Spiritual Disciplines

Bible Reading 2023: Grace and Truth NIV Study Bible

Bible Reading 2023: Grace and Truth NIV Study Bible

Years ago, my pastor challenged me to read the Bible through in a year. It is a practice I have found beneficial for over a decade. When I first came to the church I pastor, I restarted a reading plan with them that just focused on the New Testament and Psalms. Over the last several years, I have tried to read different Bible translations and different Bibles to familiarize myself with them. I study and preach from the ESV and began reading it through, but I have ventured out to read study Bibles and read different translations. In 2023, I read the Grace and Truth Study Bible, an NIV study Bible.

Buy it here:

Regarding the study Bibles, this is a good Bible with sufficient notes. There are clear gospel connections throughout the notes. I found the notes in the major Prophets, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, helpful. The historical books provided some information, though I often wanted more. I know the author who wrote the notes for 1 and 2 Chronicles, so they were especially nice to read. They were also quite helpful in making connections to Jesus. The New Testament was allotted more space for notes than the Old Testament. The volume of notes was useful, especially in challenging books like 1 Peter and Jude.

The NIV translation as a whole is good. It is readable and different enough from the ESV to let me pause and look at the text a bit slower. The NIV as a translation is more thought for thought and readable. Every translation aims for readability on some level. No translation is word for word; it wouldn’t be readable if it were!

My favorite illustration for this is when you translate idiomatic phrases in another language; a little book helps you see sayings across different languages. For instance, if you say, “I’m just pulling your leg,” in English, you mean, “I’m joking with you.” How do you translate that if you are speaking to a Russian? The phrase, “I’m pulling your leg,” literally will not work in Russian. Instead, you need to use the Russian equivalent, “I’m just hanging noodles on your ears,” which is also the title of the book of these phrases (I’m Just Hanging Noodles On Your Ears).

The Grace and Truth Study Bible uses a NIV approach to their notes. They will group verses for notes they offer. They can condense their notes by doing this, and it makes sense. It is helpful, though sometimes I wanted more information than they provided.

There are two things I didn’t like as much about the Bible. First, it lacked notes and extra information like maps within the pages that make understanding the context easier. Other inserts on historical data are expected in study Bibles and were a miss on this one. I love to read the OT, and when I do, I want to see where people are as I’m reading. The maps in the back are good, but when they are more specific to the book/passages you are reading, it helps with understanding. The second thing I disliked was the headings and breakdowns in the text. I am not sure if it was the NIV committee who made those decisions or those who edited the Study Bible; either way, it is not my favorite.

What I loved about the Bible outside of the notes is the concordance. There are over 300 pages of an excellent concordance. I am amazed by the detail and thoroughness of it.

For me, this Bible is not my favorite Study Bible. My favorite is the ESV Study Bible. It is unmatched on information, layout, and thoroughness. It is also bigger than a phone book. My second favorite is the CSB Study Bible. It is much better than people give it credit for. I use the ESV at my church office and the CSB at home. Its maps and notes are excellent. It should get wider acclaim. No one is touching the ESV anytime soon, but the CSB holds a solid second place for me. Where does the Grace and Truth Study Bible stand? I don’t know, towards the middle? It’s very good, but if you only can buy one, buy the ESV. If you see the CSB and have some extra money, buy it. It is well worth the price.

What am I reading this next year? I will read the Evangelical Study Bible in the New King James. It is a Bible done by authors from Liberty University. A professor there recommended it to me. It has been years since I read through the NKJV, so now seems like a good time to reread it. I’m looking forward to reading the Bible in 2024. Do you want to join me? I use the YOU VERSION Bible App. Search for me there or at Clough Pike Baptist Church, and you can read along with us.