Do Seventh-day Adventists Have Their Own Bible?
Adventists have some unique beliefs—you might be able to name some of them right now. The seventh-day Sabbath. Death as a sleep. Hell as nonexistence.
Where do they get these teachings from? Do they use their own version of the Bible?
No, Adventists don’t have their own Bible. We use the same Bible translations that other Christian and Protestant denominations use.
But we understand your confusion, so let’s unpack the answer here. We’ll cover:
Why Adventists don’t have their own Bible
As Adventists, we don’t have our own Bible translation because we believe that the canon of the Bible as it exists today—both the Old Testament and the New Testament—is the reliable and unchanging Word of God. It was cherished, protected, and passed down to us through the ages, and we value it as the foundation of all our doctrines and teachings. Through it, God communicates with us by the Holy Spirit and points us to Jesus Christ.
We highlight this in our fundamental belief #1.
Here’s how the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists puts it in an official statement:
“The Holy Scriptures stand as the infallible revelation of God’s will, the norm for Christian values and life, the measure of all things within human experience, and the sole reliable guide to salvation in Christ.”
During the Reformation, Protestants called this philosophy sola scriptura—the Bible and the Bible alone. It means that the Bible is our ultimate authority and guide.
If Adventists do indeed uphold the Bible in this way, then we need to address some of the misconceptions that have cropped up about this.
Why do people think Adventists have their own Bible?
Even though Adventists don’t have their own Bible, people may think that for a few reasons:
- Our unique doctrines and beliefs
- Our use of Ellen G. White’s writings
- The Clear Word paraphrase
Our unique doctrines and beliefs
Adventists have many similar beliefs to other Christians—salvation by faith in Jesus; the Second Coming; heaven; and more. But some of our beliefs are unique, such as the seventh day as the Sabbath; death as a sleep; and the heavenly sanctuary. These beliefs involve a different interpretation of certain Scriptures than you might have heard before.
But these Adventist beliefs come from the same Bibles most Christians are already familiar with, such as the King James Version, English Standard Version, or the New International Version.
Our use of Ellen G. White’s writings
Adventists accept the writings and teachings of Ellen G. White as a product of the biblical gift of prophecy (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:28). As a result, people wonder if we treat her writings as Scripture.
We don’t. The Bible instructs us to “test everything [and] hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV). This means checking whether what we’re reading or learning aligns with the Bible. In this way, we test Ellen White’s writings—just like we would any other books or materials.
The Clear Word paraphrase
In 1994, Jack Blanco—a theology professor at Southern Adventist University—published a paraphrase of the Bible called The Clear Word, basing it on thoughts he wrote during his own personal Bible study. This book’s fast-growing popularity caused it to be misrepresented as a Bible, leading people to think that it was an Adventist translation, similar to the Book of Mormon or the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation.
But a quick look at the book’s preface of the 2004 edition says otherwise:
“The Clear Word is not a translation, but a devotional paraphrase of Scripture expanded for clarity…. It should not be considered a study Bible. Excellent translations of the Scriptures are available for such purposes.”
It is a devotional tool with an Adventist interpretation of Bible texts—but it was never meant to be used as the primary source for Bible study or worship services. Jack Blanco himself never wanted people to take it as such.
And the Seventh-day Adventist Church has never claimed it is a Bible, as stated by Dr. Jud Lake, an Adventist theologian who wrote a paper about The Clear Word.
What are different Bible translations, and what do Adventists use?
All Bible translations that exist today can fit into three different categories: literal, dynamic equivalents, and paraphrases. The official Adventist Church doesn’t have a preferred translation, and its members use and own a variety. Let’s learn more about them.
Literal translations of the Bible aim to translate the Hebrew and Greek texts as directly as possible. For this reason, they are sometimes called word-for-word translations.
Examples of literal translations are:
- The King James Version (KJV)
- The New King James Version (NKJV)
- Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
Many people, Adventists included, prefer literal translations for in-depth Bible study because they tend to be closest to the original text.
Dynamic equivalents, also known as thought-for-thought or meaning-to-meaning translations, are all about conveying the message of the text, rather than the exact words. The translators consider the historical and cultural background of the text so they can best express it in modern terms.
Dynamic equivalents include:
- The New International Version (NIV)
- The Good News Translation (GNT)
- The New Living Translation (NLT)
- The Revised English Bible (REB)
- The Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Paraphrases focus on interpreting the Bible text rather than merely expressing what it says. Thus, they don’t fit the definition of a Bible translation and should be used as study aids, not Bibles.
Some paraphrases are:
- The Living Bible
- The Message
- The Clear Word
Paraphrases can be helpful, but we shouldn’t rely on others’ interpretations of the Bible. First, form your own conclusions through personal Bible study and then use paraphrases for helpful expansion and clarification on a topic.
And if a paraphrase seems to contradict what the Bible says, hold onto the teachings of the Bible—not the paraphrase.
What about the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary?
The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary is just that—a commentary. It’s not a Bible and doesn’t claim to be. Instead, it’s a verse-by-verse analysis of the Bible, put together by theologians to help Adventists in their study.
Adventists use the SDA Bible Commentary in the same way that other Christians might use well-known commentaries like Matthew Henry’s Commentary or The MacArthur Bible Commentary.
Again, the Bible must be our standard to test the teachings of the commentary—not the other way around.
Adventists cherish the same Bible other Christians do
The Adventist Church began with people from various Christian denominations—Baptist, Congregationalist, Methodist, etc. When these individuals started Seventh-day Adventism, they brought the Bible with them because they wanted it to be their foundation.
That hasn’t changed. We still use the same Bibles that Protestant Christianity uses.
And our desire to cherish and uphold it hasn’t changed either. Why? Because through it, we receive God’s communication and come to know Jesus more.
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