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Comparison of Translations: Word Choice (NASB, ESV, NKJV, KJV)

 

Chose which translations you wish to view:

NASB  ESV  NKJV  KJV  J. N. Darby 

(J. N. Darby's translation is included to provide a very literal rendering from a respected translation.)


* indicates verses of special significance

Highlighted words I like better in a different translation

 

Note: Any verse may be compared here

Psalms

Psalm 32:1-2

NASB  How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
ESV Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
NKJV Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
KJV Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
JND Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! Blessed is the man unto whom Jehovah reckoneth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile!

 

Notes: The ESV appears to be somewhat inconsistent in its use of the generic man vs. one (and other forms of gender-neutral language).

Daniel

Daniel 3:25

NASB  He said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"
ESV He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."
NKJV "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
KJV He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
JND He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of God.

 

Notes: This is a matter of interpretation.

Luke

Luke 1:35 *

NASB  The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
ESV And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God.
NKJV And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
KJV And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
JND And the angel answering said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and power of the Highest overshadow thee, wherefore the holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God.

 

Notes: John Gill understands the word "thing" (neuter article) to refer to the human nature of Christ. However, I still prefer the other renderings.

John

John 1:1

NASB  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
NKJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
JND In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

Notes: This monumental text is translated exactly the same in each version.

John 3:16

NASB  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
ESV "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
NKJV For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
KJV For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
JND For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.

 

Notes:

John 4:1

NASB  Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John
ESV Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John
NKJV Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John
KJV When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
JND When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus makes and baptises more disciples than John

 

Notes:

Acts

Acts 2:27

NASB  BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.
ESV For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
NKJV FOR YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HADES, NOR WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION.
KJV Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
JND for thou wilt not leave my soul in hades, nor wilt thou give thy gracious one to see corruption.

 

Notes: "Hell" gives the idea that Jesus went where the lost are, whereas He actually went to Paradise. God did not leave Him in the realm of the dead, but raised Him from among the dead. "Abandon...to" vs "Leave...in" is a matter of interpretation.

Acts 2:28

NASB  "YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE."
ESV You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.
NKJV "YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF JOY IN YOUR PRESENCE."  
KJV Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
JND Thou hast made known to me the paths of life, thou wilt fill me with joy with thy countenance.

 

Acts 2:42

NASB  They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
ESV And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
NKJV And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
KJV And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
JND And they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in breaking of bread and prayers.

 

Notes: The ESV inserts all the definite articles found in the Greek text. It is interesting that the usually more-literal NASB leaves some out.

Romans

Romans 5:6 *

NASB  For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
ESV For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 
NKJV For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 
KJV For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 
JND for we being still without strength, in the due time Christ has died for the ungodly. 

 

Notes: Though "weak" is an accurate translation of the particular word used, I believe "helpless" and "without strength" are a better translation in this context.

Romans 7:3-4

NASB  So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
ESV Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 
NKJV So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 
KJV So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
JND so then, the husband being alive, she shall be called an adulteress if she be to another man; but if the husband should die, she is free from the law, so as not to be an adulteress, though she be to another man. So that, my brethren, *ye* also have been made dead to the law by the body of the Christ, to be to another, who has been raised up from among the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 

 

Notes: The bold words are the same Greek word.

Romans 7:14

NASB  For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
ESV For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
NKJV For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
JND For we know that the law is spiritual: but *I* am fleshly, sold under sin.

 

Notes: Greek does not have the definite article in "THE flesh"

Romans 8:16 *

NASB  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
ESV The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
NKJV The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
KJV The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
JND The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.

 

Notes: Notice that NASB and NKJV capitalize personal pronouns of deity.
Itself here does not give the Holy Spirit His personal character, although the word is indeed neuter. A.T. Robertson states, "It is a grave mistake to use the neuter it or itself when referring to the Holy Spirit." (Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Romans 8:28

NASB  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
ESV And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
NKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
KJV And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
JND But we *do* know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to purpose.

 

Notes: God is the subject in some manuscripts, thus the different reading in NASB.

Romans 9:4

NASB  who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
ESV They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.
NKJV who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
KJV Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
JND who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law-giving, and the service, and the promises;

 

Notes:

Romans 9:22

NASB  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
ESV What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
NKJV What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
KJV What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
JND And if God, minded to shew his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction;

 

Notes:

Romans 14:23 *

NASB  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
ESV But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
NKJV But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
KJV And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
JND But he that doubts, if he eat, is condemned; because it is not of faith; but whatever is not of faith is sin.

 

Notes: Those who do not eat in faith are not "damned" (KJV) to hell but are "condemned".

1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 1:10

NASB  Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
ESV I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
NKJV Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
KJV Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
JND Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and that there be not among you divisions; but that ye be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion.

 

Notes:ESV uses "brothers" and often notes "brothers and sisters" in the margin.

1 Corinthians 1:13

NASB  Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
ESV Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
NKJV Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
KJV Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
JND Is the Christ divided? has Paul been crucified for you? or have ye been baptised unto the name of Paul?

 

Notes: NASB distinguishes questions for which the expected answer is "no" with "will he?" or "does he?" added at the end.

1 Corinthians 1:26

NASB  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
NKJV For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
KJV For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
JND For consider your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to flesh, not many powerful, not many high-born.

 

Notes:

1 Corinthians 2:15

NASB  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
ESV The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
NKJV But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
KJV But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
JND but the spiritual discerns all things, and *he* is discerned of no one.

 

Notes:

1 Corinthians 11:3 *

NASB  But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
ESV But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
NKJV But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
KJV But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
JND But I wish you to know that the Christ is the head of every man, but woman's head is the man, and the Christ's head God.

 

Notes: The ESV interprets this verse to refer to a wife rather than the woman, but to do so it must change the same word in verse 8 etc. to woman to make it understandable. The proper interpretation is woman, not wife. (Likewise husband and man.)

1 Timothy

1 Timothy 3:1

NASB  It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
ESV The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
NKJV This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
KJV This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
JND The word is faithful: if any one aspires to exercise oversight, he desires a good work.

 

Notes: I do not like the translation office or position here, and prefer JND. An overseer does not lord over the flock, but works among them. The word here literally means over-seership (A.T. Robertson).

Hebrews

Hebrews 2:10

NASB  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
ESV For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
NKJV For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
KJV For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
JND For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make perfect the leader of their salvation through sufferings.

 

Notes: This shows an example of how the NASB is generally more literal than the ESV (perfect is in the infinitive mood).

1 Peter

1 Peter 2:8

NASB  and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
ESV and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
NKJV and "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
KJV And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
JND and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence; who stumble at the word, being disobedient to which also they have been appointed.

 

Notes: Robertson/Bigg points out that their disobedience is not ordained, but rather the penalty of their disobedience is.

1Peter 4:11

NASB  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
ESV whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
NKJV If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
KJV If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
JND If any one speak--as oracles of God; if any one minister--as of strength which God supplies; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might for the ages of ages. Amen.

 

Notes: ESV distances Christ from the final clause, likely to break up the long sentence. The ESV generally brings out the deity of Christ well, however.

2 Peter

2 Peter 1:1

NASB  Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
ESV Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
NKJV Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
KJV Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
JND Simon Peter, bondman and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have received like precious faith with us through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ:

 

Notes: Each translation brings out the deity of Christ. The Greek construction requires that the bolded expression be one person, not two (A.T. Robertson). The same construction is accurately translated in Titus 2:13 as well.

2 Peter 1:21

NASB  for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
ESV For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the HolySpirit.
NKJV for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
KJV For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
JND for prophecy was not ever uttered by the will of man, but holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Notes: The word holy (men) is not in some manuscripts. I prefer Spirit over Ghost (KJV).


Jude

Jude v5

NASB  Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.
ESV Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
NKJV But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
KJV I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
JND But I would put you in remembrance, you who once knew all things, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed those who had not believed.

 

Notes: Some manuscripts have the Lord, some Jesus, some God. Saving (participle) is more literal than saved.

 


Citations are from the following versions (click link for more details):

NASB:1995 Revision, New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by Lockman Foundation

ESV: English Standard Version, copyright 2001 Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

KJV: King James Version (Authorized Version), 1611, public domain. Quotations may be from the 1769 edition (E-Sword) or 1987 printing (Bible Gateway)- there is little variation between them.

NKJV: New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.