Matthew 7:13
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:
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(13) Enter ye in at the strait gate.—The figure was possibly suggested by some town actually in sight. Safed, the “city set on a hill,” or some other, with the narrow pathway leading to the yet narrower gate, the “needle’s eye” of the city, through which the traveller entered. Such, at any rate, was the picture which the words presented. A like image had been used before, with a singular coincidence of language, in the allegory known as the Tablet of Cebes, the Disciple of Socrates: “Seest thou not a certain small door, and a pathway before the door, in no way crowded, but few, very few, go in thereat? This is the way that leadeth to true discipline” (c. 16). The meaning of the parable here lies on the surface. The way and the gate are alike the way of obedience and holiness, and the gate is to be reached not without pain and effort; but only through it can we enter into the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. A deeper significance is, however, suggested even by our Lord’s own teaching. He Himself is the “way” (John 14:6), or with a slight variation of the imagery, He is the “door,” or gate, by which His sheep enter into the fold (John 10:7). Only we must remember that His being thus the “way” and the “gate” does not mean that we can find, in union with Him, a substitute for holiness, but indicates simply how we are to attain to it.

That leadeth to destruction.—The question, which has been much discussed lately, whether this word “destruction” means the extinction of conscious life—what is popularly called annihilation—or prolonged existence in endless suffering, is one which can hardly be settled by mere reference to lexicons. So far as they go, the word implies, not annihilation, but waste (Matthew 26:8; Mark 14:4), perdition, i.e., the loss of all that makes existence precious. I question whether a single passage can be adduced in which it means, in relation to material things, more than the breaking up of their outward form and beauty, or in spiritual things, more than what may be described as the wretchedness of a wasted life. The use of the cognate verb confirms this meaning. Men “perish” when they are put to death (Matthew 22:7; Acts 5:37; et al.). Caiaphas gave his counsel that one man should die for the people, that the whole nation perish not (John 11:50). The demons ask whether the Christ has come to destroy them (Mark 1:24). The sheep are lost when they are wandering in the wilderness (Matthew 15:24; Luke 15:6). The immediate context leads to the same conclusion. “Life” is more than mere existence. “Destruction,” by parity of reasoning, should be more than mere non-existence. On the other hand, the fact of the waste, the loss, the perdition, does not absolutely exclude the possibility of deliverance. The lost sheep was found; the exiled son, perishing with hunger, was brought back to his father’s house.

Matthew 7:13. Enter ye in at the strait gate — The gate of true conversion, of self-denial, mortification, and universal holiness; the gate in at which few, comparatively speaking, are inclined to enter. “How strait,” says Erasmus, in his paraphrase on the place, “is the gate, how narrow the way that leadeth to life! In the way, nothing is to be found that flatters the flesh, but many things opposite to it, poverty, fasting, watching, injuries, chastity, sobriety. And as for the gate, it receives none that are swollen with the glory of this life; none that are elated and lengthened out with pride; none that are distended with luxury; it does not admit those that are laden with the fardels of riches, nor those that drag along with them the other implements of the world. None can pass through it but naked men, who are stripped of all worldly lusts, and who, having, as it were, put off their bodies, are emaciated into spirits, which is the reason that it is sought after by so few.” For wide is the gate — The gate of impenitence and unbelief, of carnal affections and fleshly lusts. This gate is obvious to all, and there is no need to seek it: men come to it of course; and broad, ευρυχωρος, spacious, is the way — Of vanity and sin, of evil dispositions, words, and actions; and many there be which go in thereat — Many, yea, the greater part of mankind, evidently appear to enter in at that gate, and to walk in that way. Because strait is the gate — Here our Lord assigns the reason why so many enter in at the wide gate, and walk in the broad way: it is because the other gate is strait, and the way narrow, therefore they do not love either the one or the other; they prefer a wider gate, and a broader way; a gate which is entered without difficulty, and a way in which men may walk without either self-denial or taking up the cross, and in which they find abundance of company.

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."

Mt 7:13-29. Conclusion and Effect of the Sermon on the Mount.

We have here the application of the whole preceding discourse.

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 this application.

13. 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."

See Poole on "Matthew 7:14".

Enter ye in at the strait gate,.... By the "strait gate" is meant Christ himself; who elsewhere calls himself "the door", John 10:7 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; as there will be hereafter an abundant entrance into the kingdom and glory of God, through his blood and righteousness. 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, 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", 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 destruction. Our Lord seems to allude to the private and public roads, whose measures are fixed by the Jewish canons; which say (p), 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.''

(p) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 100. 1, 2. Vid. Maimon. & R. Sampson in Misn. Peah, c. 2. sect. 1. & Maimon in Sabbat. c. 1. sect. 1.

{5} 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:

(5) The example of life must not be taken from the multitude.

Matthew 7:13. There now follow some additional concluding exhortations and warnings, which in Luke are partly omitted, partly scattered and displaced (in answer to Calvin, Keim) and abridged. With Matthew 7:13 comp. Luke 13:24. The thought is one of the fundamental thoughts of the Sermon on the Mount.

εἰσέλθετε] where the entering leads to is not stated till Matthew 7:14.

ὅτι] assigning the reason e contrario.

εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν] i.e. to eternal death, as being the punishment of such as are condemned in the Messianic judgment. Php 1:28; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:16. The opposite is ζωή, the eternal life of felicity in the kingdom of the Messiah. Wide gate and broad way; figures representing the pleasures and excesses of sin and wickedness. Strait gate and narrow way; representing, on the other hand, the effort and self-denial which Christian duty imposes. It is only when regenerated that a man comes first to experience the lightness of the yoke (Matthew 11:29), and of the commandments (1 John 5:3), and all the more the further progress he makes in the love of Christ (John 14:15 ff.).

ἡ ἀγάπ. εἰς τ. ἀπώλ.] refers equally to ἡ πύλη (Kühner, II. 1, p. 70 f.), to which again the διʼ αὐτῆς belongs. There is a similar construction in Matthew 5:14, where αὐτήν in like manner refers to πύλη.

Matthew 7:13-14. The two ways (Luke 13:23-25). From this point onwards we have what commentators call the Epilogue of the sermon, introduced without connecting particle, possibly no part of the teaching on the hill, placed here because that teaching was regarded as the best guide to the right way. The passage itself contains no clue to the right way except that it is the way of the few. The allegory also is obscure from its brevity. Is the gate at the beginning or end of the way, or are gate and way practically one, the way narrow because it passes through a narrow doorway? Possibly Christ’s precept was simply, “enter through the narrow gate” or “door” (θύρα, Luke’s word), all the rest being gloss.—πύλης, the large entrance to an edifice or city, as distinct from θύρα, a common door; perhaps chosen by Lk. because in keeping with the epithet στενῆς.—ὅτι, etc.: explanatory enlargement to unfold and enforce the precept.—ἡ ὁδὸς: two ways are contrasted, either described by its qualities and end. The “way” in the figure is a common road, but the term readily suggests a manner of life. The Christian religion is frequently called “the way” in Acts (Matthew 9:2, Matthew 19:9, etc.). The wrong road is characterised as πλατεῖα and εὐρύχωρος, broad and roomy, and as leading to destruction (ἀπώλειαν). The right way (and gate, ἡ πύλη, is to be retained in Matthew 7:14, though omitted in Matthew 7:13) is described as στενὴ καὶ τεθλιμμένη, narrow and contracted, and as leading to life.—ζωήν, a pregnant word, true life, worth living, in which men realise the end of their being—the antithesis of ἀπώλεια. The one is the way of the many, πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερ.; the other of the few, ὀλίγοιοἱ εὑρίσκοντες. Note the word “finding”. The way is so narrow or so untrodden that it may easily be missed. It has to be sought for. Luke suggests the idea of difficulty in squeezing in through the very narrow door. Both points of view have their analogue in life. The practical application of this counsel requires spiritual discernment. No verbal directory will help us. Narrow? Was not Pharisaism a narrow way, and the monastic life and pietism with its severe rules for separation from the “world” in amusement, dress, etc.?

13. The broad and the narrow way, Luke 13:24-25. The illustration seems to be drawn from a mansion having a large portal at which many enter, and a narrow entrance known to few.

strait = narrow.

(c) The narrow entrance to the Kingdom, 13, 14

These verses are linked to the preceding by the thought of prayer, for it is by prayer chiefly that the narrow entrance must be gained.

Matthew 7:13. Εἰσέλθετε, enter ye in) Make it the object of your constant and earnest endeavours (Id agite) really to enter.[318] This presupposes that they are attempting to walk on the narrow way. Observe the antithetical relation between εἰσέλθετε,” “enter ye in” [in the first], and οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι”—“they which go in” [in the last clause of this verse].—στενῆς, strait) sc. of righteousness.—πύλη, the gate) This is put before the way; the gate therefore in this verse signifies that, by which a man begins in any manner to seek for the salvation of his soul; as in the next verse the gate is that, by which true Christianity is received.—ἀπάγουσα, which leadeth away) from this short life. So also in the next verse.—πολλοὶ, many) See 2Es 9:15; 2Es 9:17.—οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι, they which go in) There is no need that they should find it, for they spontaneously fall into destruction. Cf. v. 14.—δἰ αὐτῆς through it) sc. the gate.

[318] Into life, into the kingdom of heaven.—V. g.

Verses 13-27. -

(4) Epilogue (cf. Matthew 5:3, note). Dare to take up this position, which has been laid down in Matthew 5:21 - 7:12, involving though it must separation from the majority of men (vers. 13, 14); and this notwithstanding the claim of others to reveal the Lord's mind, whose true nature, however, you shall perceive from their actions (vers. 15-20); they that work iniquity have neither present nor future union with me (vers. 21-23). Finally a solemn warning (vers. 24-27). Verse 13. - For vers. 13, 14, cf. Luke 13:23, 24, which, however (notwithstanding the similarity of vers. 25-27 to our vers. 21-23), were probably spoken later, and were perhaps suggested to both the disciples and the Master by this earlier saying. On the other hand, our ver. 14 seems so direct an answer to Luke 13:23 that it is not unlikely that this is one of the many passages placed by St. Matthew, or the authors of his sources, out of chronological order. Enter ye in. Show immediate energy and determination. Observe:

(1) In Luke, "strive (ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter in"; here, "enter at once."

(2) In Luke, "through the narrow door" into, apparently, the final abiding-place; here, "through the narrow gate" into apparently the (perhaps long) road which takes us at last to full salvation. Thus in Luke our Lord speaks of continued striving; here, of immediate decision, in which, however, lies the assurance of ultimate success (cf. ver. 14, end; also 1 John 2:13). At the strait gate; Revised Version, by the narrow gate - the entrance resembling the road (ver. 14, note). Chrysostom (in lot.), contrasting present trials with future happiness, says, "straitened is the way and narrow is the gate, but not the city." For wide is the gate, and Broad is the way. So also the Revised Version, but the Revised Version margin has, "some ancient authorities omit is the gate." (For a full discussion on the difficult question of the genuineness of ἡ πύλη here, vide Westcott and Hort, 'App.') Westcott and Hort omit it, with א, Old Latin, and many Greek and Latin Fathers, and say that, though ἡ πύλη is probably genuine in ver. 14, "till the latter part of the fourth century the first ἡ πύλῃ has no Greek or Latin patristic evidence in its favour, much against it." They think this is "one of those rare readings in which the true text has been preserved by א without extant uncial support... . It was natural to scribes to set ver. 13 in precisely antithetic contrast to ver. 14; but the sense gains in force if there is no mention of two gates, and if the contrast in ver. 13 is between the narrow gate and the broad and spacious way." There must be a definite entering upon the right way; no entrance upon the wrong way is necessary, men find themselves upon it only too easily, and it is "made level with stones" (Ecclus. 21:10). Wide... broad. The second epithet (εὐρύχωρος) lays stress on there being plenty of space to walk in (Latt., spatiosa). That leadeth to destruction (ei) th\n a)pw/leian); that "perishing" in which "the sons of perishing" perish (John 17:12). And many there be which; Revised Version, more exactly, and many be they that (καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι). Our Lord says that they that are perishing are many (cf. ver. 14, note). Go in; Revised Version, enter in; keeping up the allusion to "enter ye in." Observe, however, that if ἡ πύλη (vide supra) is false, the thought here is of entrance into the final issue of the way - ἡ ἀπώλεια. Thereat; Revised Version, thereby; i.e. by the way. Matthew 7:13Strait gate (στενῆς πύλης)

Rev., narrow. 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."

Leadeth (ἀπάγουσα)

Lit., leadeth away, from death, or, perhaps, from the broad road. Note that the gate is not at the end, but at the beginning of the road.

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