Is the NKJV a Good Bible Translation?

When considering different Bible translations, the New King James Version (NKJV) often catches attention for its balance of historical connection, modern language, and scholarly accuracy.

This translation updates the 17th-century King James Version (KJV) into contemporary English, making the biblical text more accessible while maintaining the integrity of the original texts. But what specifically draws people to the NKJV?

Let’s explore the factors that contribute to its popularity: clarity and accuracy, connection to the historic KJV, ease of reading, and its reliability for Bible study.

Also, see NKJV vs. NASB: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

New King james Version
Is the New King James Version easy to read? See below

The New King James Version Is Clear and Accurate

People appreciate the NKJV’s dedication to accurately translating the original biblical texts while updating the language for modern readers.

The translators sought to maintain the original structure and word meanings, offering a faithful and literal translation that is easier to understand than its predecessor, the King James Version (KJV), due to its use of contemporary English.

The NKJV is connected to the KJV

Many readers like the NKJV because it maintains a strong link to the historic and revered King James Version, retaining much of its literary beauty and cadence.

The NKJV aims to carry forward the KJV’s poetic and majestic style while modernizing archaic words and phrases, thus preserving a sense of continuity and tradition.

People find the KKJV easy to read

The NKJV balances the need for literal translation with readability. Archaic words and phrases from the KJV are updated to contemporary language, making the biblical text more accessible to the modern reader.

The text flows smoothly, facilitating better understanding and absorption of the content, particularly for those who might struggle with the older English used in the KJV.

The translation is reliable for personal study

The NKJV is appreciated for its precision and faithfulness to the original texts, making it a reliable choice for in-depth Bible study.

It provides detailed, verse-by-verse translations and includes footnotes to reference manuscripts that inform the translation, offering readers a comprehensive resource for studying the Bible.

The NKJV is an excellent tool for those who wish to study the scriptures in an accurate and understandable language.

Also see. NKJV vs. NLT: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

Holy Bible
How is the NKJV different than other translations? See below

How Does the NKJV Compare to Other Bible Translations?

The NKJV offers a unique balance between maintaining the historicity of the KJV and updating its language for contemporary readers. Here’s how it compares to other popular translations:

King James Version (KJV)

The NKJV retains the KJV’s dedication to literal translation while updating the language for modern readers. This update makes the NKJV more accessible than the KJV, which uses archaic English that can be difficult for some to understand.

New International Version (NIV)

The NIV takes a more balanced approach between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation. While the NKJV is more literal, the NIV aims to enhance readability and comprehension. Some readers may prefer the NIV’s smoother flow, while others may prefer the NKJV’s closer adherence to the original texts.

English Standard Version (ESV)

Like the NKJV, the ESV is a more literal translation. However, the ESV is based on different source texts than the NKJV and KJV. While the NKJV maintains the Textus Receptus of the KJV New Testament, the ESV uses the more recent Nestle-Aland text.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The NASB is recognized as one of the most literal translations available and is a popular choice for serious Bible study. The NKJV, while also literal, places a higher emphasis on maintaining the literary style of the KJV, which might appeal to those who appreciate its historical and literary significance.

New Living Translation (NLT)

The NLT is a thought-for-thought translation, prioritizing readability and clarity over word-for-word accuracy. The NKJV, as a more literal translation, might be more suited for detailed study, while the NLT might be preferred for its ease of understanding and readability.

Also, see NKJV vs. NIV: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

What is the history of the NKJV? See below

What Is the History of the NKJV Bible Translation?

The history of the NKJV is rooted in the desire to update the KJV with contemporary language while maintaining its historical and literal integrity. Here is a brief history:

The King James Version (KJV): The KJV, also known as the Authorized Version, was first published in 1611. Over the centuries, the KJV became one of the most influential translations of the Bible due to its literary beauty and profound impact on the English language and literature.

Need for Revision: As the English language evolved over the centuries, the KJV began to present comprehension difficulties due to its use of archaic language.

Furthermore, newer manuscripts discovered since the 1611 translation offered the potential for more accurate translation. However, there was a desire to maintain the KJV’s historical significance and literal translation style.

The New King James Version Project: The NKJV project was initiated in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. More than 130 Bible scholars, pastors, and communicators collaborated to preserve the original beauty of the KJV while updating the language for the modern reader.

Publication: The New Testament of the NKJV was first published in 1979, followed by the full Bible in 1982. The NKJV translators sought to maintain the KJV’s structure and order of words wherever possible, updating only the vocabulary and grammar necessary for improving understanding and readability.


The New King James Version holds a unique place among Bible translations. Its appeal lies in its successful amalgamation of historical continuity, linguistic modernity, and textual accuracy.

By preserving the beauty and structure of the historic King James Version while making necessary updates to language and grammar, the NKJV offers an accessible yet profound exploration of the biblical text.

Whether for personal reading, teaching, or detailed study, the NKJV resonates with those seeking to experience the rich heritage of the Bible in a language that speaks to the contemporary reader.

Also see. NKJV vs. ESV: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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