The Word For Today Bible is an NKJV study Bible from Pastor Chuck Smith. This is a revised edition with updated with more notes than the previous edition. It provides cross-references, commentary on the text, a nice concordance, reading plan, and maps.

This Bible is available in a range of covers including paperback, hard cover, imitation, bonded leather, genuine leather, and cowhide, and in a range of colors including black, brown, burgundy, tan, and more. Some editions are available with thumb-index. The edition I’m reviewing is black cowhide without thumb-indexing. ISBN: 9781597511209


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This edition is black cowhide. It’s soft to the touch and has a nice grain. The spine shows NKJV and The Word For Today logo in the center and at the bottom in gold. It has a vinyl paste-down liner and the text-block is sewn. It has no issues lying open on the first page after it’s broken in.

Cowhide is one of my favorite covers and this one is as good as any I’ve seen. I love the soft texture of this cover. Even with the paste-down liner it’s as flexible as any goatskin cover I own. Even though it’s flexible it doesn’t feel unwieldy and can be held open in one hand.

The overall size is 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.5″. It doesn’t feel like a large Bible. For me this is the perfect size for a study Bible. It has one black ribbon that’s more than long enough to pull to the corner.


The paper is probably 30gsm or less, which makes sense considering it has over 1800 pages in just 1.5″. It’s white in color and doesn’t have any glare under direct lighting. One problem with the paper is its low opacity. The show-through isn’t so bad that I won’t use it, but it does stand out to me – especially in the poetic settings. Three of the thick pages in the front are ruled and are labeled for notes.


The text is presented in double-column paragraph format with poetry indented with each poetic line indented further. Letters are indented evenly. OT quotes are in oblique type. Section headings are in all-caps in bold. Commentary is placed at the bottom of the page and is separated from the text with a line that includes the logo. The header is also separated by a line and shows the book name, chapter, and range of verses in the center and the page number in the outer margin. References and footnotes are placed in the center column.

The font is 9.5 red-letter. I like the style of font. Both the black and red text have about a medium darkness and are fairly consistent throughout. It’s easy enough to read. If it were darker the show-through would be overpowering, so this level of darkness works well for this paper.

The verse numbers are fairly large but they don’t stand out. This is great for reading but might make it more difficult to find specific verses quickly.

It has around 38 characters per line with around 7 words per line. It also has a good amount of leading so the text never feels cramped. This does cause poetry to have lines with a single word, which is typical of double-column settings.


References and footnotes are placed within the center column. References are keyed to the text with letters and footnotes are keyed to the text with numbers. The center column includes the chapter numbers in bold followed by all the references for that chapter. The verse number are also in bold.

The reference and footnotes keys start over with every verse. This means that each page could have a dozen or more a’s. They’re also evenly spaced. My personal preference is to go through the entire alphabet because for me it’s easier to look for a letter than a verse number, and to place them near the verse they correspond to. That’s just my preference. This system works fine.

This edition seems light on cross references. Fortunately there are more within the commentary and helps make this a good edition for study. Here are some examples to help you compare:

  • Genesis 1:1 – John 1:1-3; Acts 17:24
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 – 1 Cor. 8:4,6
  • Isaiah 9:6 – Luke 2:11; John 3:16; Matt. 28:18; Judg. 13:18; Titus 2:13; Eph. 2:14
  • Matthew 17:20 – Luke 17:6
  • Mark 11:23 – Matt. 17:20; 21:21
  • Mark 12:29 – Deut. 6:4, 5
  • John 1:1 – 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13; John 17:5; 1 John 5:20
  • Acts 2:38 – Luke 24:47
  • 1 John 1:1 – John 1:1; John 1:14; 2 Pet. 1:16; Luke 24:39; John 1:1, 4, 14

Footnotes provide alternate renderings, cross-references, OT  quotes in the NT, textual variants, etc. The footnotes are great for study – especially to see textual variants without phrases such as “the best mss say…”.


Book introductions take about a page and show the author, date of writing, type of book, and theme. It covers the purpose of writing, circumstances of writing, keywords from the original languages that provide insights into the book, and even some tips for interpretation. These are good introductions and provide insights that help with understanding the original audience and setting.


The study notes are primarily commentary, although there are a few maps throughout the text. The commentary isn’t overdone and includes references, manuscript information, insights on events, renderings in other translations, Greek and Hebrew word studies, places, apologetics, application, etc.

Even though Chuck Smith will point out his personal beliefs, the commentary does include multiple views. Overall I like the commentary and find it informative and useful. As always, I recommend that you use commentary for research but realize that it’s written by fallible man and can contain errors. I recommend you do your own study coupled with prayer, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.


This is a daily reading plan that takes you through the Bible in normal biblical order. It provides the date and chapters to read. I like seeing reading plans included in Bibles and this one is as good as any.


This is 5 small charts that provides the unit, value, equivalents, and translation. These are helpful for study.


The concordance is 136 pages with three columns per page. It includes topics rather than just words. It’s actually a good concordance for study. Here are a few sample entries with the number of references given to help you compare:

  • Christ – 33
  • Christian – 2
  • Christians – 1
  • Christs – 1
  • Faith – 56
  • Faithful – 26
  • Faithfulness – 9
  • Faithless – 2
  • God – 70
  • Goddess – 2
  • Godhead – 2
  • Godliness – 6
  • Godly – 6
  • Gods – 7
  • Praise  – 38
  • Praised – 6
  • Praises – 5
  • Praiseworthy – 1
  • Praising – 3
  • Pray – 23
  • Prayed – 3
  • Prayer – 21
  • Prayers – 9


It has 10 maps on 8 thick semi-glossy pages. The maps are colorful and includes distance, topography, borders, routes, cities, mountains, battles, cities that were attacked, cities that were burned, unconquered cities, Scripture references, cities of refuge, dates, journeys, etc.

There isn’t an index but they are annotated well and are easy to use. My only complaint with the maps is they show the Red Sea crossing at the Reed Sea, which implies the Bible is in error when it says Red Sea. There is no reason to believe they didn’t cross the Red Sea just like the Bible says.

Maps include:

  1. World of the Patriarchs
  2. The Exodus from Egypt
  3. The Conquest of Canaan
  4. The Twelve Tribes
  5. David and Solomon’s Jerusalem
  6. Jerusalem in New Testament Times
  7. Paul’s First Missionary Journey
  8. His Journey to Rome
  9. Paul’s Second and Third Missionary Journeys
  10. The Holy Land in the Time of Jesus


The Word For Today Bible from Pastor Chuck Smith is a simple but useful study Bible. It doesn’t include articles, charts, lists, photos, etc., but these are not always needed and this helps bring the size down which makes it easier to carry and use. The commentary isn’t overdone and does include multiple views and lots of Scripture. The font is readable but could be improved with better paper. The cowhide cover is soft and flexible even with the paste-down liner. If you’re looking for an NKJV study Bible that doesn’t go overboard with articles, charts, and lists, the Word For Today Bible is a great choice.


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Photography by hannah C brown