*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.