Terribly Hard and Difficult!

(Mark 10:24)

by Martin A. Shue

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

    The verse before us today is Mark 10:24. The occasion surrounding this verse is that of a rich young man who has come to inquire of Jesus regarding how to obtain eternal life. Jesus addresses the young man’s question then proclaims that there is one thing this young rich man lacks. Jesus then tells him to "go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." When the rich young man heard this he was saddened and went away grieved. Jesus then makes a remarkable statement to His disciples: "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" Because of this statement the Bible says that the disciples "were astonished". Realizing the effect His statement had on the disciples Jesus turns to them the second time and says, "Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" Or is this in fact what Jesus said to His disciples? We want to examine these words of our Lord’s in this essay. Our goal is to see if we can indeed determine what Jesus said in His second exchange with His disciples.

    I use to be amazed to see the extravagant lengths the modern versions go to in order to distort the simple truths of Scripture. However, nothing they do surprises me anymore. Our current discussion is a classic example of what I am talking about. Let’s begin, shall we, by looking at how several modern versions render this verse.

New World Translation (NWT)- But the disciples gave way to surprise at his words. In response Jesus again said to them: "Children, how difficult a thing it is to enter into the kingdom of God!"

The NWT, as you may know, is the translation produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We notice right off that the NWT has omitted the phrase "for them that trust in riches". By doing this they have completely altered what Jesus said. Now, in the NWT, Jesus says that it is "difficult" to enter the kingdom of God. To this alteration most would not be surprised considering the NWT is a very corrupt translation. This reading may also not surprise many considering the JWs believe in a works based salvation. No naturally it would be "difficult" to enter the kingdom of God if you were a member of this cult. But let’s see how our modern "Christian" translations render this verse.

New International Version (NIV)- "The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" (the NASV reads almost the same)

Amazingly the NIV and NASV are in one accord with the reading of the NWT. Just like the NWT, the NIV and NASV have omitted the phrase "for them that trust in riches". Likewise, choosing to say that it is, not only "difficult", but also "hard" to enter the kingdom of God. We proceed, however, to see how other modern versions read.

    Not to be outdone the New Living Translation (NLT) is more emphatic, stating: "This amazed them. But Jesus said again, "Dear children, it is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God." Now it is not only "hard" but it is "very hard" to enter the kingdom of God. We pass on.

    In an effort to be 'different' from the other 200+ MVs the Contemporary English Version (CEV) takes it a step further by stating: "The disciples were shocked to hear this. So Jesus told them again, "It's terribly hard to get into God's kingdom!" Now it is not just "very hard" (as if that wasn't bad enough) it is "terribly hard". I do hope they cease their madness or else the natural progression is going too soon lead to "it is impossible".

    At this point we must stop and ask how did such an obvious blunder find its way into the text of the modern versions? Of course their whole problem stems from the fact that they have chosen to omit the words of our Lord, viz. "Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" The ever quotable James White says, "This variant gives us an instance where the modern texts follow a very small minority of Greek texts (White, The King James Only Controversy, p.169)." This statement by Mr. White could well be classified as an enormous understatement! The truth of the matter is that the United Bible Society and the Nestle/Aland Greek texts can muster only 4 (that's four) Greek MSS. that omit the phrase, viz. the ever untrustworthy Sinai and Vatican Codices, D (Delta) and Y (Psi). This small, not yet, handful of manuscripts are to be arrayed against the whole host of Greek MSS. as well as the Old Latin and the Vulgate. It is simply preposterous that they have omitted these precious words of our Saviour's on such scanty evidence. White’s statement is also misleading because the Greek text that the MVs are derived from, as a whole, is based on the "minority of Greek texts". (I shall happily take this opportunity to briefly demonstrate the hypocrisy of our modern translators---the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7) rests on much greater manuscript evidence than our present example, yet it is rejected as spurious. This example (i.e. Mark 10:24) also displays the unnatural "blind superstition", as Burgon termed it, that modern critics have developed for those two fourth century codices, Aleph and B.) These words are certainly above suspicion and ought to have remained undisturbed just as Mark penned them.

    There is simply no case to be made for removing these precious words of our Saviour’s. John William Burgon remarks that "in fact all the Versions support them" (i.e. all the ancient Versions). In addition to all the ancient versions the early English versions attest to these words as well. Wycliffe, Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva and the Rheims all read as does the AV. To what they appeal to for removing these words is unknown. They certainly cannot appeal to antiquity; for it is soundly against them. They cannot appeal to manuscript evidence for it also is soundly against them. Neither can they appeal to the ancient writers for they too are soundly against them. As far as I know, Clement of Alexandria (2nd Century) is the only early church father to explicitly quote this place. And he certainly quotes it with the phrase intact (Clemens, On The Salvation of the Rich Man, v.) What then do they appeal to? They are left only to appeal to those two unreliable Alexandrian MSS., Aleph and B. Quite haply, they have been here (as elsewhere) betrayed by these two Codices.

    In his attempt to defend an indefensible reading White makes some rather nonsensical comments. We again read the explanation of James White regarding this passage of Scripture:

"Mark 10:25, in all manuscripts, record the Lord saying, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (NIV). The appearance of the "rich man" in verse 25 called for a smoother transition into this topic than provided by verse 24 in the form found in Aleph and B. What is more, the words of verse 24, without the added limitation, seemed too harsh to many readers. Again we see that it is easier to understand how the phrase could be added than to understand why it would have been deleted (White, The King James Only Controversy, p. 169)."

I, personally, find it unbelievable that these remarks come from a man who is the "Scholar in Residence in the College of Christian Studies". What are equally astounding are the remarks on the book cover by such individuals as Bruce Metzger and Hendrik (Hank) Hanegraaff. Metzger remarks, "The King James Only Controversy is scholarly and accurate…" Mr. Hanegraaff states, "A clear, compelling, and conclusive case contradicting the claims of ‘KJV-only’ advocates" One must wonder if these men even read the book to make such ridiculous statements. There is nothing "scholarly and accurate" nor "clear, compelling, and conclusive" about the comments of Mr. White’s concerning Mark 10:24. What kind of ‘scholarship’ justifies tossing out an undisputed phrase of our Lord’s because "verse 25 called for a smoother transition". In other words, we are to toss aside the words of Jesus Christ simply because White et al. believe it makes for a "smoother transition". We are expected to ignore the fact that every Greek MSS. contains the phrase, except 4, that all the versions contain the phrase, and the fact that Clement attests to the phrase more than 150 years before Aleph and B ever existed. Next, White informs us that the verse "without the added limitation, seemed too harsh for many readers". This White says trying to rationalize why those four MSS. do not contain the phrase. He then tells us, based on this "scholarly" approach, that it would have been "easier" for the phrase to be added instead of the phrase being deleted. So, we are to believe that all the other MSS. (both Greek and Latin), all the versions (both ancient and early English), and the only ECF that quotes the place have "added" the phrase and those four Greek MSS. are right. We read and marvel!

    If any of our readers have ever taken the occasion to flip through the modern versions one thing that stands out is the number of footnotes they contain. It is rare indeed to fall upon a page that does not contain some type of footnote. Such is the case with our present verse. First, I want to quote White, who is commenting on Mark 10:24, then examine a few of the footnotes pertaining to this verse in our modern versions. White writes:

"Of course, someone might argue that the omission in such a small number of manuscripts could have been due to simple scribal error, and such is, of course, a possibility. Hence we see the importance and benefit of having good textual notes in any translation being used. The reading should be noted if it is not contained in the text; or, if it is contained in the text, its absence in Aleph and B should be noted as well (Ibid)."

"A possibility"? Is White joking in his comments? Not only is it "a possibility" it is a certainty. Do you see the type of ‘scholarship’ that is behind the production and promotion of the MVs? A phrase is present in every extant manuscript, except four, every ancient version and every early English version and White says it is "a possibility" that the omission is "due to a simple scribal error". Again, we must read and marvel at such utter nonsense.

    Yet again we see the "blind superstition" that White and others have for Aleph and B. Notice that White says if a particular reading is absent in Aleph and B that it "should be noted" with a textual footnote. This just shows what kind of reverence our modern ‘scholars’ have for these two corrupt codices. Despite the fact that a given reading may be found in every extant manuscript White believes that if it is wanting in Aleph and B then that reading deserves to be noted in the textual footnotes. But what about these "textual notes" that White so highly recommends? White says they are ‘important’ and they are a ‘benefit’. I would strongly disagree with Mr. White on both accounts. All such footnotes accomplish is to create confusion and unbelief where there shouldn’t be any. The vast majority of Christendom doesn’t want to be, neither should they be, encumbered with such footnotes as "some manuscripts omit this phrase/verse" nor, as White suggested, "this phrase is absent from Aleph and B". Such footnotes mean absolutely nothing to the average Christian reader. I see no ‘important benefit’ from cluttering up the margin of our Bible with such notes. Besides, it is not the footnotes that are inspired it is the actual Biblical text. White states, "Hence we see the importance and benefit of having good textual notes in any translation being used." Again, this is misleading, as most Christians have no idea what is a "good textual note". Because of this let’s examine a few of the "good textual notes", as White termed them, that accompany this verse. We will begin by looking at the "good textual notes" of the NIV, which White constantly praises throughout his book. The footnote at Mark 10:24 reads as follows, "Some manuscripts is for those who trust in riches". Likewise, the NLT, which we quoted earlier, contains this footnote, "Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches." I remind you once again that James White says that these are "good textual notes" and that they are ‘important’ and ‘beneficial’ to the Christian reader. These footnotes, along with White’s statements, are outright lies meant only to deceive the unknowing Christian. As we have already demonstrated the whole host of Greek MSS. contain the phrase in question save those four untrustworthy MSS. How then can they omit this phrase from the Biblical text then place a footnote at the bottom of the page which says "Some manuscripts add….". "Some" implies that there is only a few manuscripts that ‘add’ the phrase "for them that trust in riches". Nothing could be further from the truth! The truth is it is only "some" that omit the phrase while every other manuscript contains the phrase. Do you see how the modern versions have to lie in order to cover up their obvious blunders?

    Lastly, let me ask that you look at this with plain old-fashioned common sense (an element severely lacking among our Alexandrian and ‘scholarship only’ crowd). Each version above basically stated that "Jesus said again". What was it that Jesus was saying "again"? It is right there in the text. After the rich young man had "went away grieved" Jesus then turned and said to his disciples, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" Now, his disciples were "astonished" at His words no doubt erring like so many today, viz. thinking that great riches must mean the blessing of God is upon someone’s life. Or else they were "astonished" that Jesus would just allow the rich young man to just walk away; thinking how much good he (or should I say his wealth) could be to them in their ambition to set up an earthly kingdom. Whatever the case may be, they were "astonished" at Jesus' words. Therefore, Jesus said unto them "again", "Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" Almost the same identical words He had just spoken to them. All the manuscript and Greek text talk aside one can spot the error in the modern versions by simply using common sense while reading through the passage.

    Again, these precious words of Mark 10:24 are above reproach and certainly should not be expunged from the Biblical text. This example, and thousands like it, is the very reason one cannot trust the modern versions to accurately render the words of God to you. Not only can you not trust the Biblical text of the modern versions but you also cannot trust their footnotes as well. We should now, more than ever, cling to our Authorized Version, which God has been happy to preserve His exact words in. It has been challenged, tested and ridiculed for hundreds of years yet it remains without proven error. Selah!

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7