5.6 billion have the Bible in their language

Good progress made in translating the Good News

Here is the good news about the Good News: 5.6 billion people have access to the full Bible in their language.

But here is the not-so-good news: More than half of the world’s languages still have no Scripture at all.

But there’s good progress. In 2018, working closely with churches and partner organisations, Bible Societies around the world continued to make a significant contribution to the global Bible translation landscape. Scripture translations were completed in 66 languages used by 440 million people. These statistics come from the just-released United Bible Societies annual survey of Bible translation.

Of the 7,350 languages in the world, the full Bible is now available in 692 languages used by 5.6 billion people. That means around 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their language. However, 1,547 languages used by 805 million people have the New Testament, and shorter portions of Scripture are available in a further 1,123 languages used by 411 million people. That leaves 3,988 languages used by 246 million people without any Scripture.


The dedication of the revised Havakinau New Testament in Vanuatu was an emotional moment for a community facing a very challenging time. Volcanic eruptions on their home island of Ambae last year led to their urgent evacuation to other islands, and delayed the launch and distribution of the long-awaited New Testament.

Many may not ever be able to return home because the volcano could remain active for the foreseeable future.

There is a gathering momentum in Bible translation …

People wept as they listened to the new Scripture being read out loud, and they sang and danced as they held their New Testaments and prayed for their future. The revision will help people engage more deeply with the Scripture text, which will help their faith to grow, noted translator Kathleen Lingi.

There is a gathering momentum in Bible translation as the dream of every person on earth being able to access God’s word gets closer. Translation processes have benefitted from technology, with better software and online resources. Translation is increasingly owned by the community whose language is being translated.

Last year UBS embarked on a bold 20-year journey that aims to provide around 600 million people with new access to Scripture in their heart language. If Bible Societies receive the funding they need, this will involve the completion of 1,200 translation projects by 2038.

“Our 20-year vision and mission strategy builds on a legacy of sacrifice and generosity passed down by generations of faithful servants,” says UBS Director General Michael Perreau. “Now we continue that mission with fresh momentum by working more closely than ever before with partners around the world, including modern day Bible heroes living lives of sacrifice and dedication so that we all might have access to the life-giving word of God.”

Bible translations in 2018

Bible Translations in 2018 United Bible Societies

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