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25. The Beatitudes – Enter The Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:13  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 

Matthew 7:14  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 

A Tree and Its Fruit

Matthew 7:15  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 

Matthew 7:16  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 

Matthew 7:17  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 

Matthew 7:18  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 

Matthew 7:19  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 

Matthew 7:20  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 

Jesus mentions many kinds of human behaviour. Let’s look at them one by one:

Matthew 7:13  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Matthew 7:14  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Jesus formally invites His audience to accept His principles as the working policy of their lives, and points out to them the way to begin, and where to begin.

He is the “door” (John 10:7, 9) and the “way” (John 14:6). He who would enter the kingdom of heaven, who would “have life” and “have it more abundantly,” must enter by Him; there is no other way (John 10:7–10).

The gate stands at the beginning of the way, not at the end. It is narrow, and through it may pass only that which is essential to the journey along the way.

Anciently the gates of cities were closed at sunset, and since the cities were often situated atop hills or precipitous rocks, the path that led upward to the gates was often narrow. He who would enter before the closing of the gate must “strive” by persevering effort up the pathway that leads home, to be in time “to enter in” (see Luke 13:24).

The narrowness of the gate calls for self-denial on the part of the one entering it.

Narrow. From the Gr. thlibō, “to compress,” “to squeeze,” hence a way that is compressed, or narrowed, as in a defile between high rocks, in comparison to the “broad,” or easy, way.


Matthew 7:15  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

A true prophet is one who speaks for God. Accordingly, a false prophet is one who pretends to be speaking for God when he speaks only the perverted thoughts of his own perverse.

The false prophets are those who profess that it is possible for men to enter in by the broad gate and the broad way. They are the “thieves,” whose only purpose is to steal, to kill, and to destroy.

There had been no change of heart, but only of appearance, the purpose being, of course, to deceive the sheep and lull them into a false sense of security to devour them with greater ease.

These “wolves” are not only wicked at heart, but opposed to truth and to those who adhere to it. It is their purpose to bring harm to the sheep to bring benefit to themselves.

Matthew 7:16  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

The metaphor changes; the “sheep” are not entirely unprotected—it is within their power to detect the “wolves” by their bearing and by the way they act. The appealing claims these false prophets set forth are no proof of their true character.

Their fair words and exalted profession are no valid test of what they really are, nor can their miracles (v. 22) be depended on. The words “you will know them” may be taken as a promise that the “sheep” who know their Shepherd’s voice (John 10:4) will not be deceived by the fair words of the “wolves” (see 5T 233).

Those who truly love the Lord and are fully surrendered to His will need have no fear of being led astray if they obey the voice of God speaking to their souls day by day through His Word and through the counsels He has given (GC 598; 8T 298).

In the great hour of testing that lies ahead, only those who know the truth and love it will be secure against the deceptions of Satan.

Matthew 7:17  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 

That is, fruit that has a good appearance, a good flavour, and that tastes good. It is attractive in every way. The “fruit of the Spirit” is given in Gal. 5:22, 23.

Bad Fruit. Gr. sapros, “rotten,” “decaying.”

Matthew 7:18  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 

A person whose character is sound will automatically display that character in his words and deeds.

Matthew 7:19  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 

In the fires of the last day the evil fruit, or “works,” shall be “burned up” (2 Peter 3:10–12).

Matthew 7:20  Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 

The statement with which the metaphor of the fruit tree and its fruit was introduced is here repeated at its close, for emphasis.

“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.”—Matthew 7:14.

In the time of Christ the people of Palestine lived in walled towns, which were mostly situated upon hills or mountains. The gates, which were closed at sunset, were approached by steep, rocky roads, and the traveller journeying homeward at the close of the day often had to press his way in eager haste up the difficult ascent in order to reach the gate before nightfall. The loiterer was left without.

The narrow, upward road leading to home and rest, furnished Jesus with an impressive figure of the Christian way. The path which I have set before you, He said, is narrow; the gate is difficult of entrance; for the golden rule excludes all pride and self-seeking.

There is, indeed, a wider road; but its end is destruction. If you would climb the path of spiritual life, you must constantly ascend; for it is an upward way. You must go with the few; for the multitude will choose the downward path.

In the road to death the whole race may go, with all their worldliness, all their selfishness, all their pride, dishonesty, and moral debasement. There is room for all man’s opinions and doctrines, space to follow his inclinations, to do whatever his self-love may dictate. To go in the path that leads to destruction, there is no need of searching for the way; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad, and the feet naturally turn into the path that ends in death.

But the way to life is narrow and the entrance strait. If you cling to any besetting sin, you will find the way too narrow for you to enter. Your own ways, your own will, your evil habits, and practices, must be given up if you would keep the way of the Lord.

He who would serve Christ cannot follow the world’s opinions or meet the world’s standard. Heaven’s path is too narrow for rank and riches to ride in state, too narrow for the play of self-centred ambition, too steep and rugged for lovers of ease to climb.

Toil, patience, self-sacrifice, reproach, poverty, the contradiction of sinners against Himself, was the portion of Christ, and it must be our portion, if we ever enter the Paradise of God.

Yet do not therefore conclude that the upward path is the hard and the downward road the easy way. All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on.

God’s love has made it hard for the heedless and headstrong to destroy themselves. It is true that Satan’s path is made to appear attractive, but it is all a deception; in the way of evil there are bitter remorse and cankering care.

We may think it pleasant to follow pride and worldly ambition, but the end is pain and sorrow. Selfish plans may present flattering promises and hold out the hope of enjoyment, but we shall find that our happiness is poisoned, and our life embittered by hopes that centre in self.

In the downward road the gateway may be bright with flowers, but thorns are in the path. The light of hope which shines from its entrance fades into the darkness of despair, and the soul who follows that path descends into the shadows of unending night.

“The way of transgressors is hard,” but wisdom’s “ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 13:15; 3:17.

Every act of obedience to Christ, every act of self-denial for His sake, every trial well endured, every victory gained over temptation, is a step in the march to the glory of final victory.

If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely. The greatest sinner need not miss his way. Not one trembling seeker need fail of walking in pure and holy light. Though the path is so narrow, so holy that sin cannot be tolerated therein, yet access has been secured for all, and not one doubting, trembling soul need say, “God does not cares about me.”

The road may be rough and the ascent steep; there may be pitfalls upon the right hand and upon the left; we may have to endure toil in our journey; when weary, when longing for rest, we may have to toil on. When faint, we may have to fight; when discouraged, we must still hope; but with Christ as our guide we shall not fail of reaching the desired haven at last.

Christ Himself has trodden the rough way before us and has smoothed the path for our feet.

And all the way up the steep road leading to eternal life are well-springs of joy to refresh the weary. Those who walk in wisdom’s ways are, even in tribulation, exceeding joyful; for He whom their soul loves, walks, invisible, beside them.

At each upward step they discern more distinctly the touch of His hand; at every step brighter gleaming of glory from the Unseen fall upon their path; and their songs of praise, reaching ever a higher note, ascend to join the songs of angels before the throne.

 “The path of the righteous  is as the light of dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.“

Beware of false prophets.”—Matthew 7:15.

Teachers of falsehood will arise to draw you away from the narrow path and the strait gate. Beware of them; though concealed in sheep’s clothing, inwardly they are ravening wolves. Jesus gives a test by which false teachers may be distinguished from the true. “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” He says. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”

We are not bidden to prove them by their fair speeches and exalted professions. They are to be judged by the word of God. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

Proverbs 19:27  My son, if you stop listening to what I teach you, you will wander away from the words of knowledge. 

What message do these teachers bring? Does it lead you to reverence and fear God? Does it lead you to manifest your love for Him by loyalty to His commandments?

If men do not feel the weight of the moral law; if they make light of God’s precepts; if they break one of the least of His commandments, and teach men so, they shall be of no esteem in the sight of heaven. We may know that their claims are without foundation. They are doing the very work that originated with the prince of darkness, the enemy of God.

Not all who profess His name and wear His badge are Christ’s. Many who have taught in My name, said Jesus, will be found wanting at last. “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And  then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

There are persons who believe that they are right when they are wrong. While claiming Christ as their Lord, and professedly doing great works in His name, they are workers of iniquity. “With their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness.” He who declares God’s word is to them “as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear Your words, but they do them not.” Ezekiel 33:31, 32.

A mere profession of discipleship is of no value. The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” they say, “and you need not keep the law.” But a belief that does not lead to obedience is presumption. The apostle John says,

 “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4.

Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. When persons will speak lightly of the word of God, and set their impressions, feelings, and exercises above the divine standard, we may know that they have no light in them.

Obedience is the test of discipleship. It is the keeping of the commandments that proves the sincerity of our professions of love. When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God.

When benevolence, kindness,  tenderheartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when the joy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order. “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:3.ay.” Proverbs 4:18 , R.V., margin.

Updated on 16th Nov 2022

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