The Holy Bible

English Standard Version (ESV)


This article describes the reasons the Elders and Pastor recommend that we use the ESV translation as our pew Bible. 


“Easy to read, yet utterly accurate.” –Joni Eareckson Tada, President Joni and Friends

“The ESV will be warmly received and universally respected by all those who love the Bible and demand faithful and accurate translation.  This is a translation you will trust and treasure.”  ---Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Meticulous care and passionate research make the ESV a crisp, accurate, and valuable translation.”  --Max Lucado, Minister, Oak Hills Church of Christ

“The translation is outstanding.  The ESV achieves a new standard in accurate Bible translations of our day.”  --Dr. R.C. Sproul, Chairman, Ligonier Ministries


“Exposing millions of people (pastors, teachers, students, laypeople) to the ESV would undo the dominance of the NIV and put in its place a more literal, and yet a beautifully readable, memorizable Bible—the English Standard Version.  And this would be a good thing.  In the following examples of NIV paraphrasing compared to the more literal ESV [see appendices] there are four convictions at stake.


1. A more literal translation respects the original author's way of writing. It is a way of  honoring the  inspired writers.


2. Translators are fallible and they may mislead the English reader if they use unnecessary paraphrases to bring out one possible meaning and conceal others.


3. A more literal translation gives preachers more confidence that they can preach what the English text says with authority that it reflects what the original Greek or Hebrew text says.


4. A more literal translation which preserves ambiguities that are really there in the original keeps open the possibility of new insight by future Bible readers.


I do not claim that the ESV is without its own level of "paraphrasing." Some will always be necessary. And there will always be disagreements about how much is necessary. I am simply arguing that the ESV is the best balance available of readability and literalness. I hope that it becomes the standard for the church.”  --John Piper, Desiring God Ministries


Translation Philosophy

The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and readability, between “formal equivalence” in expression and “functional equivalence” in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence.

As an essentially literal translation, then, the ESV seeks to carry over every possible nuance of meaning in the original words of Scripture into our own language. As such, it is ideally suited for in-depth study of the Bible. Indeed, with its emphasis on literary excellence, the ESV is equally suited for public reading and preaching, for private reading and reflection, for both academic and devotional study, and for Scripture memorization.



Translation Style

The ESV also carries forward classic translation principles in its literary style. Accordingly it retains theological terminology—words such as grace, faith, justification, sanctification, redemption, regeneration, reconciliation, propitiation—because of their central importance for Christian doctrine and also because the underlying Greek words were already becoming key words and technical terms in New Testament times.



Appendix 1: Examples of NIV Paraphrasing Compared to the More Literal ESV

(Compiled April 11, 2003)


Romans 1:5

ESV Through [Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith (hupakoen pisteos) for the sake of his name among all the nations.

NIV Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.


Hebrews 6:1

ESV . . . not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works (nekron ergon)

NIV . . . not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death.


James 2:12

ESV So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty (nomou eleutherias).

NIV Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.


1 Peter 1:20

ESV He was foreknown (proegnosmenou) before the foundation of the world.

NIV He was chosen before the creation of the world.