When I was in AWANAs, I learned verses from the New International Version. Every Bible in my possession was, for some reason, NIV as well. Then when I was in a Bible study of Colossians about a year ago, I printed off the English Standard Version of the passages from Biblehub.com. Absolutely fell in love with the translation. I finally got around to replacing my NIV Bibles very recently though. Before going to the store, I conducted a little research. From that research, there are three translations that I think stand above the rest: New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and English Standard Version (ESV).
First up, NKJV. It’s based off the original translation of the Bible into English (KJV), it’s just in language that is a bit easier to understand (no thee’s and thou’s, etc.). The early English words we no longer understand the full definitions of, and run-on sentences were cut down, if not completely taken out. It’s poetic text, though it is still at a higher reading level.
NASB is the closest translation of the original Hebrew and Greek in modern day language. It often says something in a way the middle of what KJV and NKJV says, except in “our” language. The poetic-ness is taken out, I suppose for accuracy, and the reading level is higher. Pretty much, it’s for people who want to dig into the Bible and know that what they are reading is accurate without having to constantly check the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words.
ESV is very close to the original meaning as well. Often the general meaning conveyed matches that of the KJV. It is very clear, concise, and poetic. For its readability, it is highly accurate.
John Piper wrote an interesting article on Bible translations. (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/good-english-with-minimal-translation-why-bethlehem-uses-the-esv) He says in it that the NIV is a paraphrase, which I thought was a pretty big statement. NASB is the most accurate, he says, but most Americans would not like the way it is written so he suggests that every American get an ESV Bible.
Here’s a website where you can specifically choose which translations you would like to compare next to each other: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1cor+13&version=NKJV;NASB;ESV
God can speak through any translation. He’s God, who are we to think we can put a limit on Him? None of them are perfect. I like to know that what I’m reading is at least somewhat close to what God originally intended. The words, or meaning that He wanted to convey, is interesting to me because His writing style tells me more about Him. God is creative, yet to the point. Because of grace, freedom, and how great my God is, I won’t say that one translation is better than another; each person should make the decision of which translation to read and study from for themselves.