A Change to NET Matthew 7:14

Michael H. Burer's picture


In the first edition of the NET Bible, Matthew 7:13-14 reads as follows:

7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7:14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Dr. Hall Harris, the NET Bible project director, recently contacted me about the word “But” at the beginning of this verse. This is similar to the NIV translation, but different from other translations, so we decided to take a closer look. The Greek text does not have ἀλλα (alla) or any other word which would imply a contrast. Instead it has the word τί (ti). We checked in BDAG, the standard lexicon for the Greek New Testament, and found that occasionally this little word can introduce an exclamation. In fact, Matthew 7:14 is listed by BDAG as an example of this usage. After discussing some options, we decided to make a change in 7:14. The two verses will now read as follows in the second edition:

7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7:14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it!

With this change of v. 14 to an exclamation, the force of Jesus’ emotion becomes clearer. The verse is less of an explanation and more of an emotional punch to prod his hearers into faith.


HIMAfrica's picture

The Greek word 'adelphoi' translated generically as "brethren" in many translations and as "brothers and sisters" in the NET. Bible is appropriate if the context allows it. Most of the time 'adelphoi' is generic and applies to both "brothers and sisters", but not always. A case in point is how it is used in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Verse 1 appropriately understands it as "brothers and sisters" in that Paul, by the Holy Spirit, is addressing the church of Corinth at large. But as Paul develops his argument concerning the apostolic witnesses of the Gospel there is a noticable lack of all the first witnesses of the resurrection portrayed in the Gospels, the women. In Matthew Mary Magdalene and the "other" Mary were met by the resurrection Lord (28:9). These two "witnesses" were commanded to tell "My brethren" to go to Galilee and "see" Him there. In Mark it is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses and Salome who came to the empty tomb. Mark 19:9 says that Jesus "first appeared to Mary Magdalene" can be seen as a 'recap' of the previous section. Regardless of the position one takes concerning 16:9-20, the men are not included with the "first" witnesses. Luke records that the "women" were the first to the empty tomb and saw and heard the angels declaring the Lord's resurrection. Their testimony to the disciples was received as "nonsense" in keeping with the testimony of Mark 16:13ff and the rebuke from the risen Lord to the "men" for not believing the witness of the women. In Luke 24:24 the two from Emmaus said that the women "had not seen Him" when they first heard the message from them. It seems obvious that Mary Magdalene was not with the "women" that first testified to the disciples including these two that walked, talked and ate with Jesus later that day or that they just did not believe their testimony and therefore said "but they did not see him." John 20:11-18 records that Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus as described in Mark 16. It also answers the question of why the "other" women in the Luke 24 account "did not see him." Mary Magdalene was not with them at that time. The testimony of 1 Corinthians 15 completely leaves out the "first" witnesses and declares that the resurrected Jesus "appeared" to Cephas and then to the Twelve and then to the over 500 "adolphoi" and then to James and then ALL the Apostles and finally He appeared to Paul (the last of the Apostles to have seen Jesus and therefore in Paul's heart the least in status). In this case "adelphoi" as used in 15:6 should be translated and understood as masculine because of the context of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 which is establishing the "apostolic" witness of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Michael H. Burer's picture

Thank you for your thoughtful interaction on this passage. I understand what you are saying, but I disagree that is the proper lens through which to view the passage. My primary argument against your assertion is the verse in question. Paul mentions 500 people to whom Christ appeared, and he is very careful about how he uses the word "apostle." So I take this group to be a general group of people, not an apostolic group. Even so, the linguistic point about the meaning of ἀδελφοί would logically stand here, too. 

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