Luke 13:24-30 Commentary



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Luke 13:22-30 Commentary
Updated 2/22/14

Luke 13:24 Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Agonizesthe (2PPMM) eiselthein (AAN) dia tes stenes thuras, hoti polloi, lego (1SPAI) humin, zetesousin (3PFAI) eiselthein (AAN) kai ouk ischusousin (3PFAI).
Amplified: Strive to enter by the narrow door [force yourselves through it], for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.   (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Berkley: Strain every nerve to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will be unable to. (Modern Language Bible)
ESV: Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
GWT: Try hard to enter through the narrow door. I can guarantee that many will try to enter, but they won't succeed.
HCSB: Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able
ICB: Try hard to enter through the narrow door that opens the way to heaven! Many people will try to enter there, but they will not be able.
KJV: Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
NET: Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

NLTWork hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.  (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: And Jesus told them, "You must do your utmost to get in through the narrow door, for many, I assure you, will try to do so and will not succeed  (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: And He said to them, Be endeavoring with a strenuous zeal to enter through the narrow door, because many, I am saying to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (
Weymouth: Strain every nerve to force your way in through the narrow gate," He answered; "for multitudes, I tell you, will endeavour to find a way in and will not succeed.
: Be striving to go in through the straight gate, because many, I say to you, will seek to go in, and shall not be able;

Updated 2/22/14

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Luke 13:22-30 Answer to the Question
Luke 13 Commentary

Luke 13 Commentary
Luke:13:18-35 Kingdom Peeks!
Luke 13 The Critical English Testament

Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 13:22-30 Expositor's Greek Testament
Luke 13:24 The Strait Gate 
Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 13 Sermon Notes
Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 12:22-34he Narrow Door
Luke Commentary
Luke 13:22 Commentary - at top of page enter 168
Luke Sermon Notes
Luke 13:22-35 Striving to Enter the Narrow Door
Luke 13:22-30 The Narrow Door
Luke 13:1-35 New Concern
Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 13:24 The Strait Gate
The Gospel of Luke
Luke 13 Commentary

Luke 13:22 Commentary
Luke 13 Commentary

Luke 13 Sermon Notes
Luke 13 Commentary

Luke 13:22-35 Commentary
Luke 13 Commentary

Luke Commentary
Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 10:38-24 Commentary

Luke 13:22-30 Are Just a Few Being Saved? Part 1

Luke 13:22-30 Are Just a Few Being Saved? Part 2

Luke 13:22-30 The Strait Gate

Luke 13:10-35.mp3 - Thru the Bible
Luke 13:24 Devotional

Luke 13 Notes

Luke 13:22-30 The Narrow Door
Luke 13:22-30 Commentary
Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 13:22-30 The Question and the Answer
Luke 13:22-30 Vain Inquiry and Spiritual Strenuousness
Luke 10:23-24 Strive to Enter Through the Narrow Door - goto p.164

Luke 13:22-35 When Heaven's Door is Shut...

Luke 13 Word Pictures in the New Testament
Luke 13 Commentary
Luke 13:24 Self-Effort
Cost of Being a True Christian - Counting the Cost
Luke 13:18-30 Considering The Kingdom
Luke 13:30 The Last First and the First Last

Luke 13:24 See Sermon Notes
Luke 13:24 Self-Delusion
Luke 13:24 The Strait Gate
Luke 13 Exposition
Luke 13:10-35 Kingdom Controversies

Luke 8 Commentary
Luke 13 Greek Word Studies

Rescue the Perishing

-- Fanny Crosby
Please 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)


Comment: Please 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 is Mighty To Save. (Hillsong version) Amen


See Related Study - Mighty to Save


Note: 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.


Luke 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 Commentary)




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. 7:23).

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 Commentary)


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.”
(EEF 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, 2Co 4:5,6-note Jn 3:18 19 20 21 Acts 26:17 18)! Like Jesus we are aliens and strangers (1Pe 1:1-note, 1Pe 2:11-note) who are on mission to accomplish the good works for our Master (e.g., see Ep 2:10-note, Php 2:13-note Ep 5:18-note Gal 5:16-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)


Passing (1279) (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. The present tense 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.

Teaching (1321) (didasko [word study] from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see also studies of noun didaskalia and adjective didaktikos) 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 present tense 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! (Rev 21:3-note Rev 21:4-note Rev 21:5-note Rev 21:6-note Rev 21:7-note Rev 22:3-note Rev 22:4-note Rev 22:5-note) 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 Php 2:5-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 2Ti 2:15-note) 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 sound doctrine (1Ti 4:6 2Ti 4:3-note Titus 1:9-note) from the pulpits, even in churches that refer to themselves as "Bible churches"!

John MacArthur 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 or Logos)

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.”

Proceeding (present tense to = continually) (4160)(poieo) 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 Jerusalem.

Way (4197) (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).


Luke 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 Iscariot!)


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 around Him.


John Stevenson wisely observes that...

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 13:25).
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 Controversies)


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 Luke 13:22ff)


Holman Christian Study Bible comments that...

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 Titus 1:16-note). (HCSB)


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 Commentary)


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 it. But…

Salvation is not a theory to discuss
It is a miracle to experience.

In our soft age we are more concerned with statistics than about spiritual power. (Luke 13)

Being saved (4982)(sozo) 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 in the present tense (continually) and the passive voice (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 Cor 2:15

Jesus 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 who 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 salvation.

Jesus also 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 God." (See 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 the context 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 salvation.

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 that

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 context 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 commentaries! Click here to access his sermons) in his sermon on Luke 13:22-30 entitled 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 - recommended resource - sermons flow almost like verse by verse commentaries! Click here to access his sermons)

Luke 13:24 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 (3PFAI). (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)



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.


Strive 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.


The Bible 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 salvation. (Sermon Luke 13:22ff)


It is notable that other NT writers present a similar picture of "striving" in the context of salvation.


Peter for example charges his readers...

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent (aorist imperative = 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 "false faith" 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. (Hebrews 4:1-note)

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.  (Hebrews 4:11-

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 through faith.

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 that...


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 says that


The Kingdom is not entered by drifting but by decision.

Strive (75) (agonizomai [word study] from agon = 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 present imperative 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 13)

Frederic Godet writes that agonizomai 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)


Puritan writer John Owen notes that agonizomai...

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.

Enter (1525) (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 comply therewith....

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.”

John MacArthur:

Entering the 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. (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word or Logos)

F B Meyer adds that the door was

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.

Alexander Maclaren

We note, 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 without effort.

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 non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX)- 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 man."

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, Rev 13:5-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-

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) gate, 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 not a 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 (only) door. 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 flesh. (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 (Lk 13:24).

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 all-inclusive.

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 sincere 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 playing 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 this...

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...

Matthew 6:33-note "But (contrast with Mt 6:32) seek (present imperative) 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 that

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!

Able (2480) (ischuo [word study] from ischus = 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 many will 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 Jesus Christ.”

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)



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 37).

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)

Godet writes

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)


Luke 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 debarred. 


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 that...

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 it.


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.

Luke 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 salvation. 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)


Luke 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 that...

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 away. (Sermon)


Luke 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 - What 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 4:2-note). 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 that...


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)


Weeping (2805) (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 sorrow).


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 non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - 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 godly


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 Ebal and 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.


Gnashing (1030) (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.


Webster says 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, Re 14:11-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.: Bethany House)


Steven Cole says that Jesus' fearful description of hell should serve to remind all procrastinators that...

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 patriarch Abraham...


And in 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).


Torment (931) (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 touchstone.


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 narrow door!


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...

Hell 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 self-righteous 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 be able.”

Discussion Questions
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 our striving?
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)

Luke 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 Millennial Kingdom. 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)

Luke 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)


Behold (idou) - This urgent command (aorist imperative) 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, 9-note 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 Controversies)

 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 religion.

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 fashionable.


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 - Repentance.


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; Ep 4:22-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. (Wiersbe, 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 delusion.







Narrow (4728) (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 Septuagint (LXX) - 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.


Gate (4439) (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 destruction.


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; He 13:12.


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 14:6)


Comment: In Greek the definite article "the" is important as it speaks of 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.


Matthew 7:21, 22 (note) 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 miracles?'


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" writing that


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 Bradford....


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 Regained

"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 urgent matter!


Wide (4116) (platus) means broad, wide, having a distance larger than usual from side to side or having ample extent from side to side or between limits.


Gill has an interesting note that...


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.'


Way (3598) (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 the righteous,
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." (Job 23:10)

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. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)


D A Carson has an interesting note writing that...


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 study) ("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 5:10ff, 44; 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. Jdg 21:25-note). God must be true and every man a liar (Ro 3:4-note).(Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)


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 perish.” (Ibid)


Leads (520) (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. (MacArthur, J: 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 the hymn)




Broad is the road that leads to death,
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 6:66-69)


John MacArthur emphasizes that...


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) (Bolding added)



Wiersbe wisely observes that...


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.  (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)


Marvin Vincent comments that...


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.”


(Vincent, 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 important truth...


There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is
the way of death.




What Poor, Despised Company
Composer Unknown

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)




by Ira D Sankey
(Play hymn)


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.



by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg

(Play hymn)

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 (
Our 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 to heaven.

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  (
Our 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.



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Last Updated February 21, 2015