Both the NLT and NIV are excellent modern-language translations that display a balance between formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. The NLT, however, leans more toward dynamic equivalence when passages demand a thought-for-thought translation to make the meaning of the passage clear to modern readers. This is especially true in the Epistles, where the NIV tends toward a literal translation that is sometimes hard to understand. The NLT, by contrast, consistently leans toward a dynamic rendering that presents the meaning of the text simply and clearly.
For example, in Romans 3:25, the NIV reads: "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished." By comparison, the NLT reads: "For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past."
In the NIV, this verse is difficult to understand. What does "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement" mean? Where does one place the phrase "through faith in his blood"? In the NIV, it is ungrammatically joined with "God presented" as though God were the one practicing faith! And what does it mean to have "faith in his blood"? Then follows a very enigmatic statement: "in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished."
The NLT presents a much clearer picture. Instead of "sacrifice of atonement," the NLT reads, "sacrifice for sin." The NLT then makes it clear that it is people who need to have faith in Jesus' sacrifice: "they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood." Finally, the NLT elucidates what the NIV leaves opaque: "This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past." Thus the NLT presents the meaning of the original text in clear English.