Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Camel Through The Eye Of A Needle? Or Have You Been Reading The Bible Wrong?

Have you been reading the Bible wrong this whole time? Probably– but I’ll try to help sort that out for you.

One of the most famous sayings of Jesus is “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (This quote is found in Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, and Luke 18:25.)

I remember this verse well from my childhood, and remember Sunday School teachers explaining the meaning to me as if these well-intentioned souls were biblical scholars– and the explanation they gave is one that many people today have accepted in regards to this passage.

The explanation usually goes like this: There were gates to the entrance of the city that had small openings called “needles” and in order for camels to pass through, they had to get down on their bellies and wiggle themselves through the eye of the needle. The basic application of this exegesis was that rich people face a lot of barriers to becoming Christian.

However, there are a few major problems with this understanding of the passage.

First and foremost we have no evidence that in the time of Jesus, any such a gate existed in Jerusalem. In fact, there’s a much stronger case that such a gate with an “eye of the needle” did not exist at that time. On the surface, this would at a minimum lead us to believe that Jesus was using an exaggerated metaphor of a camel passing through a sewing needle.

But even that understanding is problematic in my opinion.

Earlier today I was reading a piece on biblical literacy by Andy Gill. In the piece he references this, and correctly notes that some translations don’t use the word camel at all, but translate it as “it is easier to put a rope through a needle.”

This, in my opinion, was more along the lines of what Jesus was saying. Let me explain:

Translation obviously isn’t always an exact science when you’re working with dead languages (languages not used anymore), and when you’re working from ancient manuscripts that have textual variants. It’s why decent seminaries will force you to undergo painful years of working to master these ancient languages.

In this case we have an even bigger issue: the New Testament is written in ancient Greek, but Jesus most likely would have spoken Aramaic most of the time (though he likely knew three languages that were all important in first century Palestine).

First, in Greek there are similarities between the word for rope and camel, which is why there is debate over the correct translation of the passage (though when dealing with Greek, the word camel often wins the day). But if we go deeper into ancient languages we see even more similarities—- in some cases the difference between rope and camel is just one letter– making the case for the argument that Jesus didn’t use the word “camel” at all, even stronger. The reason why the tie breaker between camel and rope should go to rope, is because of context.

Theodore R. Lorah explains that the word for rope in these ancient languages actually speaks of a rope used to anchor a massive ship (a hawser). The hawser would often be braided, and likely would have been the thickest size of rope that anyone at that time could have imagined. Lorah writes, “The image of the oceangoing vessel with a heavy, braided rope hawser holding to the anchor or tying the ship to the pier makes the image much stronger…” in reference to this exaggerated metaphor.

So here’s where we’re at: in both Greek and Semitic languages the difference between camel and a ship’s hawser is so similar that it makes total sense there would be translation confusions. Rendering the verse as a “camel through the eye of a needle” would potentially make sense if we had any evidence that a gate with a needle’s eye existed at the time, which we don’t. However, when we add in the fact that Jesus lived in a fishing village and that his first disciples were fishermen, rendering the verse as “It is easier for a ship’s hawser to pass through the eye of a needle” makes more sense.

As Lorah summarizes:

“As they used their hand-held needles and thread to mend (fishing) nets, Jesus said: “It is easier for a hawser to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The logic is inescapable, and the language moves in that direction, as soon as one looks to the Semitic tradition behind the Greek text, working in the languages which Jesus fluently read and spoke.”

Even though in both cases it is exaggerated metaphor, the word we choose does change the impact of the passage. A camel passing through the eye of a gate is hard, but not uncommon. A ship’s anchor rope passing through a sewing needle?

That would be both impossible and unheard of.

Kind of like a rich person wanting to join a Kingdom where the poor are the ones who are blessed.

So, have you been reading the Bible wrong all this time?

I believe so– and I believe that the best translation of this passage doesn’t involve animals at all.

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Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

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  3. BS it was hyperbole as Jesus often used it, for example with turning the other cheek. His most important parable is the Parable of the Talents where it is beyond clear and beyond translation that Jesus wants people to succeed and do well and being a meek loser (poor) is very much frowned upon. (must include for the biased that success is not measured simply in dollars)

    1. So you are now telling us what Jesus really meant? I think he had specific things he said about people like you. And it wasn’t very positive. Stop preaching the prosperity gospel. Otherwise, when you die you might just find yourself playing in Satan’s Den with your false Mango Messiah™.

    2. It should actually be called the Parable of the Wicked Landowner……

      Which would put you totally opposed to he teachings of Jesus.

    3. ^^ This sounds like an Amway shill to me. They are sooooo super-Jesus-y, but they call people “losers” and hold in their hearts only contempt for people who don’t want to join their scam “opportunity” to lose money along with them to enrich the Republican fundies at the top of the pyramid.

      It’s amazing to see how Christians today rationalize away very obvious Gospel stories. The ones who buy into that “every jot and tittle” and “original Greek and Hebrew” BS are the ones who add and remove the most from those stories. It’s hilarious as well that they’ve landed on the exact opposite of what the stories mean, and put themselves on the side of the bad guys every single time.

  4. If you look at the Lamsa translation of the Bible, translated by George Lamsa, and used by the Syrian Orthodox Church, purported to be translated from Peshitta texts and the closest language to Biblical Aramaic, you will find this passage quoted precisely as a rope through the eyed of a needle.

    1. From the Babylonian Talmud……

      “”They do not show a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.” Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth, 55b

      “… who can make an elephant pass through the eye of a needle.” Babylonian Talmud, Baba Mezi’a, 38b

  5. From the Babylonian Talmud

    “”They do not show a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.” Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth, 55b

    “… who can make an elephant pass through the eye of a needle.” Babylonian Talmud, Baba Mezi’a, 38b

  6. Picture of the Eye of the Needle gate at the Jerusalem wall. Perhaps if we read things in context it helps. Since Jesus was not talking of fishermen or boats, but to a rich man, likely a merchant with many camels, who knew the inconvenience of unloading things at night for merchants, we might be more inclined to believe what Jesus was trying to say to the rich young ruler. Thus, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom, but not uncommon.

    1. The compelling part of that link, which you alluded to, is “So, Jesus told the young man that, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he needed to disentangle himself from his wealth first like you would have to unload all that was on a camel’s back to get through the eye of the needle.”
      You moved me back toward the fence but i’ll still go with rope. 🙂
      Because Jesus’s genius was using common examples like wheat, leaven, mustard seed. But… it just occurred to me, what if Jesus was so good (and we know he was) that he meant BOTH!

    2. Well one problem with this view is that Jesus didn’t actually use the analogy until after the rich young man had already walked away. See how the story is given account in Matthew 19 vs Luke 18. When Jesus was giving the analogy he was talking to his disciples. They were shocked by what Jesus said… who then can be saved they said? I think this is the bigger picture. Which of us can be saved? If I can be saved, anyone can be saved because what is impossible for me is possible for God.

  7. A lot of bad doctrines have come out of mistranslations and other misunderstandings arising from cultural and linguistic differences of time and place that have been missed or not accounted for. This is one of the milder ones.
    Unfortunately, most people have been indoctrinated to think about these scriptures in only one way for so long, that this stuff gets perpetuated. It’s also unfortunate that it continues to be reinforced rather than corrected from the pulpit.

    1. Then there’s the KJV-only cultists who decry any “changing God’s word” in modern translations. For instance, if Rev. 1:5 in your Bible says, “To him who loves us and freed [instead of washed] us from our sins by his blood” you HAVEN’T BEEN WASHED IN THE BLOOD!

    2. Whether camel or rope does nothing to change the meaning of the verse. The apostle’s response and Jesus’s response to them makes it clear that whatever is being talked about is seen as impossible.

  8. Another story I learned in church which turns out to be untrue. Thanks for this. Very interesting and another example of how translation errors can change the whole meaning of a passage.

  9. now you’re gonna have a whole bunch of pastors get in the pulpit to show off their new shiny toy – it’s rope! BUT “Manuscripts of Mark consistently say “camel.” A few manuscripts of Matthew and Luke have “rope” instead of “camel.” But this is because the two words are different in only one letter, and they sound alike when pronounced. Later scribes, transcribing orally, might have HEARD “rope” when the word was actually camel. It’s virtually certain, in other words, that Jesus said “camel.” In either case, however, the point is impossibility.” – from Mike Goreman. #followthemanuscripttree

    1. Yes. The point of the metaphor is the same either way. I do find this an interesting textual point (and fortunately, I’m not a pastor though I do preach occasionally). Of course the “camel” reading could be correct even if it’s found in a minority of MSS.

  10. I heard or read somewhere that this image of something impossibly large trying to get through the eye of a needle was a common proverb in the ancient world – whatever it was I read (sorry, no idea what the source was now!) said that in India the proverb involved an elephant trying to get through the eye of the needle. It’s like we would say in the UK that we are “trying to fit a quart into a pint pot”, when we are trying to do too much.

    1. I believe I have heard that the proverb about an elephant passing through the eye of a needle comes from the Babylonian Talmud. That would make sense if it was a common Jewish saying. Elephants would be the largest animals seen in Babylon, whereas Camels were the largest seen in Judea.

  11. The meaning of the parable is that it IS impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

    Hence why Jesus says “With men this is impossible”

    Then the point of Jesus sharing the story is revealed with His quote “With God all things are possible” – Jesus telling is us it’s God, not us, who can save us from our sin.

    1. Exactly, this was exactly what I was going to respond. Whether a camel or a rope, the entire point centers around the impossibility of what’s being mentioned, as seen by the apostles’ response.

  12. The story about a gate called the eye of a needle is clearly bogus.

    I’m not sure about the quote referring to a rope instead of a camel though, because we have another Jewish source from around that era using a similar hyperbolic expression about an Elephant passing through the eye of a needle.

  13. Ignoring the misuse of the so-called “needle eye gate” to completely gut the meaning of the saying, it seems as though all of the evidence for “rope” rather than “camel” is based around the notion that it makes more sense. But the entire point of the saying is that it’s impossible. But for an act of God, a rich person cannot enter the Kingdom. Likewise, but for an act of God, a camel cannot enter the eye of a needle. It may be an absurdity, but that seems to accentuate the point rather than detract from it. And if I recall correctly, there are supposed to be similar absurd sayings involving large animals and tiny spaces which are contemporary to Jesus.

    But I suppose ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a camel or a rope. So long as the main point is maintained, that the illustration is something that is impossible.

  14. Camel is the letter Gimmel ascribed to the process of bringing part of the universe (kether) through the void (Da’at) into your heart (tiphareth); The void is the eye of the needle; atoms are smaller than that. The card in the tarot representing this idea is the Priestess; She is the camel that can pass freely through the void, bringing back pieces of God (the universe) to us (our heart -> mind etc). Anything we think is a reflection, an image of the totality of all, God. It’s the answer to the question, where does thought come from. The camel brings it through the eye of the needle. It’s also the idea, that at our current level of consciousness, we can’t comprehend how “magic” seems to happen (like the natural order we experience), and that’s ok, because we can give faith into God, that his camel will bring what we need through where we cannot tread. But a rich man, trying to bring us things would not make it, for things can’t pass through the void. That’s part of the whole mystery, of body and spirit, matter and energy. True wealth is inner wisdom and understanding. It’s information that shapes our DNA. References for how to feel, to beneficial states, to moments of learning and more. Information is the currency of Heaven.
    : )

    1. Interesting that Da’at means Knowledge, and represents the void, where information passes through.

  15. Yet the scripture doesn’t talk about impossibilities. It talks about how it’s easier for a camel and harder for a rich man.

    This whole story is truly about law vs grace. Grace and truth came by jesus, which means jesus represents grace (the new covenant). Moses represents the law (old covenant). The entire bible is law vs grace. This man called jesus a teacher and was a rich young ruler who followed the law to the letter (supposedly). To the ancient jew, if you followed the law you’d become rich and able to rule. His mind was set on the law. He clung to his belongings as an indication that god loved him. Jesus told him to give up the law and follow him, ie: follow grace the new covenant where your possessions or lack there of have no bearing on gods acceptance of you, not to mention god wants to be the provider of all material things that man wants and needs.

  16. NICE!!!! I have heard that explanation of the gate so many times before and knew it was B.S. I will hold this explanation dear to my heart. Now if only the people who need to hear it can and will.

      1. Not when you read it in context. Jesus makes it clear that the act in question is impossible without God.

  17. I love that you posted this. A great many years ago, I (a layman, FWIW) ran across that alternative and lesser used “rope” translation for the “camel” word somewhere. For all this time, I thought maybe I was the only one in the whole world (and maybe for all time?) that saw the likelihood of rope-and-needle being the intended imagery. It sure made more sense than some of the gymnastics and fictions surprisingly universally offered to illuminate this passage. Nicely done!

  18. Most MSs have camel, not rope, and as a scribal error assuming correcting the text to the more “logical” rope makes more sense than from rope to camel.
    I agree the gate explanation is bogus, because the expression is actually very simple to understand: the very biggest animal (no elephants in 1st century Judea) passing through the very smallest hole. No further explanation is required.

  19. This makes me think what other sections of the Bible are based on misspellings or mistranslations (like in the creation story)

  20. Whatever the metaphor, I think it really comes down to how one defines “rich”. (If there is any further specificity to the ancient languages, chalk it up to my not knowing any of them.) Richness is relative. What it means to be rich varies greatly by time and place. I have come to consider richness to be enough wealth that one relies on it first, looks to it for comfort in stress, or takes if for granted in ways that suggest it is deserved (specifically if deserved more than others). In that way, most people I know, not least of all myself, probably fall into the category at one time or another. Entering the Kingdom is about relying on God and looking out for others. I have known people who held their relative great wealth lightly and exemplified the Kingdom much more than most people without their resources, but I have also known them to be exceptional in this. Wealth, by creating the illusion of self sufficiency, blinds us to the many things.

    1. I will say this though, it is troubling to hear about the story of the rich young ruler who was told by Jesus to give all he had to the poor and follow him, only to have everyone sitting in the congregation say to themselves, what a relief, thank God I’m not a rich man, as they drive home in their luxury sedans. To make matters worse, pastors have been trained to explain this one away by saying, well Jesus knew that the rich young ruler loved wealth more than anything else, what is it that you love more than God? Certainly it’s not wealth, since it’s just not practical to give everything to the poor and Jesus would never tell you to do something that impractical (as if it was practical for the rich young ruler). When 100% of people think a parable isn’t about them it likely means it is of universal application. There is an entire cottage industry among theologians to explain how Jesus didn’t literally mean what he said (except as it corresponds to one’s own agenda).

      1. Thanking God for not being something doesn’t seem to ever turn out well. In that I will agree. I don’t find it any stretch though to take the story at least a bit as you point out is commonly taught. There are numerous accounts of Jesus speaking to rich people without bringing up their wealth. Of course we likely only have part of those conversations, and he certainly did speak of wealth in general senses. Like any number of other things, it seems that it gets made out as the bad guy when when we should be looking at ourselves. The love of money is the root of all evil becomes money is the root of all evil. Do not be drunk with wine becomes simply don’t drink. This puts the onus on the object when when it is we ourselves that is the problem. (speaking of jumping through hoops to explain a story when it might go against your agenda, you haven’t heard anything until you hear a sermon on the wedding at Cana from a vehemently anti-alcohol preacher)

      2. The most logical, simple explanation for the story of the rich young man I have seen, which to me makes obvious sense, is one given by the author George MacDonald in his book “Unspoken Sermons” (which I thoroughly recommend BTW): Jesus is rewarding the man.
        He has been a faithful follower of the Law, is diligently seeking God and eternal life, and Jesus says to him exactly what he says to Peter, James and John and all his other disciples: “Come and follow me.”
        He was given the chance to be one of the apostles and he blew it, because he couldn’t bear to leave behind his life of wealth and privilege.
        George Macdonald makes the point that this story does not instruct us to give up our wealth and follow Jesus as an apostle because we are not worthy and haven’t been asked.

  21. “Arsenkoites” and “malakoi” are also mistranslated as “homosexual.” The word “homosexual” was not coined until the mid-19th century, so that could not possibly have been what Paul was thinking about.

    1. The ancients had plenty of terms commonly to refer to men who had sex with men, in either active or passive roles. The bible uses none of them.

      “Malakoi” certainly does not mean homosexual. It means “soft.” That could be taken to mean effeminate, although it says nothing about femininity per se. The association between softness and females relies on sexist prejudices towards that gender. The term soft was commonly used to mean those who lacked self discipline, who were too weak to resist temptation or to do hard work. It is worth noting that in Plato’s Symposium it is argued that sexual relationships with women make men more soft than relations with other men do.

      “Arsenkoites” is a word Paul himself seemed to have coined, from root words meaning “male” and “bed.” Those are both words used in the Septuagint in the verse that forbids males from lying with males in the manner of women, although the words are not quite adjacent there much less fused into one.

      There was however one very similar term used (rarely) before his time to refer to sexual relations between men. It uses the same root for “bed” but another root for “man,” which specifically refers to an adult free man instead of just any male of any age. That term would not include the common practice of pederasty, but the culturally shameful act of a grown man sexually demeaning another of his same rank.

      The earliest source that uses the term with enough context to guess it meaning apart from its use is a reference to Zeus raping the young Ganymede.

      It seems reasonable that “Arsenkoites” would mean a male who has sex with males, yet some early Christian writers like Saint John the Faster wrote about the sort of penance a man should pay for performing arsenokoitia upon his wife. Apparently, in the 6th century at least, it was seen as a sexual sin that heterosexuals could commit together. I could understand arguments that it refers to men inviting other men to have group sex with their wives, but most ancient or early medieval sources seem to imply that it simply refers to anal sex regardless of whether the receptive partner is male or female.

      Nothing anywhere in the bible implies that female homosexuality is wrong. There is one verse in Romans that could be interpreted that way, but there is a stronger argument that it refers to women who avoid vaginal intercourse to retain their technical virginity while still trying to sexually pleasure men in other ways.

      (Jewish sources from the era referred to anal sex as unnatural and had a generally negative view towards the act, yet said it was not sinful if a wife consented.)

      1. Who was St. John faster than? Did he win some sort of saintly marathon? Did St. Mary and St. Peter come in second and third? 🙂

        (I simply couldn’t resist!)

    2. The word “bed” didn’t exist in Paul’s time either, yet “koitai” is the Greek word for bed. Whether an english term existed in Paul’s time doesn’t mean the concept didn’t exist.

      Although, I would clarify that Paul’s use of the word would be related to the sexual act, not the state of being a person who’s attracted to people of the same sex.

  22. The story of a camel going through a small gate and having to get on its knees after unloading all the baggage is a great analogy of coming to God in humbleness.
    The argument there may not have been a small gate called the needle at the Temple during Jesus time does not seem significant to me. When we read the scriptures in the context of their time we understand Jesus is a Jew and speaking to Jewish followers. He often refers to Old Testament scripture and ideas. Note the book of Nehemiah lists ten different gates while other gates are listed in later times. If there had been such a gate in the memory of the Jews of Jesus day they would have known it. So my point is we cannot look at Jesus’ words according to his specific time.
    The idea of a hawser for a large ship also does not connect since we are looking at the fishing villages you speak of being around the Sea of Galilee which is a fresh water lake approximately 13 miles long by 8 miles wide. But the idea of a smaller rope which would be used for smaller fishing vessels going through a needle makes more sense. Also if we think not of a small sewing needle but a large wooden needle for repairing fishing nets we are more on track for the fishing industry you mention.
    I think Jesus could very well be speaking of a needle such as those used for fishing nets or he could have been talking about a smaller needle for clothing or even a small portal in a gate. Either way I find no difficulty in the use of an animal such as a camel to make the point it would be impossible for man but only possible by God.
    Thank you for your writings, I always enjoy your point of view and the new ideas you present.

    1. In order for your argument to work, though, you would have to demonstrate that, at some point in history, there would have been a gate in Jerusalem called “the Needle” and that everyone listening to Jesus would be familiar with it. Do you have any evidence like that?

      As much as one might think a camel on its knees is an appropriate image for a rich man entering heaven, there’s no reason at all to think that’s what Jesus meant.

      1. That really isn’t what needs to be proved because there isn’t evidence that the gate doesn’t exist.

        The main point is that it’s fairly irrelevant because Jesus tells us exactly what his point is in the analogy.

    2. The problem with the “gate” story is that it implies that if we are humble enough we can enter his kingdom with all our riches – which is a bit of a get out clause for those who need to let go of their stuff but would rather not. The point Jesus was making was that it was impossible for us to do so. The kingdom of heaven requires a radical change in our lives.

  23. That’s interesting, Benjamin. There’s a similar verse in the Quran:

    “Surely, those who reject our revelations and are too arrogant to uphold them, the gates of the sky will never open for them, nor will they enter Paradise until the camel passes through the needle’s eye. . . .” [Quran 7:40]

    However, about a decade ago, Prof. Martha Schulte-Nafeh and Edip Yuksel suggested that the word translated as “camel” should be translated as “rope”. In the footnote for this verse, they wrote:

    “If the word jamal is read as jummal (rope), then it changes the meaning of the phrase to ‘until the rope passes through the eye of a needle.’ The Bible uses the same metaphor. ‘And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’ (Matthew 19:24 ; Mark 10:25 ; Luke 18:25).”

    And about two decades before Schulte-Nafeh and Yuksel’s translation, Muhammad Asad also preferred the word as rope instead of camel in his translation of the Quran.

    1. I’ve read that words for rope and camel were very similar in that region because such ropes were usually made of camel hair in antiquity.

      1. The Arabs probably made rope from camel hair, but I don’t know. I think the similarity between the words “camel” and “rope” in Quranic Arabic probably has more to do with the fact that they are spelled the same (e.g., jim, mim, lam). The words only differ in the “harakat,” or vowel markings. I wonder if the same is true for the Aramaic Bible?

  24. Y’know you can pass a camel through the eye of a needle… if you grind him up finely enough.

    But yeah, I’ve heard the theory it’s κάμιλον/“cable” instead of κάμηλον/“camel.” (It’s listed as a textual variant in the NA26.) In modern Greek pronunciation they sound exactly alike, so there’s every chance if the gospels were copied using dictation, the error could’ve crept in. Especially as “camel” is way more memorable.

  25. Whether it is a rope or a camel, the meaning is the same. There is nothing wrong with being successful and making good money, but God wants HIS gifts to be spread like a sprinkler, not stored up in a bathtub. The vitriol and spewing political nonsense below is disgusting and very much Anti-Christ. If you people talk to other believers this way, over such petty issues, then how do you treat the people we’re supposed to be helping?

    1. I think it’s just amazing to see Christians rationalize the way they do to get away from what the Gospels very obviously say. Like here, for example. The blogger points out a very obvious and serious way that Christians miss the mark. YOUR response is to rationalize away the verse under discussion to justify the pursuit of wealth, then to minimize the seriousness of the sin (does Jesus do that?), then to try to outright bludgeon the blogger into shutting up about it.

      Because silencing people always fixes the problem, right? If people aren’t talking about it, it just magically resolves all by itself?

      My! That’s so Christian!

  26. The context of Jesus’ words shouldnt be forgotten, regardless of whether it was a rope or camel He was talking about. A ‘rich young man’ had just come up to Him and asked what ‘good work’ he needed to do to ‘get eternal life’. He seemed to be rather self-righteous given that he believes he has kept all the commandments Jesus related – effectively the whole Law. But then Jesus tells him he must sell his possessions and share with the poor AND follow Him. Because he feels he cannot do the former, he refuses the latter.

    The Jewish disciples would have believed a rich man such as this had shown himself to be ‘blessed’ by God precisely because he was wealthy, hence their astonished question – if even he cant be ‘saved’ who of us can be (they being relatively poor and therefore seemingly not ‘blessed’ by God)?

    I noticed some comments below have viewed Jesus’ words to mean ‘it is intrinsically impossible for a ‘rich’ person to be saved’.

    I dont agree. It was this rich person’s refusal to let go of his wealth AND follow Jesus that barred him from salvation. But Jesus says both with the poor disciples and the rich, it is possible because it is God who saves, not our wealth or self-righteousness that the rich man had.

    It would also seem there were a number of ‘wealthy’ Christians in the early church who owned property – eg Philemon who owned a big enough home for the church to meet in. Did God require him to sell his property? It seems not. Indeed Acts clearly says some sold their property or land as was required – ‘For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.’

    I would also ask the question – who does God consider ‘rich’? By the world’s standard, just about everyone in the West could be called ‘rich’ in comparison to many people in say, India.


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