The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (New Living Translation), by Jack Hayford (review)

I received “The New Spirit Filled Life Study Bible, New Living Translation” from Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.  I previously reviewed the same Bible in the New King James Version, and have many of the same opinions about the NLT as I do about the NKJV.

However, there are a couple features that I forgot to mention, and one that is particularly different in the NLT from the NKJV.

I formerly used a study bible that contained cross-references in the sub-headings of each chapter.  For instance, if the parable of the sower was named in Matthew 13, it also provided the “address” to see the passage at Mark 4, and conversely.  This study Bible does not have this feature.  There are still margin and footnote cross-references (in smaller print, of course), but not the quick cross-referencing that I was used to.

I absolutely love the color scheme in the NLT Bible compared to the color scheme of the NKJV Bible.  The NKJV employed a blue/gray hue, while the NLT employs a maroon/black hue.  The feature boxes stand out to the eye better in maroon (in my opinion) than they do in blue/gray.

The following headings contain similar opinions as were written for the NKJV:

Each book contains several Word Wealth insets.  These are small boxes that pertain to particular words in the text that the editors believed would be helpful.  What is great is that these boxes are not filled with an author’s personal opinions, or how a particular denomination believes.  Instead, words are lightly dissected in their Hebrew or Greek usage.  This feature does some of the legwork for those times when you wish you had an exhaustive concordance handy.

Another similar inset box contained within the text is this Kingdom Dynamics feature.  This box contains information for how the text applies to the Kingdom of God, what the first hearers/believers were experiencing, etc.  It provides a more detailed commentary about an important theme in the passage.  This commentary is slightly different from those “bottom-of-the-page” commentaries where a particular author tells you what s/he believes about, let’s say, the “rapture” for example.

So naturally, this brings me to the next point: commentaries.  Have you ever read a study Bible by so-and-so and you wished s/he would leave personal or debatable opinions out of it?  That’s been done in this Bible.  Since there are so many contributors to this Bible, it is highly unlikely they all believed the same things on those debatable issues.  And those opinions have been omitted from the commentaries.  So if you’re looking for someone to tell you what to believe at all turns, this isn’t the Bible for you.

This version makes the reading more readable than the NKJV.  Where the NKJV chopped each verse into a new line, the NLT is written more in paragraph form.  For example, if you’re reading Acts 1:10-11 in the NKJV, it looks like this:

10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said…

I don’t like it that way because it’s choppy.  Do you remember your high school or college literature class where you were required to read a poem aloud?  I know you didn’t do this, but as you listened to your classmates read the poem line by line, you and everyone else could tell when one line concluded and the next began.  It sounded choppy rather than “flowy”.  That’s what this broken-verse format does in this Bible, so I’ll just come out and say it: I hate this feature.  Although I’m relatively certain the editors’ rationale was to make each verse easier to find in rapid searches, I’m positively against chopping up paragraphs like this.  ‘Nuff said.

But the NLT reads more like how a person would expect literature to appear.

This section completes each book.  Numerical references throughout the Biblical text may point the reader to one or more of these points.  The Truth section briefly explains the history behind the passage’s theme.  The Action section describes what the Holy Spirit intends for us to do with the given theme or information in the text.  It’s brilliant!  For what good is reading the Bible if we don’t also make life application?


Definitely 4 1/2 stars. Not perfect, but a great study Bible.  You'll have to decide whether you like NLT reading or NKJV reading.  In either case, you won't be disappointed.

DISCLAIMER: I received this Bible free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishers (Booksneeze) in exchange for my unbiased review.  All opinions are mine.  I was not threatened or coerced in any way to provide a positive review.


  1. Anonymous8:48 AM

    Is this the latest thing resulting from free copies being provided to reviewers. It's getting stale.

    1. Anonymous, I'm sorry you don't like it. I try to post thoughtful posts in all categories...from my own thoughts to book reviews. Would you rather I post senseless banter about useless things? Or should I wait a couple weeks until something much more thoughtful and important surfaces, and in the meantime post thoughtful book reviews?

      I think it is highly important for people to be reading books. I think it is a service to fellow readers to tell them what's good and what's a waste of time. I also think it's a service to the publishers to tell THEM what they should keep publishing, and what stinks.

      I make no bones about it, and I'm not ashamed of it that I receive review copies of books from three separate publishers. I like reading, I like writing, and I like FREE!

      If those reasons trouble you, you're welcome to find other bloggers who will fill your mind with the inane. Nevertheless, I do thank you for visiting and commenting.

  2. I loved your review, very helpful thank you.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Leigh! Of the 3 I reviewed (NIV, NKJV, and NLT), I have chosen the NLT as my regular-use for study. If you buy it, I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Hi I was just wondering what the small crosses and diamonds mean in the text? Eg Matthew 4:18 .... for they fished in the village ✝️
    And 4:21 ..... a boat with their father, Zebedee, ��
    Thank you