Rescue the Perishing
-- Fanny Crosby
listen to the vocal)
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.
Fanny Crosby tells the story
of how she came to write Rescue the Perishing...
It was written in the year 1869, when
I was forty-nine years old. Many of my hymns were written after
experiences in New York mission work. This one was thus written. I was
addressing a large company of working men one hot summer evening, when
the thought kept forcing itself on my mind that some mother's boy must
be rescued that night or not at all. So I made a pressing plea that if
there was a boy present who had wandered from his mother's home and
teaching, he would come to me at the close of the service. A young man
of eighteen came forward and said, 'Did you mean me? I promised my
mother to meet her in heaven, but as I am now living that will be
impossible.' We prayed for him and he finally arose with a new light in
his eyes and exclaimed in triumph, 'Now I can meet my mother in heaven,
for I have found God!' (Ed: He had entered through the strait
gate that leads to heaven. Hallelujah! May his tribe increase. Amen)
A few days before, Mr. Doane had sent
me the subject “Rescue the Perishing,” and while I sat there that even�ing
the line came to me, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying.” I could
think of nothing else that night. When I arrived it my home I went to
work on it at once; and before I retired the entire hymn was ready for a
melody. The next day my words were written and forwarded to Mr. Doane,
who wrote the beautiful and touching music as it now stands.
In November, 1903 (Ed: year hymn written = 1869), I went to Lynn, Massachusetts, to speak before the
Young Men’s Christian Association. I told them the incident that led me
to write “Rescue the Perishing," as I have just related it. After the
meeting a large number of men shook hands with me, and among them was a
man, who seemed to be deeply moved. You may imagine my surprise when he
said, “Miss Crosby, I was the boy, who told you more than thirty-five
years ago that I had wandered from my mother’s God. The evening that you
spoke at the mission I sought and found peace, and I have tried to live
a consistent Christian life ever since. If we never meet again on earth,
we will meet up yonder.” As he said this, he raised my hand to his lips
(Ed: as you doubtless know Fanny was blind);
and before I had recovered from my surprise he had gone; and remains to
this day a nameless friend, who touched a deep chord of sympathy in my
heart. It is these notes of sympathy that vibrate when a voice calls
them forth from the dim memories of the past, and the music is
celestial. (Fanny Crosby's testimony)
take a moment and watch and listen to the Billy Foote rendition of
Rescue The Perishing based in part
on Fanny Crosby's famous hymn (Hint: Select Full Screen view for
maximum impact). Beloved I
will be amazed if you can watch and listen to this youtube video of
Fanny Crosby's classic hymn without weeping.
May our hearts break for what
breaks our Father's heart and may His Spirit so fill us that His Good
News "becomes like a burning fire" (Jer 20:9 23:29) in our bosom
and we cannot hold it in for the sake of Jesus Who
Mighty To Save. (Hillsong
See Related Study -
Mighty to Save
The primary focus of the comments on this page are Luke 9:24, 25, and therefore the
notes on the other verses will not be in great depth.
13:22 And He was passing
through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding
on His way to Jerusalem: Kai dieporeueto (3SIAI) kata poleis kai komas
didaskon (PAPMSN) kai poreian poioumenos (PMPMSN) eis Ierosoluma: (Through: Lk 4:43,44 Mt 9:35 Mk 6:6 Ac
10:38) (Proceeding: Lk 9:51 Mk 10:32 33 34)
Bob Utley notes that in this
verse we again see
Luke’s emphasis on Jesus traveling on
His way to Jerusalem to His divine appointment (cf. Lk 9:51; 13:22;
17:11; 18:31; 19:11, 28; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29). (Luke
Verses 25 and 27 are parallel, but v. 27 seems to have dropped the
PRONOUN “you” (humas) in the ancient Greek manuscripts P75 (early third
century), B (fourth century), L (eighth century), and 070 (sixth
century). The question comes, “Was it originally an exact parallel?”
Many other ancient texts have it (cf. MSS MĒ, A, W, and most early
versions). Jesus’ words to these hearers paralleled His words to the
religionists of Matt. 7:21–23! Religious rules, actions, and liturgy,
without personal faith, were a horrible tragedy to national Israel and a
modern tragedy to legalists!
M. R. Vincent, Word Studies, p. 192, asserts that the phrase (“where are
you from”) relates to the speaker’s birthplace or family. If so, this
may refer to the Jewish preoccupation with Abraham as their ancestor
(cf. Matt. 3:9; John 8:33, 37, 39). The two Jewish hopes were (1) their
racial ancestry and (2) their Mosaic temple (cultus). Jesus depreciates
both and replaces them with personal faith in Himself as the only way to
be right with God.
“ ‘all you evildoers’” This seems to be a quote of Ps. 6:8 (cf. Matt.
13:28 ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ ” This is used for
eschatological rejection (cf. Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:15;
25:30; Rev. 18:19). These Jews are grieving because (1) Abraham and the
Patriarchs will be with Jesus; (2) these Jewish leaders will not be with
Jesus; and (3) Gentiles from all over the world will be with Jesus.
The imagery of a locked entrance (cf. vv. 24–25) is changed and
intensified to an extraction. Some who thought they were in will be cast
out. The image has switched from a house owner to the Kingdom of God.
13:29 “ ‘recline at the table in the kingdom of God’ ” This refers to
the Messianic banquet (cf. Isa. 25:6–8; 55:1–2; 65:13–14), often
referred to in the book of Revelation as the Wedding Feast of the Lamb
(cf. Rev. 3:20; 19:9). This is the inaugural event of the consummated
Kingdom of God (cf. 14:15; 22:16, 30).
13:30 Verses 25–27 refer to Jesus’ hearers. Some respond to Him, some
think they have responded to Him, and many openly reject Him. The
eschatological consequences for rejecting Him are severe.
Verse 30 relates to the evaluation of believers within the Kingdom.
Those who seemed so prominent here will not be in heaven (cf. Matt.
19:30; 20:16; Mark 10:31). God’s ways of evaluation are different from
human ways (cf. Isa. 55:8–11). Motives and attitudes will one day be
known and rewarded. (Luke
Dave Hatcher- Are There Few
Who Are Saved? (vv 22-30) – Jesus answered Yes to this question in Matt
7:13-14 and 22:14. The point of that parable (Matt 22:1-14) is that
Israel has spurned the offer of the invitation (John 1:11). The
questions and answers are surrounding the time of Jesus’ ministry and
not about the whole history of the church.
A Master, A House, A Gate – Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly
here, but rather points all of the listeners to the narrow gate that
must be used to enter. There is only one Way to get in and that is by
striving to enter into that gate (believing on Jesus). One day, not very
long from “now,” it will be too late (for that generation) and they will
be cut out. The disciples in Acts urged the people in the name of Jesus
to be saved from this crooked generation (Acts 2:40).
Self-Justification – Being externally near Jesus will not guarantee
one’s entrance (v26), nor will having the patriarchs as one’s ancestors
(v28). In the Day of Judgment, people will try to justify themselves by
who they are or what they’ve done, but all that matters is whether they
entered the Narrow Gate. “I do not know you,” will be Jesus’ words to
the workers of iniquity (Psalm 6:8). Weeping (great sorrow) and gnashing
of teeth (great anger) is all that will be left.
From the Four Corners – In the Matt 22 parable, the wedding hall was
filled, and in Jesus words here (v28-30) the kingdom will be flooded
with people from all over the earth (Is 2:1-4); Gentiles will fill the
kingdom. The “few that are saved” is Israel in the days of Jesus’
ministry. Indeed, “there are last who will be first, and there are first
who will be last.”
Sermons Are There Few Who Are Saved (Luke 1322-35))
And He was passing through -
Was He just passing through or was He passing through
with a purpose? What was He doing as He passed through? (Teaching) Jesus
did not waste one precious moment! And neither should we as we are
"passing through" this world blinded to His life giving Gospel (2Co 4:4-note,
Jn 3:18 19 20 21 Acts 26:17 18)! Like Jesus we are aliens and
strangers (1Pe 1:1-note,
who are on mission to accomplish the good works for our Master
(e.g., see Ep 2:10-note,
Plumptre writes that...
this is apparently the continuation
of the same journey as that which Lk 9:51 recorded the beginning. (A
New Testament Commentary for English Readers)
(diaporeuomai from diá = through + poreúomai = to
go) means to go or pass through. Used 5x in 5v in NAS = Lk 6:1;
13:22; 18:36; Ac 16:4; Ro 15:24-note.
speaks of continuous action - Jesus was "on the move"!
A T Robertson...
Making his way to Jerusalem. Note
tenses here of continued action, and distributive use of kata
with cities and villages. This is the second of the journeys to
Jerusalem in this later ministry corresponding to that in John 11.
[word study] from
dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see also studies
didaskalia and adjective
means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal
setting. In the 97 NT uses of didasko the meaning is virtually
always to teach or instruct, although the purpose and content of the
teaching must be determined from the context.
Luke again uses the
to vividly picture the focus and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ to
redeem every precious moment (Ep 5:16KJV-note)
as He walked along those dusty roads with His disciples knowing that the
end of the road meant His death on the Cross and His victory over sin,
death and Satan! Can you imagine being one of the disciples constantly
hearing the Truth Himself teaching accurately the Word of Truth.
Only His glorious
countenance in heaven could be better!
Beloved, we are called to walk in His steps (1Pe 2:21-note,
cp Jn 13:15 1Co 11:1 Ep 5:2-note
Php 2:3 4-note
1Jn 2:6 3:16 Re 12:11-note),
and yes that will bring persecution (Jn 15:19 20 Lk 6:22; 21:17
Jn 17:14 15 Mt 10:34, 35, 36 take comfort in Jn 16:33,14:27), but it
also conveys a responsibility (and accountability one day future
to continually teach the Word of Life (Php 2:16-note,
1Jn 1:1) in the Gospel to faithful men and women who will be able to
teach others also (2Ti 2:2-note,
cp Jesus commission to us in Mt 28:18 19 20 especially Mt 28:20!)
In Scripture to teach means to
pass on the truth about the Word of God, the God of the Word and the
faith of the saints, with the goal of influencing the understanding and
stimulating obedience to the truth taught and resultant Spirit energized
transformation and Christ-likeness. The essence of a disciple in fact is
that he or she is a learner. The teacher teaches and the disciple hears
and processes what is heard so that this truth affects his or her
innermost being. Ultimately the purpose of didasko is to shape the will
of the one taught. Finally, teaching of sound doctrine is vital to the
growth and stabilization of one's faith (cp Ro 10:17).
It is notable that
in the Gospels Jesus is addressed as Rabbi or Teacher more
than any other name, which clearly attests to the importance He placed
on this activity. In fact some 45 of the 58 NT uses of the Greek word
for teacher (didaskalos) are used of Jesus (most of these
referring to His public teaching). In addition 47 of 97 occurrences of
didasko are used in the Gospels to describe the teaching activity
of Jesus. Teaching was also a primary activity of the leaders of
the early church (see Acts 4:2, 18, 5:21, 25, 28, 42, etc). How tragic
that we are seeing a drift away from the teaching of
(1Ti 4:6 2Ti 4:3-note
from the pulpits, even in churches that refer to themselves as "Bible
adds that the Greek verb didasko
refers to the passing on of
information, often, but not necessarily, in a formal setting. It focused
on content, with the purpose of discovering the truth-contrary to the
forums so popular among Greeks, where discussion and the bantering about
of various ideas and opinions was the primary concern (see Acts
17:21). Synagogue teaching, as illustrated by that of Jesus, was
basically expository. Scripture was read and explained section by
section, often verse by verse. (MacArthur,
J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press
Proceeding on His way to Jerusalem
- When you walk with Jesus, you walk in the light (Jn 8:12 1:4 9:5
12:46) for He tells you where is going as in the following passages...
Luke 9:51 When the days were
approaching for His ascension (Lk 24:51, Acts 1:2 9 Ep 4:10), He was
determined to go to Jerusalem (I love the King James Version which is
more literal here than the NAS = He steadfastly set His face
to go to Jerusalem)
Mark 10:32 They were on the
road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and
they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took
the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him,
33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man
will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will
condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 “They
will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three
days later He will rise again.”
tense to =
usually means to make, to do or accomplish, this latter in the sense of
undertaking some action and here in Lk 13:22 speaking of making
His way (His purpose - see discussion of "way" below) to
(poreia) means a journey which Thayer says in the Hebrew
mind spoke of "a going", i.e., a purpose, a pursuit or an undertaking,
which is the sense in the only other NT use (Rendered "pursuits"
in Jas 1:11-note).
13:23 And someone said to Him,
"Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them:
eipen (3SAAI) de tis auto, Kurie, ei oligoi hoi sozomenoi (PPPMPN)? o de
eipen (3SAAI) pros autous (3MPA):
(Are: Mt 7:14 19:25 20:16 22:14 ) (And: Lk 12:13 14 15 21:7,8 Mt
24:3 4 5 Mk 13:4,5 Jn 21:21,22 Ac 1:7,8 )
And someone said to Him - Some
have said this may have even been one of His 12 disciples but Lk 13:28
suggest that such would be unlikely (unless of course it was Judas
Are there just a few - He is
asking the wrong question. The question for every man and woman to ask
is "Am I saved?" And Jesus turns the question of the solitary
man into an answer to the masses ("to them") that were
John Stevenson wisely observes
This is one of those types of
questions that you hear from unbelievers: "What about the man in
Africa?" Jesus doesn’t immediately answer it. He says, "Instead of
worrying about the man in Africa, you should be worrying about the man
who is standing in your sandals." Do you see it? The man asks, "Lord,
are there just a few who are being saved?" And Jesus answered, "Make
certain that you are one of those few."
There are several points made
throughout this passage.
The door is narrow and not everyone enters (Lk 13:24).
The door is only open for a short time and then it will be shut (Lk
The door will only be open to those who know Jesus and who are known by
Him (Lk 13:26).
There is time for you to know Him today, but tomorrow may be too late.
The door will be opened to many rather than just a few (Lk 13:29 30).
This was the original question. Now it is finally answered. But it is
not answered in the way that the question anticipated. (Kingdom
Cyril of Alexandria explains
that Jesus was not evading the question but that it was His practice ...
to meet His questioners, not of
course according to what might seem good to them, but as having regard
to what was useful and necessary for His hearers. And this He especially
did when any one wanted to learn what was superfluous and un-edifying.
For what good was there in wishing to learn, whether there be many or
few that be saved? What benefit resulted from it to the hearers? On
the contrary it was a necessary and valuable thing to know in what way a
man may attain to salvation. He is purposely silent therefore with
respect to the useless question which had been asked Him, but proceeds
to speak of what was essential, namely, of the knowledge necessary for
the performance of those duties by which men can enter in at the strait
and narrow door. (Sermon
Holman Christian Study Bible
The question "are there few being
saved?" may reflect two important realities about Jesus' ministry:
(1) Many of His teachings insisted that true discipleship comes with
many difficult challenges (Ed: cp Mk 8:35, Lk 14:33, et al), and
(2) though large crowds came to hear Jesus in every town and village,
there were relatively few who authentically followed Him as disciples (Ed:
cp response of the disciples in Jn 6:66 [following because of the
"benefits" Jesus offered such as "free bread" Jn 6:10 11 12 13)] and
Jesus' test of discipleship Jn 8:31 directed at those who had "believed"
Jn 8:30 but who proved to be only professors who manifested intellectual
assent and not genuine belief when in this same section sought to stone
Him for declaring Himself to be "I Am" - Jn 8:58, 59, cp similar pattern
Utley notes that this question
about the number saved...
was a highly discussed issue among
the rabbis (cf. Mt 7:13 [note]
= "destruction...many", Mt 7:14 [note]
"life...few"). They argued whether all the Jews would be saved from
God’s wrath on Judgment Day or just certain sects within Judaism (their
own). This question may also relate to the OT concept of “remnant”
(cf. Isa. 10:20 21 22 23; 16:14; Micah 2:17; 4:6 7 8; 5:7 8 9; 7:18 19
20). The tragedy of ancient Israel was that although they were the
special chosen nation of YHWH, most never had a personal faith
relationship with Him. Israel’s history is one of judgment, restoration,
and judgment again. The prophets only saw a faithful remnant (she'ar -
07605) returning from Assyrian and Babylonian exile. (Luke
David Guzik adds that
We often wonder about the salvation
of others. But in His reply (Strive to enter through the narrow gate),
Jesus points back to the only person’s salvation we can really know and
asks, "are you yourself saved?" The rabbis of that day used to love to
debate the question of whether many or few would be saved. But Jesus
won’t be drawn into this debate. His only question is, "are you saved?"
(Luke 13 Commentary)
Brian Bell observes that
The real question
is not “are there few who are saved”, but “will you be among the saved?”
Instead of entering the kingdom, some people only ask questions about
Salvation is not a theory to discuss
It is a miracle to
In our soft age we are more concerned with statistics than
about spiritual power. (Luke
has the basic meaning of delivering or rescuing one from great
peril, in this context the terrifying wrath to come (cp 1Th 1:10-note,
2Th 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Additional nuances of sozo include to
protect, keep alive, preserve life, heal, be made whole. Sozo is
(continually) and the
(power coming from outside Source, the Spirit).
The phrase being saved is
found 5 times in the NT - Luke 13:23 Acts 2:47 Acts 27:20 1 Cor 1:18 2
warned His disciples
And you will be hated by all on
account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end
will be saved (sozo).
(Mt 10:22, cp Mt 24:13)
Comment: Does this admonition
not speak of "striving" (Lk 13:24) to enter the narrow gate. Note
however that Jesus is not saying that it is by one's endurance (self
effort or works) that they will be saved. His point is that one is
enabled to endure because of the fact that they are saved. In other
words their endurance in spite of persecutions, ridicule, rejection,
etc, is sure proof that they have entered the narrow door of genuine
alluded to the "striving" (Lk 13:24) necessary to enter the
narrow door of genuine salvation when He declared that...
it is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
My Personal Testimony)
And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said,
"Then who can be saved (sozo)?
(Mt 19:24, 25,
Comment: Be sure to check
Mt 19:16-17 18 19-20 21 22 23.
[See parallel in Mk 10:17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24-25 26-28 29 30 31
Luke 18:18-25, 26-28 29-30, see also Lk 12:33 34 Mt 6:19 20 21-note]
What did Jesus tell the rich young ruler that would require "striving"
["agonizing"]? Remember that Jesus was not teaching that giving up his
possessions [which equates with a self work] would earn or merit
John MacArthur explains it
this way "He [rich young ruler] sincerely wanted eternal life,
but he wanted his riches and his self-righteousness even more. Whoever
wants anything more than Christ will forfeit Christ." (cp Mk 8:35)
Walter Kaiser comments: This
teaching was not given to one special individual; it was intended for
Jesus’ followers in general. He urged them to have the right priorities,
to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness above all else (Mt 6:33). But it
is very difficult to do this, he maintained, if one’s attention is
preoccupied by material wealth. (Kaiser, W. C. Hard Sayings of the
Bible. Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity)
Jesus equated entrance into the kingdom of God with being saved as
indicated by the disciples' question. These are "hard sayings" from the
mouth of our Lord, but they are the truth about genuine salvation, truth
which the world desperately needs to hear and heed in these last days
during which the Gospel is being "diluted" (cp Paul's warning in Gal 1:6
7 8 9 10)!
In explaining to
His disciples and the multitudes what it meant to come after Him,
denying self, taking up one's cross and following Him, Jesus declared
whoever wishes to save (sozo)
(referring to one's physical life) his life shall lose it
(eternally); but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's
shall save (sozo)
(spiritually) it (eternally). (Mk 8:34, Be sure to check the
Mk 8:34, 35, 36)
And He said to them - Notice
that "them" is plural (in the Greek), so Jesus addresses the
following remark to all the audience not just the one who asked the
question. Jesus answers the The Lord answered a speculative question
with a direct command.
Godet writes that
The question of Lk 13:23 was to a
certain extent a matter of curiosity. In such cases Jesus immediately
gives a practical turn to His answer. Cp. Lk 12:41, 42, John 3:2 3; and
hence Luke says (Lk 13:23): “He said to them.” Jesus gives no direct
answer to the man; He addresses a warning to the people on the occasion
of his question. (Luke 13:22 Commentary)
Matthew Henry writes that...
Our Saviour came to guide men's
consciences, not to gratify their curiosity. Ask not, How many shall be
saved? But, Shall I be one of them? Not, What shall become of such and
such? But, What shall I do, and what will become of me? Strive to enter
in at the strait gate. This is directed to each of us; it is, Strive ye.
All that will be saved, must enter in at the strait gate, must undergo a
change of the whole man (cp 2Co 5:17). Those that would enter in, must
strive to enter. Here are awakening considerations, to enforce this
exhortation. Oh that we may be all awakened by them! They answer the
question, Are there few that shall be saved? But let none despond either
as to themselves or others, for there are last who shall be first, and
first who shall be last. If we reach heaven, we shall meet many there
whom we little thought to meet, and miss many whom we expected to find.
Pastor Steven Cole
(recommended resource - sermons flow almost like verse by verse
Click here to access his sermons) in his sermon on Luke
The Narrow Door comments...
Somewhere in some village some unnamed
person in the crowd asked Jesus an interesting theological question:
“Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” I don’t know the
man’s motives for asking the question. Perhaps he saw the increasing
opposition from the religious leaders and he could sense
that the crowds, although superficially interested in Jesus’ message,
tended to side with their leaders. But he asked this question, “Are
there just a few who are being saved?”
Most of us have wondered about that question as we look at
the billions of pagans compared with the few committed Christians.
It would have made for an interesting theological discussion.
But Jesus did not answer the question directly. Instead, He directed
the question away from abstract theological speculation and
toward specific application for each person in the crowd. The man
had asked, “Will the saved be few?” Jesus turned it around to ask,
“Will the saved be you?”
Remember, Jesus was speaking to a crowd made up mostly of
religious Jews. Almost to a person they believed in the one true
God. They were not agnostics or polytheists. They believed in the
Hebrew Scriptures and lived in basic accordance with them. In
giving His answer, Jesus was not addressing a pagan audience. He
was talking to the “church” crowd, most of whom assumed that
they would go to heaven because they were good Jews. And He
gives us church folks some important and practical lessons on the
subject of salvation: Salvation requires our earnest effort, our urgent attention,
and our careful self-examination (Ed: e.g., 2Cor 13:5-note).
It requires our earnest effort because the door is narrow. It
requires our urgent attention because the door is soon to be closed.
It requires our careful self-examination because once it is closed,
the door will be eternally-closed. (The
Narrow Door - Luke 13:22-30 -
resource - sermons flow almost like verse by verse commentaries!
Click here to access his sermons)
Strive to enter by the narrow door, for
many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able: Agonizesthe
(2PPMM) eiselthein (AAN) dia tes stenes thuras, hoti polloi, lego
(1SPAI) humin, zetesousin (3PFAI) eiselthein (AAN) kai ouk ischusousin
(Strive: Lk 21:36 Ge 32:25,26 Mt 11:12 Jn 6:27 1Co 9:24
25 27 Php
2:12, Php 2:13 Col 1:29 Heb 4:11 2Pe 1:10) (Narrow: Mt 7:13,14)
ENERGETIC EFFORT ENTERS
THE NARROW GATE
Keep the context in mind in
interpreting this passage - Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to die. His
words of warning in answer to this question are some of the last words
He will speak. There is an urgency about His mission and His message
speaks of that urgency. O
how we all need to seek by the enablement of His Spirit to imitate His
passion for people's souls.
to enter - If this verse is
taken out of context, it might
suggest that sinners would be able to do something (some work) that would merit
entrance by the narrow door and thus one could "work"
his or her way to heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth that Jesus
intended to convey! Jesus is not teaching works based righteousness
(which is nothing but filthy rags at best - Isa 64:6), but that
following Him has a cost. Jesus and not Jewish legalism (keeping of the
laws which no one can do perfectly - Jas 2:10) is the door (Jn 10:9) that
enters the house (salvation) in this passage and in Mt 7:13 He is the narrow
gate that leads to the narrow way.
repeatedly states that salvation is ONLY by grace
through personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that this
transaction is independent of human works or merit (Ep 2:8,
9). What Jesus is describing in the issuance of the command to strive is the
unpopular truth that that the way of salvation
is narrow and "difficult", truths which are unpacked in
more detail in the following comments.
Cyril of Alexandria exhorts us
to listen to Jesus' words in this "hard saying" for even as...
A ship is guided to the right port by
means of the helm...the word of God pilots the soul of man, and leads
him without risk of error to every thing that is necessary for
It is notable that other NT writers
present a similar picture of "striving" in the context of salvation.
Peter for example charges his
be all the more diligent
command to do this now! Don't delay!) to make certain about His calling
and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things (2Pe 1:5-note
2Pe 1:6 7-note),
you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance
into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be
abundantly supplied to you. (cp 2Pe 1:10, 11-note)
In Hebrews in the context of
reminders that many in Israel failed to enter God's rest by faith the writer exhorts his readers...
Therefore (Because of the danger of
Heb 3:18, 19-note),
let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of
you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good
news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not
profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
Therefore (because of the risk of not
entering and the rewards of entering God's rest) let us be diligent
(same verb used in Peter's exhortation above =
spoudazo) to enter that rest, so that
no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
Comment: The picture of
spoudazo is that of
giving careful attention to some goal or objective. The idea is give
maximum effort, do your best, spare no effort, hurry on, be eager!
Hasten to do a thing, exert yourself, endeavour to do it. In short it is
a call to give your utmost for His highest!
In the context of Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 4 the exhortation is to be
diligent to concentrate your energy on achieving the goal of entering
God's promised Rest in Christ. Diligence in this sense is similar to the
idea of strive in Lk 13:24 in that it speaks of an intensity of
purpose followed by intensity of effort toward the realization of that
purpose, of entrance through the narrow Door of Jesus by grace
Norval Geldenhuys notes that
As very often happened, the Saviour does not give a direct
reply to the speculative question, but points out to those present the
practical side of the matter: they are not to waste their time and
strength in arguments as to how many will be saved, but everyone must
strive hard and make sure that he himself is saved, for whether the
saved are to be many or few one thing is certain—the gate leading to
life is strait, and only those who strive with might and main, and
whole-heartedly to enter, will be saved. (Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: The New International Commentary on
the Old and New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Co)
The NET Bible notes add
The idea is to "strain every nerve to
enter" because of the supreme importance of attaining entry into the
kingdom of God. (NET Notes)
J B Phillips is right when he
The Kingdom is not entered by
drifting but by decision.
= conflict or the place
of assembly for the athletic contests and then a reference to the
contests which were held there, gives us English "agony" - cp the
picture portrayed in Lk 22:44 = "agonia") means to exert oneself, to fight, to
labor fervently, to strive (devote serious effort or energy =
implies great exertion against great difficulty and suggests persistent
effort), to struggle, to contend with an adversary - all of these
actions picturing an intense struggle for victory. When you read that
the gloves of the Greek boxer were fur lined on the inside, but ox-hide
with lead and iron sewed on the outside and that the loser in a
wrestling match had his eyes gouged out, you get some sense of
appreciation of the intensity of the Greek athletic contests and you can
imagine how much effort such a contest might motivate! That is a picture
of agonizomai which encompassed the concentration, discipline,
conviction, and effort needed to win in athletic competition. It
pictures a runner straining every nerve to the uttermost ("agonizing")
to cross the goal in first place.
Jesus uses the
which is a
command calling for continual striving. The plural addresses this
command not just to the questioner but to the entire audience present
(and by way of application to every person ever born).
John Butler makes an excellent
point that strive...
does not suggest works for salvation
but the emphasis one should put on salvation. Our salvation must be the
most important matter in our life...Many are not saved because they want
to enter on their own terms instead of God’s terms, or they want to
enter on the basis of good works, or they think they will enter because
God is love and will not cast out anyone. Some think they can buy their
way into heaven. Many who think they are going to heaven will not
go to heaven when they die. (Butler, J. G. Analytical Bible Expositor:
Luke. Clinton, IA: LBC Publications)
Brian Bell observes that
strive although meaning to agonize like an athlete or fight like a
soldier in war does not signify that we are
saved by our hard work. Rather it warns us to avoid an easy, complacent, and theoretical
attitude toward the eternal destiny of the soul. We are to fight, or be
at war with...Who? - Not who, but what? Be at war with sin (especially our own
sin!) Strive to enter the narrow gate – because God’s way is narrow. (Luke
Frederic Godet writes that
refers...to the difficulty of passing
through the narrow opening (and) in the application, to the humiliations
of penitence, the struggles of conversion. (Luke 13:22 Commentary)
DON'T PUT OFF TILL TOMORROW
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY!
Puritan writer John Owen notes
embraces in its general sense, not only great and
continued effort, but such timely action, as to avoid being excluded in
the way referred to in the following verse. The contrast lies
principally in the idea of prompt and energetic effort on the one hand
and a fatal procrastination (put off from day to day; delay; defer to a
future time) on the other. This brings out with emphasis
the NOW, with which all the offers of salvation are made to men
in the Word of God. See Isa 1:18; Jer. 25:5; 35:15; Zech. 1:4; Lk 14:17;
Ro. 13:11; 2Co. 6:2; Heb 4:7. It is most unquestionably true, that men
are often beguiled to ruin, by mistaking a few vain and feeble efforts
for the energetic action requisite to obtain salvation; but that is not
here the prominent idea. Our Lord intends to warn men against delaying
to enter the strait gate, until it is shut, and they are forever
excluded. This will appear more clear from the following verse (Lk
13:25). (Owen, J. J. Commentary on Luke)
Arthur Pink observes that
Jesus' employing such as expression as "strive"...
clearly implies the slothfulness and
carelessness which characterize mere nominal ("Christian" in name only)
professors, as it also denotes that there are real difficulties and
formidable obstacles to be overcome. The Greek word there used for “strive”
(agonizomai) is a very expressive and emphatic one, meaning “agonize.”
It occurs again in 1Co 9:25 in reference to the athletes who took part
in the marathon races, willing to undergo the most self-denying
discipline to be at their fittest, thereby hoping to win an earthly
crown. This word rendered “strive” is translated “laboring fervently” in
Col 4:12,and “fight” in 1Ti 6:2! Ah, my reader, becoming a Christian is
not done simply by holding up your hand in a religious meeting or
signing some “decision” card! Alas, that such multitudes have been
deceived by these satanic catch-pennies.
(eiserchomai from eis = into + erchomai = come)
means to go or come into and so to enter into.
The narrow door - KJV has the "strait gate".
Godet writes that
The strait gate represents
attachment to the lowly Messiah; the magnificent gateway by which the
Jews would have wished to enter, would represent, if it were mentioned,
the appearance of the glorious Messiah whom they expected. (Luke 13:22 Commentary)
Arthur Pink notes that ...
It is not enough to listen to
preaching about this “gate,” nor to study its structure or admire
the wisdom of its appointment: it must be entered. Sermons on repentance
and faith in Christ avail us nothing unless they move our hearts to
And what is meant by this strait
or narrow gate? A “gate” serves two purposes: it lets in and shuts
out. This gate is the only avenue of admittance to that “way” which
leads to life, and all who enter not by it are eternally barred from the
presence of God and the realm of ineffable bliss. The second use of this
“gate” is solemnly illustrated at the close of the parable of the
virgins. The foolish ones lacked the necessary “oil” (the work of the
Spirit in the heart), and when they sought to obtain it the Bridegroom
came and “the door was shut” ( Mt 25:10), and though they sought Him to
open it unto them, He answered “I know you not.”
narrow gate is difficult because of its cost in terms of
human pride, because of the sinner’s natural love for sin, and because
of the world’s and Satan’s opposition to the truth.
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
F B Meyer adds that the
so narrow that there is no room to
carry through it the love of self, the greed of gain, the thirst for the
applause and rewards of the world.
first, the all-important exhortation (Strive) with which Christ seeks to sober a
frivolous curiosity. In its primary application, the ‘strait gate’ may
be taken to be the lowliness of the Messiah, and the consequent sharp
contrast of His kingdom with Jewish high-flown and fleshly hopes. The
passage to the promised royalty was not through a great portal worthy of
a palace, but by a narrow, low-browed wicket (small gate), through which it took a
man trouble to squeeze.
For us, the narrow door is the self-abandonment
and self-accusation which are indispensable for entrance into salvation.
‘The door of faith’ is a narrow one; for it lets no self-righteousness,
no worldly glories, no dignities, through. Like the Emperor at Canossa,
we are kept outside till we strip ourselves of crowns and royal robes,
and stand clothed only in the hair-shirt of penitence (repentance, grief
of heart for sins). Like Milton’s
rebel angels entering their council chamber, we must make ourselves
small to get in. We must creep on our knees, so low is the vault; we
must leave everything outside, so narrow is it. We must go in one by
one, as in the turnstiles at a place of entertainment. The door opens
into a palace, but it is too strait for any one who trusts to himself.
There must be effort in order to enter by it. For everything in our old
self-confident, self-centered nature is up in arms against the conditions
of entrance. We are not saved by effort, but we shall not believe
The main struggle of our whole lives should be to
cultivate self-humbling trust in Jesus Christ, and to ‘fight the good
fight of faith.’ (Read the entire sermon -
The Strait Gate)
Narrow (4728) (stenos
- derivation uncertain - one source says from histemi = to stand, Vine
says from root sten- as in stenazo = to groan) pictures obstacles
standing close to each other. The meaning is restricted, less than
standard width, limited in size, a small breadth or width in comparison
to length. Limited in
extent, amount or scope as a narrow gorge between high rocks. Stenos
comes from a root that means “to groan,” as from being under pressure,
and is used figuratively to represent a restriction or constriction.
Vine comments that
the gate which provides the entrance
to eternal life (is) narrow because it runs counter to natural
inclinations, and “the way” is similarly characterized;
Jesus by using this figure of
speech is saying that choosing for Him is not the popular nor the easy way!
In Mt 7:14 this adjective stenos
modifies "the way", so that both the gate and the
way are narrow.
Stenos - 16x in the
Nu 22:26; 1Sa 23:14, 19, 29; 24:22; 2Sa 24:14; 2Ki 6:1; 1Chr 21:13
(Figurative use - "I am in great distress"); Job 18:11; 24:11; Pr 23:27;
Isa 8:22; 30:20; 49:20; Jer 30:7; Zech 10:11. Several of the OT uses are
used to translate "stronghold".
Numbers 22:26 The
Angel of the LORD
went further, and stood in a narrow (Hebrew = tsar =
narrow, tight; Lxx = stenos) place where there was no way to turn
to the right hand or the left. 25 When the donkey saw the
Angel of the LORD,
she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the
wall, so he struck her again.
2 Samuel 24:14 Then David said to
Gad, "I am in great distress (Hebrew = tsarar = to suffer
distress; Lxx = stenos). Let us now fall into the hand of the
LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of
Jeremiah 30:7 'Alas! for that day is
great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's distress
(Heb = tsarah = trouble, distress, calamity, anguish, state of very
unfavorable circumstance, with a focus on the emotional pain and
distress of the situation Dt 31:17 Jer 4:31; Lxx = stenos) but he
will be saved from it.
Comment: Jacob's Distress
or Trouble describes a period of time, specifically the
last 3.5 years of
Daniel's Seventieth Week, which
Jesus designated as
Great Tribulation (Mt
24:21, cp Mk 13:19, Re 7:14-note).
During this time the Antichrist ("Beast" of Rev 13, "Little
Horn of Daniel 7") will be allowed by God and empowered by
Satan (Rev 13:4-note,
where 42 months = 3.5 years) to have essentially "free reign" on the
earth and will attempt to destroy the Jews in the greatest "holocaust"
the world has ever seen. And yet in the midst of this horrible time to
come, God makes the sure promise that He will save Jacob from it or out
of it, which is a prophecy of the Messiah's return to deliver Israel
(see Ro 11:25,26, 27-note
cp Zech 13:8, 9).
H A Ironside cautions us to
remember that Jesus is not saying
that we are to be saved by our own
efforts, for by these we would never be saved at all; but we must be in
earnest (ardent in pursuit, eager to obtain, having a longing
desire) when the door to life stands open, and we are invited to enter
in. We must be sure that we heed (regard with care, give close
and careful attention, attend to) the gracious invitation and do not
pass carelessly by, lest we find at last that we have lost our
opportunity...We may well take these warning words to our hearts today
for they are intended for us as truly as for the people of Israel of
old. The door into the kingdom of God still stands open, but it is a
narrow door. None can pass through that door with their sins upon them.
But as Christ Himself is the Door (Jn 10:9), we may find in Him
deliverance from our sins, and thus enter into the way of life. The
narrow way is that of subjection (state of being under the
authority or control) to Christ; a way that involves denial of self (cp
Mk 8:34, 35) and recognition of our responsibility to live for Him Whose
grace alone can save us.
I plead with you to give heed to the
words of our Lord, “Strive
to enter in at the strait gate.”
Do not let anything keep you
from making sure of your eternal salvation.
(cp 2Pe 1:10, 11-note)
But be like the man in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who, when he heard
of the impending destruction of the city in which he lived and learned
that life was to be found only through entering the wicket (small)
refused to be turned aside by any of his own townspeople, and putting
his fingers in his ears, ran from them crying, “Life! Life! Eternal
Life!” (Ed: Indeed a picture of a man "striving" to enter the
wicket gate!) and so made his way toward the shining light pointed out to him
by Evangelist (see
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
-Part 1, Stage 1 - scroll down to subheading entitled
"Evangelist directs him."). (Addresses on the Gospel of Luke. Neptune,
NJ: Loizeaux Brothers)
David Guzik comments that
The way is narrow. We can’t bring our
self-centeredness, pride, lusts, hate or especially our own
righteousness. As the famous hymn
Rock of Ages says:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy Cross I cling.
Strive to enter: Therefore, we must
strive (the word is literally "agonize") in order to lay these things
aside and come in. The Greek word for strive has "the idea of a struggle
or prize-fight." (Bruce) Strive to enter through the narrow door is
call to save yourself by good works. Good works are note the right door.
You can strive to enter all your life long, but if it isn’t at the right
door, it makes no difference. Jesus Himself is the door (Jn 10:9). He is the
Then why must we strive to enter? Because there are many obstacles in
the way. The
world is an obstacle. The
devil is an obstacle. But
probably the worst obstacle is your own
(Luke 13 Commentary)
Spurgeon encourages us to...
not be ashamed of being called
Puritanical, precise, and particular (in regard to the fact that the way
of salvation is narrow)....It is a way of self-denial, it is a
way of humility, it is a way which is distasteful to the natural pride
of men; it is a precise way, it is a holy way, a strait way, and
therefore men do not care for it. They are too big, too proud, to go
along a narrow lane to heaven; yet this is the right way. (Commenting on
the related passage in Mt 7:13 Spurgeon notes that) There are many
broad ways, as Bunyan says, that abut upon it; but you may know them by
their being broad, and you may know them by their being crowded. The
Christian man has to swim against the current; he has to do more than
that, he has to go against himself, so narrow is the road (Ed: And so
narrow is the door!); but if you wish to go down to perdition, you have
only to float with the stream, and you can have any quantity of company
that you like....Do not be ashamed of being called
narrow. Do not be ashamed of being supposed to lead a life of great
precision and exactness. There is nothing very grand about breadth,
after all. And I have noticed one thing: the "broadest" men I have ever
met with in the best sense have always kept to the narrow way, and the "narrowest" people I know are those who are so fond of the broad way.
Steven Cole comments...
1. Salvation requires our earnest effort: the narrow door
Our Lord did not say, “Good question! Let’s divide up into
groups and discuss what each of you thinks about it.” To pool the
group’s thoughts would only increase speculation. Jesus wasn’t
interested in speculation about theology. He was concerned about
the personal salvation of His hearers. So, rather than opening it up
for discussion, Jesus gave a command that applied the question to
His hearers’ hearts:
“Strive to enter by the narrow door.”
A. Salvation requires our earnest effort because the door is
narrow and exclusive, not wide and all-inclusive.
Strive comes from a Greek word used of athletic contests and
of war. Obviously, it implies a great deal of effort. You don’t win
wars or athletic contests by being passive. You never see an athlete
receiving the gold medal, who says, “I had never worked out or run
in a race until a few weeks ago. I thought it would be fun, so here I
am.” Every athlete who wins strives to win. He invests great energy
and effort into winning. It is not an accident if he wins. It is the
result of deliberate and sustained effort. Not everyone receives the
prize. Only a few are winners.
The fact that the door is narrow implies that it takes some deliberate
thought and effort to go through it. There aren’t many
doors into the same place, so that you can take your pick. There is
one and only one door, which is Jesus Christ. He alone is the way,
the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Him
(John 14:6). The entrance is narrow and exclusive, not broad and
There isn’t one great big door that’s easy to find and stroll
through without thinking about it. There is one narrow door. You
might not like the fact that it is narrow. You may think that it’s too
exclusive. You may say, “I believe that God is loving and that He
will accept everyone who tries to do his best. I believe that all
people will get through the door.” But, the fact is, according
to Jesus it is narrow, not wide. He made it narrow without checking
with us for our ideas about how wide it should be. Whether
you like it or not, Jesus claimed to be the only way to God. You
can either enter through the narrow door, which is Christ alone, or
you can invent a broad door that includes many ways to God, and
thus contradict what Jesus Himself said.
Jesus is asking, “Are you striving to enter the narrow door?
Are you making your salvation a matter of deliberate and sustained
effort? Are you sure that you’re entering the narrow door as defined
by Jesus and not a broad door of your own choosing?” You
say, “Whoa! I thought that salvation is a free gift, received simply
by grace through faith, not a matter of our effort. How does this
harmonize with striving for it?”
Jesus isn’t talking about salvation by works or human effort.
But He is talking about our attitude toward it. Those who are only
mildly interested about salvation will not obtain it. Those who
view salvation as an interesting topic for discussion are missing the
point. Those who say, “I believe that all roads lead to God and all
good people will go to heaven” are engaging in human speculation,
but they are not submitting to Jesus’ divine revelation. They are
putting their thoughts about being open-minded and tolerant
above Jesus’ words that the door is narrow.
The salvation of your eternal soul should not be a casual subject
that is good for an occasional stimulating theological discussion!
It ought to consume your attention. It shouldn’t be a matter
of mild interest that elicits a halfhearted response. You need to
take great pains to make sure that you have entered the narrow
door. Jesus doesn’t say, “Stroll through the big door sometime
when you’re not doing anything else and check it out.” He says,
“Strive to enter by the narrow door.”
Again, picture the Olympic athlete. He makes winning the
gold medal the focus of his life. Everything he does is controlled
by his goal of winning the gold. He won’t eat anything that is not
good for him, because it might hinder his muscles from performing
at their maximum on the day of the race. He doesn’t go to parties
and stay up late the night before, because he wants to be rested and
ready to give everything to the race. He will refrain from engaging
in fun activities that his other friends enjoy, such as skiing or
softball, because he doesn’t want to break his leg or tear his
ligaments. He is disciplined to work out for hours, often when his
body is screaming, “That’s enough!” because he wants to win.
That’s the kind of attitude that we should have toward our
own salvation, according to Jesus. It shouldn’t be a nice thing to
think about every once in a while when you don’t have anything
better to do. It should be on your mind every day. It should govern
everything you do. It should determine how you spend your
time, your money, and your leisure hours. You must strive to enter
because the door is narrow. It’s not a great big wide door that you
can wander into without thinking about it. You must be earnest to
make sure that Christ alone is your hope of salvation. (Luke
13:22-30 The Narrow Door)
Jesus Sinners Doth Receive
Jesus sinners doth receive;
Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live
And from God and Heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve—
Jesus sinners doth receive.
Come, ye sinners, one and all,
Come, accept His invitation;
Come, obey His gracious call,
Come and take His free salvation!
Firmly in these words believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.
Oh, how blest it is to know:
Were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow
By Thy blood and bitter Passion;
For these words I now believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.
FOR MANY, I TELL YOU, WILL SEEK TO ENTER AND WILL
NOT BE ABLE:
hoti polloi, lego (1SPAI) humin, zetesousin
(3PFAI) eiselthein (AAN) kai ouk ischusousin (3PFAI) (For:
Pr 1:24 25 26 27 28 14:6 21:25 Ec 10:15 Isa 1:15 58:2 3 4 Eze 33:31 Mk
6:18 19 20 Jn 7:34 8:21 13:33 Ro 9:31 32 33 10:3)
For - Introduces the first
portion of Jesus' explanation for their need to strive to enter -
they will not be able.
Many (pollus) means
just that - not a few but a large number of souls. In Mt 7:13 stated
there would be many who would enter through the wide gate and
travel the broad highway which terminated in utter ruin and loss of all
purpose for which they were originally created.
I tell you - You is in the plural
which indicates that Jesus is addressing this not just to the one who
ask the question in Lk 13:23 but to the entire audience.
Bob Utley comments that
that many of those who thought they
were certain of entrance into the kingdom will be surprised (cf. Lk
13:28; Mt 8:12). This is a shocking verse for legalists of all ages and
cultures. Salvation is not human effort, but a response of personal
faith to God’s gift and provision—Jesus (cf. Jn 10:1-18 14:6).
Will seek (2212)
(zeteo) means to try to learn location of something often by
movement from place to place in process of searching. Try to find by
searching for what is lost. Zeteo describes man's search for God (Acts
17:27). There is a seeking which Jesus commends but it is before the
door is shut...
"But (contrast with Mt 6:32)
first His kingdom (and by "default" the King of that kingdom, Christ
Jesus) and His righteousness (Which He gives as a gift by grace to those
who place their trust in His perfect righteousness and substitutionary
atonement), and all these things will be added to you.
Norval Geldenhuys comments
When once the gate is shut and the
time of grace has expired, many will attempt to enter, but then they
will not be able to do so, for it will then be for ever too late.
(Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: The New International Commentary on
the Old and New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Co)
Not (ou) - This
signifies absolute negation sounding the death knell of finality when
the door is shut!
= might) means to be strong in
body or in resources. Ischuo can speak of physical power (Mk
2:17, 5:4, 9:12). It can speak of having the required personal resources
to accomplish some objective as in Php 4:13 or conversely with the
negative speaks of that which is good for nothing (Mt 5:13-note).
Jesus says that those who fail to enter the narrow door will have no
power to enter once it is shut.
Ischuo - 28x in 28v in NAS - Mt 5:13; 8:28; 9:12;
26:40; Mark 2:17; 5:4; 9:18; 14:37; Luke 6:48; 8:43; 13:24; 14:6, 29f;
16:3; 20:26; John 21:6; Acts 6:10; 15:10; 19:16, 20; 25:7; 27:16; Gal
5:6; Phil 4:13; Heb 9:17; Jas 5:16; Rev 12:8. NAS = able(5),
am...strong enough(1), been able(1), can(1), can do(1), could(8),
force(1), good(1), healthy(2), means(1), overpowered(1), prevailing(1),
strong enough(3), unable*(2).
David Guzik comments that
The punctuation supplied by translators in Luke 13:24 25 is poor. It
should read will not be able when once the Master of the house has
risen up and shut the door. The point is that there will come a time
when it is too late to enter - that is why one must have an urgency to
enter now. This is true regarding our soul’s salvation.
You can know something
about Jesus and not be saved.
You can be in the presence of Jesus and not be saved.
It is likewise true of so many areas
where God challenges our lives. We must be urgent to do what God tells
us now. For example, many men are terrible husbands, until the day when
their wife just gives up - then they wake up, but it may be too late!
You begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, "Lord, Lord,
open for us": Many will seek to enter (in the sense of wishing to
enter), but they will not be able to. When the door is open, it is open;
when it is shut, it is shut. There is a real difference between a mere
seeking and striving to enter.
A casual wish to be saved isn’t
enough, because there are too many obstacles on the way.
(Luke 13 Commentary)
Steven Cole comments that...
Salvation requires our earnest effort because
seek to enter and will not be able to do so.
The following verse indicates that they will not be able to enter
because they missed the deadline. It is not that many strive to enter,
but only some of those striving succeed. Rather, as the following verses show, some will wake up to the serious issues involved
in their own salvation too late. They had assumed that all
was well with them because they were decent, religious people.
They knew Jesus in a casual way, but they had not taken the Gospel to
heart. They had never repented of their sins. But they didn’t consider
these matters seriously until it was too late...I am making the point that if you follow the crowd you will
not follow the Savior into eternal life. Jesus says that there are
many (and He is talking about the religious crowd) who will not
enter through the narrow door. If you follow them, you will be shut out
when that door slams shut. And, it always takes effort, both mentally
and morally, to go against the majority. You have to think about matters
for yourself and decide,
“I will not follow conventional
wisdom. I will not go along with group pressure. I will follow the Lord
So Jesus’ first point is that salvation requires our earnest effort.
If you are only half-hearted about it or go with the crowd, you
will miss it! You must strive to enter by the narrow door. (Luke
13:22-30 The Narrow Door)
ARE YOU STRIVING
OR SEEKING TO ENTER?
Alexander Maclaren notes the
reason for the command to strive to enter....
It is briefly given (here in the last
clause of) Luke 13:24, and both parts of the reason there are expanded
in the following verses. Effort is needed for entrance, because many are
shut out. The questioner would be no better for knowing whether few
would enter, but he and all need to burn in on their minds that many
will not. Very solemnly significant is the difference between
striving and seeking. It is like the difference between
wishing and willing. There may be a seeking which has no real
earnestness in it, and is not sufficiently determined, to do what is
needful in order to find. Plenty of people would like to possess earthly
good, but cannot brace themselves to needful work and sacrifice. Plenty
would like to ‘go to heaven,’ as they understand the phrase, but cannot
screw themselves to the surrender of self and the world (cp Mk 8:35 36
Vagrant, halfhearted seeking,
such as one sees many examples of,
will never win anything,
either in this world or in the other.
We must strive, and not only seek.
(Read Maclaren's entire sermon -
The Strait Gate)
I declare unto you, says Jesus: They
will think it incredible that so great a number of Jews, with the ardent
desire to have part in that kingdom, should not succeed in entering it.
The word polloi, many, proves the connection between this
discourse and the question of Lk 13:23. Only Jesus does not say whether
there will be few or many saved; He confines Himself to saying that
there will be many lost. This is the one important matter for
practical and individual application. (Luke 13:22 Commentary)
13:25 ONCE THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE GETS UP
AND SHUTS THE DOOR, AND YOU BEGIN TO STAND OUTSIDE AND KNOCK ON THE
DOOR, SAYING "LORD, OPEN UP TO US!" THEN HE WILL ANSWER AND SAY TO YOU
"I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE FROM":
aph' ou an egerthe (3SAPS) o oikodespotes kai apokleise (3SAAS) ten
thuran, kai archesthe (2PAMS) exo estanai (RAN) kai krouein (PAN) ten
thuran legontes, (PAPMPN) Kurie, anoichon (2SAAM) hemin; kai apokritheis
(APPMSN) erei (3SFAI) humin, Ouk oida (1SRAI) humas pothen este. (2PPAI): (Once:
Ps 32:6 Isa 55:6 2Co 6:2 Heb 3:7,8 12:17) (Shut: Ge 7:16 Mt
25:10) (Lord: Lk 6:46 Mt 7:21,22 25:11,12) (I know:
Lk 13:27 Mt 7:23 25:41)
The gate is strait and the way
narrow and uphill,
but one moment in heaven will make amends for it.
Shuts the door - This explains
why they will not be able to enter the door. The great lesson of
this passage is that the call of the Gospel has limitations of time, for
the door named "mercy" will not remain open indefinitely - yes, for a
time but not for ever. Entrance is only possible while the narrow door
stands wide open. Every pitiful or plausible plea will be to no avail.
The door is sealed shut. Those outside are hopelessly and forever
Once the head of the house gets up
and shuts the door - This explains Lk 13:24b, why they will not be
able to enter. Conversion and pardon for sin are no longer available, no
longer possible! This day comes to every sinner who dies outside of
the safety of the "Ark" of Christ Jesus, for once the door of
the ark is closed, it cannot be reopened (cp Ge 7:16, 21, 1Pe 3:20). An
unrepentant sinner's last heart beat and last breath is
equivalent to the head of the house shutting the door, shutting out that
person's soul eternally from entrance into the kingdom of heaven and
God's very presence! This is a terrible thought to ponder beloved. It
should drive us to travel the highways and byways proclaiming the good
news while the door of salvation and the day of grace remain open! (Let
the following "modernized" version of an old Fanny Crosby hymn motivate you
to go forth [cp Mt 9:37, 38] -
Rescue The Perishing)
Alexander Maclaren notes
in reference to each stage of life,
specific opportunities are given in it for securing specific results,
and these can never be recovered if the stage is past; so mortal life as
a whole is the time for entrance, and if it is not used for that
purpose, entrance is impossible. If the youth will not learn, the man
will be ignorant. If the sluggard will not plough because the weather is
cold, he will ‘beg in harvest.’ If we do not strive to enter at the
gate, it is vain to seek entrance when the Master’s own hand has barred
Lord open up to us - When the
door is shut, the day of grace will have come to an end.
Then He will say to them -
Notice that "them" is plural, so Jesus is not addressing this only to
the one who asked a question.
13:26 "THEN YOU WILL BEGIN TO SAY,
"WE ATE AND DRANK IN YOUR PRESENCE, AND YOU TAUGHT IN OUR STREETS": tote
arcesthe(2PFMI) legein, (PAN) Ephagomen (1PAAI) enopion sou kai epiomen
(1PAAI), kai en tais plateiais hemon edidacas (2SAAI); (We:
Isa 58:2 2Ti 3:5 Titus 1:16)
Then you will begin to say -
Always take a moment when you encounter an
expressions of time
(in this case "then") and query the text
with questions like "When is then?" or "What will happen then?",
etc. Jesus is warning that hearing His words of invitation must
be coupled with heeding His words.
We ate and drank in Your presence
- Seeing Jesus saved no one. Even sharing a meal which normally speaks
of intimacy in the ancient world would not bring about salvation.
Steven Cole comments that...
Salvation requires our urgent attention: the soon-closed
door (Lk 13:25 26 27).
We all tend to procrastinate, but Jesus tells us that salvation is
the most dangerous matter in all of life to procrastinate about. Salvation requires our urgent attention because the time is
coming soon when the door will be shut.
The day is coming when the head of the house (God) will get
up and shut the door. Clearly, at that point there will not be another
chance to get in. Once the door is shut, it is shut. Those
inside are in; those outside are out.
You ask, “When will the door be shut?” That’s for the head
of the house to decide. The final closing of the door will be at the
judgment, which will take place at the second coming of Christ.
John describes the scene: “And I saw the dead, the great and the
small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and
another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead
were judged from the things which were written in the books, according
to their deeds…. And if anyone’s name was not found
written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12, 15). Since the Lord is coming soon, you don’t want to
procrastinate about salvation!
But each person’s eternal destiny is fixed before the day of
judgment, at the point of death. Hebrews 9:27 states, “It is appointed
for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Since
life hangs by a thread, even for the youngest and healthiest among
us, we dare not procrastinate about the matter of salvation.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m young and healthy and the second
coming is probably not going to happen soon. I’ve got some
time before I need to deal with these matters.” But that’s not wise because the head of the house might slam
shut the day of opportunity for you to respond to His offer of
This was true for Jesus’ hearers. Messiah was in their very
midst and they were in danger of rejecting Him. They had the
unique opportunity of hearing Jesus Himself teaching the Word of
God, but that window of opportunity was about to close, because
Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem. In a few short years Titus, the
Roman general, would destroy Jerusalem and the temple and the
Jews would be dispersed for 1,900 years.
As with them, so with us: the opportunity to respond to Jesus
is now. Don’t mistakenly think, “I’ve got plenty of time.” You
might not have another opportunity like that which you have right
now as you hear the Word of God proclaimed. You may leave
here and your mind gets caught up with work or duties at home or
other things, and the tug of the Spirit on your heart fades. It is said
of Esau that after he had sold his birthright, later, “when he desired
to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for
repentance, though he sought for it with tears” (Heb. 12:17). He
missed his day of opportunity with God.
Once that door is shut, there will be no bargaining or working
out a last minute deal. We must enter on God’s terms and in
God’s time, or not at all. At the judgment, everyone will know the
truth and realize what a horrible mistake they have made. But it
will be too late. As J. C. Ryle puts it, “Hell is nothing but truth
known too late” (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:134).
Salvation is an urgent matter!
B. Salvation requires our urgent attention because there is a
great difference between casual acquaintance with Jesus
and a personal relationship with Him.
Those who are shut out seem surprised. They call out, “Lord,
open up to us!” But He says, “I don’t know where you’re from.”
They reply, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in
our streets.” They were acquainted with Him. But the problem
was, He was not acquainted with them. He tells them, “I do not
know where you are from. Depart from Me, all you evildoers.” If
you have a genuine personal relationship with Jesus, you will not
continue in your evil deeds. Salvation is God’s free gift, apart from
works, but those who are truly saved will make progress in holiness,
apart from which no man will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).
Now, not later, is the time to make sure that you have a personal
relationship with Jesus, not just a casual acquaintance with
Him. One major evidence of such a relationship is that you are
growing in holiness, not just outwardly, but in your heart.
Thus salvation requires our earnest effort and our urgent attention.
Finally, Jesus teaches us that … (Luke
13:22-30 The Narrow Door)
13:27 AND HE WILL SAY, "I TELL YOU, I DO
NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE FROM; DEPART FROM ME ALL YOU EVILDOERS": kai erei (3SFAI) legon (PAPMSN) humin, ouk
oida (2SRAI) [humas] pothen este; (2PPAI) apostete (2PAAM) ap' hemou,
pantes ergatai adikias:
(I tell you: Lk 13:25 Ps 1:6 Mt 7:22,23
25:12,41 1Co 8:3 Gal 4:9 2Ti 2:19) (Depart: Ps 5:6 6:8 28:3 101:8 119:115
125:5 Ho 9:12 Mt 25:41)
All you evildoers - The late
comers are shut out because of the evil deeds (manifesting their
unregenerate hearts) not because the are "late". Their character is
unfit for the mansion of purity.
Cyril of Alexandria adds
the light has no communion at all
with the darkness: nor can any one he near unto the perfectly pure God
who is held by the pollutions of sin, and whose stain is not yet washed
13:28 "IN THAT PLACE THERE WILL
WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH WHEN YOU SEE ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB
AND ALL THE PROPHETS N THE KINGDOM OF GOD, BUT YOU YOURSELVES BEING
THROWN OUT: ekei
estai (3SFMI) o klauthmos kai o brugmos ton odonton, hotan opsesthe
(2PAMS) Abraam kai Isaak kai Iakob kai pantas tous prophetas en te
basileia tou theou, humas de ekballomenous (PPPMPA) exo: (weeping:
Ps 112:10 Mt 8:12 13:42,50 22:13 24:51 25:30) (when: Lk 16:23 Mt
8:11) (the kingdom: Lk 14:15 23:42,43 2Th 1:5 2Pe 1:11) (you:
Lk 10:15 Rev 21:8 22:15)
In that place -
In view of Jesus' use of the phrase weeping and gnashing of teeth
and its definite association with eternal punishment in hell, this
place must refer to the hell.
There will be - A prophecy of
future judgment on Israel many of who are relegated to hell because of
their unbelief in their own Jewish Messiah!
Weeping and gnashing of teeth
- This phrase is repeated 7 times in the Gospels most often in the book
of Matthew which most commentators feel was directed primarily to a
Jewish audience - Mt 8:12 Mt 13:42 Mt 13:50 Mt 22:13 Mt 24:51 Mt
25:30 Lk 13:28. I do not agree with the NET Bible comment that "weeping
and gnashing is a figure (Ed: Non-literal, a figure of
speech) for remorse and trauma." While one might attempt to interpret this repeated
description of torment in hell in a figurative sense, there is no
justification for interpreting it other than in the plain literal sense
- hell will be a place of endless tears and continual gnashing of teeth,
a manifestation of inconsolable grief and unremitting torment!
We do a grave injustice to our listeners if we attempt to "soften the
blow" regarding Jesus' description of Hell in an attempt to not offend
their conscience. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is an offensive
and awful description because hell is an awful place for an unrepentant
sinner to be confined for eternity! We are to preach the whole counsel
of God's Word, whether it is convenient or not and in so doing we are to
reprove, rebuke, and comfort with great patience and instruction (2Ti
In short we are to afflict the comfortable (reprove, rebuke sinners
satisfied in their sin) and comfort the afflicted (comfort those who
desire to repent, speaking to them of the saving Gospel).
John MacArthur comments
Jewish tradition taught that
sinners-a term synonymous with Gentiles in their thinking-would
spend eternity in the outer darkness of Gehenna. Jesus concurred with
them about the destiny of condemned sinners (see Mt 22:13 24:51), but
He declared them totally wrong about the identity of those condemned
sinners....Being a physical descendant of Abraham was a great privilege
and advantage (Ro 3:1 2), but in spite of what most Jews believed, it
did not guarantee salvation. It is the children of Abraham’s spiritual
faith, not the children of his physical body, whom God adopts as His own
children (Ro 8:14 15 16 17; Gal. 3:7 89, 26 27 28 29; cf. Ro
4:11, 16). (MacArthur, J. Matthew. Chicago: Moody Press)
(klauthmos from klaio = to weep or bewail) is a noun which
describes a strong inner emotion which is evoked in weeping, crying,
lamentation (cries of grief, the act of bewailing as an expression of
Hell is a place of conscious sorrow
for the unconscious would not weep.
Klauthmos - 9x in 9v - Mt
2:18; 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Lk 13:28; Acts 20:37
Klauthmos - 30x in the
- Gen 45:2; 46:29; Dt 34:8; Judg 21:2; 2Sa 13:36; 2 Kgs 20:3; Ezra 3:13;
Job 16:16; 30:31; Ps 6:8; 30:5; 102:9; Isa 15:3; 16:9; 22:12; 30:19;
38:3; 65:19; Jer 3:21; 22:10; 31:9, 15 16; 48:5, 32; Lam 5:13; Dan 6:20;
Joel 2:12; Mic 7:4; Mal 2:13
In contrast to the eternal weeping of
the ungodly, the Psalmist describes the temporary weeping of the
Psalm 30:5 For His anger is but for a
moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping (klauthmos) may last
for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.
The Psalmist writes...
Psalm 112:10 The wicked will see it
(Ps 112:9) and be vexed, He will gnash his teeth and melt away.
The desire of the wicked will perish.
Spurgeon comments: The last
verse sets forth very forcibly the contrast between the righteous and
the ungodly, thus making the blessedness of the godly appear all the
more remarkable. Usually we see
Gerizim, the blessing
and the curse, set the one over against the other, to invest both with
the greater solemnity.
The wicked shall see it, and be grieved. The ungodly shall first
see the example of the saints to their own condemnation, and shall at
last behold the happiness of the godly and to the increase of their
eternal misery. The child of wrath shall be obliged to witness the
blessedness of the righteous, though the sight shall make him gnaw his
own heart. He shall fret and fume, lament and wax angry, but he shall
not be able to prevent it, for God's blessing is sure and effectual.
He shall gnash with his teeth. Being very wrathful, and
exceedingly envious, he would fain grind the righteous between his
teeth; but as he cannot do that, he grinds his teeth against each other.
And melt away. The heat of his passion shall melt him like wax,
and the sun of God's providence shall dissolve him like snow, and at the
last the fire of divine vengeance shall consume him as the fat of rams.
How horrible must that life be which like the snail melts as it
proceeds, leaving a slimy trail behind. Those who are grieved at
goodness deserve to be worn away by such an abominable sorrow.
The desire of the wicked shall perish. He shall not achieve his
purpose, he shall die a disappointed man. By wickedness he hoped to
accomplish his purpose -- that very wickedness shall be his defeat.
While the righteous shall endure for ever, and their memory shall be
always green; the ungodly man and his name shall rot from off the face
of the earth. He desired to be the founder of a family, and to be
remembered as some great one: he shall pass away and his name shall die
with him. How wide is the gulf which separates the righteous from the
wicked (Lk 16:26), and how different are the portions which the Lord
deals out to them (Lk 16:23 24). O for grace to be blessed of the Lord!
This will make us praise him with our whole heart.
(brugmos) describes striking, grinding or biting of teeth
together. In the context of the
NT uses brugmos is a manifestation or picture of the extreme anguish and utter
despair of those consigned to eternal torment in hell.
gnash means to strike the teeth together as in anger or pain, both
emotions probably in play in the fires of hell.
The root verb brucho is used
in Acts 7:54 to describe the Jews who were "cut to the quick" by
Stephen's sermon and began "gnashing their teeth at him", clearly a
manifestation of intense anger.
Brugmos - 7x in 7v in the
NAS - Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28. The
only OT use is in the Septuagint translation of Pr 19:12.
J S Lang comments that Jesus'
picturesque phrase expresses...
the agony of eternal torment
(and)...perhaps more than any images of fire and brimstone, the
weeping and gnashing of teeth suggests pain, regret, and eternal
sorrow of an earthly life wasted. (Lang, J. S.. 1,001 Things You Always
Wanted to Know About Angels, Demons, and the Afterlife. Nashville:
Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Comment: In one sense Jesus is
commanding those who have ears to hear His warning to "agonize"
(Strive - agonizomai) temporally to enter the door, lest they suffer
agony eternally because they fail to enter the door!
Robert Morey commenting on
Jesus' description writes that
The rabbinic picture used by Christ
of people “weeping and gnashing their teeth” in the excruciating
pain caused by the fires of
Gehenna cannot be
ignored or downplayed (Mt13:42, 50). In Re 14:10-note,
we are explicitly told that they will be tormented by sulfuric fire…for
all eternity…without rest day or night. The words of the Apostle could
not be clearer or plainer. The text says “tormented,” not
annihilated. (Morey, R. A. Death and the Afterlife. Minneapolis, Minn.:
Steven Cole says that Jesus'
fearful description of hell should serve to remind all procrastinators
Salvation requires our careful self-examination because of
the horrible consequences of making a mistake.
Weeping and gnashing of teeth doesn’t sound like a fun experience,
especially when it continues through all eternity! Think of it
as an eternal root canal without anesthesia! These men had assumed
that they would be included in the kingdom. They were
Jews, not "filthy" Gentiles. They were related to Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob. But now they find themselves shut out and, of all things,
those "dirty" Gentiles from east and west and north and south are
inside, dining with the patriarchs and prophets!
Contrary to popular modern views, hell will not be a wild
party for all the wicked. And, contrary to most popular thinking,
hell will not be just for the worst of the worst—the Hitlers of this
world. These men were religious Jews who thought they were deserving
of heaven. But they would not submit to Jesus and so they
faced the horrible eternal consequence of being in that place of
weeping and gnashing of teeth. Because there will be many religious
people in hell, all of us who attend church should examine
ourselves to make sure that we are not cast into that place of
weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Teeth Provided! - An old-fashioned, hell-and damnation preacher
was scolding his congregation for their terrible misdeeds. “Remember
what it says in the Bible,” he thundered. “Jesus told us that for those
who do evil there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew
22:13] At this point the preacher saw a very old parishioner grinning up
at him, unconcerned, toothless. He accepted the challenge and pointed at
the grinning gums, “Don’t worry, James Lippincott. Teeth will be
provided!” (Streiker, L. D. - Nelson's Big Book of Laughter)
When you see - Not "if" but
when. This is a prophetic promise that will be fulfilled. We see a
similar description of the rich man in Hades able to visualize the
Hades he (the rich
man) lifted up his eyes,
being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
(Lk 16:23, cp Lk 16:28)
Comment: Notice the rich man's
desire expressed in Lk 16:28.
What did the reality of literally experiencing the torment of Hades do
to the rich man's desire to "witness" to his five brothers?
If our passion for lost souls has
grown cold, perhaps we might consider asking the Spirit to burn into our
hearts some sense of the horror of the torment of those forever lost in
Hell so that we might be motivated like the rich man to go to those who
are still physically alive and warn them of the horrible wrath to
come (1Th 1:10-note)
so that they repent and
believe the Gospel (Lk
16:30, Mark 1:15).
(basanos called also basanite, Latin = lapis Lydius), is used
only 3x in the NT (Mt 4:24 = "pains" [NAS]; Lk 16:23 16:28) and originally referred to a stone used for testing gold
and other metals, and then came to mean applying torture (e.g., the torture-rack) to
question and extort
prisoners’ confessions. Therefore ''basanos'' must refer to a most
extreme form or degree of human suffering. BDAG describes basanos
as "severe pain occasioned by punitive torture" and records an ancient
writing from Herodas describing torture ordered by a court to exhort a
confession. Specific torments in the Luke passage (Lk 16:19-31) are
the flame, in agony, the sight of the righteous, thirst, the victims’
memories of their previous lives, and the realization that they are in a
hopeless situation. The related verb basanizo means to test by rubbing a
There are 11 uses of basanos
in the Septuagint (1Sa 6:3 4, 8, 17 Ezek 3:20; 7:19; 12:18; 16:52, 54;
32:24, 30) and some 45 uses of basanos in the Apocryphal writings - 1
Macc 9:56; 2 Macc 7:8; 9:5; 3 Macc 3:27; 4 Macc 4:26; 5:6; 6:27, 30;
7:2, 10, 16; 8:9, 19; 9:5f, 9, 16, 18; 10:11, 16; 11:1, 6, 23; 12:12;
13:15; 14:5, 8, 11; 15:11, 18ff, 32; 16:1f, 17; 17:3, 7, 10, 23; 18:20f;
Wis 2:19; 3:1; 17:12; 19:4; Sir 33:27
Webster defines a touchstone as a
black siliceous stone related to flint and formerly used to test the
purity of gold and silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by
the metal. Figuratively it came to mean a test or criterion for
determining the quality or genuineness of a thing.
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and
all the prophets in the kingdom of God - This description
underscores that the primary group Jesus addresses is the Jews, the
nation of Israel. The broader application clearly would include Gentile
sinners who refuse the Savior's offer of salvation.
The Jews saw themselves as
descendants of the patriarchs and thus felt that they they had a right
to the kingdom of God because of their ancestors (cp Mt 3:9 10). Jesus
upset their expectations by announcing that many of the sons of the
kingdom would not participate in it, but many Gentiles would. Many “sons
of the kingdom” would find themselves outside the banquet.
The upshot of Jesus' statement
directed to the Jews is that being Jewish did not guarantee a place in
the Kingdom of God! Both Jews and Gentiles must strive to enter by the
John MacArthur adds that...
The Gospel came through Abraham’s
seed, as Matthew...attested through Jesus’ genealogy (Mt 1:1). But the
benefit of the Gospel, which brings salvation, is appropriated by faith,
not by genealogical descent. The Jews played an integral part in God’s
bringing the Messiah and His gospel, and they are yet destined to play
an important role in the end times. It was integral to God’s plan of
salvation that His own Son be born, live, and die as a Jew. But the fact
that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-or any other Jew-will be in the kingdom
of heaven will not be because of their Jewishness but because of their
saving faith...Those who reject Christ, even though they are physical
descendants of Abraham, will have no place at the table with Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. (MacArthur, J.
Matthew. Chicago: Moody Press)
J C Ryle alluded to the
belated "wake up call" to the Jews who would be cast out of the presence
of the King when he said that...
is nothing but truth known too late!
Steven Cole comments...
B. Salvation requires our careful self-examination because
there are two and only two final categories.
The closed door makes a final separation between those inside
and those outside. There are none sort of in and sort of out.
While there are gradations of rewards for those who are in and
gradations of punishment for those who are out, there is a great
chasm fixed between the two (Luke 16:26), with nothing in the
middle. You won’t be basically in heaven because you’re a basically
good person. Either you’re in because you have entered through
the narrow door, which is Jesus Christ, or you’re out because you
have trusted in your own goodness or in the fact that you’re a
church-going American Christian. You need to examine yourself
and carefully answer the question, “If I were to stand before God
and He said, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ what would I
say?” The only correct answer is, “I am trusting completely in
Your Son Jesus and His shed blood.”
C. Salvation requires our careful self-examination because
those who assume they’re in may be out.
Jesus says that there will be a great reversal. Many who
thought they were first will be last. Many whom the “first crowd”
thought were last, will be first. The Jews of Jesus’ day despised the
pagan gentiles. They thought that if they ate with gentiles they
would be defiled. But Jesus says that many gentiles will be in the
kingdom, eating with the patriarchs and prophets, while many
Jews would be shut out.
These verses demand our careful attention because we who
are in the church are in the same place as the Jews of Jesus’ day.
We are familiar with the things of God. Perhaps like me, you were
raised to know the gospel. But being in the church is not enough.
Have you personally entered through the narrow door? Have you
come to Jesus as a guilty sinner and laid hold of Him as the only
acceptable sacrifice for your sins? Are you seeking to know Him
and grow in Him as your Lord and Savior? General acquaintance
with Jesus won’t be enough in that terrible day. Don’t assume that
just because you know about Jesus, you know Him.
David Brainerd, the great missionary to the American Indians,
was once witnessing to a chief who was very close to trusting in
Christ. But he held back. Brainerd got up, took a stick, drew a
circle in the dirt around the chief, and said, “Decide before you
cross that line.” Brainerd knew that if the chief missed that moment
he might never be so close again.
My prayer is that the Lord will use this message to draw that
line around you if you have never entered through the narrow
door, which is Christ alone. Salvation is not just an interesting
theological notion to discuss. It is of crucial importance for every
person because the door is narrow and it soon will be shut forever.
But right now it is still open. Jesus says to you, “Strive to enter by
the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not
1. Discuss: We are too casual about salvation because we have
disregarded the biblical doctrine of hell.
2. How can salvation be a free gift simply received and yet require
3. Scripture says that without holiness no one will see the Lord
(Heb. 12:14). How can this be harmonized with salvation by
grace through faith apart from works?
4. How can a person who is unsure about his salvation gain true
assurance? How can we know that we’ve entered through the
narrow door? (Luke
13:22-30 The Narrow Door)
13:29 "AND THEY WILL COME FROM EAST
AND WEST AND FROM NORTH AND SOUTH, AND WILL RECLINE AT THE TABLE IN THE
KINGDOM OF GOD: kai ecousin (2PFAI) apo anatolon kai dusmon kai apo borra kai
notou kai anaklithesontai (3PFPI) en te basileia tou theou: (Ge 28:14 Isa 43:6 49:6 54:2,3 66:18-20 Mal 1:11 Mk 13:27 Ac
28:28 Eph 3:6 7 8 Col 1:6,23 Rev 7:9,10)
They will come from east and west
and from north and south - The four corners of the world. In context
this refers to Gentiles who have "striven" and entered through the narrow
door by grace through faith in the only way (Jn 14:6) into the Kingdom
of Heaven, through the Door, the Messiah (Jn 10:9).
In the story of the healing of the
Centurion's son (Mt 8:5 6 7 8 9) we read a similar description...
Now when Jesus heard this, He
marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I
have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to
you that many will come from east and west, and recline at
the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;
12 but the sons of the kingdom (The Jews) will be cast out into the
outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth.” (Mt 8:10 11 12)
Will recline at the table -
This is a prophecy to be fulfilled in the
This banquet represents the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 25:6 7
8 9 (cp Isa 65:13 14). In Jesus’ day the Jews viewed themselves as
uniquely privileged because of the patriarchs and felt that the Gentiles
were excluded from the kingdom.
William Barclay writes that...
The idea of the Messianic Banquet as
at once the seal and the symbol of the new era was a common feature in
apocalyptic writings and an extremely popular subject of discussion,
thought, and expectation.
As Cowles says...
This feast is for known friends, not
for old enemies. (Henry
Cowles - Luke - enter page 169)
13:30 "AND BEHOLD, SOME ARE LAST WHO
WILL BE FIRST AND SOME ARE FIRST WHO WILL BE LAST: kai idou (2SAMM) eisin
(5748) eschatoi hoi esontai (3PFMI) protoi, kai eisin (3PPAI) protoi hoi
esontai (3PFMI) eschatoi: (Mt 3:9,10 8:11,12 19:30
20:16 21:28 29 30 31 Mk 10:31)
(idou) - This urgent command (aorist
serves as an "attention grabber" and draws the readers attention to
the profundity of Jesus' following statement.
Some who are last who will be
first - The last speaks of the Gentiles. Note the quantifier "some"
describes a portion of those in both groups, the first (Jews) and
the last (Gentiles) who will enter the narrow door of salvation
by grace through faith in Christ.
Some are first who will be last
- The first refers to the Jews, who were the first to be privileged with God's
favor and the first to receive His gracious call to come into His
Kingdom, but who failed to enter because of their unbelief, even as many
of the Jews failed to enter His rest after being warned (cp He 3:7, 8,
Heb 3:10 11-note)...
And to whom did He swear that they
should not enter His rest (katapausis),
but to those who were disobedient (apeitheo)?
And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief (apistia).
(Hebrews 3:18, 19-note)
John Stevenson asks...
Who is the first and who is the last?
The answer is found in the previous two verses. Those who are cast out
of the Kingdom shall now be last. But they were originally the first.
They were the first to hear the Law of God. They were the first to see
Jesus. They were the first to have the gospel preached to them. They are
the people of the nation of Israel. When Israel rejected her Messiah,
the gospel would go out to the nations. From this point on, the last
shall be first. Those who formerly sat in darkness shall see a great
light (Isaiah 9:2). The people who were not God’s people shall now be
known as the people of God (Hosea 1:10). (Kingdom
It is impossible to take the
wrong road and go to Heaven,
and it is impossible to take the Heavenly road and go to Hell.
J C Ryle comments that...
our Lord gives us a general caution
against the way of the many in religion. It is not enough to think as
others think and do as others do. It must not satisfy us to follow the
fashion, and swim with the stream of those among whom we live. He tells
us that the way that leads to everlasting life is narrow, and few
travel in it. He tells us that the way that leads to everlasting
destruction is broad, and full of travelers. Many are those who enter
in by it.
These are fearful truths! They ought to raise great searchings of heart
in the minds of all who hear them. "Which way am I going? By what road
am I traveling?" In one or other of the two ways here described, every
one of us may be found. May God give us an honest, self-inquiring
spirit, and show us what we are!
We may well tremble and be afraid, if our religion is that of the
multitude. If we can say no more than this, that "we go where others go,
and worship where others worship, and hope we shall do as well as others
at last," we are literally pronouncing our own condemnation. What is
this but being in the broad way? What is this but being in the
road whose end is destruction? Our religion at present is not saving
We have no reason to be discouraged and cast down, if the religion we
profess is not popular, and few agree with us. We must remember the
words of our Lord Jesus Christ in this passage: The gate is narrow.
Repentance and faith in Christ,
and holiness of life,
have never been
Editorial Note on the
importance of Repentance: Repentance is not considered by
many today as a component of salvation - Let the Scriptures speak for
themselves -- John the Baptist called for repentance "validated" by
fruit [Mt 3:2, 8, Lk 3:3, 8, Mk 1:4, Acts 19:4, cp Ac 13:24] Jesus began
His ministry preaching repent [Mt 4:17, 11:20, 21, 12:41, Mk 1:15, cp Mk
6:12, Lk 5:32 , 5, 10:13, 11:32, 13:2,3, 5, 15:7, 8, 9, 10, 16:30,
24:47]. Peter preached repentance [Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:31] as did Paul
[Acts 20:21, 26:20, cp Acts 11:18, cp Ro 2:4-note]
and as did John [Rev 2:21-note].
God desires for all to repent [Ac 17:30 2Pe 3:9-note]
Multiple articles on Repentance
or well done article in
Baker Evangelical Dictionary -
The true flock of Christ has always been small. It must not
move us to find that we are reckoned singular, and peculiar, and
bigoted, and narrow-minded. This is "the narrow way." Surely it is
better to enter into life eternal with a few, than to go to
"destruction" with a great company (J.
C. Ryle. Expository Thoughts)
Jesus concludes His sermon
four warnings arranged in several paired contrasts, even
Robert Frost wrote a secular poem
that closely parallels Jesus' words:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
Wiersbe observes that in
regard to one's eternal destiny...
the greatest danger is
self-deception (cp He 3:13-note;
Pr 28:26, Is 44:20, Obad 1:3, Ro 7:11-note;
Jas 1:14-note). The scribes and Pharisees had fooled themselves into
believing that they were righteous and others were sinful (cp Mt 5:20-note,
Mt 23:29). It is
possible for people to know the right language, believe intellectually
the right doctrines, obey the right rules, and still not be saved.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
(Bolding added for emphasis)
Keep in mind that most Jews believed
that Israel as a whole would be saved (a delusion Paul dealt with
vigorously in Romans 2) and that the few who were lost would be
exceptions to the general rule. Jesus' teaching radically destroys that
(stenos) means compressed, strait (KJV), restricted or limited in
extent, amount or scope as a narrow gorge between high rocks. Stenos
comes from a root that means “&to groan,&” as from being under pressure,
and is used figuratively to represent a restriction or constriction. In the
present context the picture refers to the strict requirements relating
to the entrance to eternal life, specifically God's perfect standard of
righteousness (Mt 5:20-note) in stark contrast to the self-righteousness of the scribes
and Pharisees (and every other false religious system that ultimately is
based on man's best efforts which always fall eternally short of God's
best effort manifest by His Son on the Cross.) This gate is constraining and beset
with difficulty, but it ends in life with God. On the other hand the
wide gate leading to the broad, easy way ends where it began, in
separation from God. Jesus' point is that choosing Him is neither the
popular nor the easy way.
Stenos is found only 3 times
in the NT - Matt. 7:13, 14; Lk 13:24 and 16 times in the
- Nu 22:26; 1Sa 23:14,
19, 29; 24:22; 2Sa 24:14; 2Ki. 6:1; 1Chr 21:13; Job 18:11; 24:11; Pr
23:27; Is 8:22; 30:20; 49:20; Je 30:7; Zec 10:11.
(pule) is a leaf or wing of a folding entrance and here
describes a door or gate. Note that there are only 2 gates and every
person will enter one or the other. To not choose to enter the narrow
gate is in fact a choice to enter the wide gate and subsequent
There are only 10 uses of phule
in the NT - Mt. 7:13, 14; 16:18; Lk 7:12; Ac 3:10; 9:24; 12:10; 16:13;
Leon Morris comments that...
may be used of a gate or door of many
kinds. Thus it is the gate of the temple (Acts 3:10), of a city (Lk
7:12), or of a prison (Acts 12:10). It is also used of the gates of
Hades (Mt 16:18). It seems to be used of a significant entrance, which
may be why it is used here of the entrance into life. (Morris, L. The
Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.
B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press)
In John Jesus taught...
"I am the door; if anyone enters
through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find
pasture." (John 10:9)
"I am the (specific, exclusive) way, and the (specific,
exclusive) truth, and the (specific, exclusive) life;
(absolutely) no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John
Comment: In Greek the
definite article "the" is important as it speaks of specificity...in
other words, had Jesus been one of many ways, He would not have used the
definite article "the" but would have identified Himself as "a"
way, "a" truth, "a" life, one of many gates/ways.
Jesus did not teach that there are many roads that lead to the Kingdom
of Heaven but clearly taught "I am the only Way."
Many are skeptical, agnostic or even
antagonistic regarding Jesus' teaching on the narrow gate and scoff at
the idea of such rigid "exclusivity" regarding salvation. The Gospel
message however is clearly very dogmatic, very exclusive and very
narrow. Obviously while we as Christians are not to be narrow-minded
people per se, we must be narrow-minded regarding the way, the truth and
the life (Jn 14:6), if we truly believe that salvation is found in no one else,
and that there is no other name under heaven that has been given to men
by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). As offensive as such a truth may
be to non-Christians, we must continually make it clear in our witness
(our life, then our lips!) to them, for without Christ they are lost and
bound for the lake of fire (Re 20:11, 12, 13, 14, 15-see
notes, cp Mt 25:41, 2Th
1:9, Re 14:11-note,
Re 19:20, 20:10 - see chart on
Births, Deaths, and Resurrections).
Here are a few other NT passages that
support this "narrow minded" view and to encourage you to defend the
faith once for all delivered to the saints...
Matthew 5:20 (note)
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the
scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Comment: This would have
shocked many in the Jewish audience, who knew the Pharisees as the most
religious people in the world. But as Jesus alluded to they may have had
religion but in their hearts they rejected the "narrow gate" of Christ.
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of
heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. "Many
will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your
name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many
Comment: This is a frightening
verse, for it clearly teaches that "many" people who profess Christ are
self-deceived. It isn’t a matter of outward profession, but inward faith
and obedience, that saves us.
John 8:24 "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your
sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."
John 10:9 "I am the door; if
anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out,
and find pasture.
Romans 3:10 (note)
as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR
GOD;12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE."...23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being
justified (declared righteous) as a gift by His grace through the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
1Corinthians 3:11 For no man
can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ. (There is no other foundation for a holy, blessed, abundant,
eternal life other than Christ).
1Timothy 2:5-6: For there is one God, and ONE mediator
also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a
ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time. (Only one
Mediator. Only one ransom, the blood of Christ shed on the Cross.)
Hebrews 2:3 (note)
how shall we escape if
we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken
through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard
Hebert Lockyer gives us an
example of one who entered the small gate and tread the dangerous way of
a disciple in his fascinating book entitled
"Last Words of Saints and Sinners"
John Bradford, Chaplain to Edward VI
in 1552, was one of the most popular preachers of his day in England.
With the accession of Queen Mary, Bradford was arrested for seditious
utterances and heresy. Refusing to recant, (he was) condemned to be
burnt at Smithfield, and he met his death tied to the same stake as a
young man found guilty of the same supposed crime. As the flames covered
their bodies, Bradford consoled the youth by saying
"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it."
Elsewhere, Lockyer gives a
tragic quote which is in diametric opposition to that of John
Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) ,
famous American lawyer and prominent agnostic, lectured on Biblical
inaccuracies and contradictions. His famed lecture The Mistakes Of
Moses led one defender of the Bible to say that he would like to
hear Moses speak for five minutes on The Mistakes Of Ingersoll.
Standing by his graveside, his brother exclaimed
"Life is a narrow vale
between the narrow peaks of two eternities. We strive
in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and
the only answer is the echo of our wailings."
John Milton makes mention of the small gate in Paradise
"A deathlike sleep,
A gentle wafting to immortal life.
Truth shall retire
Bestruck with sland'rous darts,
And works of faith rarely be found.
And to the faithful, Death the gate of life."
A correct knowledge of and response to the two gates and two ways is an
(platus) means broad, wide, having a distance larger than usual
from side to side or having ample extent from side to side or between
Gill has an interesting note
Our Lord seems to allude to the
private and public roads, whose measures are fixed by the Jewish canons;
which say, that
a private way was four cubits broad, a way from city to city eight
cubits, a public way sixteen cubits, and the way to the cities of refuge
thirty two cubits.'
(hodos) can refer to a road and figuratively as used by Jesus
refers to a course of behavior.
Psalm 1 sets two ways before the
reader at the outset...
For the LORD knows the way of
But the way of the wicked will perish. (Ps 1:6-
in depth notes)
(cp Dt 30:19, Je 21:8)
Spurgeon comments on Ps 1:6:
Or, as the Hebrew hath it yet more fully, The Lord is knowing the way of
the righteous. He is constantly looking on their way, and though it may
be often in mist and darkness, yet the Lord knoweth it. If it be in the
clouds and tempest of affliction, he understandeth it. He numbers the
hairs of our head; he will not suffer any evil to befall us. "He knoweth
the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Not only shall they perish
themselves, but their way shall perish too. The righteous carves his
name upon the rock, but the wicked writes his remembrance in the sand.
The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth, and sows a harvest here,
which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the enjoyments of
eternity; but as for the wicked, he ploughs the sea, and though there
may seem to be a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass
over it, and the place that knew him shall know him no more for ever.
The very "way" of the ungodly shall perish. If it exist in remembrance,
it shall be in the remembrance of the bad; for the Lord will cause the
name of the wicked to rot, to become a stench in the nostrils of the
good, and to be only known to the wicked themselves by its putridity.
May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the
doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous!
Spurgeon comments on the
non-exclusivity of the broad way...
The road is so wide that there may be
many independent tracks in it, and the drunkard may find his way along
it without ever ruffling the complacency of the hypocrite. The mere
moralist may pick a clean path all the way, while the immoral wretch may
wade up to his knees in mire throughout the whole road. Be-hold how
sinners disagree and yet agree in this, that they are op-posed to God!
It is a broad road
C. S. Lewis described this
broad way that was leading him to destruction...
I was soon (in the famous words ) altering “I believe” to “one does
feel.” And oh, the relief of it! … From the tyrannous noon of revelation
I passed into the cool evening twilight of Higher Thought, where there
was nothing to be obeyed, and nothing to be believed except what was
either comforting or exciting.&& (C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy)
John MacArthur comments that
The way that is broad is the easy,
attractive, inclusive, indulgent, permissive, and self-oriented way of
the world. There are few rules, few restrictions, and few requirements.
All you need do is profess Jesus, or at least be religious, and you are
readily accepted in that large and diverse group. Sin is tolerated,
truth is moderated, and humility is ignored. God’s Word is praised but
not studied, and His standards are admired but not followed. This way
requires no spiritual maturity, no moral character, no commitment, and
no sacrifice. It is the easy way of floating downstream, in “&the course
of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the
spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience&” (&Ep 2:2-note).
It is the tragic way “&which seems right to a man,&” but whose “&end is
the way of death&” (&Pr 14:12&).A West Indian who had chosen Islam
over Christianity said his reason was that Islam “&is a noble, broad
path. There is room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is
too narrow.&” It seems that many preachers today do not see that issue
as clearly as that unbelieving Muslim.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
D A Carson has an interesting note
The "wide" gate seems
far more inviting. The "broad" road (not "easy," RSV) is
spacious and accommodates the crowd and their baggage; the other road is
"narrow"- but two different words are used: stene
("narrow," Mt 7:13) and tethlimmene (Mt 7:14), the latter being cognate
with thlipsis (word
("tribulation"), which almost always refers to persecution. So this text
says that the way of discipleship is "narrow," restricting, because it
is the way of persecution and opposition-a major theme in Matthew (Mt
5:10, 11, 12, 44 - see notes
Mt 10:16-39; Mt 11:11, 12; 24:4-13...). Compare Acts 14:22:
"We must go through many hardships [...`through much
persecution'] to enter the kingdom of God."...
Democratic decisions do not determine
truth and righteousness in the kingdom. That there are only two ways is
the inevitable result of the fact that the one that leads to life is
exclusively by revelation. But if truth in such matters must not be
sought by appealing to majority opinion (Ex 23:2), neither can it be
found by each person doing what is right in his own eyes (Pr 14:12; cf.
God must be true and every man a liar (Ro 3:4-note).(Gaebelein,
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
Kistemaker adds that...
The “way” to which the narrow gate
admits is “constricted,” or, as we might say today, “It is so
confining.”&& The path on which the believer is traveling resembles a
difficult pass between two cliffs. It is hemmed in from both sides. So
also even in the case of the person who has already spiritually entered
through the narrow gate, whatever still remains of the old nature rebels
against laying aside evil propensities and habits. This old nature is
not completely conquered until the moment of death. So, a bitter
struggle develops. Read about it in Ro 7:14-25.
But total victory is assured, for the
narrow gate has been found and entered, and the way of sinners has been
exchanged for the way of the righteous (see Ps. 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
that is, a conscious choice has been made, a good decision. Basic
conversion, in turn, has become daily conversion or, if one prefers,
sanctification. On the other hand, the “way” to which the wide gate
admits is broad and roomy. One might call it Broadway. The signs along
this wide avenue read, “Welcome to each of you and to all your friends,
the more the merrier. Travel as you wish and as ‘fast’ as you wish.
There are no restrictions.” However, “The way of the wicked shall
(apago from apo = from + ago = lead) means to lead
away. This word was used of prisoners being taken under armed guard to
prison or execution!
The broad way leads to eternal
death and hell (cf. Mt 25:34, 46; John 17:12; Ro 9:22: Phil. 1:28; 3:19;
1Ti 6:9; He 10:39; 2Pe 2:1, 3; 3:16; Rev 17:8, 11)
MacArthur has an interesting
note writing that...
Both the broad and the
narrow ways point to the good life, to salvation, heaven, God, the
kingdom, and blessing-but only the narrow way actually leads to
those. There is nothing here to indicate that the broad way
is marked “&Hell.&” The point our Lord is making is that it is marked
“&Heaven&” but does not lead there. That is the great lie of all the
false religions of human achievement. The two very different
destinations of the two ways are made clear by the Lord (&cf.& &Jer
21:8&). The broad … leads to destruction, whereas only the
narrow … leads to life. Every religion except Christianity, the only
religion of divine accomplishment, follows the same spiritual way and
leads to the same spiritual end, to hell. There are many of those roads,
and most of them are attractive, appealing, and crowded with travelers.
But not a single one leads where it promises; and not a single one fails
to lead where Jesus says it leads-to destruction.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
Isaac Watts wrote the
following hymn related to Jesus' words in Mt 7:13,14. How many churches
would even dare sing it today? (play
BROAD IS THE ROAD
Broad is the road that leads to
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveler.
“Deny thyself, and take thy cross,”
Is the Redeemer’s great command;
Nature must count her gold but dross,
If she would gain this heav’nly land.
The fearful soul that tires and faints,
And walks the ways of God no more,
Is but esteemed almost a saint,
And makes his own destruction sure.
Lord, let not all my hopes be vain
Create my heart entirely new;
Which hypocrites could ne’er attain,
Which false apostates never knew.
John Oxenham wrote that...
“&To every man there openeth
A way and ways and a way;
And the high soul treads the high way,
And the low soul gropes the low;
And in between on the misty flats
The rest drift to and fro;
But to every man there openeth
A high way and a low;
And every man decideth
The way his soul shall go.&”
Jesus called for a choice
in the gospel of John and the tragic result was that
many of His disciples withdrew, and
were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve,
"You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him,
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have
believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." (John
John MacArthur emphasizes
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus
presents still again that great choice of choices. This sermon
therefore cannot be simply admired and praised for its ethics. Its
truths will bless those who accept the King but will stand in judgment
over those who refuse Him. The one who admires God’s way but does not
accept it is under greater judgment, because he acknowledges that he
knows the truth. Nor does this sermon apply only to the future age of
the millennial kingdom. The truths Jesus teaches here are truths whose
essence God teaches in the Old Testament and throughout the New
Testament. They are truths for God’s people of every age, and the
decision about the gate and the way has always been a now decision...
There have always been but two systems of religion in the world. One is
God’s system of divine accomplishment, and the other is man’s system of
human achievement. One is the religion of God’s grace, the other the
religion of men’s works. One is the religion of faith, the other the
religion of the flesh. One is the religion of the sincere heart and the
internal, the other the religion of hypocrisy and the external. (MacArthur,
J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
Wiersbe wisely observes
The broad way is the easy way; it is
the popular way. But we must not judge spiritual profession by
statistics; the majority is not always right. The fact that “everybody
does it” is no proof that what they are doing is right. Quite the
contrary is true: God’s people have always been a remnant, a small
minority in this world. The reason is not difficult to discover: The way
of life is narrow, lonely, and costly. We can walk on the broad way and
keep our “baggage” of sin and worldliness. But if we enter the narrow
way, we must give up those things. Here, then, is the first test: Did
your profession of faith in Christ cost you anything? If not, then it
was not a true profession. Many people who “trust” Jesus Christ never
leave the broad road with its appetites and associations. They have an
easy Christianity that makes no demands on them. Yet Jesus said that the
narrow way was hard. We cannot walk on two roads, in two different
directions, at the same time.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
Marvin Vincent comments
A remarkable parallel to this passage
occurs in the “Pinax” or “Tablet” of Cebes, a writer contemporary with
Socrates. In this, human life, with its dangers and temptations, is
symbolically represented as on a tablet. The passage is as follows:
“Seest thou not, then, a little door,
and a way before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few
travel it? This is the way which leadeth into true culture.”
M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-50
Solomon wrote the same truth
in two proverbs (Pr 14:12, 16:25) emphasizing that this is a vitally
a way which seems
right to a man,
But its end is
What Poor, Despised Company
What poor, despised company
Of travelers are these,
That walk in yonder narrow way,
Along that rugged maze?
Why, they are of a royal line,
All children of a King:
Heirs of immortal crowns divine,
And loud for joy they sing.
But some of them seem poor, distressed,
And lacking daily bread:
Ah! they’re of wealth divine possessed
With hidden manna fed.
Why do they keep that narrow road,
That rugged, thorny maze?
Because that way their Leader trod
They love and keep His ways.
Why do they shun the pleasing path,
The worldly love so well?
Because it is the road to death
The open Toad to hell.
What! is there then no other road,
To Canaan’s happy ground?
Christ is the only way to God
No other can be found.
The Narrow Gate - The story is
told of Professor T. H. Huxley, the father of agnosticism. As he came to
the end of life, the nurse attending him said that as he lay dying, the
great skeptic suddenly looked up at some sight invisible to mortal eyes,
and staring a while, whispered at last, “So it is true.” And he died.
According to Svetlana Stalin, when her father, Joseph Stalin, was dying,
he was lying with his eyes closed. At the very last moment, he suddenly
opened his eyes and looked at the people in the room. It was a look of
unutterable horror and anguish. Then he lifted his left hand, as though
pointing to something, and dropped it and died. One wonders how many who
are attracted to his socialistic views are told how he departed this
life to the next?!
The Broad Road to Destruction
- In 2001 George Barna reported that 51% of Americans believed that if a
person was generally good, or did enough good things for others during
their life, they would earn a place in heaven.
F B Meyer writes the following
devotional entitled THE BROAD AND THE NARROW WAY...
Wide is the gate, and broad is the
way, that leadeth to destruction Narrow is the way which leadeth unto
life --Matt 7:13-14
AT THE beginning of life, each soul
stands before these two paths. In each of us the love of life is strong,
and in each is the desire to get as much as possible out of the years
which may be given. Amiel expresses this strong passion for life when he
says: "A passionate wish to live, to feel, to express, stirred the depth
of my heart. I was overpowered by a host of aspirations. In such a mood
one would fain devour the whole world, experience everything, see
everything, learn everything, tame everything, and conquer everything."
In our early years each of us wakes
up to the throb of strong natural impulses, and we are tempted to argue,
if God has given me these strong desires, why should they not be
gratified? Why should I not throw the reins on the necks of these fiery
steeds, and let them bear me whither they may? To do this, is to go
through the wide gate, and to take the broad road. It is the way of
society, of the majority--the "many" go in there, It is pre-eminently
the way of the world, and no one who goes by this way, allowing his
course to be dictated by strong natural impulses, need fear that he will
be counted strange or eccentric!
It must be admitted that, in its first stages, the broad way is
generally easy and rather delightful. The boat launched on the flowing
stream sweeps merrily and pleasantly along the gradient of the road
slopes so as to make walking easy, the sun shines, and the path is
filled with bright flowers. But to a life given up to self-indulgence,
there is only one end, destruction.
There is a more excellent way, but it is too narrow to admit the
trailing garments of passionate desire, too narrow for pride,
self-indulgence, greed, and avarice, it is the Way of the Cross, but it
leads to Life! We all want to see life, and the remarkable thing is that
those who expect to get most out of it by self-indulgence miss
everything; whilst those who seem to curtail their lives by following
Christ, win everything. Few find and enter this path, is the lament of
our Lord. Let us put our hand in His, that He may lead us into the path
of life, "that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
PRAYER - Dear Lord, as Enoch walked with Thee of old, so would we walk
each day, choosing the narrow path; order our steps in Thy way, and
graciously walk with us. AMEN. (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
O BROTHER, LIFE’S JOURNEY
by Ira D Sankey
O brother, life’s journey beginning,
With courage and firmness arise!
Look well to the course thou art choosing;
Be earnest, be watchful, and wise!
Remember—two paths are before thee,
And both thy attention invite;
But one leadeth on to destruction,
The other to joy and delight.
God help you to follow His banner,
And serve Him wherever you go;
And when you are tempted, my brother,
God give you the grace to say “No!”
O brother, yield not to the tempter,
No matter what others may do;
Stand firm in the strength of the Master,
Be loyal, be faithful, and true!
Each trial will make you the stronger,
If you, in the name of the Lord,
Fight manfully under your Leader,
Obeying the voice of His Word.
O brother, the Savior is calling!
Beware of the danger of sin;
Resist not the voice of the Spirit,
That whispers so gently within.
God calls you to enter His service—
To live for Him here, day by day;
And share by and by in the glory
That never shall vanish away.
STRAIT IS THE GATE TO ALL
by Karolina W.
Strait is the gate to all that come,
And narrow is the way,
Which leads unto the heav’nly home,
Where yet is room for thee,
Where yet is room for thee.
In Heav’n, where God His own shall take,
There’s also room for thee.
In Jesus’ Name, for Jesus’ sake,
The gates shall opened be,
The gates shall opened be.
Where thousands stand arrayed in white,
Whom God His own declared,
There yet is room and life and light,
By grace for thee prepared,
By grace for thee prepared.
In Jesus’ heart there’s room, I know,
And in His Heav’n of bliss.
He in His Gospel tells me so,
Thanks be to God for this,
Thanks be to God for this.
Now God be praised, that even I
May in that city dwell,
Where peace shall reign eternally,
And all with me be well,
And all with me be well.
I have always been amazed to watch
the freighters go through the Soo Locks that join Lake Superior and Lake
Huron in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. To me, it's a wonder of piloting as
I see the captain inch his 1,000-foot-long ore boat safely through the
Poe or the Davis Lock. There it can be lowered to the level of Lake
Huron or raised so that it can enter Lake Superior.
The captain eases the boat through the gates of the lock at a barely
discernible pace because it is only a couple feet wider than the ship
itself. The process may take a while, but it gets the ship safely
through. It would be much easier for the captain to approach the wide
mouth of the St. Mary's River that flows alongside the locks and joins
the two lakes. But it is shallow, fast-moving, and filled with huge
rocks and white-water rapids. A freighter trying that route would be
doomed to destruction. If you were the ship's captain, which way would
you choose? The narrow way, of course. It's the only safe way
There is a narrow way in the spiritual life; the way of faith in Christ.
It leads to heaven. Trust Jesus today Take the narrow way! —D. C. Egner
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Which Highway? - Roads.
They're everywhere. Criss-crossing the landscape, taking us wherever we
want to go. Freeways. Avenues. Toll roads. Boulevards.
And now there's yet another type of thoroughfare that's taking us to
never-before traveled areas. It's called the "information superhighway,"
and it promises to be an avenue to discovery and knowledge. Via computer
hookups, we can access vast libraries of new information.
Asphalt and concrete roads lead us to physical destinations. Computer
highways take us to places of the mind--information destinations that
can enlighten, educate, and entertain us. All those roads. All those
decisions. All those possibilities.
Yet no road, no highway, no computer network can compare with the only
true superhighway--the narrow way.
In Matthew 7, Jesus told us about that way. It is entered through a
narrow gate, its course is difficult, and it is not as crowded as the
broad way that leads to destruction. Jesus was talking about the path
that we take when we put our faith in Him. He was talking about the road
Are you on that highway? We have so many paths to take in life, but
God's way is the only one that leads to eternal life. --J D Brannon
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Oh, choose now the path of salvation
And enter in at the strait gate!
Come now, while the Savior is calling;
Tomorrow may be too late! --Haines
The path that fools have trod
is a well-beaten one.
The Narrow Way
by William Cowper
What thousands never knew the road!
What thousands hate it when ‘tis known!
None but the chosen tribes of God
Will seek or choose it for their own.
A thousand ways in ruin end,
One only leads to joys on high;
By that my willing steps ascend,
Pleased with a journey to the sky.
No more I ask or hope to find
Delight or happiness below;
Sorrow may well possess the mind
That feeds where thorns and thistles grow.
The joy that fades is not for me,
I seek immortal joys above;
There glory without end shall be
The bright reward of faith and love.
Cleave to the world, ye sordid worms,
Contented lick your native dust!
But God shall fight with all his storms,
Against the idol of your trust.