“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:24 (NIV)

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the concept of the camel trying to go through the eye of a needle in Matthew. Jesus says basically the same thing in Mark and Luke (cf. Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25). When I read this verse today from Matthew, I remembered something I had heard a long time ago about this camel, a gate, and the needle. Allegedly, there was a gate entering the city (Jerusalem and other cities in the Syrian area) called the “needle” that only people on foot could travel through. Therefore, when Jesus referenced the “eye of the needle” he wasn’t talking about an actual needle used to sew cloth, but this gate.

One problem with the gate “theory” is that there’s no evidence anywhere that such a gate ever existed. The other problem with the gate theory is that it takes away from what Jesus is saying in Matthew 19:24. A camel can’t fit through the eye of a needle. It is impossible. If we consider the gate theory, then there is a possibility to get that camel through that gate. It’s just going to be difficult.

Another issue with how we read these passages about the camel and needle is the part about being rich. Some inaccurately have a takeaway here that it’s harder for the rich to get into Heaven than anyone else. As if God had something against rich people. We can gain some clarity, however, into what Jesus was saying here when we read these verses from Matthew.

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Matthew 19:25 (NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Jesus makes it even clearer in Mark.

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

Mark 10:24 (KJV)

As I’ve said, we often focus on the man being rich and think this is all about money. In verse 25, when the disciples ask, “who then can be saved?” Jesus’ response, “with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible,” reveals a transition between being rich and not being rich. The disciples, like many people, thought wealth brought inherent bonuses, like those who were wealthy were somehow better than others. The idea that money solves all problems comes to mind. Therefore, people strive to gain riches, but those riches won’t save them. Indeed, no created thing on Earth can save anyone. Only God can save us. When Jesus said, “With man,” he’s referring to all created things by man.

We see this in the rich man. It wasn’t his wealth that he leaned on as much as his works. Sure, he didn’t want to sell all of his stuff, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about relying on the law and works. I have gone into this already in this post, so I’m not going to go into how our works cannot save us.

This is why interpreting this as anything other than the hyperbole presented is wrong. Jesus tells us here that no work from man can save a person, and changing the meaning of this verse changes what he said.

I pray this day finds you well and I thank you for stopping by!

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.