Which Version To Memorize?

Among the most common questions I receive, the answer to this one depends on which Bible you use the most.

If you grew up on the New American Standard Bible, and normally use that one for your Bible reading and study, then I recommend that one. It’s a personal preference issue, but it will also be easier to go with the one you’re most familiar with, because relearning verses you already know in a different translation can be a little more challenging—though not impossible.

Any Bible that is a translation, and NOT a paraphrase, is a legitimate choice for memorizing. Paraphrases are not recommended because their purpose is to restate the passage in a more elaborated form in order to clarify the text. In so doing they add opinion to the mix.

Here are just a few examples:

New American Standard Bible, NASB
King James Version, KJV
New King James Version, NKJV
English Standard Version, ESV
New Living Translation, NLT
New International Version, NIV

The Living Bible
The Message
The Amplified Bible

Many want to know which version I use. In 1992, I began memorizing from NIV (the 1984 version). I have continued with that one to this day. Why? I like the way it sounds—it speaks to me.

As you may know, the NIV, 1984 version, was replaced with a newer version, the NIV 2011. Zondervan Publishers, who owns the NIV, then took the older version out of circulation.

I’m not planning to change versions, especially because an app for NIV 1984 is available at


or for android, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.piebridge.bible

I highly recommend having an app on your phone because it makes the Bible accessible throughout the day.

Some people may memorize different books/passages in different versions. I don’t have a problem with that.

I would love for others to add their two cents. Which version do you memorize? What do you like about that version? What do you recommend for beginners?

4 comments to Which Version To Memorize?

  • Chérie

    I have also memorized nearly all my chapters out of the NIV84. The reason is the same. I have a very used, very written in, very highlighted NIV84. I’ve had it almost 30 years now. When I started memorizing 5 years ago, it wasnt even a question. This version was what I had used for my own study and devotion. 

    As I began to memorize—I noticed that many verses or partial verses were already in my memory and I hadn’t even realized it, and it was because I had used the same version for so long.

    If you are a beginner, and you don’t have a version that you have used for years, go for the ESV. I use my ESV Study Bible for more in-depth study and I love it for that.

    When all is said and done though, it really is about “throwing your brain a bone” and using the version that makes it easier for you to dive into the world of mega-memorizing. You will be so glad you are etching Gods word in your memory —whatever version you use.

  • Tony

    Girl after my own heart. That is the translation that I, too, started with and use today. I have attempted other translations, but have discovered, as you probably have too, just don’t work as well for me.

    Yet another kindred heart. 🙂

  • Vickie

    I use the KJV, because all the thee(s), thou(s), ye(s), and “th(s)” mean scripture to me and evoke respect more than common language. Not that I disrespect any other version, I was raised reading, and sitting under preaching of the classic King James Version, so that means Holy Bible to me personally. Agree that you should use the version you are accustomed to. Some folks don’t like the KJV because they feel it is hard to understand and requires deeper study to discover the application of it to our modern world. I like that, because it requires more reflection and study. Being a memorizer and some one who loves the arts, I adore the wording of the King James. It grabs my attention like nothing else. I LOVE the Word of God!!!! No matter which version, His Word never fails!

  • I avoid the translation problem and just memorize in Greek. haha 😉
    Seriously, I have memorized a few verses in Greek (~10, so not many) and it is helpful (if you know Greek). But then I still have translate it into English to be useful to me, so that is then the LB version.

    Otherwise I use the Updated NASB because that’s what I started with in 1978. (In contrast to others I don’t really like Thees and Thous, but that is my personal preference; God has made us all different.)

    For new believers and older kids who have no Bible background I recommend the ESV. As one who has studied the original languages I believe that it has the best translation combined with the most readable English.

    For international students (or people for whom English is their 2nd language) I recommend the NLT because it has the simplest English to understand. (I also enjoy reading it, at times, to get a different perspective.)