship– Pray for your spouse, friend, boyfriend or a relationship. Focus each day on the same person and spend 40 days covering this person with your prayers.

    Pray for Your Coworkers– Print a copy of the company directory or write a few names down on paper and pray for these people during the next 40 days. Pray for them to know Jesus, for peace and hope  in their lives and for God to reveal Himself to them. Pray with expectation for goodness, peace, joy and hope in their lives.

    Pray the Names of God– In the Experiencing God workbook, there is a long list of the names of God in scripture. Print this list and pray daily on His name and character. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Him through His name. You can also find a book on this by Ann Springer called Praying the Names of God: A Daily Guide

    40 Days of Praise

    Worship Music-  Change the radio station in your car or on your computer to Christian music and listen exclusively for the next 40 days of Lent.  Scan YouTube for Christian songs and save your favorites in your profile. Listen to www.KLOVE.com on your computer or in the car. When I’m carpooling my kids will say “Just to warn you, my Mom likes to listen to this stuff!” Often their friends reply “Don’t worry, my Mom does it too!”  We also play Christian music on our television when we’re at home… you can find it on satellite or cable if you search around the channels. If you like alternative and rock, listen to www.AIR1.com 

    Journal– Get a fresh notebook and journal your gratitude to God. Read the popular book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and make a decision to start noticing the gifts God has bestowed upon you. This is especially wise if you are under a cloud of unemployment, financial worries, health problems or relationship troubles. Count your blessings for the next 40 days. Create a Spiritual Journal by listing prayer requests and Bible study notes during the next 40 days.

    Beauty Treatments– When is the last time you used your body as praise to God? Created in His image…when you look in the mirror do you see the child He loves or something less beautiful in your own eyes? Explore opportunities to honor your body and treat yourself as a son or daughter of the King. What would you eat as His child? How would you dress? What would you do to maintain the body He created for you? Put this thought into your heart, pray over it and see if you need “40 days of beauty treatments” in the name of the Lord.  Start praying on Psalm 139 each day and make a commitment to be fearfully and wonderfully made. Exercise, eat right and take care of the body God designed for you. Read the book Fit For Your Assignment by Reina Olmeda and implement some changes in your life.

    40 Days of Giving

    Giving Letters– In our modern day it’s rare to receive a letter or even a Christmas letter. Most people use the speed of text messages, email and Facebook posts. Why not break tradition and mail a handwritten letter, once a day, for 40 days. Mail to a prison ministry, a senior home, the teachers at your child’s school, or a network of friends.

    Giving Joy– Read the book Spreading Joy Daily by Marie Wikle and find ways to share the love of Christ with others. The book is filled with simple ways to make a difference.

    Cooking– My mother-in-law calls me her “Meals on Wheels” because I bring her homemade foods. If you are making a family meal, double the batch of spaghetti, soup, stew or lasagna. Package this with a loaf of bread and deliver it to your neighbors, family member or a coworker. Use the element of surprise and make their day special when you bring an unexpected meal. Make a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes and each day during the week find someone you can share them with. Make something healthy from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook  or make comfort foods from Magnolia Home Cookbook or Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Cookbook. My family likes meals from all of these great books.

    Giving Your Time– Spend 40 days giving your time and attention to your friend, spouse, children or family members. Pull yourself away from Facebook and social media, from the distractions of the television or internet…and center your time on someone else. Make a list with the number 1-40 and each day write a name of someone you are going to give time to. You can make a phone call, send an email, mail a card, or visit in person. Take the focus off yourself and your needs and give time to someone else.

    These are just a few ideas to start you thinking about your own 40-day spiritual journey. The decision to spend 40 days focused on God is yours alone. Pray over this and see if you are led to do something or possibly wait for another time. Know that during your 40 days with God you will attract the attention of the enemy and he will throw flaming arrows your way. Stand firm with the shield of faith and keep your eyes and heart on God.

    Fasting is not dieting! Remember, do NOT fast from any foods without your doctor’s approval. Be safe!

    LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION! Share your 40 days of Lent experiences and encourage one another in the comments below.