About the narrow way and the small gate


What do you understand by the “narrow way” and “small gate” and how does one find them?

About the narrow way and the small gateTo understand the truth of the Holy Scriptures, let us look first at …

The Biblical text

The words were said by the Lord Jesus in the famous Sermon on the Mount and they are the following:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) (NASB)

Context is the key to understanding

Throughout the centuries, many took these verses out of context and used them to introduce different kind of human laws and commandments which led to extreme legalism, but in reality are just the opposite to the words of the Lord Jesus. To understand these verses we must look at the whole sermon of the Lord Jesus, written in chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew. Maybe it would be better to read this passage before you continue reading this article, or read it after reading the article.

Pay attention to the key verse

The key verse of the Sermon on the Mount is closely related to understanding the truth about the “narrow way” and “small gate” and it is the following:

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)(NASB)

During this sermon of the mount, the Lord Jesus has contrasted the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees with the righteousness of God.

How have some “narrowed” the narrow way?

Pharisees were the narrowest religious party of the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, and because of their zeal for holiness (but actually to make themselves conspicuous before others) they added 600 more commandments to the Word written by God in the Old Testament. To understand how they “narrowed” this way, I give you an example. The fourth of the 10 commandments says to work six days and the seventh day to rest. But the Pharisees added many commandments, such as not to walk more than a certain number of steps in the Sabbath day and not to eat the eggs that the hen laid on this day, because in their view, the hen tired and so it sinned (as if the Law was given to hens and not to men). At first glance, the way they follow seems to be the narrowest way and it can not be narrower. But in fact, the Lord Jesus says …

Pharisees left God’s commandment

Lord Jesus had many confrontations with the Pharisees about this problem and once, when they accused Him that His disciples were eating with unwashed hands, the Savior said that:

And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (Mark 7:6-13)(NASB)

Pharisees have left the narrow way when they set aside the Word of God through their tradition.

The small gate and the narrow way is living according to the Word of God

It is also the Sermon on the Mount, when the Lord Jesus said that God’s righteousness is the condition to enter into the kingdom of heaven and this is the fulfillment of the Word of God left on the Holy Scriptures pages:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)(NASB)

What is your attitude towards God’s Word? How much time do you spend studying it? How do you apply the Word in your life? What do you communicate to others from the Holy Scriptures? What does the answer to all these questions tell you? Do you go on the narrow way or not?

Translated by Felicia Rotaru