We’ve recently been asked what English translation(s) of the Bible we recommend and use.
We highly recommend the ESV, English Standard Version. It is a word for word translation while still readable.
Go to: http://www.esv.org/ for more information. We have loved “The Reformation Study Bible” as our English STUDY Bible, having many useful and accurate notes. (Do a google search for it)
Second, we would recommend the NASB (New American Standard) for its closeness to the Greek, though it is more difficult to read. After that, the NEW King James is good.
Of course, any form of God’s word is better than none at all. So, though the NIV (New International Version) and the old King James are not among our recommendations, they are still used by God as translations. We don’t recommend these for two reasons. The NIV is a phrase for phrase translation that results in compromise of the original meaning in places. The KJV is unreadable and based on limited early and less reliable manuscripts.
We would stay away from things like the Message and similar paraphrases and retellings, as these are not actually translations but full-blown interpretations, not translations themselves. Too much is lost.
Enjoy his word!