The Narrow Way- Matthew 7:13-14

In this passage, Jesus is nearing the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, and He concludes His sermon by presenting the way to find “life”. He has spent the majority of His sermon so far explaining to the people exactly how they should be living, in the hope that they would see how they were coming up short of what God required them to be and look for another way, which he is about to make known to them. He begins by telling them to “enter through the narrow gate”. The Greek word “enter” here is the present active imperative of eiserchomai, to enter or go into. The fact that He uses the imperative (command) form of this verb shows that entering the narrow road requires a deliberate choice, with the idea being that His audience was already on the “broad road” and must deliberately choose to leave the broad road and enter through the narrow gate onto the narrow road. The Greek word “narrow” is stenos, literally narrow, strait, constricting, from a root meaning “to squeeze”. It also is used by metonomy to describe anguish or distress, with the Greek word stenochoria (from the same root) being defined as anguish or distress. When this word is combined with the Greek word pules (gate) it is commonly used as a figure of speech for hardship or difficulty. Jesus then immediately refers to a wide gate and a broad road in contrast with the narrow gate. He presents here only two gates and two ways, wide and narrow, and the gate you enter through determines the road you travel on, as well as your ultimate destination. He tells us here, in verse 13, that those who enter through the wide gate automatically travel on the broad road, the road that “leads to destruction”, but His use of enter here is different than His previous usage. He uses enter here in the indicative mood and with a passive participle. This is not a command to someone to enter, but rather a statement of fact that many “are entering” through this gate. What he means in all of this is that the “narrow gate” requires a deliberate choice which relatively few will make, while the “wide gate” requires no deliberate choice, but is rather the “default setting”. Humanity apart from Him is already on the broad road, and a deliberate choice must be made to leave the broad road and enter through the narrow gate onto the narrow road. This choice, by its nature will be “constricting”, it will by nature limit the “choices” which can be made, it will be filled with “tribulations”, for any road which Jesus calls us to travel will ultimately lead to a cross. But it is a choice which ultimately leads to “life”. The decision to reject this choice and remain on the broad road ultimately leads to destruction, and “many” will choose to remain on the broad road. So what Jesus is ultimately telling those who heard Him here (and have read it since) is that there are only two (not many) gates, ways or roads. One road leads to destruction, the other road leads to life. The narrow road is by nature constricting, while the broad road is easy and wide. The broad road is the easy way, the default setting for human beings, broad because it is not constricting in any way, easy because it requires no submission to another as lord and leaves those travelling it unconstrained by anything beyond their own choices. The narrow road is the hard way, the constricting way, and a deliberate choice must be made to leave the broad road and find the narrow way, for the narrow way constricts or limits our “freedom”, not free to do whatever we feel like doing whenever we feel like doing it, but limited by a Lord who tells us what we can and cannot do. The irony here is that it is the broad and easy way which leads to eternal destruction, while the narrow and constricting way leads to eternal life. This naturally leads into Jesus next subject, that those who accept Jesus as savior also automatically accept Him as Lord. They enter through the narrow gate onto the narrow way, their choices are “constricted” by His lordship. They have left the broad road of being their own lords, and live life with Jesus as their Lord, and they form a distinct minority, they are “few”, unfortunately even among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. This is the topic of the conclusion of Jesus sermon, and will be the topic of our next series of posts as we continue our examination of Matthew 7.

No Comments Gospels and Acts  //  Jesus Christ  //  Nature of Man  //  Salvation and Redemption

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