On June 11, as we begin a new sermon series, Redeemer Church will be moving to the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) as our primary translation. Our RedeemerKids curriculum already uses the CSB, and on June 11 our sermons will as well. After months of review and consideration, the elders have enjoyed the CSB’s faithfulness and readability, and are excited to make the CSB known to you too.
My enjoyment of God’s word began back in high school with the English Standard Version (ESV). Before the ESV was in my hands, I was clawing my way through the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The NASB is known for being one of the more literal or word-for-word translations—and it’s also known for being one of the more challenging to read.
When the ESV hit my hands, it was like a culinary translation. Salty and sweet. Literal and readable. I love the ESV. I’m so grateful for the team of translators and the men who work behind the scenes at Crossway Publishers. It is a wonderful translation.
After fifteen-years with the ESV, the CSB has taken the culinary delights of a faithful and readable translation to another level. Faithful and even more readable. Smoother. Updated.
I’ve spent the last eight months reading the CSB in my devotional time and sermon prep, and I have enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’ve been refreshed and encouraged and excited about the CSB. I think you will too.
I enthusiastically support our church’s transition to the CSB. I still use the ESV and will forever love it. A variety of translations meet my eyes during the week—NLT, NASB, NIV, The Message, PHILLIPS, and The Tanak—and I recommend people compare multiple translations as they read and study God’s word. I also think it’s wise to have a home base translation. For me, the CSB is my home base.
While we will be preaching from the CSB, if you love your translation and don’t want to switch, please don’t feel obligated. The ESV is phenomenal. If you’ve had your Bible for two decades and you don’t wanna start over and lose your notes, I understand! Keep it. The most important thing about your translation is your enjoyment of God and his grace as you take in his word—and if your faithful translation does that, hallelujah!
We are moving to the CSB for three reasons: Readability, accuracy, and how it aligns our ministries.
1. Smooth, Readable, Updated
The readability of the CSB is the first thing that strikes you. It’s smooth. No clunky word order. It reads like plain English, which is fitting for a New Testament that was written in plain Greek. As you checkout the CSB, go to some of your favorite verses and passages and check out the fresh paved roads.
Smalls things, like the removal of an extra “to” in Philippians 1 enhances readability.
- “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 CSB)
- “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 ESV)
One thing you’ll notice in the CSB is updated language for modern readers.
The ESV still has some outdated, KJV-style language, resulting in a more challenging reading experience as these old-school words become speed-bumbs in our reading. The CSB largely eliminates archaic and Shakesperian-sounding language, making the reading experience more enjoyable and elevating comprehension for us modern readers. I think it’s safe to say the New Testament authors didn’t talk like Elizabethan era actors.
For example, “thus” appears 9 times in the CSB but 691 times in the ESV. “Lest” appears 0 times in the CSB and 186 times in the ESV. “Shall” shows up once in the CSB and a whopping 4,107 times in the ESV.
- “For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” (Hebrews 11:14 ESV)
- “Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland” (Hebrews 11:14 CSB)
- “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1 ESV)
- “For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1 CSB)
- “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 ESV)
- “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31 CSB)
These kinds of updates make me excited about the CSB. Accuracy to the original languages doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the readability. For me, the CSB hits the sweet spot. I think you’ll find the CSB easier to read and understand, which will encourage you to take up and read God’s word even more.
2. Faithful & Accurate Translation
Translations typically to fall in one of the two broad categories based on the translation practice: Formal Equivalence (literal, word-for-word) or Dynamic Equivalence (paraphrase, thought-for-thought). But the CSB’s translation philosophy is Optimal Equivalence. Meaning, most of the time the CSB is going to be word-for-word, but when a word-for-word rendering clouds the meaning for today’s readers, a dynamic translation is used, often with a footnote explaining the literal translation. The CSB is in the family of word-for-word translations (ESV, NASB, NKJV) and is not the paraphrase camp (The Message, NLT, etc.).
Psalm 147 is a great example of using a dynamic translation to communicate the meaning.
- “He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man” (Psalms 147:10 NASB)
The literal translation is what the NASB has here, but the meaning isn’t clear to us modern readers. The CSB reveals the meaning: God’s assessment of a military’s might.
- “He is not impressed by the strength of a horse; he does not value the power of a warrior.” (Psalms 147:10 CSB)
There are times when literally translating a phrase doesn’t communicate the meaning. If I say, “It’s raining cats and dogs”, you get what I’m saying. It’s raining a lot. But if you translate that literally to Thai, you are going to have a confused—and maybe worried—Thai person on your hands.
One translation choice I love in the CSB is the rendering of “brothers and sisters” rather than a solitary “brothers”. The Greek word literally translated is “brothers” but is understood to include our sisters in Christ. But a newer Bible reader may not know Paul is speaking to the ladies in the church too. When most of our churches have more women than men, employing “brothers and sisters” is a welcomed translation choice. I want the women in our church to plainly hear God addressing them too, without the hurdle of thinking, “‘Brothers’ means me too.”
- “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)
- “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 CSB)
While preaching through Hebrews, I’ve been comparing the passage I’m preaching every week in the CSB and the ESV, and each time I’ve walked away from my desk thinking, “Man, the CSB is so much easier to read. Smoother. I wish I were preaching out of it this Sunday.” A faithful and highly readable translation is super exciting.
3. A Translation for the Whole Church
One of the benefits of moving to the CSB is that the curriculum for RedeemerKids, The Gospel Project, uses the CSB as its default translation because it is easily readable for our children. The CSB harmonizes our ministries.
When I gave my eight-year-old daughter her CSB, she loved it. She is able to read it with ease. As we focus on family discipleship at our church, the CSB will help us declare God’s grace to our kiddos—and we can watch our kids declare God’s glory to us too.
We are moving to the Christian Standard Bible because of its faithfulness and its readability. The CSB is a great translation for our whole church. New Christians, young, and old will all benefit from reading a rigorously faithful and highly readable translation of God’s word. The refreshing readability of the CSB will serve us in our mission to make disciples and make much of Jesus. I’m excited about this Bible, and as you read it, I think you will be too.
If you want to learn more about the Christian Standard Bible, click here. You can also check out the frequently asked questions, the translation philosophy, the translation committee, and the endorsements (David Platt, Alistair Begg, Eric Mason, and more) all on the CSB website. And, as always, please feel free to reach out with any and all questions you may have.
“Give me life through your word.” (Psalms 119:25 CSB)