Difference Between NLT and NIV and ESV

Key Difference – NLT vs NIV vs ESV

There are many who say that it doesn’t matter which bible translation you read as long as you are believer in the Christ. There are many different versions of the holy bible that reflect the collective wisdom of the authors who contributed to the translation. This translation of the original text could be on the word by word basis or phrase by phrase translation. There are strengths and weaknesses of all versions of bible and there is no single version that can be directly compared with the original bible. This article takes a closer look at NLT, NIV, and ESV versions of the holy bible to enable readers to know their differences.

What is NLT?

Introduced to the English speaking people for the first time in 1996, NLT or the New Living Translation happens to be a translation of the original Hebrew text of the bible into modern English language. Today, after several editions of the Bible, NLT happens to be one of the best-selling versions of bible worldwide. The philosophy adopted for NLT is thought for thought as against the word for word and phrase for phrase versions of the bible that makes this bible somewhat less accurate in the eyes of the bible scholars. However, for this very reason, NLT is also the easiest to understand for English speaking people around the world. In fact, there are many scholars who feel that NLT is not a translation but a paraphrasing of the original text to make it easier for people.

Difference Between NLT and NIV and ESV

What is NIV?

NIV stands for New International Version and refers to an English translation of the bible that is a result of demands from the puritans to bring out a new, reformed version of the bible. The task was handed over to the New York Bible Society that is today known as Biblica, and it introduced the version through a collaborative effort of the scholars in 1973. There have been many revisions and editions of NIV, and there is even Today’s New International Version. The basic philosophy in the translation of NIV is to have a balance between thought for thought and word for word to have the soul as well as the structure of the original text intact.

What is ESV?

ESV stands for English Standard Version, and it is a modified version of the Revised Standard Version that was introduced in 1971. The basic motive of this version of the bible was to produce a literal translation of the original text of the bible.


What is the difference between NLT vs NIV vs ESV?

Definitions of NLT, NIV and ESV:

NLT: NLT is the New Living Translation.

NIV: NIV stands for New International Version.

ESV: ESV stands for English Standard Version.

Characteristics of NLT, NIV and ESV:

Original Text:

Of the three versions of bible, ESV is closest to the original text of the Hebrew bible as it is the literal translation of the Hebrew text.


NLT was introduced in 1996, NIV was introduced 1973 and ESV was introduced in 1971.


Image Courtesy:

1. “ASV Star Bible” by JoBrLa at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Liftarn using CommonsHelper.. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. English Standard Version Holy Bible By John (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons