Matthew 7:14
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
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(14) Narrow is the way.—Literally, pressed, or hemmed in between walls or rocks, like the pathway in a mountain gorge.

Which leadeth unto life.—Noteworthy as the first passage in our Lord’s recorded teaching in which the word “life” appears as summing up all the blessedness of the kingdom. The idea is developed as we advance; the life becomes “eternal,” and finally we are taught that the eternal life consists in the true and perfect knowledge of God and Christ (John 17:2-3).

Few there be that find it.—The sad contrast between the many and the few runs through all our Lord’s teaching. He comes to “save the world,” and yet those whom He chooses out of the world are but as a “little flock.” They are to preach the gospel, and yet the result will be but discord and division. The picture is a dark one, and yet it represents but too faithfully the impression made, I do not say on Calvinist or even Christian, but on any ethical teacher, by the actual state of mankind around us. They are, for the most part, unconscious of the greatness of their lives, and of the interests at stake in them. If there is any wider hope, it is found in hints and suggestions of the possibilities of the future (1Peter 3:19; 1Peter 4:6); in the fact that the words used are emphatically present; in the belief that the short span of this life is not necessarily the whole of the discipline of a soul made for eternity; and that the new life, nascent, and feeble, and stunted here, may be quickened by some new process of education into higher energies.

7:12-14 Christ came to teach us, not only what we are to know and believe, but what we are to do; not only toward God, but toward men; not only toward those of our party and persuasion, but toward men in general, all with whom we have to do. We must do that to our neighbour which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable. We must, in our dealings with men, suppose ourselves in the same case and circumstances with those we have to do with, and act accordingly. There are but two ways right and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven and the way to hell; in the one or other of these all are walking: there is no middle place hereafter, no middle way now. All the children of men are saints or sinners, godly or ungodly. See concerning the way of sin and sinners, that the gate is wide, and stands open. You may go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to appetites or passions. It is a broad way; there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways. There is a large company in this way. But what profit is there in being willing to go to hell with others, because they will not go to heaven with us? The way to eternal life is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we are got through the strait gate. Self must be denied, the body kept under, and corruptions mortified. Daily temptations must be resisted; duties must be done. We must watch in all things, and walk with care; and we must go through much tribulation. And yet this way should invite us all; 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 make all the difficulties of the road easy to us. This plain declaration of Christ has been disregarded by many who have taken pains to explain it away; but in all ages the real disciple of Christ has been looked on as a singular, unfashionable character; and all that have sided with the greater number, have gone on in the broad road to destruction. If we would serve God, we must be firm in our religion. Can we often hear of the strait gate and the narrow way, and how few there are that find it, without being in pain for ourselves, or considering whether we are entered on the narrow way, and what progress we are making in it?Enter ye in at the strait gate - 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 people 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 people 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. So, says Christ, "diligence" is needed to enter life. See Luke 13:24. None go of course. All must strive, to obtain it; and so narrow, unfrequented, and solitary is it, that few find it. This sentiment has been beautifully versified by Watts:

"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."

14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life—In other words, the whole course is as difficult as the first step; and (so it comes to pass that).

few there be that find it—The recommendation of the broad way is the ease with which it is trodden and the abundance of company to be found in it. It is sailing with a fair wind and a favorable tide. The natural inclinations are not crossed, and fears of the issue, if not easily hushed, are in the long run effectually subdued. The one disadvantage of this course is its end—it "leadeth to destruction." The great Teacher says it, and says it as "One having authority." To the supposed injustice or harshness of this He never once adverts. He leaves it to be inferred that such a course righteously, naturally, necessarily so ends. But whether men see this or no, here He lays down the law of the kingdom, and leaves it with us. As to the other way, the disadvantage of it lies in its narrowness and solicitude. Its very first step involves a revolution in all our purposes and plans for life, and a surrender of all that is dear to natural inclination, while all that follows is but a repetition of the first great act of self-sacrifice. No wonder, then, that few find and few are found in it. But it has one advantage—it "leadeth unto life." Some critics take "the gate" here, not for the first, but the last step in religion; since gates seldom open into roads, but roads usually terminate in a gate, leading straight to a mansion. But as this would make our Lord's words to have a very inverted and unnatural form as they stand, it is better, with the majority of critics, to view them as we have done. But since such teaching would be as unpopular as the way itself, our Lord next forewarns His hearers that preachers of smooth things—the true heirs and representatives of the false prophets of old—would be rife enough in the new kingdom.

Ver. 13,14. Our Saviour having in this sermon delivered many hard sayings to flesh and blood, here obviates a twofold temptation they might have to the neglect of them:

1. From their difficulty.

2. From the paucity of them who live according to these rules.

He here compares heaven to a house, a stately house, into which a

strait gate leadeth to a city, the way to which is a

narrow way. There is nothing more ordinary in holy writ, than to call a common course of men’s actions a way. It is also compared to a

gate. The sum of what our Saviour here saith is this: There are but two ultimate ends of all men, eternal destruction and eternal life. The course that leadeth to destruction is like a broad way that is obvious to all, and many walk in that. That course of life and actions which will bring a man to heaven is strait, unpleasing to flesh and blood, not at all gratifying men’s sensitive appetites, and narrow, (the Greek is, afflicted), a way wherein men will meet with many crosses and temptations; and there are but a few will find it. You must not therefore wonder if my precepts be hard to your carnal apprehensions, nor be scandalized though you see but few going in the right road to the kingdom of heaven. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,.... And so, difficult to enter in at; and when entered, the way is unpleasant to the flesh to walk in, being hedged up on each side with afflictions and tribulations; and moreover, is like the "narrow place", or , "the strait place", as the Septuagint in Numbers 22:26 render it; in which the angel that met Balaam stood; and in which there was no turning to the right hand or the left; and such is the way to eternal happiness. The great encouragement to walk on in it is, because it is that way

which leadeth unto life: unto eternal life: it certainly leads thither; it never fails of bringing persons to it; believers in Christ, all that walk in Christ the way, though they are said to be "scarcely" saved, by reason of their afflictions and trials, they meet with in their way to the kingdom; yet they are, and shall be certainly saved: they shall be safely brought to glory; which will be an abundant recompense for all the troubles and sorrows that have attended them in their journey.

And few there be that find it; the way, and so consequently the life it leads to. "The gate is strait"; small and little, and so unobserved: there is but one way to heaven, and the generality of men neglect it. "The way is narrow", and so disagreeable; the company few, and not engaging. Men choose large gates, broad ways, and much company. The flesh loves to walk at liberty, unconfined, and uncontrolled, and with a multitude to do evil: hence, Zion's ways are thin of passengers; a small number, comparatively speaking, walk thereto, and will be saved; a remnant, a little flock, a little city, and few men in it. It is asked in the Talmud (q),

"why is the world to come created with "jod?" (the least of the letters in the "Hebrew alphabet") the answer is, because , "the righteous which are in it are few".''

Some read the words, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate Latin, with a note of admiration, "how strait is the gate!" &c. and so some copies.

(q) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 29. 2.

Because {c} strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

(c) The way is straight and narrow: we must pass through this rough way and suffer, endure, be changed and so enter into life.

Matthew 7:14-15. Τί] quam (Vulg.): how strait is the gate! as conforming to the Sept., which renders מָח in this sense by τί (2 Samuel 6:20; Song of Solomon 7:6; Luke 12:49), though not good Greek. The rendering why, as though there were something sorrowful in the question (Fritzsche), is unsuited to the whole tone of the discourse.

εὑρίσκοντες] The strait gate requires to be sought, so far is it from being readily seen, or from obtruding itself upon the attention.

By most, the gate is erroneously conceived to be at the end of the way; with Bengel, Schegg, and Lange, it is to be understood as at the beginning of it, as opening into it, for which reason, in Matthew 7:13-14, the gate is mentioned before the way. The entering by the strait gate is therefore the entering into life (into the Messiah’s kingdom), but still brought about through following the narrow way, which is reached by means of the strait gate.

προσέχετε δέ] But in order to find it, beware, and so on.

The ψευδοπροφῆται are not the Pharisees (Tholuck), nor Jews, pretending to be divine messengers (Bleek), nor people like Judas the Galilean (Acts 5:37, de Wette), but false Christian teachers without a divine call (Matthew 24:11; Matthew 24:24), as is evident from Matthew 7:21-23. Comp. Chrysostom, Calvin, Grotius, Calovius. A warning in view of coming events, and such as Jesus knew His followers would soon be needing.

ἐν ἐνδύμασι προβάτ.] dressed in sheep’s clothing. Here we are not to think of literal sheep skins (Grotius, Kuinoel), seeing that these were worn by others, and were not specially the prophets’ dress (comp. Matthew 3:4), but as emblematic of the outward appearance of innocence and gentleness, not of the external profession of a member of the Christian church (“nominis Christiani extrinsecus superficies,” Tertullian, de praescr. 4), which would have been admissible only if the context had spoken of the church in the light of a flock, in which case the false prophets would have been far more appropriately represented as in shepherds’ clothing. Bengel well remarks: “Vestibus ut si essent oves.”

ἔσωθεν] i.e., according to the figure; under the sheep’s clothing; in reality; in their true inner nature, which is disguised by hypocrisy. With λύκοι ἅρπαγες, as representing soul-destroying agency, comp. Acts 20:29; John 10:12.14. because] To be taken after “enter ye” as in preceding verse, or it gives a reason why many go in at the wide gate.

narrow] Literally, pressed, confined.Matthew 7:14. Ὅτι στενὴ, κ.τ.λ., because straight, etc.) Many read τί στενὴ, κ.τ.λ.,[319] HOW straight, etc., as in the S. V. of 2 Samuel 6:20. where מה[320] is rendered by τί—sc. τί δεδόξασται σήμερον ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραὴλ—HOW glorious was the king of Israel to-day! But there the expression is ironical.—The true reading is undoubtedly,[321] ὅτι πλατεῖαὅτι στενή, κ.τ.λ.,—BECAUSE broad—BECAUSE straight. Thus in 1 Kings 21:15, כי[322] (rendered ὅτι by the LXX.) occurs twice.—ὅτι οὐκ ἔστι Ναβουθὰι ζῶν, ὅτι τέθνηκε: For, Naboth is not alive, but dead.[323] The last כי has the force of but; and is thus rendered by the LXX. in Daniel 9:18, and 2 Chronicles 20:15. See also Hebrews 8:10-11.[324]—αὐτὴν, it) sc. the gate. Cf. the commencement and conclusion of Matthew 7:13.

[319] Lachm. reads τί στενὴ, with B corrected by a second hand, CLΔbc Vulg. Syr. Cypr. But Tischend. ὅτι, with B corrected by the first hand, X. Orig. 3, 527b, and Memph. Τί for ὡς is a Hellenistic idiom, Psalm 8:1. where for the LXX. ὡς θαυμαστόν other versions have τί μωγα. The τί may be a gloss on ὅτι taken with the positive, as it is often with superlatives, intensively (ὅτι πλειστος, etc.): so in Plato ὅτι τάχυς, valde celeriter. However Bengel makes ὅτι, as before πλατεὶα, so to be repeated before στενή in the sense sed, ‘but.’—ED.

[320] What, or how.—(I. B.)

[321] Thus also E. M.—(I. B.)

[322] For a full account of this word and its meanings, see Gesenius’s Lexicon in voce.—(I. B.)

[323] Literally—“Because Naboth is not living, because he has died.—(I. B.)

[324] Εἰς τὴν ζωὴν is the expression used of the future life of blessedness: for the present life is not life at all.—V. g.Verse 14. - Because (ὅτι); for (Revised Version); "many ancient authorities read, How narrow is the gate, etc." (Revised Version margin). The reading, "how" (τί) is much easier, as avoiding the difficulty of the connexion of this verse with the preceding, but probably ὅτι is right. The connexion is either that it is parallel to the first ὅτι, and thus gives a second reason for decision in entering through the narrow gate; or, and better, that it gives the reason for the statement in ver. 13b - many pass along the wrong way because the right way requires at the very outset so much determination and afterwards so much self denial. Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way; narrow is the gate, and straitened the way (Revised Version). Not only is the gate narrow, but the way itself seems compressed (τεθλιμμένη) by rocks, etc., on either side. That leadeth unto life (εἰς τὴν ζωήν). Observe, Christ does not say, "life eternal." He only cares to emphasize the thought of life in the fullest nature of life - life as "the fulfilment of the highest idea of being: perfect truth in perfect action" (Bishop Westcott, on 1 John 3:14). And few there be that; Revised Version, and few be they that (ver. 13, note). Our Lord here affirms more than the disciples ask in Luke 13:23; for there the question deals with those in a state of salvation (οἱ σωζόμενοι), here those finally saved. Find it; i.e. the gate and all it leads to. The narrow gate is here looked at as involving life. Find. It needs a search (contrast ver. 13). But there is the promise of ver. 7, "Seek, and ye shall find."
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