NIV vs. ESV internal debate rages on

I’m getting ready for a youth camp I’m speaking at next week. I’m sharing the load with a buddy and fellow pastor, which means we’ve had a few sessions to sit down and talk through the kind of week we want these students to experience in the “youth tent”. Our selected text is a classic for teens — 1 Timothy 4:12. Because I was raised NIV, I have that version memorized:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”.

Because I’ve decided to give the ESV a serious run to be my main translation, I of course went to it to get ready for the week, where 1 Timothy 4:12 is rendered as:

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

I read it to my co-youth-speaker and he said “conduct?” I said “yeah, that’s how the ESV says it”. He said “sounds old fashioned”, to which I agreed. Then I felt a sense of “aw, man… I want to use the ESV because it’s a very accurate dynamic equivalence translation, but… it sounds old fashioned”.

So now I’m bouncing back to the New International Version just for the week. And I know what’s going to happen — I’ll like some things about it and not like other things about it. The internal dialog will look like this:

> The NIV is good because just about everyone has it, and it’s kind of the denominational “standard”

> The ESV is a new translation that deserves to be adopted because it’s new and accurate

> But the NIV is much easier to understand and will not put up a language barrier

> Yes, but the ESV is accurate — it says “conduct” because it’s a better translation

> True, but the first thing I’d have to say is “conduct means life, guys”. And if I’m going to say that…

> You raise a good point, self. But does this mean you’re abandoning your ESV commitment?

> By asking that, am I becoming an ESV fundamentalist?

> I wonder if I should just use the NLT since it makes a ton of sense but tends to over-simplify things to the point that it loses its punch

> Mmm… I love punch.

Ugh… being an early adopter sucks.

PS: the NIV vs. ESV posts get the most action on this blog.  I know you’re reading.  Let’s hear some comments.

About radamdavidson

When I'm not blogging, I'm hanging out with my family, pastoring a church, or listening to vinyl. I think and write about Jesus, music, communication, organizational leadership, family whatnot, and cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at, watch [RadCast], a daily 3 minute video devotional, or find me on socials (@radamdavidson). I also help Pastors in their preaching and public speaking (
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.