The Best Bible for Beginners in 2024

A man sitting down holds his closed bible up to his chin while in prayer.

Our Recommendations: Best Bible for Beginners

Why Would Someone Need a Particular Bible?

There are many different versions of the Bible, and beginners may not know where to start. A bible for beginners can provide an overview of the different books of the Bible, as well as introductions to key topics and themes. A Bible for beginners provides an easy-to-understand introduction to the major themes and stories of the Bible. In addition, these bibles can help to explain some of the more difficult concepts throughout. Some Bibles may include maps, timelines, and other resources that can be helpful in understanding the text. However, we must distinguish the difference between a Bible specifically for beginners (sometimes called a New Believers Bible) and a beginner’s Bible, which is typically for children.

For someone who is just starting to explore the Bible, these bibles can be an invaluable resource.

Conversely, oftentimes the best Bible for a beginner is simply a digestible translation.

An open bible sits on a large rock.

The Best Bible Translations for Beginners

The best translations for a new believer’s Bible generally fall closer to the thought-for-thought end of the Bible translations spectrum. For an in-depth look at the most popular Bible versions, please reference this article here. But to recap:

An image of the bible translation spectrum; On the word-for-word or "formal equivalence" side from left to right reads NASB aka New American Standard Bible, ESV aka English Standard Version, KJV aka King James Version, NKJV aka New King James Version and CSB aka Christian Standard Bible. On the thought-for-though or "dynamic equivalence" side from left to right reads NIV aka New International Version and NLT aka New Living Translation.

A word-for-word translation:

A word-for-word translation of the Bible (such as the King James Version) seeks to translate the meaning of the original text as closely as possible, without interpretive paraphrasing or adding commentary. This type of translation is sometimes also referred to as a literal translation. 

This is not always the most accurate or most helpful way to translate the text, in many cases, it is important to consider the meaning of a passage as a whole, rather than translating each word individually. Additionally, some words may have multiple meanings, making it difficult to choose the most appropriate translation. As a result, word-for-word translations often include footnotes or other explanatory materials to help readers understand the text. For these reasons, many Bible translations are paraphrases, rather than literal translations. 

While there is no perfect translation, word-for-word translations are generally considered to be the most accurate and authentic versions of the Bible available.

A thought-for-thought translation:

A thought-for-thought translation of the Bible seeks to convey the meaning of the original text as clearly as possible in contemporary language, even if that means sacrificing some literal accuracy. This approach can help to make the meaning of the Bible more accessible to modern readers, while still preserving the beauty and power of the original language. 

Contrasted with a word-for-word translation, which strives to maintain as much of the original wording as possible, proponents of thought-for-thought translations argue that they are more accessible to modern readers, who may not be familiar with the idioms and conventions of biblical Hebrew or Greek. Thought-for-thought translations can be easier to read and understand than word-for-word versions. However, some scholars critique thought-for-thought translations for being too interpretive and for obscuring some of the nuances of the original text. 

Ultimately, it is up to each reader to decide which type of translation best suits their needs, but specifically for first-time Bible readers, thought-for-thought translations are subjectively the better option among other modern translations. 

English Standard Version (ESV)

Our personal favorite, the ESV Bible is a word-for-word translation written in modern English, it is easy to understand like the translations we mention below but falls firmly within the accuracy of literal translations. As a scripture reading Bible this translation is very approachable for those that are looking for accuracy without having to sacrifice readability.

ESV Thinline Bible

Created by a team of more than 100 leading evangelical scholars and pastors, the ESV Bible emphasizes “word-for-word” accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning.

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New Living Translation (NLT)

The NLT Bible is often considered the best Bible version, particularly for new Christians, because of its readability and accuracy among thought-for-thought translations. Initially intended as a revised translation of the Living Bible, the New Living Translation separated and distinguished itself enough to be considered a stand-alone translation.

Filament Bible NLT

The Filament Bible features a carefully crafted page design, offering the best possible reading experience in a single-volume print Bible.

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New International Version (NIV)

The NIV Bible is another translation often considered the best Bible version for new Christians because it falls close to the center of the translation spectrum. Sometimes called a “best of both worlds” translation, the New International Version is an original translation of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts separate and apart from any other existing translation.

NIV, Personal Size Bible

This personal size NIV Bible brings readability and portability together in one neat, sophisticated package.

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The Message

The Message is often considered the easiest version of the Bible to understand. Written in modern English and dubbed “The Bible in Contemporary Language,” it falls beyond the thought-for-thought side of the spectrum and is considered a Paraphrase Bible. It takes many liberties throughout the translation and while this does make it an accessible introduction to Christian beliefs and biblical teachings, it will be a Bible translation that you grow out of. Like many others, we do not necessarily recommend this translation, however, if you are looking to purchase multiple Bibles at once and ease yourself from one to another, this is an option for beginners.

The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language

Thoroughly reviewed and approved by twenty biblical scholars, The Message combines the authority of God’s Word with the cadence and energy of conversational English.

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What is a Study Bible?

A study Bible is a type of Bible that provides explanatory notes and other tools to help readers understand the text. These resources can include maps, concordances, and commentary from respected scholars.

Study Bibles can be published in many different versions, depending on the audience. For example, there are study Bibles aimed at both general readers and experts in biblical studies. In recent years, some publishers have also released digital study Bibles that can be used on mobile devices and computers. Keeping the knowledge of word-for-word versus thought-for-thought translations below in mind, it’s worth considering, for example, that the study bible of a King James Version may be a respectable combination of both worlds – combining a literal translation with the study breakdowns to better provide the meaning.

No matter what form it takes, a study Bible can be a valuable tool for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of the Bible.

Life Application Study Bible

The Life Application Study Bible is an award-winning, best-selling study Bible. We would recommend the NIV version and the NLT version of these great Bibles as those translations are very accessible for beginners. Alongside the translated text, these study Bibles also include study notes, profiles for key people, introductions and overviews of all 66 books of the Bible, as well as maps and charts for quick reference and contextual understanding of where events physically took place. 

If you are one of many new Christians looking to learn about the Bible as comprehensively as possible, right out of the gate, you can’t go wrong with Life Application Study Bibles.

NIV Life Application Study Bible

Trusted & Treasured by Millions of Readers for over 30 Years, the Tyndale Life Application Study Bible Is Today’s #1–Selling Study Bible

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NLT Life Application Study Bible

Trusted & Treasured by Millions of Readers over 30 years, the Life Application® Study Bible Is Today’s #1–Selling Study Bible

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Red Letter Bibles

Red Letter Bibles are certainly for everyone, but a beginner may find special interest in understanding Jesus and having His text specifically pointed out to them.

Red Letter Bibles are Christian Bibles that include red ink for the words of Jesus Christ. The New Testament of the Bible is typically printed in red and black, with the black indicating the words of God and the red indicating the words of Christ. This practice began as a way to help readers distinguish between the two voices. Today, Red Letter Bibles are widely available and are used by Christians around the world. 

ESV, Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Red Letter

With over 100,000 references listed in the Bible’s margins, covering over 8,000 topics, the chain-reference system is an ideal tool for comprehensive topical study. Includes Words of Christ in red.

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Chain-Reference Bible

Chain-Reference Bibles are a type of Bible that uses a system of links to connect related verses. This system of links, or “chains,” makes it easy to find all the verses on a particular topic and to see how those verses relate to each other, making it a valuable tool for study and teaching.

In addition to helping readers find related passages, Chain-Reference Bibles can also be used to create concise outlines of various topics. For example, one could trace a theme from Genesis to Revelation, or examine all the passages that mention a certain topic.

Chain-Reference Bibles often have a concordance in the back, which is an alphabetical list of topics with the corresponding chain numbers. This makes it easy to look up a topic and then follow the chain of references to find all the related verses. While some people find Chain-Reference Bibles helpful, others prefer to use study Bibles, which provide commentary and background information on specific passages.

ESV, Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Red Letter

With over 100,000 references listed in the Bible’s margins, covering over 8,000 topics, the chain-reference system is an ideal tool for comprehensive topical study. Includes Words of Christ in red.

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What is a “Beginner’s Bible?”

A beginner’s Bible is a great way for young Christians to learn about the Bible and its stories. It often contains all the major stories from the Old and New Testaments, told in a simple, easy-to-understand way. This makes it perfect for those who are just starting to learn about the Bible. In addition, the beginner’s Bible usually contains illustrations and pictures, which can help to bring the stories to life. If you are looking for a good introduction to the Bible, then a beginner’s Bible is a great place to start.

It is important to recognize that some beginners, and most children in general, are visual learners. Particularly with certain Bible versions, the Bible translations can be very hard to understand and that’s where a beginner’s Bible can be very helpful – the caveat being that many beginner’s Bibles are targetted towards very young children and it’s easy to feel like you’re “above” reading a book at such an elementary reading level even as just a teen.

  • Beginner’s Bibles usually contain simple, concise versions of stories from the Bible, along with illustrations to help guide readers through the text. 
  • In addition, many beginner’s Bibles include short informational articles about topics such as prayer, Scripture memory, and living a Christian life. 
  • As a result, beginner’s Bibles are an excellent resource for children who are just beginning to explore the Bible and learn about God.

NIV Adventure Bible

The NIV Adventure Bible is a Jungle-themed, text-accurate New International Version translation of the Bible. This best-seller is great for kids recommended ages 9-12 years old and is full color with illustrations and supplemental information to keep kids engaged. This Bible version is often purchased as a child’s first “real” Bible and is a great introduction to Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.

NIV, Adventure Bible, Hardcover, Full Color

The Adventure Bible is recommended by more Christian schools and churches than any other Bible for kids, and the Adventure Bible brand has impacted more than 10 million individuals and families to date!

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The Action Bible

The Action Bible is an engaging illustrated Bible told in the same vein as a comic book. Recommended for children age 8+ this best-seller is a great and exciting introduction to the Bible, telling the narrative in a fast-paced manner and giving characters from the Bible the hero treatment they deserve.

The Action Bible: God's Redemptive Story

The Action Bible presents more than 230 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easy to follow the Bible’s historical flow and building up to the thrilling climax of God’s redemptive story.

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The Beginner’s Bible

The Beginner’s Bible is a young children’s Bible that has been trusted by parents for over 25 years. The best Bible for beginners aged 2-6, it includes illustrations and easy-to-read, digestible text for the youngest of readers.

The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories

Millions of children and their parents can’t be wrong. The bright and vibrant illustrations enhance every word of The Beginner’s Bible® to produce one of the most moving and memorable Bible experiences a young child can have. 

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What Other Biblical Resources Would you Recommend for a Beginner Christian?

The Bible is filled with stories, wisdom, and guidance for Christians of all levels of faith. However, for someone just starting out on their Christian journey, there are a few resources in particular that can be especially helpful. 

  • First, as mentioned above, we would recommend a good study Bible. Study Bibles contain extra information about the Bible, including articles and maps. This can help readers understand the context of the Bible and uncover new insights. 
  • Second, we would suggest finding a good Bible reading plan. Reading the Bible can be overwhelming, but a reading plan can help you to focus on specific sections and better understand the overall message of Scripture, particularly themes.
  • Finally, we would recommend finding a trusted mentor who can help guide you through your studies. A mentor can offer advice and support as you’re learning about the Bible and developing your faith. 

With these resources in hand, you’ll be well on your way to understanding the Bible and growing in your faith.

Approaching the Bible as a Beginner

As a new Christian, first and foremost, treat Christianity not as a religion, but as a relationship with God. This means that your faith is personal and unique to you. Throughout the Bible, there are examples of how to worship and pray, it may feel a bit overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to explore what works best for you. Always be open to learning new things about your faith; the more you understand about Christianity, the deeper your relationship with God will become. And as you explore your faith, don’t be afraid to share it with others. Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is one of the most important aspects of being a Christian. By following these simple pieces of advice, you will be well on your way to building a strong foundation in your faith.

Here are a few more practical tips that may help you on your faith journey. 

  1. First, remember that God loves you unconditionally and wants what is best for you. 
  2. Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions – there is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to your faith. 
  3. Third, take your time in learning about Christianity – there is no rush, and you will learn more as you go along. Don’t overwhelm yourself!
  4. Fourth, find a good church community that you feel comfortable with and that you believe can best support you in your journey. 
  5. And finally, don’t forget to have fun! Christianity is not all about being serious 24/7 – God wants us to enjoy life and have fun too.

God’s Word and Choosing your First Bible Version

The Bible tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching.”

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.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV

Keep in mind, that verse isn’t referencing any specific version of the different translations out there, or which version biblical scholars recommend. Ultimately, we can help inform your decision, but often the best bible for beginners is simply the one you decide to read because it sets into motion:

  • Spiritual growth and the knowledge to understand God’s Word 
  • Introduces you to God’s character.
  • Sets forth your journey toward eternal life as a new believer.
  • Prepares a deep understanding for Bible-based Christian living.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16, NIV

For more articles on Bibles and other biblical tools, please reference our articles here.

If you are looking for encouragement in your spiritual growth and newfound faith, please reference these encouraging bible verses here.

This article references verses written from the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible.