|By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©1999|
|Some translations of Luke 10:1 say “70 disciples,” while others say “72 disciples.” Which is correct? Rev. Harris attempts to answer this seeming contradiction.|
“The preacher was speaking on Luke 10:1, and read from the New International Version (NIV) that Jesus sent forth 72 disciples, and I was in the pew with my King James Version (KJV) and it read that Jesus sent forth 70 disciples. How do you reconcile the two?”
The questioner stated that he had asked many preachers this question but had not received any direct answers. I’m not sure that I can do much better, but let me share my research to this point.
The King James, New King James, and the New American Standard Bible read that Jesus “sent forth 70 disciples,” while the New International Version, The Jerusalem Bible, and the New Living Translation reflect that Jesus “sent forth 72 disciples.” Why the difference here?
Looking at Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, we find that the Greek word “hebdomekonta” (coded 1440 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible) is translated “seventy.” However, immediately following this word is the Greek word “duo” in brackets (duo) translated “two.” Footnotes of several translations indicate that the Greek manuscripts are divided between 70 and 72 as the number sent out and there is no way to be sure of which one is the original. Both represent the number of nations in the world in Genesis 10, with the Hebrew text having 70 names while the Greek text has 72.
As one person stated when I discussed this question with him, it really doesn’t matter the difference between 70 or 72, it’s exciting that Jesus had this many ready to send out to share the good news of the gospel! I would say, AMEN to that!