Matthew 19:23
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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(23) Shall hardly enter.—The Greek adverb is somewhat stronger than the colloquial meaning of the English. Literally, shall not easily enter. The words imply not so much the mere difficulty as the painfulness of the process. Here, as elsewhere, the “kingdom of heaven” is not the state of happiness after death, but the spiritual life and the society of those in whom it is realised even upon earth. Into that kingdom those only can enter who become as little children, as in other things, so in their unconsciousness of the cares of wealth.

Matthew 19:23-24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples — While they had this example before their eyes, and were witnesses of the melancholy fact of a well-educated and well-disposed man voluntarily foregoing all hope of eternal life rather than part with his temporal possessions; that is, relinquishing all prospect of the infinite and everlasting riches and glories of heaven, for the unsatisfying, uncertain, and transitory enjoyments of earth! Verily I say unto you — And enjoin you firmly to believe and seriously to consider what I say; that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven — Either into the kingdom of grace or the kingdom of glory; or be brought to have such an esteem and love for the gospel, with its present and future blessings, as to embrace it at the hazard of losing their worldly property, together with their good name, thereby, or so as to use that property in such a manner as the laws of the gospel require. Our Lord therefore adds, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, &c. — A common proverb among the Jews to express the extreme difficulty of a thing. Theophylact observes, that some explain the word, καμηλον, as signifying here a cable. “A good authority, however, for this signification, though adopted by Castalio, who says, rudentem, I,” says Dr. Campbell, “have never seen. The frequency of the term among all sorts of writers, for denoting the beast so denominated, is undeniable. Besides, the camel being the largest animal they were acquainted with in Judea, its name was become proverbial for denoting any thing remarkably large, and a camel’s passing through a needle’s eye came, by consequence, as appears from some rabbinical writings, to express a thing absolutely impossible.” Our Lord, therefore, here represents the salvation of a rich man as being next to an impossibility. It was especially so in those early days, when the profession of the gospel exposed men to so much persecution. And perhaps, as Dr. Macknight observes, these strong expressions, in their strictest sense, must be understood of the state of things at that time subsisting; yet they are also applicable to rich men in all ages. The reason is, “Riches have a woful influence upon piety in two respects. 1st, In the acquisition; for, not to mention the many frauds and other sins that men commit to obtain riches, they occasion an endless variety of cares and anxieties, which draw the affections away from God. 2d, They are offensive to piety in the possession; because, if they are hoarded, they never fail to beget covetousness, which is the root of all evil; and if they are enjoyed they become strong temptations to luxury, drunkenness, lust, pride, and idleness.” But, besides these, riches are a dangerous snare in several other respects. 1st, It is difficult to possess them and not inordinately love them, and put that trust in them which ought to be put only in the living God. For rich men “obtaining all the necessaries and superfluities of life by means of their riches, are apt to consider them as the sources of their happiness, and to depend upon them as such, forgetting altogether their dependance on God. It is otherwise with the poor. They are exposed to manifold afflictions, and labour under the pressure of continual wants. These serve to convince them of the vanity of the world, and to put them in mind of their dependance upon God; at the same time, the unexpected deliverances and supplies which they meet with, rivet the idea more firmly. Wherefore, in the very nature of things, the poor are nearer to the kingdom of God than the rich; and if the latter, yielding to the temptations of their state, trust in their riches, words can scarce be invented strong enough to paint the difficulty of bringing them to that holy temper of mind which would qualify them for the kingdom of God.” 2d, It is not easy to possess riches and not think highly of ourselves on account of them, as they certainly give their possessors a consequence which they otherwise could not have, and cause them to be looked up to with respect by all that are round about them. But, 3d, The most difficult thing of all is, to possess them and make a right use of them, even that use which God wills all to make in whose hands he hath lodged them. In other words, To use them as those who are persuaded that, properly speaking, they are not proprietors, but merely stewards of them, and will certainly be called by the great Lord of all to give an account how they have employed every part of them, and what use they have made of the advantages and opportunities for doing and receiving good above others, which riches put in their power.

19:23-30 Though Christ spoke so strongly, few that have riches do not trust in them. How few that are poor are not tempted to envy! But men's earnestness in this matter is like their toiling to build a high wall to shut themselves and their children out of heaven. It should be satisfaction to those who are in a low condition, that they are not exposed to the temptations of a high and prosperous condition. If they live more hardly in this world than the rich, yet, if they get more easily to a better world, they have no reason to complain. Christ's words show that it is hard for a rich man to be a good Christian, and to be saved. The way to heaven is a narrow way to all, and the gate that leads into it, a strait gate; particularly so to rich people. More duties are expected from them than from others, and more sins easily beset them. It is hard not to be charmed with a smiling world. Rich people have a great account to make up for their opportunities above others. It is utterly impossible for a man that sets his heart upon his riches, to get to heaven. Christ used an expression, denoting a difficulty altogether unconquerable by the power of man. Nothing less than the almighty grace of God will enable a rich man to get over this difficulty. Who then can be saved? If riches hinder rich people, are not pride and sinful lusts found in those not rich, and as dangerous to them? Who can be saved? say the disciples. None, saith Christ, by any created power. The beginning, progress, and perfecting the work of salvation, depend wholly on the almighty power of God, to which all things are possible. Not that rich people can be saved in their worldliness, but that they should be saved from it. Peter said, We have forsaken all. Alas! it was but a poor all, only a few boats and nets; yet observe how Peter speaks, as if it had been some mighty thing. We are too apt to make the most of our services and sufferings, our expenses and losses, for Christ. However, Christ does not upbraid them; though it was but little that they had forsaken, yet it was their all, and as dear to them as if it had been more. Christ took it kindly that they left it to follow him; he accepts according to what a man hath. Our Lord's promise to the apostles is, that when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, he will make all things new, and they shall sit with him in judgement on those who will be judged according to their doctrine. This sets forth the honour, dignity, and authority of their office and ministry. Our Lord added, that every one who had forsaken possessions or comforts, for his sake and the gospel, would be recompensed at last. May God give us faith to rest our hope on this his promise; then we shall be ready for every service or sacrifice. Our Saviour, in the last verse, does away a mistake of some. The heavenly inheritance is not given as earthly ones are, but according to God's pleasure. Let us not trust in promising appearances or outward profession. Others may, for aught we know, become eminent in faith and holiness.A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven - Shall with difficulty be saved.

He has much to struggle with, and it will require the greatest of human efforts to break away from his temptations and idols. and to secure his salvation. Compare the notes at 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

Mt 19:16-30. The Rich Young Ruler. ( = Mr 10:17-31; Lu 18:18-30).

For the exposition, see on [1330]Lu 18:18-30.

See Poole on "Matthew 19:24".

Then said Jesus unto his disciples..... When the young man was gone; taking this opportunity to make some proper observations for the use and instruction of his disciples, after, as Mark observes, he had "looked round about"; with concern, and in order to affect their minds with this incident, and to raise their attention to what he was about to say:

verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven: either into the Gospel dispensation, and receive the truths, and submit to the ordinances of it, or into the kingdom of glory hereafter; not but that there have been, are, and will be, some that are rich, called by grace, brought into a Gospel church state, and are heirs of the kingdom of heaven; though these are but comparatively few: nor is it riches themselves that make the entrance so difficult, and clog the way, either into grace or glory, but putting trust and confidence in them; and therefore in Mark, they "that have riches", are by Christ explained of such, that "trust in riches"; and which rich men in common are very apt to do, as this young man did, against which the apostle cautions,

{6} Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(6) Rich men have need of a singular gift of God to escape out of the snares of Satan.

Matthew 19:23-27. Conversation ensuing (Mark 10:23-27; Luke 18:24-27).

23. hardly] i. e. with difficulty.

23–26. Of Riches, and the Kingdom of God

Mark 10:23-27. Luke 18:24-27.

These reflections follow naturally on the last incident.

Matthew 19:23. Δυσκόλως, with difficulty) This young man, when he had his foot already on the threshold, withdrew it on account of his riches. It is difficult for a rich man to relinquish all things.[874]

[874] Nay, it is not even readily that he thinks of the subject of obtaining eternal life at all.—V. g.

Verses 23-30. - The dangers of riches and the blessings of self-denied. (Mark 10:23-31; Luke 18:24-30.) Verse 23. - Then said Jesus. He derives an important lesson from the sad result of the above incident. St Luke connects it with what had just preceded: "When Jesus saw that he [the ruler] was very sorrowful, he said." It was a strange and most emphatic assertion, quite alien from general opinion and sentiment. A rich man shall hardly (δυσκόλως, with difficulty) enter into the kingdom of heaven. Remembering that Christ had just invited the young ruler to range himself on his side and become his disciple, we see that the primary meaning of the term, "kingdom of heaven," here is the Christian Church, the society which Jesus came to establish. It was indeed difficult for a man wealthy, honoured, dignified, to strip himself of his riches and rank, and openly cast in his lot with the despised Jesus and his followers, voluntarily surrendering all that hitherto had made life beautiful and worth living. It is difficult for a rich man in any case to serve God acceptably, as Christ shows with reiterated emphasis. Matthew 19:23
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