Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
In Strong's Concordance we see πονηρός defined (in the primary sense) this way:
- full of labours, annoyances, hardships
This word, ponēros, is translated "evil" in most versions, and "bad" ("as bad as you are") in the CEV. Why do translators so uniformly render this word as "evil," when it could be translated in the primary sense, as in
"If you then, who are full of labors, annoyances, and hardships, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
Is it possible that, traditional doctrine notwithstanding, Jesus could have been teaching about giving good gifts in spite of our troubles? We know that Jesus' compassion for the poor in their difficult lives was exemplary; did he really think that all people are evil and wicked, or just that in our harried and trudging existences, we make imperfect decisions, and miss the mark of our higher calling, to completely trust that God has our best interests at heart?
It seems clear that in many places Strong brings his own religious bias to his translations, rendering words and phrases according to established doctrine (e.g. "Satan", a proper name with an entire doctrine behind it, instead of ha-satan, "the adversary", a title for an office occupied by a messenger of God.) Could it be that early translators also made the mistake of eisegesis?