The narrow door (Lk 13:23-13:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Strive to enter

Through the narrow door!

I tell you!

Many will try

To enter

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?

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Seek the kingdom! (Lk 12:31-12:31)

“Instead!

Strive

For his kingdom!

All these things

Will be given

To you

As well.”

 

πλὴν ζητεῖτε τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.

 

Luke had Jesus give a simple solution.  Instead of worrying, they were to strive or seek (πλὴν ζητεῖτε) his kingdom (τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ).  Then all these things would be given to them as well (καὶ ταῦτα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν).  Once again, Matthew, chapter 6:33, had a similar Jesus saying, indicating a common Q source, as the same theme continued.  Thus, they should seek or strive first (ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον) for the kingdom (τὴν βασιλείαν) and his righteousness (καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ).  Then all these other things would be taken care of for them (καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν).  Do you seek the kingdom of God?

Seek the kingdom first (Mt 6:31-6:33)

“Therefore,

Do not be anxious!

Saying.

‘What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?’

The gentiles

Strive for all these things.

Your heavenly Father

Knows

That you need

All these things.

But strive first

For the kingdom!

Strive

For his righteousness!

Then all these things

Will be given

To you as well.”

 

μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες· Τί φάγωμεν; ἤ· Τί πίωμεν; ἤ· Τί περιβαλώμεθα;

πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.

ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:29-31, has a similar Jesus saying, indicating a common Q source.  The same theme continues.  They should not be worried or anxious (μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες).  Why are they anxious about what to eat (Τί φάγωμεν), to drink (ἤ Τί πίωμεν), or to wear (ἤ·Τί περιβαλώμεθα)?  Those are the kind of questions that gentiles ask about (πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν).  Matthew continued his attack on the gentile, non-Jewish people.  Their heavenly Father knew about everything that they needed (οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων).  Thus, they should seek or strive first (ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον) for the kingdom (τὴν βασιλείαν) and his righteousness (καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ).  Then all these other things would be taken care of for them (καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν).  A couple of manuscripts say kingdom of God (βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ), instead of just the kingdom, but that is not in the main manuscripts.  Matthew always used the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of God.

Inclusive Model of Salvation

The inclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the normative expression of God’s will for all people.  The problem is that many people have never known Christ.  What role has the God of love for them?  Is Christian faith offered to everyone?  Some Christians believe in predestination so that only a few are chosen.  Christianity has always been missionary, sometimes overly zealous, as in the Crusades and the Inquisition.  What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ?  The Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) in the 16th century talked about a baptism of desire.  You will be saved by Jesus without knowing him.  Salvation is fully found in Jesus, but offered to everyone in all genuine religions who live the good life, who sincerely seek God, moved by grace, and strive by their deeds to do his will as they know it.  Sometimes we call them like Karl Rahner (1904-1984) “anonymous Christians.”

The role of a historian (2 Macc 2:29-2:31)

“The master builder of a new house must be concerned with the whole construction. However, the one who undertakes its painting and decoration has to consider only what is suitable for its adornment. Such in my judgment is the case with us. It is the duty of the original historian to occupy the ground, to discuss matters from every side, and to take trouble with details. However, the one who recasts the narrative should be allowed to strive for brevity of expression and to forego exhaustive treatment.”

Do not look for details in this presentation. That was the work of the original historian. This is something to remember when reading many of the books of the Bible. The builder of the house must be concerned with the whole construction. However, the painter only has to worry about how it looks. The original historian had to discuss matters from every side and go into the details. The painter, like himself, only is concerned with the narrative. He will be brief and not exhaustive in his presentation. He is not a historian, neither are any of the other biblical writers.