For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Broad is the road that leads to destruction,” Jesus said near the end of his Sermon on the Mount. As with other references in this sermon, Jesus likely used a literal, visual cue as a symbolic example when he made this statement.

In a general sense, most roads in ancient Palestine were common travelling paths, worn smooth over the years from travelers (and their livestock) walking the shortest distances between towns, cities, and nations. “Narrow roads” were a different from common paths; they typically referred to difficult to traverse mountain pathways used by local travelers instead of more well-traveled roads used by outsiders.

Meanwhile, the Romans of Jesus’ time had created and maintained an impressive series of international trade routes that could accommodate all kinds of merchant and tourist traffic—and even legions of soldiers. These “broad roads” were well-traveled, well-kept, and commonly-known to anyone living in Israel. One of these Roman trade routes was laid out over the coastal plains and valleys of the Middle East, connecting Israel to Africa, Asia, and Europe.

A section of that Roman highway, situated in the plain of Magdala, was actually visible to Jesus and his hearers at the time when he delivered his Sermon on the Mount. Thus, when he said, “Broad is the road that leads to direction,” Jesus may have gestured toward that Roman road for visual emphasis.

 

Works Cited:

[VGG, 64-65]

 

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Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Here’s a quick overview of a few keywords from Matthew 7:-13-14, along with their brief meanings in the original Greek text:

• Enter (eisérchomai): To go or come into. Also, to go about one’s daily life.

• Narrow (stenós): This is a Greek term that means both “narrow” and “straight.” Hence the common saying, “Walk the straight and narrow path.”

• Road (hodós): Can be a highway, a street, or a road, though it typically refers to a street within a city. Sometimes used symbolically as a reference to Jesus himself, as in John 14:6 (“I am the way…”).

• Destruction (apṓleia): To destroy fully. Ruin. To die, or death.

• Life (zōḗs): Human life, both physical (temporary) and of the soul (eternal). Also a reference to resurrection when applied to Jesus (see Romans 5:10, 2 Corinthians 4:10-12) and a reference to Christ’s resurrecting power (Romans 11:15).

• Find (huerískō): To gain, procure, obtain. To discover. Can also mean “to find without seeking.”

 

Works Cited:

[CWS, 21; CWD, 526, 1310, 1026, 246, 703, 682]

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

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Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Found where it in Matthew 7:12, the “Golden Rule” seems an awkward contextual placement. In modern Bibles, it’s lumped in with Matthew 7:7-11, appearing as the final sentence in this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This is particularly perplexing because verse 12 in the NIV begins with the word, “So…” (or in more common translations, “Therefore…”) indicating that this Golden Rule is understood to be the natural outcome of what Christ has just said before it. The problem is that verses 7-11 are all about God’s promise of provision in answer to prayer—not about social behavior.

So why the abrupt change of subject? Why go directly from “good gifts” from your heavenly Father to, “do unto others…”?

The confusion, it seems, stems from our modern need for paragraph and subheading breaks. Recall, the gospel of Matthew as originally written in ancient times was not divided into chapters, subchapters, and verses. When this section of Scripture was formatted for more modern eyes, Christ’s Golden Rule was placed in direct context with Matthew 7:7-11 when it likely should have stood on its own as an, albeit short, independent section. (Interestingly, this is how scholars working on the King James Version arranged it.) In that kind of placement, it would have been more obvious what that “Therefore” was there for.

Bible scholar, Craig Evans explains: “Matthew’s therefore may well sum up the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, especially harking back to the thesis statement in Matthew 5:17-20. In Matt 5:17, Jesus declares that he has come ‘to fulfill’ the Law and the Prophets. What follows (in Matt 5:21-7:12) shows how he understands this fulfillment to take place, ending with the Golden Rule, which sums up the whole of the Law.”

Understood in the context of the entire Sermon on the Mount, then, this Golden Rule now makes much more sense here. It was apparently used by Jesus to summarize his whole sermon to this point, and to lead into his concluding illustrations which appear in Matthew 7:13-27.

 

Works Cited:

[MAT, 169]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

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Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus frequently pointed to God’s place as our Father to emphasize the idea that God cares for us—but that imagery meant something different to his first-century hearers than it does to our so-called “progressive” 21st-century culture.

In today’s American culture, the father is important, yes, but often optional in terms of societal necessity. Today a man may become a father physically, yet as a matter of convenience can easily decline to participate in a child’s life (and often he does). Not so in ancient Jewish culture. Fatherhood was not an optional thing, both for the father and for his family. It was an expected part of life, unbreakable obligation and a proud privilege for any man. In fact, the more children who called a man “father,” the better! (Psalm 127:3-5)

The father in Jesus’ time exercised near complete authority over his children—even in matters of life and death. At the same time, the father was expected to provide for every physical need for his children (Proverbs 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:8), to provide for the child’s spiritual growth (Genesis 12:8; Exodus 12:3), to provide a meaningful education and proper, loving discipline (Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:7-9), to defend their rights in court (Deuteronomy 22:13-19) and much more. Basically, the father was obligated to provide everything the child needed to grow up and become a successful, productive, happy, and holy person in ancient Israel. Notice that this was not an optional part of fatherhood! It was required, and any man who openly neglected the obligations of fatherhood would have been despised and rebuked by society.

It’s within this strict cultural context that Jesus emphasizes God’s self-imposed obligation as a Father in relation to his believers: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). .

 

Works Cited:

[ZP2, 504-505; RBD, 374-375]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previous Posts

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Geographical Backgrounds)
“Broad is the road that leads to destruction,” Jesus said near the end of his Sermon on the Mount. As with other references in this sermon, Jesus likely used a literal, visual cue as a symbolic example when he made this statement. In a general sense, most roads in ancient Palestine were commo

posted 12:00:38pm Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Word Study)
Here’s a quick overview of a few keywords from Matthew 7:-13-14, along with their brief meanings in the original Greek text: • Enter (eisérchomai): To go or come into. Also, to go about one’s daily life. • Narrow (stenós): This is a Greek term that means both “narrow” and “straight

posted 12:00:36pm Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Literary Influences)
Found where it in Matthew 7:12, the “Golden Rule” seems an awkward contextual placement. In modern Bibles, it’s lumped in with Matthew 7:7-11, appearing as the final sentence in this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This is particularly perplexing because verse 12 in the NIV begins wit

posted 12:00:54pm Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Cultural Commentary)
Jesus frequently pointed to God’s place as our Father to emphasize the idea that God cares for us—but that imagery meant something different to his first-century hearers than it does to our so-called “progressive” 21st-century culture. In today’s American culture, the father is importan

posted 12:00:53pm Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Theological Commentary)
Jesus’ exhortation to “ask, seek, knock” in prayer seems a carte blanche promise that God will give anything you or I ask for in prayer. The normal Christian life, on the other hand, seems to discredit this promise on a daily basis. So what gives? Was Jesus lying, or mistaken, or exaggerati

posted 12:00:51pm Nov. 17, 2014 | read full post »


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