One of my favorite New Testament passages is Paul’s testimony in Romans 7:14-20 about the battle we fight with sin. I’ve always found it to be a particularly human moment in Paul’s writing. You can almost feel the Spirit working in him as he struggles to express the frustrating dynamic between our sin and our intentions.
Today I decided to read through this passage again, and thought I’d pull it up in a few different Bible versions in order to approach it with fresh eyes. This is pretty easy to do on Bible Gateway using the Add Parallel button on any Bible passage page. It’s located just above the passage text on the right:
Clicking on Add Parallel lets you quickly add an additional Bible for side-by-side comparison. After repeating the process a few more times, you can have up to five Bibles all turned to Romans 7:14-20. I was particularly interested in getting a wide range of translations, so I selected the NIV, KJV, ESV, The Message, and the CEB.
Reading through the passage in each of the translations brings out the nuance in Paul’s words. It’s easy to gloss over certain words in a translation (like “hate” or “desire”), but seeing them appear over and over in separate translations is a clue that there’s a strong statement being made. Likewise, when wording differs between translations (like using “dwell” instead of “lives in”), it prompts us to consider what each of those translation choices is getting at. Is one simply a better translation than the other, or does the difference suggest a nuance in the text?
Comparing different translations of this passage has made me want to revisit all of Romans using a variety of Bible versions. Reading a familiar passage in an new or unfamiliar translation has a way of making it feel more alive.
What are some other examples of passages that you think are worth reading in multiple translations?