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  • Writer's picturePatrick Patton

The Needle Gate: Can a rich man enter heaven?

Can a rich man get into heaven? What did Jesus say?

I was just asked about Matthew 19:24 and the rich man—how it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now there are a lot of interpretations of what people think Jesus meant when he referred to the eye of a needle. Maybe he just meant the eye of a needle—just the literal interpretation? I think he did mean that, but I don't think that's all he meant.

There were a lot of ways to enter the old city of Jerusalem: the Golden Gate, the Damascus Gate, the Lion's Gate, etc. Well supposedly, there was a secret, after-hours gate called the Needle Gate. It was called the Needle Gate because it was a much smaller enterance than the other gates for security reasons. It wasn't designed for high traffic. Still, if your journey didn't go as expected, and you arrived too late, trying to enter the Holy City, but you think you missed your chance... there may be hope for you. You can still enter through the Needle Gate.

The Needle Gate was not designed for camels, especially camels packed high with goods to trade. Even if you weren't a merchant, a rich man would be travelling with many of his possessions, and they would be loaded on the backs of his camels.

The only way a camel can pass through the Needle Gate is to first remove all of its burdens. You'd have to remove the entire load from its back. Once it's laid down all its burdens, it needs to get down on its knees. So it can be done. A camel can enter through the Needle Gate, but not with any burdens on its back, and only after it is bowing down on its knees. It can't carry any goods or possessions in through the gate with it, just like a rich man entering heaven.

Now there are some who say that this is a fable, that there was no needle gate, and that Jesus simply meant the eye of a needle. Well, maybe that is what He meant, and maybe that is ALL he meant. Either way, when the disciples heard this, they asked him, "who then can be saved?"

Jesus' answer should give you hope. This is what he said: "With men, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."

Matthew 24: 23-26

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

24 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.

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

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