“Jesus said to them.
‘Strive to enter
Through the narrow door!
I tell you!
Many will try
And will not be able.’”
ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς
Ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας, ὅτι πολλοί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν.
Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) that they were to strive (Ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter (εἰσελθεῖν) through the narrow door (διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας). With a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus said that many people (ὅτι πολλοί) would try to enter (ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν), but not be able to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν). This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:13-14, where it was part of the Sermon on the Mount, not a response to a question. Matthew had Jesus go into great detail about the narrow gate and not a door. Jesus wanted them to enter the narrow gate (ἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης). Matthew in his description of the wide or spacious gate (ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος) used two words for wide and spacious, “πλατεῖα” and “εὐρύχωρος,” that never appear elsewhere in the New Testament. The easy way of the wide gate led to destruction (ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν). Many people were entering through this wide destructive easy gate (καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς). On the other hand, the narrow gate (ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη) had a difficult way, leading to life (καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν). Only a few people were able to find their way through this difficult hard narrow life filled gate (καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν). This idea of two ways can be found also in Deuteronomy, chapter 30:15-20, and among other religions with the way of death and the way of life. The early Christian teachings of the Didache used this concept, as did many other dualistic religions that pointed to the choice of life or death, good or bad. As you had basic choices in life, God was giving you this choice, life and prosperity with the narrow gate or death and adversity with the wide gate. You had a choice between two gates. The choice of path was yours. Do you prefer the wide or the narrow door?
“Then they said to Jesus.
Like the disciples
Of the Pharisees,
Οἱ δὲ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν Οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου νηστεύουσιν πυκνὰ καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται, ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ τῶν Φαρισαίων, οἱ δὲ σοὶ ἐσθίουσιν καὶ πίνουσιν.
Luke used the ambiguous “they” to lodge a complaint against the disciples of Jesus. They said to Jesus (Οἱ δὲ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν) that John’s disciples (Οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου) frequently fasted (νηστεύουσιν πυκνὰ) and often made prayers (καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται). Likewise, the disciples of the Pharisees also fasted and prayed (ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ τῶν Φαρισαίων). However, the disciples of Jesus ate and drank (οἱ δὲ σοὶ ἐσθίουσιν καὶ πίνουσιν), since they did not fast. Apparently, fasting was a unique Jewish practice in ancient times. However, most religions of the world today have some kind of fasting or not eating certain foods or drinks for a specific amount of time. Mark, chapter 2:18, and Matthew, chapter 9:14, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this incident, although there are some differences. Mark had the disciples of John the Baptist acting together with the Pharisees, as they both agreed about fasting. They wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not fast. The disciples of John seemed to be on the side of the Pharisees, and not with the followers of Jesus. Matthew had only the disciples of John the Baptist, without the Pharisees, show up wanting to know why the disciples of Jesus did not fast. These disciples of John came to Jesus, since John was in jail. They may have remained a separate group, since some people have traced followers of John the Baptist to the Mandaeans along the Iraq-Iran border.
Jesus may not be the only Savior. We can learn from other religions. New is not wrong, just like the ideas of slavery have changed. This psychology of faith says we have to follow the example of Jesus, really experience the presence of God in Jesus. The Christian mission to teach all remains, but Christianity is not the final or superior religion. Christianity is the best good news, not the only good news. We appreciate all colors, but those in love say that the most beautiful woman in the world is the women that that they love.
Theism proclaims that there is a mysterious transcendent God out there. We need to know and understand this higher power. We can find a way to describe our transcendent God by using human terms. Most religions believe in some higher power. The place and how contact is made with this mysterious power is often different among theist believers. Theism is a positive response to the question of God, as opposed to the negative response of atheism.