How to Pick a Bible

Friend, did you know that you’re equipped by God for this journey you find yourself in? Oh yes, all you have to do is open a Bible to discover the truth that He’s not left you stranded nor has He abandoned you. In fact, He wants to see you grow closer to Him through faith in Jesus Christ and also discover who He really is through the reading of His Word.

But maybe you just don’t know where to start?

I remember the first time I held a Bible in my hands. It was a paperback edition with wild colors all over the front. My husband, who was then the young man I adored, sent it to me while I was studying in London with key verses highlighted. He wanted to give me the hope he found as we grieved the loss of our friend’s mom. Instead, I saw a bunch of words that made no sense. But by the grace of God, my friend Susie pushed that Bible aside, for a moment, and explained to me how to put my faith in Jesus Christ, simply by accepting His death on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.

I believed her every word and Jesus became my Savior that night.

From that point forward, I wanted to learn how to live like this Jesus I decided to follow. Susie gave me a student study Bible for Christmas that year, with my name  embossed on the cover. What a treasure it became, as I tore through the pages looking to meet this God who loved me enough to die for me. Of course, I also wanted to know if I could go on living just as I had been — as a wild and crazy college girl.

A Simple Guide for Picking the Best Bible for Your Learning Style

In my search for rules, I found grace and love in the Truth.

That Bible soon became like a friend to me, especially as my faith grew and I could see how the Holy Spirit was going about the business of answering all my questions scribbled out in the margins. I can picture the exact spot in which I pressed God for an answer about a part of my hidden past and the grease spot from a late night slice of pizza with my new friends from CRU. I must say, I kind of regret giving that Bible away in an emotional moment with a young girl I was mentoring. She reminded me of myself years earlier — I hoped she’d find my twenty-something questions relevant and turn her heart to the Lord.  I wonder, often, is it a treasure in her hands or has it been passed on to someone else?

As precious as that first Bible was to me, I’ve come to find that the Word — living, breathing, active –means so much more.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

For a season, I even gave up my faux leather bound devotional Bible that journeyed well with me through the early momma years and went all digital — let’s face it, when Beth Moore starts calling out Scriptures like a first grade sword drill, it’s much easier to use a smart phone App. But then I remembered the way those notes in my first Bible became evidence of my growing faith and I was  convicted to go back to an old fashion Bible.

I want evidence of my life lived written throughout the pages of Scripture!

Those underlined passages and margins notes are the melding of the story of my life with the One who made me to live and breath. I also want that intertwined story to leave a legacy for my children.

There may come a day when my notes written within God’s Word becomes a faith-builder for the next generation.

My friends, I share this Bible-journey story with you because I want you to make the Word the plumb-line of your life and a party of the legacy you leave behind, too.

And yet I know, that figuring out what Bible to select and dig into is often paralyzing. There are so many to choose from, and they meet so many needs!

So may I simplify it for you?

Will you let me help you remove every excuse that is standing in the way of finding a Bible and get to know God personally through digging into His Word?


A Simple Guide for Picking the Best Bible for Your Learning Style

How to Pick a Bible for Your Learning Style

As you considering the Bible that is best for you, be sure to also consider your learning style (consider these assessments here if you’re not sure). For example, if you are visual learner, one with maps and illustrations such as charts may be essential. If you are an auditory learning, look for a companion audio version to listen to as you go about your day. If you’re a kinestic learner, like me, then having one in which you can write in the margins may be your best bet.

Step 1:  Pick Your Translation

A Bible is translated from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in one of following ways:

Word-for-Word, which is known as Formal Equivalence, places primary emphasis on what the words in the original text say and mean, such as these translations:

  • King James Version ~ KJV
  • New King James Version ~ NKJV
  • New American Standard Bible ~ NASB
  • English Standard Version ~ ESV
  • Amplified ~ Amplified

Thought-for-thought, also known as Dynamic Equivalence,  places primary emphasis on the main thought or idea in the original text, such as  is  these translations:

  • New International Version ~ NIV
  • Today’s New International Version ~ TNIV
  • New Living Translation ~ NLT

Word-for-Word and Thought-for-Thought combined translations are  known as Optimal Translation, such as the:

  • Holman Standard Christian Bible ~ HSCB

Paraphrase, takes the original text and translates it into modern language and expression, usually additional words, such as these translations:

  • The Message Translation ~ The Message
  • The Voice ~ The Voice
  • The Living Bible ~ TLB

Step 2:  Pick Your Style

A Bible is put together by the publishers to meet a certain style of reading and study need. How you intend to use the Bible, will be your determining factor for what style you pick.  The options include:

  • Devotional ~ is designed to encourage reflection and personal time with the Lord in the Word, using interspersed devotionals written by a variety of people
  • Life Application ~ asks questions and points to ways to apply the Word
  • Study Bible ~ will contain information and historical facts to enhance for each book of the Bible
  • Chronological ~ books are listed in time line order
  • Hebrew/Greek ~ provides additional information based on the original language
  • One Year ~ divides into 365 readings
  • Student Bible ~ is designed for a high school or college student, meaning the helps and questions are written with their needs in mind
  • Parallel ~ has two translations side by side
  • Children’s Story Bible ~ literally written in story format with pictures for the littlest ones to comprehend the Gospel message
  • Backpack Bible ~ designed for youth to tote around in their backpacks

Step 3: Pick Your Features

In addition to the study style, you may also want to consider which features will suit your needs, such as:

  • Concordance ~ an index for looking up key words to find passages
  • Maps ~ either included in the text or at the end
  • Reading Plans ~ designed to help you read through the Bible in a certain period of time or to study a specific topic
  • Introduction to Each Book ~ provides history, author, time frame, etc.
  • Cross-Reference ~ refers to a place where a verse is also mentioned
  • Footnotes or Study Notes ~ elaborates on the Scriptures to aid in study
  • Red Letter ~ words of Christ are marked in red

Step 4: Pick Your Size & Shape

The size of the Bible and the font size are usually in proportion to one another.  Both are typically affected by the type of Bible and the features included.  The font size is actually rather important, as you want to be able read your Bible without straining your eyes.  And the size of the Bible is just as significant, as an in-depth study Bible is often to heavy to lug to church compared to a wallet size that fits easily into a purse.

  • Large Print ~ usually means larger than 12 pt
  • Small Print ~ usually 8 or 9 pt
  • Wallet ~ literally the size of a women’s wallet designed for carrying in a purse or backpack
  • Compact ~ usually larger than the wallet size, in width and depth
  • Pocket ~ may be the same size or small than the Wallet size
  • Personal Size ~ usually larger than a compact Bible, but not as a large as a formal study Bible
  • Study Bible ~ this kind is usually the largest format, meant for home study and not ideal for carrying to church or Bible study
  • Gift ~  typically, this is the size of Bible you would find in a church pew
  • Bonded Leather ~ this has the look and feel of leather, but not the durability nor the expense
  • Genuine Leather ~ indeed, it is made of leather, thus costing more but lasting longing
  • Hardbound ~ as the name indicates, this is a hardcover Bible
  • Paperback ~ just like a paper back book and usually very inexpensive

What luxury to have so many options.  One size may not fit all your needs, so pick one that has the most of what you are looking for and take advantage of the websites such as or to enhance your study of God’s Word.

Use Your Bible and Learn How to Abide

Now that you know what to look for in a Bible, grab yourself one that works and dig on it. If you’re still feeling stuck, consider grabbing a copy of Abide, which will take you through a 10-day for cultivating a thriving relationship with the Lord built off time in the Word, or jump into a longer process with Meet the New You: A 21-Day Journey for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change.

Abide: Helping You Grow Deep Faith Roots


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