Exactly the Same?

I often look at several translations before I decide which one to use. One example is listed below:

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law. – Ps 119:18 (NKJV)

Open my eyes to see
    the wonderful truths in your instructions. – Ps 119:18 (NLT)

At first glance they may seem to be exactly the same, BUT there are subtle differences between them. Do you see it?

In the NKJV the first line says “that I may see” whereas the NLT says “to see”. To me “that I may see” is more reverent and God centered and “to see” is more me centered.

Next we read “things from your law” versus “truths in your instructions”. “The phrase “the law” refers specifically to the compilation of decrees found in the first five books of the Bible. (Biblica.com). However, “instructions” are the act or practice of instructing or teaching; education (dictionary.com). The NLT seems to be asking for instruction about a specific thing. In comparison the NKJV is asking to know more about who God is.

Maybe the difference is because the NKJV is a translation and the NLT is a paraphrase. Maybe I am reading more into this than need be. I invite you to give me your honest thoughts. We can all learn from a open honest discussion.


  1. Thanks Barb. You are heading into the high country. Real Christians believe the Word of God is the Word of God. It is absolutely true in the original text but because we are the medium of translation and all languages are different it allows for variations. I prefer a literal word-for-word rendering but this is not always possible depending on the specific language so we get as close as we can. I think the NASV95 is probably the best at this. In addition, I like the Amplified as a great supplement but paraphrase versions can also help. I agree with you that an excellent course to take is perusing several versions, especially when trying to get a better understanding of particular verses. Beyond this Hebrew and Greek word studies help a lot. The further we go into the study the more likely we will arrive at the original intent. But the Word of God is such that good literal translations give us all we really need. The classic KJV is always good. There are so many. We are blessed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks RJ, I do enjoy discussing the original Hebrew or Greek meaning of key words in a passage. Second, it is also helpful to read passage in context by reading the verses that come before and after the passage you are studying.
      Lastly, knowing the historic & cultural background of the time period can really bring clarity.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t used the NLT. I have used the KJV and the NKJV and the NIV. There are subtle differences. One may be a word for word translation and the other a translation of the thought in more a more modern language.

    Liked by 1 person

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