Thomas Nelson NKJV Preaching Bible Review
There are several different Bibles on the market from various publishers designed for preaching. Even though most have asked preachers for their opinions, each publisher has a different take on what’s needed for pulpit use. Variations include wide margins with a verse-by-verse text in a single column, a single-column paragraph text with a small margin, double-column verse-by-verse, text-only with no distractions, text with cross-references, etc. A few things seem to be consistent: large print, large verse numbers, and thick paper.
I visited Thomas Nelson headquarters last year and saw their foray into the Preaching Bible market. They’ve produced two: an NKJV and a KJV. They were designed for use in the pulpit with a layout geared toward navigation, paper and print geared toward easy reading and turning, and three ribbon markers to mark multiple locations in Scripture. It comes in black or brown calfskin. I’m reviewing both editions, but in this review, I’m looking at the NKJV Preaching Bible in black calfskin, ISBN: 9780785222651, made in China.
Thomas Nelson provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.
This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)
and many local Bible bookstores
Cover and Binding
The cover is black calfskin. It has a pebbly grain that looks and feels nice. It isn’t as soft to the touch as many calfskin editions I’ve reviewed, but it doesn’t feel like a hard material like calf split or French Morocco. It isn’t overly floppy or overly stiff, but it does start to feel a little floppy once it’s been used a few times. It’s a lot stiffer than most edge-lined editions. It includes perimeter stitching. It has nothing printed on the front. The spine includes HOLY BIBLE, NKJV, Thomas Nelson, and 5 non-raised spine rib indications printed in gold.
It has an edge-lined synthetic liner and it’s Smyth sewn. It does lay open, but it will need to be broken in with some use before it lays perfectly flat in Genesis. The pages do come close to the folded over leather. I haven’t had any issues with the paper catching, but I wanted to mention it.
It includes 3 satin ribbons in black, red, and blue. It weighs 2lbs, 11.4oz. The overall size is 6.75 x 9.75 x 1.5″. I found this size and weight to be comfortable to hold and carry.
The paper is 36gsm (it was originally reported as 39, and it does feel thicker than the 36gsm of the Premier Collection). It’s white in color, but not bright white. It’s extremely opaque and is a joy to read. It has a slightly rough texture that makes it easier to turn than most Bibles. The page edges are gold gilt. This is an excellent paper for reading or highlighting.
It has 8 lined pages in the back for notes. This is great for sermon outlines, word studies, quotes, lists, etc. This is the same paper as the rest of the Bible. I’d like to see even more pages in the back.
The text is presented in a two-column verse-by-verse format with poetry set in stanzas and letters indented. The header includes the page number in the center and the book name and reference in the outer margin. The footer contains the cross-references and footnotes. The header, footer, section headings, and chapter and verse numbers are in blue (maybe one of the shades of cadet blue).
The font is 11.5 Comfort Print. It does look slightly smaller than this when compared to 11 and 12 point editions from other publishers, but it still reads as large print and it’s a joy to read from the pulpit. This is a black-letter text. The font is dark and highly consistent throughout.
The point of being a preaching Bible is to place the text in a setting that easy to use. They’ve chosen a verse-by-verse setting with verses indented and the verse numbers in blue. This is unique for the NKJV. Unlike the KJV, the NKJV does retain the lower-case letters at the beginning of a verse if it continues a sentence.
It has between 8-10 words per line on average. The text was printed with line-matching. The lines match perfectly throughout the text, and with the opacity of the paper, the line behind the text is still white. This is important for readability, as paper that isn’t opaque enough tends to make the text look gray.
Even in v-b-v, the NKJV retains its poetic setting. The poetry breaks the lines into stanzas like a song. This is my favorite method of presenting poetry in narrow columns.
Placing verses and footnotes in the footer means the text doesn’t have to share horizontal space, but it also means it takes an extra step to find them. That’s not a problem for me most of the time because I rarely use them while preaching. It actually keeps me from becoming distracted by them. If they were too easy to find I’d probably want to glance at them every time I saw a footnote key. They’re easy to use for study.
This is my favorite verse-by-verse setting. Everything is still identifiable as to the type of writing it is. Prose looks like prose (even though it’s broken up), poetry looks like poetry, and letters look like letters. This is the setting I want to see in verse-by-verse KJV’s.
References and Footnotes
The 72,000 cross-references and translation footnotes are placed in a single column across the footer. It provides the references first and then the footnotes. The pilot reference is in blue. It shows the references first, and then the footnote for each verse.
Here are some example references to help you compare:
- Genesis 1:1 – Ps 102:25; Is 40:21; Jn 1:1-3; Heb 1:10; Gen 2:4; Ps 8:3; 89:11; 90:2; Is 44:24; Acts 17:24; Rom 1:20; Heb 1:2; 11:3; Rev 4:11
- Deuteronomy 6:4 – Deut 4:35; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; 1 Cor 8:4, 6
- Isaiah 9:6 – Isa 7:14; Luke 2:11; John 1:45; Luke 2:7; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9; Matt 28:18; 1 Cor 15:25; Rev 12:5; Judg 13:18; Titus 2:13; Eph 2:14
- Matthew 17:20 – Mat 21:21, Mk 11:23, Lk 17:6, 1 Cor 12:9
- Mark 11:23 – Matt 17:20; 21:21; Luke 17:6
- Mark 12:29 – Deut 6:4, 5; Is 44:8; 45:22; 46:9; 1 Cor 8:6
- John 1:1 – Gen 1:1; Col 1:17; 1 John 1:1; John 1:14; Rev 19:13; John 17:5; 1 John 1:2; 5:20
- John 2:19 – Mat 26:61, 27:40, Mk 14:58, 15:29, Lk 24:46, Acts 6:14, 10:40, 1 Cor 15:4
- Acts 2:38 – Luke 24:47
- 1 John 1:1 – John 1:1; 1 John 2:13, 14; Luke 1:2; John 1:14; 2 Pet 1:16; Luke 24:39; John 2:27; John 1:1, 4, 14
The footnotes are the standard NKJV translation footnotes, which are my favorite footnotes. I find them to be useful because they provide manuscript variations and identify the manuscripts.
Using it in the Pulpit
I enjoyed preaching from this Bible. The font size and darkness are excellent for preaching. I had no issues reading from it. I used the section headings to help find the beginning of the context (I rarely read just one verse in the passage). It lays flat in the middle of Genesis with no issues (I always break Bibles in first, but they sometimes need more usage before they’ll stay open in Genesis 1).
This is some of the best paper I’ve used in the pulpit. It’s easy to turn and the opacity and color are perfect for reading in public. I prefer gold gilted edges to art-gilt for Bibles I use in the pulpit. With art-gilt I’m always concerned about spitting as I preach (my Canterbury and KJV Pitt Minion have battle wounds), but with gold gilt I don’t even think about it.
I found the verse numbers and section headings easy to navigate and see the context. I’ve preached from both v-b-v and paragraph settings, and I like both. I don’t actually need v-b-v, I just need the verse numbers to be easy to see. The blue verse numbers look great and they stand out well. They would also make verses easy to find in a paragraph layout.
Here’s how the NKJV Preaching Bible looks next to the Minister’s Bible and the Premier Collection Large Print Thinline.
The Thomas Nelson Minister’s Bible was made for those in ministry on the go. If you travel and need something light with ministerial resources, or if you prefer to carry a smaller Bible, this is a good option. It doesn’t include references or a concordance, but it does have maps and a reading plan. It’s in paragraph format. It uses the same paper and makes an excellent companion to this one. The pagination is different.
Premier Collection Large Print Thinline
The Premier Collection Large Print Thinline is made with higher quality materials including a goatskin cover with a leather liner, and premium European paper. It’s a thinner edition with a smaller font in paragraph format. It includes the same cross-references. It also includes a concordance and maps. I love this one, but I find the Preaching Bible easier to preach from because of the larger font and thicker paper. Navigation in the v-b-v layout is faster, but I don’t have that much trouble finding verses in the paragraph layout.
The NKJV Preacher’s Bible is unique among NKJV’s in that it’s one of the few available in verse-by-verse format. The layout, font size and darkness, and paper makes this an excellent choice for preaching if you don’t need writing space. Although this edition does have cross-references, it doesn’t include a concordance or maps. So it might not be the Bible you need as your only Bible. I think a touch of margin space would be nice for many preachers.
This is a premium edition that’s well-made (just not to the level of the Premier Collection), but it’s the kind of Bible that I could use without worrying about what happens to it. I don’t feel the need to baby it. It’s made to be used and I enjoyed using it. Of course, it’s not just for preaching. Anyone that needs a v-b-v format can use this Bible. I recommend it to any NKJV preacher and any NKJV reader that prefers a verse-by-verse format.
This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)
and many local Bible bookstores