what version of the Bible is the easiest to understand

The Bible was originally written thousands of years ago in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and to date, God’s Word is still changing lives and stirring faith in people. Some people still found the Bible to be difficult to read but what version of the Bible is the easiest to understand?

What version of the Bible is the easiest to Understand?

Most people found the New Living Translation (NLT) to be the easiest version of the Bible to read and understand because it uses normal modern English.

The New Living Translation is an accurate though-for-thought translation of the original languages of the Bible and is widely accepted to be the best overall choice for most people. However, it is not necessarily the best choice for everyone as every version of the Bible has a slightly different aim in its translation.

Here are my recommendations

Overall best choice for easiest to read versionNew Living Translation (NLT)
Higher reading level but also good for in-depth bible studyEnglish Standard Version (ESV)
Best for children and second language readersContemporary English Version (CEV)

You can even compare the text of each one on the website called Bible Gateway.  

However, when it comes to choosing a Bible version, there’s no one right answer because the decision is based on personal preference.

Most modern English versions of the Bible are fairly accurate to the original text. But, each version has its strength and limitations which makes it better for some uses than others. Some versions are good for reading and others are better for more serious Bible Study.

If you are a beginner, the best Bible version for you will be the one that fits your needs. To help you make a decision, let’s look at a few more details on my top 3 recommendations for Bible versions for beginners.  

1. New Living Translation (NLT)

what version of the bible is the easiest to understand

The New Living Translation aims for a 6th-grade reading level. Although not the lowest reading level on this list, most people see it as the best overall choice.

It is often referred to as a thought-for-thought translation and strikes a good balance between being literal and easy to read. The NLT is not a word-for-word translation but still a good choice for Bible Study.

The New Living Translation (NLT) is best for people who are looking for a Bible that is easy to read and understand. It is a great translation for reading as well as is good enough for in-depth Bible Study.

The New Living Translation is a good Bible for beginners because it is a great balance of being readable and accurate to the original text of the Bible.

2. English Standard Version (ESV) 

what version of the bible is the easiest to understand

This version of the Bible aims for an 8th-10th grade reading level. The ESV is not as easy to read as the NLT but it is still clear and easy to understand. The English Standard version is becoming a popular version because it is close to a word-for-word translation but still it’s clear and readable.

The English Standard version is best for people who are looking for a Bible that’s a good balance of easy to read yet great for serious Bible Study.

3. Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The Contemporary English Version aims for a 5th– grade reading level. It is the lowest reading level in this list.

It is not as popular as some of the other versions listed here but it can be a good choice for some people. The CEV is recommended here because it’s still based on the original text of the Bible.

The CEV is the easiest bible to read in terms of reading level. Most Children’s Bibles on the market today are paraphrases or storybooks and are marketed as Bibles but they are more like stories based on the Bible and not translations of the original text.

The Contemporary English Version is best for children because it is a full text of the Bible based on the original text but aimed at a lower reading level. It’s also a great choice for those who are learning English as a second language.

Reading Level of Bible Translations

Below is a table containing the reading levels of the most popular Bible versions:

Bible Version/TranslationReading Level
King James version (KJV)12th grade
New International Version (NIV)7th grade
English Standard Version (ESV)8th– 10th grade
New King James version (NKJV)7th – 9th grade
New American Standard Bible (NASB)11th grade
New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)3rd grade
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)7th grade
The Message (MSG)4th grade
Reina ValeraSpanish Translation

Based on data from the ECPA Bestsellers as of January 2021, these are the top 10 most popular Bible translations.

The King James Version (KJV) is best for historical value and poetic language. The KJV uses Elizabethan English from the 1600s that’s why it is not on my recommended list of easy-to-read versions.

Some of the reading levels have a range because different publishers and groups have different standards for how to measure them.

For example, the Message is a paraphrase of the Bible and intended for reading not as a Study Bible. This is because most paraphrases are influenced by one person and based on a group of language experts.

Personally, I don’t recommend paraphrases of the Bible for beginners this is because paraphrases lean more towards making the original text flow smoother in English and can also contain biases from one individual translator rather than a team.

However, this doesn’t mean that paraphrases are not devotional-type reading Bibles. Paraphrases are great to enhance your understanding but do not rely on it as your main version of the Bible.

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

There are lots of translations and versions available today, but how do you know which one to choose. There are so many options out there, so let me explain why I recommended the NLT, ESV, and the CEV before you can make a choice.

It is important to know the two major approaches in translating the Bible from the original text. They are word-for-word and though-for-thought.

Word-for-word translations try to stick closely as possible to each word of the original languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) while thought-for-thought translations lean more towards clear and expressing the Bible in modern English. However, this does not mean that they are not accurate, it is just a different emphasis and approach in translation.

Bible versions like ESV are more word-for-word while the NLT and CEV are more thought-for-thought. So, which Bible version is the most accurate and easy to understand?

Word-for-word versions are more accurate and thought-for-thought are “easy to understand” The ESV can be said to be slightly accurate since it leans towards word-for-word and NLT is translated thought-for-thought that’s why most people consider it to be easier to read.

The ESV is also becoming popular because it is clear and easy to read as well as the study bible choice for most people.

However, if you compare the different translations, you will probably find that most wordings are similar and the meaning is almost always the same.


So, what version of the Bible is the easiest to understand? Most Bible versions are good and still contain God’s Words. The NLT, ESV, and the CEV I recommended are the easiest Bible version to understand, so whichever one you decide to choose, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.

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