In this article, we will be comparing the KJV vs ESV Bible translation.
In this survey of two popular English translations of the Bible, you will find that there are similarities, differences, and that both have their merit.
Let’s take a look at them!
Origin of the King James Version and English Standard Version
KJV – This translation was created in the 1600’s. It completely excludes the Alexandrian Manuscripts and solely relies on the Textus Receptus. This translation is usually taken very literally, despite the obvious differences in use of language today.
ESV – This version was originally created in 2001. It was based on a 1971 Revised Standard Version.
Readability between the KJV and ESV
KJV – Many readers consider this a very difficult translation to read, as it uses archaic language. Then there are those who prefer this, because it does sound very poetic
ESV – This version is highly readable. It is suitable for older children as well as adults. Very comfortable to read. It comes across as more smooth of a read since it is not literally word for word.
KJV Vs ESV Bible translation differences
KJV – The KJV uses the Textus Receptus instead of going to the original languages.
ESV – the ESV does go back to the original languages
Bible Verse comparison
Genesis 1:21 “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Proverbs 10:28 “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Psalm 9:10 “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Psalm 37:27 “Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.”
Genesis 1:21 “So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Proverbs 10:28 “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Psalm 9:10 “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 37:27 “Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.”
KJV – The original was published in 1611. Some errors were printed in subsequent editions – in 1631, the word “not” was excluded from the verse “thou shalt not commit adultery.” This became known as the Wicked Bible.
ESV – The first revision was published in 2007. The second revision came along in 2011 as well as a third in 2016.
KJV – The target audience or the KJV is aimed at the general populace. However, children may find it extremely difficult to read. Also, many of the general populace may find it difficult to comprehend.
ESV – The target audience is all ages. This is suitable for older children as well as adults.
Popularity – Which Bible translation sold more copies?
KJV – is still by far the most popular Bible translation. According to the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University, 38% of Americans will choose a KJV
ESV – The ESV is by far more popular than the NASB simply because its readability.
Pros and cons of both
KJV – One of the biggest pro’s for the KJV is the level of familiarity and comfort. This is the Bible that by which our grandparents and great grandparents read to many of us. One of the biggest cons of this Bible is its entirety came from the Textus Receptus.
ESV – The Pro for the ESV is its smooth readability. The Con would be the fact that it is not a word for word translation.
Pastors who use the KJV – Steven Anderson, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham, George Whitefield, John Wesley.
Pastors who use the ESV – Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, Matt Chander, Erwin Lutzer, Jerry Bridges, John F. Walvoord, Matt Chandler, David Platt.
Study Bibles to choose
Best KJV Study Bibles
The Nelson KJV Study Bible
The KJV Life Application Bible
Holman KJV Study Bible
Best ESV Study Bibles
The ESV Study Bible
ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition
ESV Reformation Study Bible
Other Bible translations
Several other translations worth noting are the Amplified Version, NKJV, or the NASB.
Which Bible translation should I choose?
Please research thoroughly all of the Bible translations, and pray about this decision. Word-for Word translation is much closer to the original text than Thought for Thought.