through the narrow gate:
dia tes stenes pules
(Mt 3:2,8; 18:2,3;
23:13; Pr 9:6; Is 55:7; Ezek 18:27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32;
Lk 9:33; 13:24; Lk 13:25; 14:33; Jn 10:9; 14:6; Ac 2:38, 39, 40;
3:19; 2Co 6:17; Gal 5:24)
Artwork related to
"Jug not that ye be not jugged"
Artwork related to Mt 7:3-5:
The Speck and the Beam
Artwork related to Mt 7:7-11:
Pray, and It Shall Be Given
Artwork related to Mt 7:7-11:
Artwork related to Mt 7:12:
Love for Enemies
Artwork related to Mt 7:13,14:
The Two Ways
Artwork related to Mt 7:15-23:
A Tree and Its Fruit
Artwork related to Mt 7:24-27:
The Wise and Foolish Builder
WHERE WILL YOU END UP?
IT DEPENDS ON THE ROAD YOU TAKE!
Artwork related to Mt 7:13,14:
The Two Ways
Narrow Gate to Heaven and the Wide Gate to Hell by Cornelis De Bie)
Google Images For Narrow Gate
Image Search for "Narrow Gate",
The Two Ways Evangelism Flannelboard)
Jesus sets before every man the two
ways of life, and two ways only, which make it vital that each
individual make the right choice. Jesus clearly did not believe in the
deadly deceptive heretical doctrine known as universalism
I would like to share an observation
with you that I have made over the years. Now, this is profound, so hang
onto your hats: Where you wind up depends on which road you take! In
other words, you cannot go south from here and expect to go to New Your
City. You cannot go east from here and wind up at the Mississippi. I
realize you could do this if you were to circumnavigate the globe, but
using the roads which are in place now, it would be absolutely
impossible for you to do that. Just as this is true in the physical
realm, it is also true in the spiritual realm.
Where you wind up in eternity will be determined by the road you take
here on earth.
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.
What you do while in this world will
determine forever, where you spend your forever.
This life has been described as nothing more than a brief pause between
two very long eternities. Now, that shouldn't take any of us by
surprise. After all, we are surrounded by death from the day we born
into the world. Loved ones pass away, friends leave this world, and deep
inside, we know that it will happen to us someday as well. The fact that
you will not live forever is a common theme throughout the Bible. Notice
some of these notable passages, James 4:14; Job 9:25; Job 14:1; Psa.
78:39; Ps. 90:10; Is 40:7-8.
Since we are going to leave this world some day soon, and when we do, we
will continue to live either in Heaven or Hell forever, it is essential
that you know where you will end up. (Where
Will You End Up?)
Guzik quips that...
Jesus here commits the awful modern
"sin" of "narrow mindedness." To Jesus, there is no doubt that there is
a right road and a wrong road. If Christians are accused of being
"narrow minded" they should be following Jesus’ example of telling the
hard truth, but telling it in love. (Matthew 7)
Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount
(Mt 7:13-27). "The righteousness of the kingdom," so amply described,
both in principle and in detail, would be seen to involve self-sacrifice
at every step. Multitudes would never face this. But it must be faced,
else the consequences will be fatal. This would divide all within the
sound of these truths into two classes: the many, who will follow the
path of ease and self-indulgence--end where it might; and the few, who,
bent on eternal safety above everything else, take the way that leads to
it--at whatever cost. This gives occasion to the two opening verses of
Enter ye in at the strait gate--as if
hardly wide enough to admit one at all. This expresses the difficulty of
the first right step in religion, involving, as it does, a triumph over
all our natural inclinations. Hence the still stronger expression in
Luke (Lu 13:24), "Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
for wide is the gate--easily entered.
and broad is the way--easily trodden.
that leadeth to destruction,
and--thus lured "many there be which go in thereat."
(eiserchomai from eis = into + erchomai = come, go,
means to go or come into and so to enter into. The
conveys the sense of urgency, calling
for immediate and effective action! Don't delay!
Don't procrastinate is the idea. Don't admire the principles of the
Sermon on the Mount but refuse to follow those principles (which is
ultimately only possible by becoming a new creation in Christ by grace
through faith!). Beware of putting off "doing business"
with Jesus, making absolutely sure you know Him intimately and not just
that you know about Him. Prolonged procrastination might end in
Enter by the narrow gate - The
KJV reads "Enter ye in at the strait gate"
- Strait is from the Latin strictum meaning narrow and is
used literally of a narrow pass between portions of land (straits of
Gibraltar, of Magellan, of Dover) and figuratively conveys the sense of
difficult, distressful. Strait conveys the idea that the gate is narrow or cramped or affords little room - there is no "wiggle
room" when it comes to entering the Kingdom of heaven for there is but
One Door, the Lord Jesus Christ - See His own testimony in Jn 10:9, cp
Acts 4:12, 10:42, 43, Jn 3:18, 36, 8:24, 1Jn 5:11, 12
Study also Jesus' Seven “I AM" declarations -
BREAD -Jn 6:35,41,48, 51,
LIGHT -Jn 8:12, DOOR -Jn 10:9, GOOD SHEPHERD -Jn 10:14,
LIFE -Jn 11:25, WAY -Jn 14:6, VINE -Jn 15:1, 5).
- 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;
And so as used by Jesus stenos
pictures the strict requirements relating
to the entrance to eternal life, specifically God's perfect standard of
righteousness (Mt 5:20-note) in 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 the
work of God's 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
eternal separation from God.
Jesus is saying that choosing Him is
neither 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.
The only other NT use of stenos
Luke 13:24 "Strive
= a call for
continues striving! Signifies a continual great struggle against
conflict) to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you (plural
- so Jesus is addressing this not just to the one who ask the question
in Lk 13:23 but to the entire audience), will seek to enter and will not
Comment: Notice that this
passage is Jesus' answer to the interesting theological question from an
unnamed person of whether there are only a few
being saved (Lk 13:23). If this verse is read out of context it might
suggest that sinners would be able to do something (some work) that would merit
entrance through the narrow door and thus in a sense they could "work"
their way to heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth that Jesus
intended to convey! The Bible
repeatedly states that salvation is ONLY by amazing free grace through
genuine personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Ep 2:8, 9). What Jesus is
describing is the truth that that the way of salvation is "narrow"
implying that it is "difficult".
Steven Cole: 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.
John MacArthur: Entering the
narrow gate is nonetheless difficult because of its cost in terms of
human pride, because of the sinner’s natural love for sin, and because
of the world’s and Satan’s opposition to the truth.
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
John Butler comments on Jesus'
command "strive": The word translated strive means to
agonize. This 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
Puritan writer John Owen:
The word strive 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 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)
Brian Bell: 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. Strive = to agonize as an athlete; or to
fight or struggle in war. No, not that were 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 (esp. our own
sin!) Strive to enter the narrow gate – because God’s way is narrow. (Luke
Alexander Maclaren: We note,
first, the all-important exhortation 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, through which it took a
man trouble to squeeze. For us, the narrow gate 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. 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-centred 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)
Norval Geldenhuys (foreword by
F F Bruce): 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. 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)
H A Ironside: It is not 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 when the door to life stands
open, and we are invited to enter in; we must be sure that we heed 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 to Christ; a way that
involves denial of self (cp Mk 8:35) 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.
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!” 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)
Stenos - 16x in the
Nu 22:26; 1Sa 23:14, 19, 29; 24:22; 2Sa 24:14; 2Ki 6:1; 1Chr 21:13
(Figurative use - "I am in great distress"); Job 18:11; 24:11; Pr 23:27;
Isa 8:22; 30:20; 49:20; Jer 30:7; Zech 10:11. Several of the OT uses are
used to translate "stronghold".
Numbers 22:26 The
Angel of the LORD
went further, and stood in a narrow (Hebrew = tsar =
narrow, tight; Lxx = stenos) place where there was no way to turn
to the right hand or the left. 25 When the donkey saw the
Angel of the LORD,
she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the
wall, so he struck her again.
2 Samuel 24:14 Then David said to
Gad, "I am in great distress (Hebrew = tsarar = to suffer
distress; Lxx = stenos). Let us now fall into the hand of the
LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of
Jeremiah 30:7 'Alas! for that day is
great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's distress
(Heb = tsarah = trouble, distress, calamity, anguish, state of very
unfavorable circumstance, with a focus on the emotional pain and
distress of the situation Dt 31:17 Jer 4:31; Lxx = stenos) but he
will be saved from it.
Comment: Jacob's Distress
or Trouble describes a period of time, specifically the
last 3.5 years of
Daniel's Seventieth Week, which
Jesus designated as
Great Tribulation (Mt
24:21, cp Mk 13:19, Re 7:14-note).
During this time the Antichrist ("Beast" of Rev 13, "Little
Horn of Daniel 7") will be allowed by God and empowered by
Satan (Rev 13:4-note,
where 42 months = 3.5 years) to have essentially "free reign" on the
earth and will attempt to destroy the Jews in the greatest "holocaust"
the world has ever seen. And yet in the midst of this horrible time to
come, God makes the sure promise that He will save Jacob from it or out
of it, which is a prophecy of the Messiah's return to deliver Israel
(see Ro 11:25,26, 27-note
cp Zech 13:8, 9).
McNeile alludes to the
figurative sense of the narrow (strait) gate explaining that...
The way that leads to life involves
straits and afflictions
Constable explains that...
The beginning of a life of
discipleship (the gate) and the process of discipleship (the way) are
both restrictive and both involve persecution. (Matthew)
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.”
Spurgeon encourages us to...
not be ashamed of being called
Puritanical, precise, and particular: Enter ye in at the narrow gate.”
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. 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 strait is the road; 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.
J C Ryle comments that...
our Lord gives us a general caution
against the way of the many in religion. It is not enough to think as
others think and do as others do. It must not satisfy us to follow the
fashion, and swim with the stream of those among whom we live. He tells
us that the way that leads to everlasting life is narrow, and few
travel in it. He tells us that the way that leads to everlasting
destruction is broad, and full of travelers. Many are those who enter
in by it.
These are fearful truths! They ought to raise great searchings of heart
in the minds of all who hear them. "Which way am I going? By what road
am I traveling?" In one or other of the two ways here described, every
one of us may be found. May God give us an honest, self-inquiring
spirit, and show us what we are!
We may well tremble and be afraid, if our religion is that of the
multitude. If we can say no more than this, that "we go where others go,
and worship where others worship, and hope we shall do as well as others
at last," we are literally pronouncing our own condemnation. What is
this but being in the broad way? What is this but being in the
road whose end is destruction? Our religion at present is not saving
We have no reason to be discouraged and cast down, if the religion we
profess is not popular, and few agree with us. We must remember the
words of our Lord Jesus Christ in this passage: The gate is narrow.
Repentance and faith in Christ,
and holiness of life,
have never been
Editorial Note on the
importance of Repentance: Repentance is not considered by
many today as a component of salvation - Let the Scriptures speak for
themselves -- John the Baptist called for repentance "validated" by
fruit [Mt 3:2, 8, Lk 3:3, 8, Mk 1:4, Acts 19:4, cp Ac 13:24] Jesus began
His ministry preaching repent [Mt 4:17, 11:20, 21, 12:41, Mk 1:15, cp Mk
6:12, Lk 5:32 , 5, 10:13, 11:32, 13:2,3, 5, 15:7, 8, 9, 10, 16:30,
24:47]. Peter preached repentance [Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:31] as did Paul
[Acts 20:21, 26:20, cp Acts 11:18, cp Ro 2:4-note]
and as did John [Rev 2:21-note].
God desires for all to repent [Ac 17:30 2Pe 3:9-note]
See onsite word study of the Greek word for repentance =
Multiple articles on Repentance
or well done article in
Baker Evangelical Dictionary -
The true flock of Christ has always been small. It must not
move us to find that we are reckoned singular, and peculiar, and
bigoted, and narrow-minded. This is "the narrow way." Surely it is
better to enter into life eternal with a few, than to go to
"destruction" with a great company (J.
C. Ryle. Expository Thoughts)
Jesus concludes His sermon
with four warnings arranged in several paired contrasts! Christianity is not a both/and but an
either/or proposition. Jesus leaves no room for a middle ground or for
being what I would refer to as a "spiritual mugwump" (In early 1900's a term that came to mean a
politician who either could not or would not make up his mind on some
important issue, or who refused to take a stand when expected to do so -
the fact is that to say "I can't decide" is a decision to not choose the
Jesus' way!) (Mugwump
PAIRS OF TWO'S
Jesus' hearers would have been
familiar with the image of "two ways" because the language of "twos" was a common teaching method in
Judaism (see examples below) as well as in Greco-Roman philosophy. This
last section is a call by Jesus for a decision. He is not leaving room
for any middle ground. And so we see Him contrasting...
Two gates, two ways, two groups,
two destinations (Mt 7:13, 14)
Two trees, two fruits (Mt 7:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
Two professions of Jesus (sincere and false), two destinies (Mt 7:21,
Two builders, two houses, two foundations
(Mt 7:24, 25, 26, 27).
Robert Frost wrote a secular poem
that give an excellent "commentary" on Jesus' concluding words in the
Sermon on the Mount...
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
The account that is given of the bad
way of sin, and the good way of holiness. There are but two ways, right
and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven, and the way to hell; in the
one of which we are all of us walking: no middle place hereafter, no
middle way now: the distinction of the children of men into saints and
sinners, godly and ungodly, will swallow up all to eternity.
Here is, (1.) An account given us of
the way of sin and sinners; both what is the best, and what is the worst
[1.] That which allures multitudes into it, and keeps them in it; the
gate is wide, and the way broad, and there are many travelers in that
First, "You will have
abundance of liberty in that way; the gate is wide, and stands wide open
to tempt those that go right on their way. You may go in at this gate
with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to your appetites, to
your passions: you may walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight
of your eyes; that gives room enough."
It is a broad way, for there is
nothing to hedge in those that walk in it, but they wander endlessly; a
broad way, for there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful
ways, contrary to each other, but all paths in this broad way.
Secondly, "You will have
abundance of company in that way: many there be that go in at this gate,
and walk in this way." If we follow the multitude, it will be to do
evil: if we go with the crowd, it will be the wrong way (see 1Jn 3:4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 24). It is natural for us to incline to go down the
stream, and do as the most do; but it is too great a compliment, to be
willing to be damned for company, and to go to hell with them, because
they will not go to heaven with us: if many perish, we should be the
[2.] That which should affright us all from it is, that it leads to
destruction. Death, eternal death, is at the end of it (and the way of
sin tends to it),--everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord
(2Th 1:9). Whether it be the high way of open profaneness, or the back
way of close hypocrisy, if it be a way of sin, it will be our ruin, if
we repent not (see
passages above on Repentance).
(2.) Here is an account given us of the way of holiness.
[1.] What there is in it that frightens many from it; let us know the
worst of it, that we may sit down and count the cost. Christ deals
faithfully with us, and tells us,
First, That the gate is strait. Conversion and regeneration are
the gate (Jn 3:3, 5, 1Pe 1:23-note,
Titus 3:5-note), by which we enter into this way, in which we begin a life of
faith and serious godliness; out of a state of sin into a state of grace
we must pass, by the new birth, John 3:3,5. This is a strait gate, hard
to find, and hard to get through; like a passage between two rocks, 1Sa 14:4. There must be a new heart, and a new spirit (Ezek 18:31,
36:26), and old things must pass away (Dt 10:16, 30:6, Je 4:4, 9:26, Lev
26:41, Ro 2:28, 29-note Ezek 11:19,20-note,
Ezek 44:7 Je
31:31, 32, 33, 34; 32:39, 40, Jn 3:3, 4, 5 2Co 5:17 Ga 6:15). The bent of
the soul must be changed, corrupt habits and customs broken off; what we
have been doing all our days must be undone again (cp 1Co 6:10, 11, Gal
1Jn 3:4, 8, 1Co 6:9, Ep 5:5,6-notes).
We must swim against the stream; much opposition must be struggled with,
and broken through, from without, and from within. It is easier to set a
man against all the world than against himself, and yet this must be in
conversion. It is a strait gate, for we must stoop, or we cannot go in
at it; we must become as little children (Mt 18:2, 3, 4); high thoughts must be brought
down (Mt 23:12, cp Mt 5:3-note,
Lk 1:51, 52, 14:11, 18:13, 14, Ps 138:6-note,
Is 57:15, Nebuchadnezzar in Da 4:37 contrasted with Da 4:30, 31, 5:20,
21, 22, 23); nay, we must strip, must deny ourselves, put off the world, put
off the old man; we must be willing to forsake all for our interest in
Christ. The gate is strait to all, but to some straiter than others; as
to the rich (cp Mt 19:24, Mk 10:25, Lk 18:25), to some that have been long prejudiced against religion.
The gate is strait; blessed be God, it is not shut up, nor locked
against us, nor kept with a flaming sword (Ge 3:24), as it will be shortly,
Secondly, That the way is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as
we have got through the strait gate, nor in Canaan as soon as we have
got through the Red Sea; no, we must go through a wilderness, must
travel a narrow way, hedged in by the divine law, which is exceedingly
broad, and that makes the way narrow; self must be denied (Mk 8:34, 35,
36, 37, 38), the body kept
under, corruptions mortified (Col 3:5-note,
Ro 8:13-note), that are as a right eye and a right hand
(cp Mt 5:28, 29, 30-note);
daily temptations must be resisted (cp Ep 6:13-note,
Jas 4:7, 1Pe 5:9-note); duties must be done that are against
our inclination. We must endure hardness (2Ti 2:3, 4-note,
cp Mt 10:22), must wrestle (Ep 6:12-note) and be in an
agony (He 12:4-note), must watch in all things, and walk with care and circumspection.
We must go through much tribulation. It is hodos tethlimmene--an
afflicted way, a way hedged about with thorns; blessed be God, it is not
hedged up. The bodies we carry about with us, and the corruptions
remaining in us (Gal 5:16-note,
Ga 5:17-note), make the way of our duty difficult; but, as the
understanding and will grow more and more sound, it will open and
enlarge, and grow more and more pleasant (cp 2Pe 3:18-note).
Thirdly, The gate being so strait and the way so narrow, it is not
strange that there are but few that find it, and choose it. Many
pass it by, through carelessness; they will not be at the pains to find
it; they are well as they are, and see no need to change their way (cp
Others look upon it, but shun it; they like not to be so limited and
restrained. Those that are going to heaven are but few, compared to
those that are going to hell; a remnant (see
especially as it
relates to Jewish believers), a little flock (Lk 12:32), like the
grape-gleanings of the vintage; as the eight that were saved in the ark,
1Pe 3:20 (note).
"In the ways of vice men urge each other onward: how shall any one be
restored to the path of safety, when impelled forwards by the multitude,
without any counteracting influence?" Seneca, Epist. 29 (bio).
discourages many: they are loth to be singular, to be solitary; but
instead of stumbling at this, say rather, If so few are going to heaven,
there shall be one the more for me.
[2.] Let us see what there is in this way, which, notwithstanding this,
should invite us all to it; it leads to life, to present comfort in the
favour of God, which is the life of the soul; to eternal bliss, the hope
of which, at the end of our way, should reconcile us to all the
difficulties and inconveniences of the road. Life and godliness are put
together (2Pe 1:3-note)
The gate is strait and the way
narrow and uphill,
but one hour in heaven will make amends for it.
Barnes writes that...
Christ here compares the way to life
to an entrance through a gate. The words straight, and
strait, have very different meanings. The former means not
crooked; the latter pent up, narrow, difficult to be entered. This is
the word used here, and it means that the way to heaven is pent up,
narrow, close, and not obviously entered. The way to death is open, broad, and
thronged. The Saviour here referred probably to ancient cities. They
were surrounded with walls, and entered through gates. Some of those,
connected with the great avenues to the city, were broad, and admitted a
throng. Others, for more private purposes, were narrow, and few would be
seen entering them. So says Christ, is the path to
heaven. It is narrow. It is not the great highway that men tread. Few go
there. Here and there one may be seen--- traveling in solitude and
singularity. The way to death, on the other hand,
is broad. Multitudes are in it. It is the great highway in which men go.
They fall into it easily, and without effort, and go without thought. If
they wish to leave that, and go by a narrow gate to the city, it would
require effort and thought. (Ed: And likely would incite
considerable persecution from the fellow wayfarers on the broad way to
hell!) So, says Christ, diligence is needed
to enter into life. See Luke 13:24-note. None go of course. All must strive
to obtain it; and so narrow, unfrequented, and solitary is it, that few
Wiersbe observes that in
regard to one's eternal destiny...
the greatest danger is
self-deception (cp He 3:13-note;
Pr 28:26, Is 44:20, Obad 1:3, Ro 7:11-note;
Jas 1:14-note). The scribes and Pharisees had fooled themselves into
believing that they were righteous and others were sinful (cp Mt 5:20-note,
Mt 23:29). It is
possible for people to know the right language, believe intellectually
the right doctrines, obey the right rules, and still not be saved.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
(Bolding added for emphasis)
Keep in mind that most Jews believed
that Israel as a whole would be saved (a delusion Paul dealt with
vigorously in Romans 2) and that the few who were lost would be
exceptions to the general rule. Jesus' teaching radically destroys that
Gill has an interesting
By the "strait gate" is meant
Christ Himself; who elsewhere calls Himself "the door", (Jn 10:7, 8,
9) as he is into the church below, and into all the ordinances and
privileges of it; as also to the Father, by Whom we have access unto
Him, and are let into communion with Him, and a participation of all the
blessings of grace; yea, He is the gate of heaven, through which we have
boldness to enter into the holiest of all by faith and hope now
(cp He 10:19, 20, 21, 22-note);
as there will be hereafter an abundant entrance into the kingdom and
glory of God (2Pe 1:10,11-note),
through His blood and righteousness (Ro 3:25-note).
This is called "strait";
because faith in Christ, a profession of it, and a life and conversation
agreeable to it, are attended with many afflictions, temptations,
reproaches, and persecutions.
"Entering" in at it is by faith (Ep
and making a profession of it: hence it follows, that faith is not the
gate itself, but the grace, by which men enter in at the right door, and
walk on in Christ, as they begin with Him.
For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to
destruction; so that the one may be easily known from the other.
There is no difficulty in finding out, or entering in at, or walking in
the way of sin, which leads to eternal ruin. The gate of carnal lusts,
and worldly pleasures, stands wide open,
and many there be which go in thereat; even all men in a state of
nature; the way of the ungodly is "broad" (cp Ps 1:4, 5, 6-note),
smooth, easy, and every way agreeable to the flesh; it takes in a large
compass of vices, and has in it abundance of company; but its end is
(pule) is a leaf or wing of a folding entrance and here
describes a door or gate. Note that there are only 2 gates and every
person will enter one or the other. To not choose to enter the narrow
gate is in fact a choice to enter the wide gate and subsequent
There are only 10 uses of phule
in the NT - Mt. 7:13, 14; 16:18; Lk 7:12; Ac 3:10; 9:24; 12:10; 16:13;
Leon Morris comments that...
may be used of a gate or door of many
kinds. Thus it is the gate of the temple (Acts 3:10), of a city (Lk
7:12), or of a prison (Acts 12:10). It is also used of the gates of
Hades (Mt 16:18). It seems to be used of a significant entrance, which
may be why it is used here of the entrance into life. (Morris, L. The
Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.
B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press)
In John Jesus taught...
I am the door; if anyone enters
through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find
pasture. (John 10:9)
I am the (specific, exclusive) way, and the (specific,
exclusive) truth, and the (specific, exclusive) life;
(absolutely) no one comes to the Father, but through Me. (John 14:6)
Comment: In Greek the
definite article "the" is important as it speaks of specificity...in
other words, had Jesus been one of many ways, He would not have used the
definite article "the" but would have identified Himself as "a"
way, "a" truth, "a" life, one of many gates/ways.
Jesus did not teach that there are many roads that lead to the Kingdom
of Heaven but clearly taught "I am the only Way."
Many are skeptical, agnostic or even
antagonistic regarding Jesus' teaching on the narrow gate and scoff at
the idea of such rigid "exclusivity" regarding salvation. The Gospel
message however is clearly very dogmatic, very exclusive and very
narrow! Obviously while we as Christians are not to be narrow-minded
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!), for without Christ they are destined to
spend a Christ-less, graceless eternity in 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.
He is also setting the "bar" of righteousness so high that no man can
possibly hope to achieve God's standard which is perfection.
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of
heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. "Many
will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your
name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many
Comment: This is a frightening
verse, for it clearly teaches that "many" people (in context
it first speaking of false teachers but it clearly has broader
application) who profess Christ are
self-deceived. It isn’t a matter of outward profession, but inward faith
and obedience, that saves (Cp Titus 1:16 which clearly juxtaposes
"profession" of words with production of unrighteous works, the latter
speaking louder and more truthfully than their words!)
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 (absolutely) 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
Comment: Read that passage
again and note the repetition ("key
words") which make the interpretation blatantly
1Corinthians 3:11 For no man
can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus
Comment: 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 records an
example of a man who entered the small gate and tread the dangerous way of
a disciple in his fascinating book entitled
"Last Words of Saints and Sinners"
John Bradford, Chaplain to Edward VI
in 1552, was one of the most popular preachers of his day in England.
With the accession of Queen Mary, Bradford was arrested for seditious
utterances and heresy. Refusing to recant, (he was) condemned to be
burnt at Smithfield, and he met his death tied to the same stake as a
young man found guilty of the same supposed crime. As the flames covered
their bodies, Bradford consoled the youth by saying
"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it."
Lockyer records another quote which is
the antithesis of
Bradford's blazing testimony for Christ....
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.
Comment: How tragically ironic
to use some of the very same words used by Jesus (narrow, strive,
eternity) but with such a different outcome!
John Milton makes mention of the small gate in Paradise
"A deathlike sleep,
A gentle wafting to immortal life.
Truth shall retire
Bestruck with sland'rous darts,
And works of faith rarely be found.
And to the faithful, Death the gate of life."
for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction:
hoti plateia e pule kai euruchoros e
odos e apagousa (PAPFSN) eis ten apoleian, kai polloi eisin (3PPAI) oi
eiserchomenoi (PMPMPN) di' autes;
- Ge 6:5,12; Ps 14:2,3; Is 1:9; Ro 3:9-19; 2Co 4:4; Ep 2:2,3; 1Jn 5:19;
Re 12:9; 13:8; 20:3) (Destruction Mt 25:41,46; Pr 7:27; 16:25; Ro 9:22;
Php 3:19; 2Th 1:8,9; 1Pe 4:17,18; Re 20:15)
For (hoti) - Don't miss
of explanation" for it introduces Jesus' divine
logic for issuing such a "narrow" and urgent command to enter.
A correct understanding of and response to the two gates and two ways is an
(platus) means broad, wide, having a distance larger than usual
from side to side or having ample extent from side to side or between
Gill has an interesting note
Our Lord seems to allude to the
private and public roads, whose measures are fixed by the Jewish canons;
which say, that
a private way was four cubits broad, a way from city to city eight
cubits, a public way sixteen cubits, and the way to the cities of refuge
thirty two cubits.'
(hodos) can refer to a literal road but clearly is used figuratively by Jesus
to describe the course of one's conduct or behavior.
Psalm 1 sets two ways before the
reader at the outset...
For the LORD knows the way of
But the way of the wicked will perish.
in depth notes)
(cp Dt 30:19, Je 21:8)
Spurgeon comments on Ps 1:6:
Or, as the Hebrew hath it yet more fully, The Lord is knowing the way of
the righteous. He is constantly looking on their way, and though it may
be often in mist and darkness, yet the Lord knoweth it. If it be in the
clouds and tempest of affliction, he understandeth it. He numbers the
hairs of our head; he will not suffer any evil to befall us. "He knoweth
the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Not only shall they perish
themselves, but their way shall perish too. The righteous carves his
name upon the rock, but the wicked writes his remembrance in the sand.
The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth, and sows a harvest here,
which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the enjoyments of
eternity; but as for the wicked, he ploughs the sea, and though there
may seem to be a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass
over it, and the place that knew him shall know him no more for ever.
The very "way" of the ungodly shall perish. If it exist in remembrance,
it shall be in the remembrance of the bad; for the Lord will cause the
name of the wicked to rot, to become a stench in the nostrils of the
good, and to be only known to the wicked themselves by its putridity.
May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the
doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous!
Spurgeon comments on the
non-exclusivity of the broad way...
The road is so wide that there may be
many independent tracks in it, and the drunkard may find his way along
it without ever ruffling the complacency of the hypocrite. The mere
moralist may pick a clean path all the way, while the immoral wretch may
wade up to his knees in mire throughout the whole road. Be-hold how
sinners disagree and yet agree in this, that they are op-posed to God!
It is a broad road
C. S. Lewis described this
broad way that was leading him to destruction...
I was soon (in the famous words ) altering “I believe” to “one does
feel.” And oh, the relief of it! … From the tyrannous noon of revelation
I passed into the cool evening twilight of Higher Thought, where there
was nothing to be obeyed, and nothing to be believed except what was
either comforting or exciting. (C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy)
John MacArthur comments that
The way that is broad is the easy,
attractive, inclusive, indulgent, permissive, and self-oriented way of
the world. There are few rules, few restrictions, and few requirements.
All you need do is profess Jesus, or at least be religious, and you are
readily accepted in that large and diverse group. Sin is tolerated,
truth is moderated, and humility is ignored. God’s Word is praised but
not studied, and His standards are admired but not followed. This way
requires no spiritual maturity, no moral character, no commitment, and
no sacrifice. It is the easy way of floating downstream, in “the course
of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the
spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ep 2:2-note).
It is the tragic way “which seems right to a man,” but whose “end is
the way of death” (Pr 14:12).A West Indian who had chosen Islam
over Christianity said his reason was that Islam “is a noble, broad
path. There is room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is
too narrow.” It seems that many preachers today do not see that issue
as clearly as that unbelieving Muslim.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
D A Carson has an interesting note
The "wide" gate seems
far more inviting. The "broad" road (not "easy," RSV) is
spacious and accommodates the crowd and their baggage; the other road is
"narrow"- but two different words are used: stene
("narrow," Mt 7:13) and tethlimmene (Mt 7:14), the latter being cognate
with thlipsis (word
("tribulation"), which almost always refers to persecution. So this text
says that the way of discipleship is "narrow," restricting, because it
is the way of persecution and opposition-a major theme in Matthew (Mt
5:10, 11, 12, 44 - see notes
Mt 10:16-39; Mt 11:11, 12; 24:4-13...). Compare Acts 14:22:
"We must go through many hardships [...`through much
persecution'] to enter the kingdom of God."...
Democratic decisions do not determine
truth and righteousness in the kingdom. That there are only two ways is
the inevitable result of the fact that the one that leads to life is
exclusively by revelation. But if truth in such matters must not be
sought by appealing to majority opinion (Ex 23:2), neither can it be
found by each person doing what is right in his own eyes (Pr 14:12; cf.
God must be true and every man a liar (Ro 3:4-note).
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
Zondervan Publishing or
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
Pathway of Sin
General References to - Pr
2:15, 12:15, 13:15, 14:12, 15:9 Is 59:8 Mt 7:13
Walking in - Dt 29:19 Je 7:24 Ep 2:2 Php 3:18 1Pe 4:3 2Pe 2:10,
3:3 Jude 1:18
(apago from apo = from + ago = lead) means to lead
away and was used in secular writings to describe prisoners being taken under armed guard to
prison or to their execution! (cp "destruction") The
indicates that this leading is continuously in one direction - a one way
ticket to hell!
Leads to destruction - This is
not a road that ends in annihilation, to an eternal unconscious
existence or to a second chance to re-consider, but but is the way which leads to eternal
death and destruction (cp Mt 25:34, 46; Jn 17:12; Ro 9:22: Php 1:28; Php 3:19;
1Ti 6:9; He 10:39; 2Pe 2:1, 2Pe 1:3; 2Pe 3:16; Rev 17:8, Rev 17:11)
John MacArthur has an interesting
note writing that...
Both the broad and the
narrow ways point to the good life, to salvation, heaven, God, the
kingdom, and blessing-but only the narrow way actually leads to
those. There is nothing here to indicate that the broad way
is marked “Hell.” The point our Lord is making is that it is marked
“Heaven” but does not lead there. That is the great lie of all the
false religions of human achievement. The two very different
destinations of the two ways are made clear by the Lord (cf. Jer
21:8). The broad … leads to destruction, whereas only the
narrow … leads to life. Every religion except Christianity, the only
religion of divine accomplishment, follows the same spiritual way and
leads to the same spiritual end, to hell. There are many of those roads,
and most of them are attractive, appealing, and crowded with travelers.
But not a single one leads where it promises; and not a single one fails
to lead where Jesus says it leads-to destruction.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
J C Ryle once wrote that...
Hell is nothing but truth
Destruction (684) (apoleia
[word study] from apo = marker of separation, away from + olethros =
ruin, death but not annihilation) describes destruction, in this case
the utter ruin or complete loss which is epitomized by eternal
The idea of apoleia
is not that of annihilation but that which is ruined and is no longer
usable for its intended purpose. Apoleia does not describe the
complete loss of being, but the complete loss of well-being. It means utter and hopeless loss of all
that gives worth to existence. Note that contrary to popular opinion
apoleia does not refer to extinction or annihilation or an end of
existence, but to total ruin so far as the purpose of existence is
The related root word apollumi
is the term Jesus used to speak of those who are thrown into hell
And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to
kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy
[apollumi] both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:28)
As Jesus makes clear
elsewhere, hell is not a place or state of nothingness or
unconscious existence, as is the Hindu Nirvana. It is the place of
everlasting torment, the place of eternal death, where there will be “weeping
and gnashing of teeth” forever (see Mt 13:42, 50).
All people are created by
God for His glory, but when they refuse to come to Him "through the
narrow gate" for salvation, they lose their opportunity for eternal
redemption and ultimately the opportunity of becoming what God intended
for them to be in Christ. At that time, they are fit only for condemnation and
Think of a man or a woman created
in the image of God, living their entire life for self rather the
Savior, and at the end of it all finding that it has been a complete waste
(see this meaning of apoleia in Mt 26:8)! This tragic truth should stir
our hearts as believers to be bold in the Spirit and filled with a
sense of non-judgmental compassion and absolute urgency to share the Truth of the small gate and
the narrow way with every individual we meet in this brief snapshot of
eternity called life!
Apoleia -18x in NAS - Mt. 7:13; 26:8; Mk. 14:4; Jn. 17:12; Acts 8:20; Ro 9:22;
Php 1:28; 3:19; 2Th 2:3; 1Ti 6:9; He 10:39; 2Pe 2:1, 3;
2Pe 3:7, 16; Rev 17:8, 11. NAS as destruction(13),
destructive(1), perdition(1), perish(1), waste(1), wasted(1).
Apoleia is found 74 times in
- Exod. 22:9; Lev.
6:3f; Num. 20:3; Deut. 4:26; 7:23; 8:19; 12:2; 22:3; 30:18; 32:35; 1
Chr. 21:17; Esther 7:4; 8:6, 12; Job 11:20; 20:5, 28; 21:30; 26:6; 27:7;
28:22; 30:12; 31:3; 41:22; Ps. 88:11; Prov. 1:26; 6:15, 32; 10:11, 24;
11:3, 6; 13:1, 15; 15:11; 16:26; 24:22; 27:20; 28:28; Isa. 14:23; 22:5;
33:2; 34:5, 12; 47:11; 54:16; 57:4; Jer. 12:11, 17; 18:17; 44:12; 46:21;
49:2, 29, 32; Ezek. 25:7; 26:16, 21; 27:36; 28:7, 19; 29:9f, 12; 31:11;
32:15; Dan. 2:5, 18; 3:29; 6:22; 8:25; Hos. 10:14; Obad. 1:12, 13;
Isaac Watts wrote the
following hymn related to Jesus' words in Mt 7:13,14. How many churches
would even dare sing it today? (play
BROAD IS THE ROAD
Broad is the road that leads to
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveler.
“Deny thyself, and take thy cross,”
Is the Redeemer’s great command;
Nature must count her gold but dross,
If she would gain this heav’nly land.
The fearful soul that tires and faints,
And walks the ways of God no more,
Is but esteemed almost a saint,
And makes his own destruction sure.
Lord, let not all my hopes be vain
Create my heart entirely new;
Which hypocrites could ne’er attain,
Which false apostates never knew.
Destruction for the sinner does not result in annihilation or
extinction. In other words as noted above, "destruction" is not
the loss of being, but of well-being! The gospel promises everlasting
life for him who believes. The failure to possess this life will involve
the utter ruin of those that perish.
Jesus is not giving many
paths. His command is "either...or"! There is a choice between
two ways and only one leads to eternal life, while the other leads to
eternal death. This picture of Two Ways as alluded to is not a new thought
restricted to the NT, for
this same truth is emphasized in several Old Testament passages...
I call heaven and earth to witness
against you today, that I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that
you may live, you and your descendants. (Deut 30:19)
As Joshua neared the fulfillment of
his job on earth, he presented Israel once again with the choice: “"And
if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for
yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your
fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites
in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve
the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
You shall also say to this people,
'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I set before you the way of life
and the way of death (Jeremiah 21:8).
For the LORD knows the way of the
righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm
On Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah
asked the people of Israel,
How long will you hesitate between
two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal,
follow him, but if Baal, follow him." But (Note this dramatic
contrast surely reflecting their sin hardened hearts!) the people did
not answer him a word. (1Kings 18:21)
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.”
Cebes, the disciple of
Socrates was close to the truth but still managed only to describe the
“Dost thou see a little door, and a
way in front of the door, which is not much crowded, but the travelers
are few? That is the way that leadeth to true instruction.”
After Jesus fed literal bread
(Jn 6:1-14, note Jn 6:14) and then repeatedly explained to the
multitudes following Him that He was the living Bread, calling for
his hearers to make the choice to "eat of this bread" (Jn 6:51,
cp Jn 6:32 33 34 35 36 40 41 44 45 46 47 48 49 50) that they might enter
into eternal life (Jn 6:53 54 55 56 57 58), an offer which fell on
faithless ears and hearts and thus was largely rejected (cp their
grumbling, arguing - Jn 6:42 43 52) for
many of His disciples withdrew
(Notice that not all "disciples" of Jesus were genuine believers), and
were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve,
"You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him,
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have
believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." (John
John MacArthur emphasizes
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus
presents still again that great choice of choices. This sermon
therefore cannot be simply admired and praised for its ethics. Its
truths will bless those who accept the King but will stand in judgment
over those who refuse Him. The one who admires God’s way but does not
accept it is under greater judgment, because he acknowledges that he
knows the truth (Ed: See Mt 11:21 22 23 24).
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)
The necessary consequence of sin
-Romans 6:16,21; 8:13; James 1:15
The wages of sin -Romans 6:23
The portion of the wicked -Matthew 25:41,46; Romans 1:32
The way to, described -Psalms 9:17; Matthew 7:13
Self-righteousness leads to -Proverbs 14:12
God alone can inflict -Matthew 10:28; James 4:12
IS DESCRIBED AS
Banishment from God 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Society with the devil etc -Matthew 25:41
A lake of fire -Revelation 19:20; 21:8
The worm that dies not -Mark 9:44
Outer darkness -Matthew 25:30
A mist of darkness for ever -2 Peter 2:17
Indignation, wrath, etc -Romans 2:8,9
Destruction -Romans 9:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Perishing -2 Peter 2:12
The wrath to come -1 Thessalonians 1:10
The second death -Revelation 2:11
A resurrection to damnation -John 5:29
A resurrection to shame c -Daniel 12:2
Damnation of hell -Matthew 23:33
Everlasting punishment -Matthew 25:46
Shall be inflicted by Christ -Matthew 25:31,41; 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8
Christ, the only way of escape from -John 3:16; 8:51; Acts 4:12
Saints shall escape -Revelation 2:11; 20:6
Strive to preserve others from -James 5:20
Illustrated -Luke 16:23-26
AND THERE ARE MANY WHO ENTER THROUGH
kai polloi eisin (3PPAI)
oi eiserchomenoi (PMPMPN) di' autes;
And there are many - What a
(polus) is much of number, quantity or amount. The many will
include nominal professing Christians, atheists, religionists, theists,
humanists, Jews and Gentiles form every background, persuasion or
circumstance who has not found and entered the small gate and come to
saving faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Enter (eiserchomai from
eis = into + erchomai = come > literally "come into") is
picturing an endless line of men and women continually plodding to
Wiersbe wisely observes
The broad way is the easy way; it is
the popular way. But we must not judge spiritual profession by
statistics; the majority is not always right. The fact that “everybody
does it” is no proof that what they are doing is right. Quite the
contrary is true: God’s people have always been a remnant, a small
minority in this world. The reason is not difficult to discover: The way
of life is narrow, lonely, and costly. We can walk on the broad way and
keep our “baggage” of sin and worldliness. But if we enter the narrow
way, we must give up those things. Here, then, is the first test: Did
your profession of faith in Christ cost you anything? If not, then it
was not a true profession. Many people who “trust” Jesus Christ never
leave the broad road with its appetites and associations. They have an
easy Christianity that makes no demands on them. Yet Jesus said that the
narrow way was hard. We cannot walk on two roads, in two different
directions, at the same time.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
Marvin Vincent comments
A remarkable parallel to this passage
occurs in the “Pinax” or “Tablet” of Cebes, a writer contemporary with
Socrates. In this, human life, with its dangers and temptations, is
symbolically represented as on a tablet. The passage is as follows:
“Seest thou not, then, a little door,
and a way before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few
travel it? This is the way which leadeth into true culture.”
M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-50
Arthur Pink has some
relatively pithy comments on Mt 7:13-14 that you might care to read...
The verses to which we have now come
are closely connected with the previous sections of the Lord’s Sermon,
in which He had described the character of those who were the subjects
of His kingdom and had laid down the rules by which they must walk. Such
teaching as He had given out was at direct variance with the popular
views entertained by His hearers. The Jews supposed that they were all
to be the subjects of the Messiah, simply from being the natural
descendants of Abraham and because they bore in their flesh the mark of
the covenant (circumcision).
But throughout this discourse the
Lord Jesus had made it abundantly clear that something more essential
than physical lineage and submission to ceremonial rites was required to
make them spiritual heirs of the patriarch. There was a straiter gate
which had to be entered than any privilege which natural birth gave
admittance to, a narrower way to be traversed than that religious life
mapped out by the scribes and the Pharisees. Only those are accounted
the true children of Abraham who have his faith (Ro 4:16), who do his
works (Jn 8:39), and who are vitally united to Christ (Gal 3:29).
If the teaching of Christ was
radically different from that in which the Jews of His day had been
brought up, it is in equally sharp contrast with most of the concepts
which now prevail in Christendom. If the Jews were completely ignorant
of the high and searching requirements of God’s holiness it cannot be
said that our own generation is any better informed.
If they (the Jews) plumed themselves
on being the children of Abraham, a large percentage of our people
complacently assume that they are members of a “Christian nation.”
If they believed that the rite of
circumcision secured for them the favor of God, multitudes in our
churches imagine that the sprinkling of water on the brow of an infant
obtains for it a passport to heaven.
And even in those circles which are
better instructed, for the most part salvation is offered on much easier
terms, far more acceptable to the natural man, than those prescribed by
the incarnate Son of God.
The analogy may be extended still
farther, for if it was the religious leaders of Israel who most
strenuously opposed our Lord, it is those now making the loudest claims
to orthodoxy that are the bitterest antagonists of the Truth. Let any
man who “attends church” die, and no matter how worldly his life or how
crooked his business dealings, do not his friends say with one consent
“he is now at rest,” and is not the preacher expected to declare in his
funeral sermon that the deceased is “better off”? If anyone should dare
to dissent is he not at once condemned for being “harsh and
uncharitable”? The tree, forsooth, is not to be known by its fruits but
by the label some parsonic (parson) gardener has attached to it. And why
is it that there are scarcely any left among us who really believe that
only the few will reach heaven? There can only be one answer: because it
is now generally held that heaven can be obtained on much easier terms
than those prescribed by Christ. The adulterous generation in which our
lot is cast are quite sure that heaven can be reached without treading
the only way which leads there, that the kingdom of God can be entered
without passing through “much tribulation” (Acts 14:22), that we may be
disciples of Christ without denying self, taking up our cross and
following Him (Mt 16:24). They do not believe that if their right eve
offends it must be plucked out and if their right hand offends it must
be cut off (Mt 5:29,30). They do not believe that if they live after the
flesh they shall die, and that only if through the Spirit they mortify
the deeds of the body they shall live (Ro 8:13). They are fully
persuaded that a man can serve two masters and succeed in “making the
best of two worlds.” In short, they do not believe the gate is as
“strait” nor the way as “narrow” as Christ declared it to be.
Spurgeon in his expositional
commentary on Matthew writes...
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for
wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and
many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and
narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find
Be up and on your journey. Enter in at the gate at the head of the way,
and do not stand hesitating. If it be the right road, you will find the
entrance somewhat difficult, and exceedingly narrow; for it demands
self-denial, and calls for strictness of obedience, and watchfulness of
spirit. Nevertheless, “enter ye in at the strait gate. ” Whatever its
drawbacks of fewness of pilgrims, or straitness of entrance, yet choose
it, and use it. True, there is another road, broad and much frequented;
but it leadeth to destruction.
Men go to ruin along the turnpike-road, but the way to heaven is a
bridle-path. There may come other days, when the many will crowd the
narrow way; but, at this time, to be popular one must be broad —broad in
doctrine, in morals, and in spirituals. But those on the strait road
shall go straight to glory, and those on the broad road are all abroad.
All is well that ends well: we can afford to be straitened in the right
way rather than enlarged in the wrong way; because the first endeth in
endless life, and the second hastens down to everlasting death.
Lord, deliver me from the temptation to be “broad ”, and keep me in the
narrow way though few find it! (Matthew
Solomon wrote the same truth
in two proverbs (Pr 14:12, 16:25) emphasizing that this is a vitally
a way which seems
right to a man,
But its end is
What Poor, Despised Company
What poor, despised company
Of travelers are these,
That walk in yonder narrow way,
Along that rugged maze?
Why, they are of a royal line,
All children of a King:
Heirs of immortal crowns divine,
And loud for joy they sing.
But some of them seem poor, distressed,
And lacking daily bread:
Ah! they’re of wealth divine possessed
With hidden manna fed.
Why do they keep that narrow road,
That rugged, thorny maze?
Because that way their Leader trod
They love and keep His ways.
Why do they shun the pleasing path,
The worldly love so well?
Because it is the road to death
The open Toad to hell.
What! is there then no other road,
To Canaan’s happy ground?
Christ is the only way to God
No other can be found.
The Narrow Gate - The story is
told of Professor T. H. Huxley, the father of agnosticism. As he came to
the end of life, the nurse attending him said that as he lay dying, the
great skeptic suddenly looked up at some sight invisible to mortal eyes,
and staring a while, whispered at last, “So it is true.” And he died.
According to Svetlana Stalin, when her father, Joseph Stalin, was dying,
he was lying with his eyes closed. At the very last moment, he suddenly
opened his eyes and looked at the people in the room. It was a look of
unutterable horror and anguish. Then he lifted his left hand, as though
pointing to something, and dropped it and died. One wonders how many who
are attracted to his socialistic views are told how he departed this
life to the next?!
The Broad Road to Destruction
- In 2001 George Barna reported that 51% of Americans believed that if a
person was generally good, or did enough good things for others during
their life, they would earn a place in heaven.
F B Meyer writes the following
devotional entitled THE BROAD AND THE NARROW WAY...
Wide is the gate, and broad is the
way, that leadeth to destruction Narrow is the way which leadeth unto
life --Matt 7:13-14
AT THE beginning of life, each soul
stands before these two paths. In each of us the love of life is strong,
and in each is the desire to get as much as possible out of the years
which may be given. Amiel expresses this strong passion for life when he
says: "A passionate wish to live, to feel, to express, stirred the depth
of my heart. I was overpowered by a host of aspirations. In such a mood
one would fain devour the whole world, experience everything, see
everything, learn everything, tame everything, and conquer everything."
In our early years each of us wakes
up to the throb of strong natural impulses, and we are tempted to argue,
if God has given me these strong desires, why should they not be
gratified? Why should I not throw the reins on the necks of these fiery
steeds, and let them bear me whither they may? To do this, is to go
through the wide gate, and to take the broad road. It is the way of
society, of the majority--the "many" go in there, It is pre-eminently
the way of the world, and no one who goes by this way, allowing his
course to be dictated by strong natural impulses, need fear that he will
be counted strange or eccentric!
It must be admitted that, in its first stages, the broad way is
generally easy and rather delightful. The boat launched on the flowing
stream sweeps merrily and pleasantly along the gradient of the road
slopes so as to make walking easy, the sun shines, and the path is
filled with bright flowers. But to a life given up to self-indulgence,
there is only one end, destruction.
There is a more excellent way, but it is too narrow to admit the
trailing garments of passionate desire, too narrow for pride,
self-indulgence, greed, and avarice, it is the Way of the Cross, but it
leads to Life! We all want to see life, and the remarkable thing is that
those who expect to get most out of it by self-indulgence miss
everything; whilst those who seem to curtail their lives by following
Christ, win everything. Few find and enter this path, is the lament of
our Lord. Let us put our hand in His, that He may lead us into the path
of life, "that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
PRAYER - Dear Lord, as Enoch walked with Thee of old, so would we walk
each day, choosing the narrow path; order our steps in Thy way, and
graciously walk with us. AMEN. (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
O BROTHER, LIFE’S JOURNEY
by Ira D Sankey
O brother, life’s journey beginning,
With courage and firmness arise!
Look well to the course thou art choosing;
Be earnest, be watchful, and wise!
Remember—two paths are before thee,
And both thy attention invite;
But one leadeth on to destruction,
The other to joy and delight.
God help you to follow His banner,
And serve Him wherever you go;
And when you are tempted, my brother,
God give you the grace to say “No!”
O brother, yield not to the tempter,
No matter what others may do;
Stand firm in the strength of the Master,
Be loyal, be faithful, and true!
Each trial will make you the stronger,
If you, in the name of the Lord,
Fight manfully under your Leader,
Obeying the voice of His Word.
O brother, the Savior is calling!
Beware of the danger of sin;
Resist not the voice of the Spirit,
That whispers so gently within.
God calls you to enter His service—
To live for Him here, day by day;
And share by and by in the glory
That never shall vanish away.