Home > Content Index > Bible > Translations and Criticisms > Paraphrase Bible

Should I use a paraphrase of the Bible?

paraphrase Bibleaudio
Question: "Should I use a paraphrase of the Bible?"

A paraphrase is a retelling of something in your own words. A paraphrase of the Bible is different from a translation in that a translation attempts (to varying degrees) to communicate as “word-for-word” or as “thought-for-thought” as possible. A paraphrase takes the meaning of a verse or passage of Scripture and attempts to express the meaning in “plain language” – essentially the words the author of the paraphrase would use to say the same thing. The most popular example of a Bible paraphrase would be “The Message” by Eugene Peterson.

Many people use paraphrases as their “reading Bible,” preferring to read straight through as with a novel. This can be particularly helpful in long narrative passages such as found in Genesis, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Then they use actual translations—such as the New American Standard, New King James, and New International Version—for indepth reading and study.

Should you use a paraphrase? A paraphrase of the Bible should not be used as a Christian’s primary Bible. We have to remember that a paraphrase is what the author thinks the Bible says, not necessarily what the Bible says. Eugene Peterson did a fair job on The Message, but there are many passages in The Message that do not accurately render the original meaning of the text. A paraphrase of the Bible should essentially be used as a commentary on the Bible, a way to get another perspective. A paraphrase can be used alongside a Bible translation to give insight into what the Bible means. A paraphrase of the Bible, though, should not be viewed as the Bible, but rather as an author’s idea of what the Bible says and what it means by what it says.

Recommended Resource: How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth by Fee & Strauss

More insights from your Bible study - Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!

Related Topics:

Why isn’t the Bible in chronological order?

Why are there so many Bible translations / versions, and which is the best?

What is the New Living Translation (NLT)?

What is The Message (MSG)?

What are the different English Bible versions?

Return to:

Questions about the Bible

Should I use a paraphrase of the Bible?

Share this page on:

Find Out How to...

Statement of Faith
The Gospel
Crucial Questions
Content Index
Top 20 Questions

Question of the Week

Preferred Bible Version:


Subscribe to our Question of the Week

Get our Questions of the Week delivered right to your inbox!