Narrow is the Gate!


Luke 13

*22Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
"But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26"Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27"But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."*

I’ve debated about this verse with my dad, and I didn’t exactly know how to express the fact that this is the temporary state of things. Of course, I guess we were talking about the bare statement in Matthew which has been condensed and abstracted from its original context, so discussing this passage in Luke might’ve helped.

But what can you say to this? If you can’t provide a convincing argument for how this is meant as a description of a temporary state of things, then detractors will use it as fuel to interpret ‘all’ and ‘everyone’ in other verses very narrowly.

I guess the best thing I could say is that in the context of Jesus’ statement that he will draw all men, and Paul’s statement that all Israel will be saved, the permanent interpretation of this passage is questionable.

Or, I guess I would actually say that the context is of a specific time and place where there will be a feast where everyone will gather and Jesus did not want to hint that those who proclaimed themselves as God’s own would be saved in this saying because that would dilute his point and they wouldn’t despair for salvation (in order to undo their self-righteousness) as they should.

Beyond this I don’t know if there’s a better explanation, perhaps involving translation and original manuscript issues or context.

Any help would be most appreciated, as this is probably the most difficult verse in this regard, to my mind.


Excuse me, here’s the other verse I was talking about:

Matthew 7

13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

This is even more specific, saying that few will find the gate to life, which creates more problems, especially because it has no discernible context.


In short, the gate will always be narrow and Jesus will always be the only way while the Bible doesn’t teach that punishments in hell have to literally last forever.

See a similar discussion [Only a few find it.).


Actually, I think this passage can be read as a great encouragement; it is assuring us that just because God’s love is vast as the universe, the standards remain unchanged. The means of God accomplishing the “entry” of each one of us into His kingdom is not by lowering the standard at all; rather, it can be seen as a statement of the thoroughness of God’s work in those redeemed. God never promised us it would be necessarily easy or pain free; but He does seem to promise it will be accomplished; completely accomplished – His victory is total and complete. And many will likely resist (that is the nature of sin) and thus take the broad road; the narrow gate however remains our final destination and God will see to it in His time.