My new favorite Bible for devotional reading: the NIV/NKJV/NLT/The Message Parallel Bible

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The very first time I heard about Zondervan’s NIV/NKJV/NLT/The Message Parallel Bible, I was interested. And when I received my own copy from Zondervan and opened it; well, I really was captivated! And I think you will be as well. It’s a beautifully made, incredibly meaningful set of Scriptures that has blessed my Bible reading time. Let me tell you more about this!

About the NIV/NKJV/NLT/The Message Parallel Bible

I received the NIV/NKJV/NLT/The Message Parallel Bible, in the Burgundy Bonded Leather cover. The Bible is housed in a sturdy smooth cardboard box with a cover design that states the four translations found in this version of the Scriptures. The Bible’s cover is the bonded leather, which is very smooth to the touch and soft, making it comfortable to hold as you read despite its weight. (And there is a bit of weight! This parallel version of the Bible does include four translations, after all.) A burgundy satin ribbon page marker is attached to the inside center of the book’s spine.

The endsheets are burgundy, and are followed in the front by two title pages. There are two tables of contents; one, with the books of the Bible as they appear in order (plus their page numbers), and the second, with the Bible’s books arranged in alphabetical order. These pages are followed by an overall publisher’s preface, with additional prefaces for the four versions included in this parallel Bible, which explain the purposes and translation intentions and styles of each one. (I particularly love Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Preface to the Reader.”)

Then, the marvelous parallel Bible begins and flows, Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, with four columns of four Bible translations on each set of facing pages, in this order:

  • New International Version
  • New Living Translation
  • New King James Version
  • The Message

The last thing in this Bible that you’ll find after Revelation 22, is a one-page reference sheet explaining (in both American and metric equivalents) the weights and measures used in the Bible, and what they’d mean to our current-day eyes.

The Bible’s pages are very thin (but not tissue-thin) and edged in gold.

What you can expect from each of the 4 Bible translations

I love how Zondervan explains what you can expect from each of these translations. They explain what you’ll find as you look at and read in each of these Bible’s styles and versions.

Compare and contrast four popular and modern Bible versions side-by-side: the authenticity and accessibility of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV); the beautiful and trustworthy New King James Version (NKJV); the readability of the New Living Translation (NLT); and the contemporary and conversational style of The Message.

NIV/NKJV/NLT/The Message Parallel Bible description, Zondervan

My thoughts about this Bible

We’ve all got a favorite version of the Bible, don’t we? Except when we’ve got *many* favorites.

Over the course of my own life, I’ve used and loved many Bible translations. As a child, I began with the King James Version and the Living Bible. But as a young woman, I embraced the NASB and NIV…and I continued reading and studying more versions from there. We are truly blessed in America, to have so many translations of God’s Word available to us.

But…how many times have you been reading a version of the Bible, only to vaguely remember how a verse was worded in another version; or, to be reminded of a verse in a translation you memorized as a child, but perhaps don’t read as often now? Or, when you’re looking at a Bible chapter in your quiet time, only to wonder more about the meaning of a particular verse?

This really does happen to me all the time. Currently, I’m finding The Message to be amazingly rich and personal to me in my devotional reading times. But I really do read a verse, and then want to know what that verse says in the NIV or the NKJV. (Or the NLT!) What a gift this marvelous parallel Bible has been for me in those moments, and in so many more.

Consider the tender words of Psalm 139, a favorite psalm to so many of us. Here is what verse 5 looks in these four translations:

  • NIV: “You hem me in, behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”
  • NLT: “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”
  • NKJV: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.”
  • The Message: “I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too–your reassuring presence, coming and going.”

What an encouraging word! As I read the different versions from left to right (although here, they’re bulleted vertically in the list for you to read), I’m reminded even more deeply that I am never alone; that God is always with me, close enough to touch and bless me.

Or what about 2 Timothy 3:16-17, a verse that many of us have memorized?

  • NIV: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
  • NLT: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong with our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
  • NKJV: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
  • The Message: “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another–showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up up for the tasks God has for us.”

Isn’t that incredible?

I have so many favorite passages, that I can look at in this Bible from left to right (or right to left!), that are filling me with fresh comfort, and understanding. (I wish I could list them all for you!) But I can give you some highlights. Psalms 8 and 9. Isaiah 40 and 55. Lamentations 3:23-24. John 1. Jeremiah 29. Really, this Bible is bringing incredible richness to my reading and devotional times. Just being able to compare the Scriptures, via these four translations, gives me more of the Word to grab onto, and to treasure. Sometimes I am only able to take in one verse spread across the 4 versions, as reading and comparing the four give me so much to consider. But even that is incredibly rich and wonderful.

What a a joy! I’m so happy to recommend this Bible to you!

Purchase the NIV/NKJV/NLT/The Message Parallel Bible at:




…and more booksellers!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this Bible from Zondervan. All opinions and ideas expressed in this post are my own honest ones.

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