Churches Of Christ/Psalm 51:5 ESV vs Psalm 51:5 NIV


Hello, Brother Joe.  I have a question regarding the reading of Psalm 51:5 in the ESV and in the NIV.  Psalm 51:5 in the ESV reads, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  The NIV reads, Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Although, these are the same verses, I take away a different meaning from both of them.  The NIV rendition really troubles me because I understand it to say that babies sin and they are sinful from birth.  When I think about this scripture from the NIV rendition, I think about my newborn niece.  She isn't a sinner, at least not yet.  She does not even know what sin is.  She can't even talk.  Is she in need of God's saving grace  at her infancy?  God forbid, it she died today, she wouldn't go to hell would she?  From the ESV rendition, I take away that babies are born in a sinful world.  This is a big difference in meaning.  Can you elaborate more on that please?  Also, is the NIV still safe for me to read and study from?  Thank you!

Hi Tee,

Thank you for writing me to ask your questions and they are very good questions too. I have never liked the NIV translation of the Bible and believe it is among the worst available. I have found many problems with the NIV. The ESV has problems too but is far better than the NIV. I would not suggest anyone use the NIV in personal Bible study unless they use more reliable versions too and compare the NIV to them. The most reliable and my most favorite version is the NKJV but I also like the old American Standard Version and the updated New American Standard Version of the Bible. In regard to the verse you presented above the ESV gives the accurate understanding. We are not born with sin we are born into a sinful world. I also advise you study Ezekial 18:20. In fact study the whole chapter. I am sorry it took me a while to respond and for this response being brief but I do hope my answer is beneficial and helpful to you. If you have more questions please let me know.

In Christian Love, Joe Norman

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Joe Norman


I can answer questions regarding acceptable worship, organization of the church, or any apsect of the Christian life. I am the son of a preacher and have studied the Bible from cover to cover since I was 12 years old. I am strong in my research skills and do not follow teachings of men. Many will label me as conservative and some might label me as liberal, but I just seek to be biblical. I understand proper exegesis and hermeneutics and apply them. My desire is to share my knowledge of God's Word with others. Please always keep in mind that none of us who are listed as experts here are divinely inspired and therefore it is possible to get incorrect answers from any one of us. Study the Scriptures and decide for yourself if what is taught is true.


I am the 4th generation in my family to be a faithful member of the church of Christ. I was raised by a preacher and have studied the Bible everyday since I was twelve. I am 45 yrs old now. I am not a "scholar", but I am very familiar with the scriptures.

member of the church of Christ, served as a Deacon for a few years at LakeShore church of Christ in Waco, Tx. I currently live in the North Dallas area and am still very active within the church of Christ teaching, leading Bible Studies, and songleading as well. I am also actively involved in online ministry. I hope to open my own webpage eventually.

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