Selecting a translation for Scripture Memory

If you’re going to memorize Scripture, you’ll need to select a translation. Which is best? The answer to that question is as individualized as you are.



Here are some ideas about selecting a translation:




Memorize from what you’re already used to. A natural selection is whatever translation you’re already used to.

  • Lots of Evangelicals in the United States use the NIV translation. That would be a natural ft for them.
  • Catholics in the United States who are biblically-fluent use the NAB. It is a natural choice for them.

Memorize from something different. Some people find it easier to memorize from a translation they’re not used to. The different phraseology “sticks” in their memory more easily.

  • Let’s say you already have years of investment in the NIV. Maybe the NASB would be worth considering.
  • Maybe you’re accustomed to the phraseology of The Message. For you, the medieval phraseology of the King James Version might be so jarringly different that its easier for you to memorize.

Memorize from what your Scripture Memory partners are using. If you’re blessed to be a part of a Scripture Memory Group, it can be helpful if everybody memorizes from the same translation. It doesn’t have to happen that way, of course.

However, if people in your Scripture Memory Group are using different translations, that’s not an obstacle. When your friends recite the verse in their translation, you just need to guard against absorbing their phraseology, so you don’t “cross-contaminate” your own memorized verse.

Memorize in a foreign language. Lots of people have some fluency in at least one foreign language. For the purpose of your own spiritual life, it might be really fruitful to memorize in that language.

But you won’t find that memorized verse of benefit to your ministry to others, unless you’re going to be among people who speak that language. If you’re around Mexican immigrants, Spanish would be a great language to memorize in. If you foresee going to Brazil as a missionary, a strategic choice might be to memorize in Portuguese.



Let’s say you’ve selected a translation. Now it’s time to see if that translation has different editions. If so, it can make a big difference.

Here are three examples . . .



There are several translations that are all referred to as NIV:

  • The original NIV BIble, released in 1978
  • The 1984 revision
  • The 2005 variant called the TNIV
  • The 2011 revision



Similarly, the NLT has been through several iterations:

  • The Living Bible of 1971
  • The original NLT of 1996
  • The 2004 revision
  • The 2007 revision



The NAB has been revised several times as well:

  • The original NAB, released in 1970
  • The revision of the New Testament in 1986. This edition is referred to as the Second Edition.
  • The revision of the Psalms in 1991. This edition is referred to as the Third Edition.
  • The revision of the entire Bible in 2011. This is referred to as the Fourth Edition, or NABRE.


Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.