Resources For Pastors
by Sandy Simpson, 6/15/12
This article was originally written and published in my Pacific Waves Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 1 - March 2002 sent out to hundreds of pastors and church leaders in Micronesia. It contains recommended resources as well as those that are not recommended.
Another time I looked up the verse that states, in most translations: “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. or to deceive the elect … if that were possible” (Matt. 24:24). I suspected there may have been an agenda behind those translations so I looked up the actual words. The only words used at the end of this verse in Greek are “dunatos”=possible “kai”=and “ho”=the “eklektos”=elect or, in other words, “possible and the elect”. “If possible even” is a stretch in the NKJV. “If that were possible” in the KVJ and the NIV is not even in the original at all. The stress in that account by Jesus is not on whether or not the actual elect can be deceived. Only God knows who the elect are. For the time being we have to make a commitment to follow and obey the Lord. So the Lord’s emphasis is not on the argument about whether the elect, as He knows them, can be deceived, but on the fact that the coming deception is so severe that even those who say they are the elect could be fooled. So you can see from these examples how important Bible study is. One English translation is not enough for deep Bible study.
English Bible Translations
Having a few good Bible translations is, of course, a necessity. There are many good faithful English translations out there. There are also many to avoid. I advise using more than one excellent English translation in your studies, checking the passage you are interested in between different Bibles. It's also a good idea, if you have a Bible in your language other than English, to compare it to good English translations. If you have studied Greek and/or Hebrew you can read those texts, if you can find them, in a library, software collection or online on the web. I would advise the use of the most literal translations you can find for study and message preparation. Following is a list of English Bible translations. They are rated on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how literal they are (word for word as compared to the Greek and Hebrew), a 1 being the most literal and a 10 being the least literal.
The New Greek-English Interlinear (1993) - best interlinear
The Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible (1980) - best OT interlinear
The NIV Interlinear Hebrew English Old Testament (1985) - English word meanings from NIV; NIV in margin
America Standard Version (ASV-1901) - very good literal, if wooden, translation based on older scholarship
English Revised Version (ERV-1881, 1885) or Revised Version (RV), a revision of KJV; slightly less literal than ASV; more textual variants in OT than ASV
New American Standard Version (NASV, NASB-1963, 1971, rev. 1977, updated ed. 1995) revision of ASV; more modern English but not as literal. One of the two best for study
King James Version (KJV-1611) or Authorized Version (AV); Elizabethan English; most widely owned English version; poor use of synonyms for study purposes (translates one word by many synonyms), good for cross referencing
New King James Version (NKJV-1979, 1980, 1982) revision of KJV in modern English
Amplified Version (AB-1958, 1965, 1987) much helpful explanatory material and synonyms in text, but based on older scholarship
World English Bible (WEB) a new revision of the ASV of 1901 into Modern English. The New Testament is revised to reflect the Majority Text.
Revised Standard Version (RSV-1946, 1952, 2nd ed. 1971) revision of ASV; modern formal English; good balance between readability and literalness; one of the two best for study
New Berkley Version (NBV-1969) or Modern Language Bible; helpful footnotes; readable; revision of Berkley Version (1945)
Translator's Translation (TT-1973) published by British and Foreign Bible Society; source text for native translators
New International Version (NIV-1973, 1978, rev. 1984) readable; translated by evangelicals; less formal English than RSV and NRSV
American Translation (1923, 1927, 1948) by Smith and Goodspeed
New English Bible (NEB-1961, 1970) good scholarship; interpretive in places; loose handling of order of OT text
Revised English Bible (REB-1989) revision of NEB
Today's English Version (TEV-1966, 1970, 1971, 1976) or Good News Bible (GNB-also called Good News for Modern Man); easy to read; lack of consistency
New Living Translation (NLT--1996) revision of Living Bible by ninety evangelical scholars; vast improvement in reliability; easy to read
Barclay's A New Translation (WnB-1968, 1969) insightful
Phillips' The New Testament in Modern English (1958, 1972) highly readable
Cotton Patch Version (1968, 1969) puts the gospel story in a twentieth century setting; only Luke, Acts, Paul's letters. Of questionable value as it is completely commentative.
Stay away from "gender neutral " translations (changing men to "people", etc. - the new TNIV does this) or "anti-masculine" versions (changing God to "She", etc.).
Confraternity Version (1941, 1952, 1955, 1961, 1969) Catholic translation; NT based on Latin compared with Greek; OT based on Hebrew
God's Word (1995) dynamic-equivalent modern English translation without theological terms; some gender-neutral usage
Contemporary English Version (CEV-1995) in simple English; numerous mistranslated passages
Living Bible (LB-1967, 1971) easiest reading; very poor for study; changes meaning of passages; contains vulgarisms
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV-1989) revision of RSV; politically correct agenda to remove masculine emphasis from Bible
DON'T USE AT ALL
The Message - This is an out-and-out paraphrase, intended to convey the New Testament in colloquial modern English. It is written by Eugene Peterson who is promoting the Emerging Church and New Age ideas. Not good for study use.
Kingdom Interlinear - New World Translation in margin, published by Jehovah's Witnesses
Diaglott - Griesbach Greek text, Wilson's New Emphatic Version in margin, published by Jehovah's Witnesses
New World Translation (NWT-1961) Jehovah's Witnesses version; modern English; mistranslates passages relating to deity of Jesus in order to agree with JW doctrine
Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible - It is a charismatic Bible with commentary, Adoptionism teaching against the Hypostatic Union of Christ [dual nature of Christ], has ties to Word Faith and Mormonism theologically
World Scripture - New Age book that includes writings from texts of “Christianity, lslam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Chinese religion (Confucianism and Taoism), Judaism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shinto and Zoroastrianism.”
Douay Version [1532, 1610] or Douay-Rheims version; old Catholic version translated from Latin Vulgate, mistranslations in support of RCC doctrines of Mariology, contains the Apocrypha
The New Testament and Psalms, and Inclusive Version - politically correct, gender neutral.
Any Bibles that include the Apocrypha and/or Pseudopigrapha, KJV I611 contained the Apocrypha, many Catholic Bibles contain the Apocrypha, and the Pseudepigrapha is largely heretical.
All in all my recommendations for regular English Bible translations to use would include the NASB, RSV, NIV, KJV, or NKJV. Any translation rated below a 5 is probably not worth using, with the exception of the Phillips which is useful in cross referencing. The KJV is hard to read for those who speak English as a second language. Also, those who believe that the KJV is the only Bible to use (KJV-Only/Ruckmanites) have allowed a "foolish controversy" [2 Timothy, 2:23, Titus 3:9] to bring them into bondage to legalism. Don't fall for that trap.
2 Timothy 2:23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
One of the arguments of the KJV-Only people is a genealogical one, claiming that only the KJV has the right pedigree and therefore must be considered to be the only legitimate English Bible translation. But the translators of the KJV never made that claim. Here is a response from The Berean Call when they were accused of “undermining the Bible” because they did not insist people use the KJV exclusively.
Q/A from The Berean Call by Dave Hunt - January, 1995
Dave, you have been accused lately of undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God's Word because you don't insist upon using the King James Version exclusively. How do you respond to such indictments?
I will publicly defend God's truth and expose false doctrine regardless of who teaches it, without judging hearts and motives. Heresy that is taught publicly must be opposed publicly. But I will not publicly defend myself in response to personal attacks against me, no matter how vicious and false-and there have been some lately. In obedience to Christ I am obliged to pursue Matthew 18:15-17 privately with individuals who make false charges (though publicly) against me personally, and I have done so.
As for undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God's Word, the falsity of such charges should be apparent to anyone who has read my writings or listened to my talks. Anyone with doubts may read the chapter on Sola Scripture in my latest book, A Woman Rides the Beast, or listen to the tape of my debate with Karl Heating on that same subject, or the five-tape series of messages I preached on the sufficiency, inerrancy and authority of God's Word. Nor is it true that I defend the modern versions and run down the King James Version. I have been living in the KJV for more than 50 years and it is the KJV which I use when I preach and teach. The record speaks for itself. In the past, on occasion, I have quoted a modern version in my books where it seemed to be more understandable to the average reader, particularly the non-Christian.
As for the KJV-only debate, I hesitate to step into that arena because whatever one says only seems to heighten the controversy. However, we have received so much mail on this topic, reflecting confusion from both sides, that I will try once again to bring some balance where I believe it is badly needed. Where doctrinal purity is not involved, we need to respect one another's sincere differences of opinion. We must disagree courteously and in love and deal with the issues rather than attack persons or motives. There are godly and sincere people on both sides of this controversy.
Let both sides remember that all versions are translations. For the KJV to be perfect in every word, the translators must have had the same infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their translating as those who wrote the original Greek and Hebrew documents (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pe 1:21) had in their writing. Claiming such inspiration for the KJV's translators, some KJV-only advocates even denounce all other translations as New Age or of the Devil. Yet the King James Bible translators themselves, far from claiming inspiration or perfection, confessed that they had consulted other "translators and commentators" to improve their work. They acknowledged that the KJV was not perfect but could be improved, and that there were places where they were uncertain of the exact meaning of some words. They even recommended consulting a variety of translations. Why should I be castigated for agreeing with the KJV translators? The following is from the introduction to the 1611 KJV, titled "The Transla tors to the Reader" (note that in seventeenth- century English the "u" and "v" were reversed):
Neither were we barred or hindered from going over it again, having once done it [the work of translation]...[nor] were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helps....Neither did we thinke much to consult the Translators or Commentators, Chaldee, Hebrewe, Syrian, Greeke, or Latin, no nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch; neither did we disdaine to reuise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anuill that which we had hammered...vsing as great helps as were needfull....
Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled...[that] it hath pleased God in his diuine prouidence, heere and there, to scatter wordes and sentences of that difficultie and doubtfulnesse, not in doctrinal points that concerne saluation (for in such it hath beene vouched that the Scriptures are plaine) but in matters of lesse moment, that fearfulnesse would better beseeme vs than confidence. . .and to resolue upon modestie....There be many words in Scripture, which be neuer found there but once. ..there be many rare names of certaine birds, beastes and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves...so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (euen in thejudgement of the iudicious) questionable, can be no lesse than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures; so diuersitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the tex t is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea, is necessary, as we are perswaded....They that are wise, had rather haue their judgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captiuated to one, when it may be the other.
So the KJV translators themselves disagree with those who claim inspiration and inerrancy for the KJV. They admit their own fallibility, the imperfection of their KJV translation, give alternate readings in the margin and recommend consulting a variety of translations! This is only logical. If, as some insist, the KJV is the perfect translation and all others are of the Devil, then the Spanish, German, French, etc. Bibles are not the Bible either! The whole world must learn seventeenth century English and read the 1611 KJV if they would have God's Word. Nor could anyone refer back to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts behind the KJV; for to do so in order to be more certain of the exact meaning would be to suggest that the KJV was not perfect after all. The unreasonableness of that view is obvious.
In fact, the KJV translators take up many pages of their introduction arguing that the Bible needs to be in every language so that all may read it in their "mother tongue" and thus understand it better. That fact, they say, is the justification for their labors to put it into the daily language of their countrymen. These men even argued that "the very worst translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession...is the word of God." How far they were from what some are claiming today! Of course, the KJV translators had not encountered the deliberately perverted translations of today's cults.
They were confident that while the many translations in English or other languages differed on some words and phrases, no doctrine was affected. (Doctrine is affected, however, in today's perverted versions such as the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Joseph Smith's Inspired Version, and a few others.) Thus, to tell the millions of people who were saved through reading the NAS or NIV, for example, and who are edified and growing in faith through daily study of such versions that they are using the Devil's false Bibles, is, in my opinion, extremism and only causes division and confusion. Rather, suggest consulting the KJV as well.
I was reared on the KJV and use it exclusively in all my study and speaking, only rarely consulting other translations for comparison. Why consult other translations at all? The KJV translators did so and recommended the practice! In following their advice we discover that, whereas in some places modern versions are deficient, in other places they excel. For example, the KJV at 2 Thes 2:2 says not to be troubled by rumors that "the day of Christ is at hand." If one believes in a pre-trib rapture which marks the beginning of the Day of Christ, then it is not disturbing but good news if that day is "at hand." Nor need that be disturbing even if one believes in a mid- or post-trib rapture. It would only be disturbing if the day of the Lord had already come, for that would mean one had been left behind at the rapture-which is why it is obvious that Paul had taught a pre-trib rapture to these people. The KJV 1611 edition had many marginal notes elsewhere, but none here. One was added late r: both the Greek and common sense required it. Today's KJV margin suggests "is now present." That changes the meaning entirely, makes sense, and admits that the 1611 edition wasn't perfect. The NAS reads "that the day of the Lord has come," and the NIV, "has already come." So a required later revision (one of many) in the KJV shows that the 1611 edition was not "inspired"-and the revision agrees with the NAS, the NIV and the NKJV!
Furthermore, some modern versions excel in places, even when it comes to declaring the deity of Christ. For example, there are eight verses in the New Testament that clearly declare that Jesus is God: Jn l:l, Acts20:28; Rom9:5; 2Thes 1:12; Ti 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pt 1:1 and Rv 1:8. The KJV is only clear in four of these (Jn 1:1; Acts 20:28; Rom 9 :5 and Heb 1:8), whereas the NAS and NIV are clear in seven of the eight (the same four plus Ti 2:13; 2 Pt 1:1 and Rv 1:8) For example, in Ti 2:13 the KJV says "the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," while both the NAS and NIV say "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ," certainly a more definite declaration that Jesus is God. In 2 Pt 1:1 the KJV says "God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," whereas again both the NAS and NIV say "our God and Savior Jesus Christ." (Actually that's what the Textus Receptus says in the Greek-the KJV translators simply made a mistake, which was corrected in the NKJV as well.) At Rv 1:8 the KJV says "the Lord," wh ereas the NAS and NIV say "the Lord God," clearly declaring that Jesus is God.
If the situation were the other way around (i.e., the KJV clearly declared Christ to be God in seven of the eight places and the modern versions in only four), some KJV-only advocates would surely accuse the modern versions of downplaying Christ's deity. Instead, they ignore the weaknesses in the KJV while jumping on those in other versions. It is surely helpful to the church to have the deficiencies in modern versions pointed out, and those using them should beware of such improper renderings . At the same time, however, those championing the KJV should honestly acknowledge those places where the modern versions excel.
The fact is that the KJV, NKJV, NAS, and NIV (in spite of some failings in each) clearly teach that Jesus is God, one with the Father; and all four clearly present the gospel and all of the other cardinal doctrines of the Bible if one reads the entire text and doesn't take an isolated verse here or there to prove a point. Therefore, to suggest that the NAS and NIV are "the Devil's Bibles" and part of a New Age conspiracy to usher in a oneworld religion by destroying God's Word is simply not true and places an unwarranted condemnation upon those who use such versions. Tragically, this faulty perception is causing confusion and division in the church. We must repeat our earlier warning that Gail Riplinger's book, New Age Bible Versions, is literally filled with errors and cannot be relied upon as a defense of the KJV. She even lumps the NKJV in with modern versions, whereas it is based upon the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the 1611 King James Version.
In an article I wrote called “Mistake or Sin?” located at the URL below
I researched all the variations of the word "sin" such as sin, sinful, sinning, sinner, sinners, sinned, sins, and came up with the following number of instances in the following translations: ASV=750, KJV=766 (including “sinneth”), NIV=915, NKJV=770, RSV=758, YLT=761. Using the type of arguments made by KJV-Only adherents you would have to conclude that the KJV is light on the topic of sin and therefore should not be used. See what a foolish argument this is? For more information on the subject of debunking KJV-Onlyism, go to my web site and type in this URL:
If you can't own one, then find someone who has one and use it often. Your church or public library should have one. Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is an important resource in preparing messages and Bible studies as you can look up the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words. Strongs is tied to the KJV, so have a version of the KJV Bible handy. For the NIV there is the NIV Exhaustive Concordance. There are others. Make use of them. The will provide deeper insight into passages and help you with ideas for messages, etc.
Dictionaries can help you understand things from Biblical times better. Good ones would include Vines Complete Expository Dictionary, New Bible Dictionary, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary and Smith’s Bible Dictionary.
I do not particularly recommend specialized Bibles that are now being printed for all kinds of different groups, genders, etc. But "topical Bibles" are different in that they organize the Bible by topic instead of in the usual order. Some good topical Bibles would include Nave’s Topical Bible, Treasury Of Scripture Knowledge and Torrey’s New Topical Textbook among others.
Commentaries are the writings of knowledgeable Christian authors with their exposition of the Bible or certain books of the Bible. Though there are some good commentaries out there, be careful in using them. You may find that one commentary is good on one verse, then on the next verse another one is better. You may even find that none of the commentaries do justice to a certain passage. You must also rely on the Lord's help and other resources to help you come to a deeper understanding of God's Word. That being said, some good commentaries l have used would include the Believers Bible Commentary by William Macdonald, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible, John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament, The Fourfold Gospel, Geneva Study Bible, John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, People’s New Testament, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition), The Treasury of David and Wesley’s Explanatory Notes among others. The older commentaries seem to be better, but some are harder to read.
Having some good devotional books is a good investment as you will use them over and over again. Some I highly recommend would be:
C.H Spurgeon’s “Morning & Evening”
A.W. Tozer’s “Renewed Day By Day”
Mrs. C.E. Cowan’s “Streams in the Desert”
William MacDonald’s “One Day at a Time”
Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Glory”
Be very careful about what books you read today. In this section I will give you the names of people whose books you should read and those you should avoid. I would recommend finding a book series called "The Fundamentals" edited by R.A. Torrey with many great theologians. It discusses the core doctrines of the faith. I have done a paper taken from this series that is available online here:
It will help you teach the basic doctrines of the Christian faith to your church and help them be able to stand in them.
Great authors to read would include: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis, Amy Carmichael, E.M. Bounds and some newer authors like Elizabeth Elliot, William MacDonald, Chuck Swindoll, Henry Morris, Ken Ham, Josh MacDowell, Erwin Lutzer, Bill Randles, Dave Hunt and many more.
On the Internet you can get some great help at Bible.Org on how to build a good pastoral reference library at:
I also highly recommend software books you can access with your computer. I have the Tozer CD-ROM Library with over fifty works of A.W. Tozer and a few other books. You could never afford to buy all of Tozer's books, but you can on CD-ROM.
Authors to avoid and to take a stand against would include Rick Joyner, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, John Dawson, George Otis, Jr., Dutch Sheets, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, Tony Campolo, Paul (David) Yonggi Cho, Richard Foster, Joyce Meyer, Arnold Murray, Tommy Tenney, Jack Deere, C. Peter Wagner, Bill Hamon, Cindy Jacobs, Nicky Gumbal, John Wimber, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Hagin, Marilyn Hickey, Rodney Howard- Browne, T.D. Jakes, Rod Parsley, Fred Price, Oral Roberts, R.W. Shambach, Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Tilton, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren and anyone else involved in the apostate Third Wave "New Apostolic Reformation", Emergent Church or Word-Faith.
Be aware that YWAM publishes and promotes some of these books. Don't just blindly take the word of a youth in YWAM but check with discernment ministries if you have questions about authors because they regularly read the books from a biblical perspective. I'm always there as a resource person for you if you have questions about materials floating around your congregation. We have many book reviews here:
One of the most useful free Bible computer software programs is Online Bible. You can download this Bible software off the Internet at:
There are also other excellent Bible computer programs available, one of which is Logos Bible Software for purchase here:
There are many excellent places on the Internet to do Bible study. Here are a few places that feature different Bible translations, concordances, commentaries, topical Bibles, devotionals, books and other great resources all on one site that you can search:
Bible Study Tools
ACT has many Bible studies you can use on this page:
A great place these days to do research into apologetics [answering for our faith against those who oppose Christianity] is the Internet. A good place to start any investigation into Apologetics issues is:
Biblical Studies Foundation
Think On These Things (Gary Gilley)
For cult information, I recommend the following Internet sites:
Let Us Reason Ministries (Mike Oppenheimer)
Personal Freedom Outreach
Apologetics Coordination Team (Sandy Simpson)
For a further list of good apologetics sites, go to this page on my ACT site:
There are also many good books out on apologetics, cults and deception in the church. They are too numerous to mention here, but for a good list of materials go to:
Apologetics Coordination Team - Books
Apologetics Coordination Team - Audio & Video
Children's Ministry Resources
Child Evangelism Fellowship has been a good source of materials for Sunday school and children's ministry. Their web site is at:
For great materials about Creationism and other good children's materials, go to Answers in Genesis at:
YouthPastor.com has some great resources on the Internet. You can also look at other helpful resource web sites for youth here:
Recommendations and Reviews
To read reviews on many books in Christian bookstores, both good and bad, go here:
To purchase recommended books on discernment issues, go here:
For a list of recommended books for Christian leaders, go here: