Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Issues Not Usually Addressed When Discussing Paying Off Home Debt | Main | How to Immediately Lower Your Economic Class -- Move to San Francisco (Or Anywhere in California) »

October 28, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think your take is spot-on perfect. The point here is that Grace is the only thing that will save us, that it is impossible for us to merit salvation on our own terms, and that material wealth can be a real threat to our ability to stay open to God's grace by placing him above all else in our lives. The whole "gate in Jerusalem" interpretation is almost certainly historically inaccurate, though if it helps you sleep at night, okay by me. (FWIW, I have a degree in Theology from Notre Dame, so I love these kinds of debates. Keep 'em coming!)

I believe you are right on as well. I have heard the other interpretations (particularly the one in which the needle's eye is a gate in Jerusalem) and they are lacking because they don't cover all the available information.

Apparently the idea of it being a gate can be traced back to a single monk who got a bit fancy with his explanations. Possibly because he had a rich patron, or maybe because he was a creative sort.

One of my Bible teachers (who is also an archaeologist) confirmed this for our class.

I think you're right about the attitude, but the question is--if they discover the right attitude, how long will they still be "rich"? (unless they have an excellent salary.)

I think it's a saying and as such, not meant to be taken literally. It is difficult to be rich and good. It is difficult to be rich and devote your life to religion. It is difficult to do the right thing at all times. What the phrase 'the eye of the needle' literally means, is not really that important.

plonkee, are you becoming a theologian? I think you are right, the verse that I would reference is

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

God does not condemn wealth, but he condemns making it a person's number one priority.

The laborer is worthy of his hire.


Great explanation of this passage, It is a shame when people try to take scriptures out of context and use them to prove a point. That scripture is one that I hear over and over (particularly from people who have never opened a Bible) and I am glad that you explained it so thoroughly.

I don't think "rich" has a dollar amount attached to it. I have seen people with not much money who would qualify as being "rich" like the young ruler in that passage, because they are so attached to their possessions. They were choosing to serve mammon rather than God.

On the other hand I have seen people who had a ton of cash, but realized that they were merely stewards of what God had given them and cared very little about material possessions. They were focused on using their wealth to help people and do whatever God required of them.

In Jesus' day, the rich were considered to be on the fast track to heaven. God's covenant with Israel had a component of material blessing, so material wealth was considered a sign you were on God's good side. When Jesus speaks the famous line, I don't think it was particularly meant as a condemnation of the rich vs. the poor, and it's DEFINITELY not a statement that the poor have an easy time. Instead, it was meant to shock the audience into realizing how difficult it is to get into heaven -- even the rich, who God has greatly blessed, will have an impossible time of it!

This is why the disciples respond with "who then can be saved?" rather than "good thing we're poor." If even the rich, those greatly blessed by God, will struggle to get into heaven, then nobody can! At least not on their own strength, but "what is impossible with men is possible with God" (as in FMF's point #5 above.)

Jesus was not particularly condemning wealth in this passage. He was, rather, establishing two things: (1) Getting into heaven is out of reach unless God Himself opens the way. It's impossible for even the most pious, most supposedly "blessed" members of society to get into heaven on their own terms. (2) Following God may require you to give up things in this life that you thought were God's blessings, such as wealth and family. But God's blessings in heaven are so much greater that it's worth it. Both of these principles can be seen throughout scripture.

(Also, for future reference, I'd prefer to be named when quoted.)

So, all'ya people with good savings around here, would you give all your posessions to the poor and go preach Christianity to, say, Africa, or some other remote place? That would be as close as one can get to actually following Jesus by today's standards, I would say.

I am guessing that now everyone will raise their hand and say that they would glaaadly follow Jesus wherever he goes shall he ever call upon your service.

Yeah, right.

You are all sitting here, splitting hairs while calculating to the 1/100 of a cent how much 10% would be of your gross (or is it net?) income so you could check that soul-saving activity off your list and move on to calculating how much you will save on the next flight to your Orlando vacation with the kids if you switch your credit card plan once more... or some other inspirational thing like that.

LotharBot --

"Also, for future reference, I'd prefer to be named when quoted."

Sorry, I don't do this. My policy is to simply list quotes and people can go back to the original post and see who is quoted if they like. If this doesn't work for you, then you will need to refrain from commenting.

Elena is right - Jesus calls us to sacrifice...what are YOU (what am I) willing to give up to follow Jesus? And Elena, remember that by the same standard you judge, you will be judged.

Who wants to give all their money to a Guatemalan orphanage?

Quoting and discussing passages from a book from which texts have been changed throughout the centuries to better control people with seems foolish.
Read "Misquoting Jesus" written by a foremost bible scholar and "born again " and you'll understand how he became an atheist.

Doubting, Thomas?

Interesting conversation! i agree with your post. I also just blogged in detail about these verses on my God & Mammon blog.


Your attitude (here and in other posts) doesn't say "please have a conversation with me, I'm curious", it says "I'm here to insult and belittle you, because I've already judged you and nothing you can say will change that." I hope you can understand, then, why I'm not going to attempt to give a substantive response to you. Sorry. (If you're actually interested in a response, please try again without the troll mentality.)

Thomas, is a great review of Misquoting Jesus. Essentially... in terms of scholarship, it doesn't say anything modern Biblical scholars don't already know, and it doesn't tell you anything you wouldn't learn by reading the scholars notes in something like the NET Bible ( It follows up the worthwhile textual criticism with some speculation, which is not of interest to me.

In terms of relevance to this discussion, here are the actual textual issues with the passages in question:

1) in some late manuscripts, "camel" has been changed to "rope" (in Greek, this is a change of an i to an e.) It's quite obvious that "camel" is the original.
2) in the Luke passage, the words "becoming sad" are repeated in some manuscripts -- the man became sad; when Jesus saw him (becoming sad) he blah blah blah. This is an insubstantial change; it doesn't affect the meaning of the passage.
3) in the Mark version, some manuscripts don't have the words "for the rich" in verse 24, saying simply "how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God." Jesus made the full statement a verse earlier. The shortened form slightly strengthens my argument #1 in my previous post, but if it's not original, my argument still has plenty of support.

In other words, it's not foolish to quote, discuss, and debate this particular passage. The reasoning you gave would be valid if we were discussing, say, the woman caught in adultery in John 8, but it's not valid reasoning for this passage.


fair enough. Would it be too much for me to ask that you drop me an e-mail if you quote me, then? I like to know when I'm being quoted so I can make sure to respond, clarify, or whatever else.

LotharBot --

I'm sorry, it would be too much. I use comments all the time and if I had to email everyone every time I used his/her comment, it would be a real time drain. Sorry.


I should apologize. I did not mean to come across as a troll. I am actually not a troll. I am just a person with alot of scepticism about the religiois subjects that are being discussed on this blog, that is why I am here asking questions.

Wonderful topic ... and I think that the key to the passage is the point that it's impossible, except by grace.

The rich man was there trying to find out how he could become perfect under the law, and he probably lacked a lot more than the one thing ... but Jesus was making a point. What he lacked was the perfect heart to live completely and perfectly for God.

So do we all, of course.

I think the reason He specifically mentioned the rich is that they do have to spend a lot of time and effort becoming and staying rich. They also get used to being rich, and don't like having to give that up.

In much the same way, it would be difficult for a brilliant philosopher and scientist to accept that there are things he just can't understand. It's difficult for strong military leaders to accept that they can't be in control of everything.

Only by God's grace is it possible.

Lothar Bot, I really liked your responses above to the confusion that some of us (self certainly) feel when reading some of these passages. I hadn't thought about your explanation, that rich itself wasn't the problem. The "then who can be saved?" question did make me kind of confused, so your explanation helped there, too.

I do wonder, though, why Jesus seemed so often to emphasize giving up your wealth and to avoid laying up earthly treasures. This combined with other passages on trusting God alone for your daily needs (not wants) makes it seem like it's wrong to save or invest money at all.

Bert --

He probably emphasized it so often because it can be a great stumbling block for so many. 1 Tim 6:10 says:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

But the Bible does talk about saving and investing quite a bit as well. A couple references:

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. Prov 21:20

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. Prov 6:6-8

I think the key is in keeping first things first. We need to use money and serve people and not serve money and use people.

I find it interesting that Jesus was so specifically talking about wealth here (and talks about it a lot, in many other contexts), and yet many of the commenters want to run as quickly as possible to make the passage not about wealth anymore.

So many people say that it's about the attitude, not the wealth. Okay then, wouldn't a good test of that attitude be whether or not you're willing to give up the wealth? And if you're not willing to give it up, while so much of the world goes without, then doesn't that show something about your attitude? It's not just that passages like 1 John 3:16-18 exist, it's that the same principle could easily be derived from the Bible and early Christianity whether or not anyone had ever stated it explicitly.

auioodkeuaf, i experienced been so touched just what that evening as well also construction brings you turned on i'm certainly to severely illustrate on all my life | Zara On Sale give cheers dealing with you a simple exceptional deal! Zara On Sale ∈Ψtnpmvhgreb

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.