Camel Through The Eye Of A Needle? Or Have You Been Reading The Bible Wrong?

Camel Through The Eye Of A Needle? Or Have You Been Reading The Bible Wrong? February 23, 2017

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Have you been reading the Bible wrong this whole time? Probably– but I’ll try to help sort that out for you.

One of the most famous sayings of Jesus is “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (This quote is found in Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, and Luke 18:25.)

I remember this verse well from my childhood, and remember Sunday School teachers explaining the meaning to me as if these well-intentioned souls were biblical scholars– and the explanation they gave is one that many people today have accepted in regards to this passage.

The explanation usually goes like this: There were gates to the entrance of the city that had small openings called “needles” and in order for camels to pass through, they had to get down on their bellies and wiggle themselves through the eye of the needle. The basic application of this exegesis was that rich people face a lot of barriers to becoming Christian.

However, there are a few major problems with this understanding of the passage.

First and foremost we have no evidence that in the time of Jesus, any such a gate existed in Jerusalem. In fact, there’s a much stronger case that such a gate with an “eye of the needle” did not exist at that time. On the surface, this would at a minimum lead us to believe that Jesus was using an exaggerated metaphor of a camel passing through a sewing needle.

But even that understanding is problematic in my opinion.

Earlier today I was reading a piece on biblical literacy by Andy Gill. In the piece he references this, and correctly notes that some translations don’t use the word camel at all, but translate it as “it is easier to put a rope through a needle.”

This, in my opinion, was more along the lines of what Jesus was saying. Let me explain:

Translation obviously isn’t always an exact science when you’re working with dead languages (languages not used anymore), and when you’re working from ancient manuscripts that have textual variants. It’s why decent seminaries will force you to undergo painful years of working to master these ancient languages.

In this case we have an even bigger issue: the New Testament is written in ancient Greek, but Jesus most likely would have spoken Aramaic most of the time (though he likely knew three languages that were all important in first century Palestine).

First, in Greek there are similarities between the word for rope and camel, which is why there is debate over the correct translation of the passage (though when dealing with Greek, the word camel often wins the day). But if we go deeper into ancient languages we see even more similarities—- in some cases the difference between rope and camel is just one letter– making the case for the argument that Jesus didn’t use the word “camel” at all, even stronger. The reason why the tie breaker between camel and rope should go to rope, is because of context.

Theodore R. Lorah explains that the word for rope in these ancient languages actually speaks of a rope used to anchor a massive ship (a hawser). The hawser would often be braided, and likely would have been the thickest size of rope that anyone at that time could have imagined. Lorah writes, “The image of the oceangoing vessel with a heavy, braided rope hawser holding to the anchor or tying the ship to the pier makes the image much stronger…” in reference to this exaggerated metaphor.

So here’s where we’re at: in both Greek and Semitic languages the difference between camel and a ship’s hawser is so similar that it makes total sense there would be translation confusions. Rendering the verse as a “camel through the eye of a needle” would potentially make sense if we had any evidence that a gate with a needle’s eye existed at the time, which we don’t. However, when we add in the fact that Jesus lived in a fishing village and that his first disciples were fishermen, rendering the verse as “It is easier for a ship’s hawser to pass through the eye of a needle” makes more sense.

As Lorah summarizes:

“As they used their hand-held needles and thread to mend (fishing) nets, Jesus said: “It is easier for a hawser to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The logic is inescapable, and the language moves in that direction, as soon as one looks to the Semitic tradition behind the Greek text, working in the languages which Jesus fluently read and spoke.”

Even though in both cases it is exaggerated metaphor, the word we choose does change the impact of the passage. A camel passing through the eye of a gate is hard, but not uncommon. A ship’s anchor rope passing through a sewing needle?

That would be both impossible and unheard of.

Kind of like a rich person wanting to join a Kingdom where the poor are the ones who are blessed.

So, have you been reading the Bible wrong all this time?

I believe so– and I believe that the best translation of this passage doesn’t involve animals at all.


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com. 

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  • Jon Erickson

    NICE!!!! I have heard that explanation of the gate so many times before and knew it was B.S. I will hold this explanation dear to my heart. Now if only the people who need to hear it can and will.

  • JimA

    I love that you posted this. A great many years ago, I (a layman, FWIW) ran across that alternative and lesser used “rope” translation for the “camel” word somewhere. For all this time, I thought maybe I was the only one in the whole world (and maybe for all time?) that saw the likelihood of rope-and-needle being the intended imagery. It sure made more sense than some of the gymnastics and fictions surprisingly universally offered to illuminate this passage. Nicely done!

  • Timothy Weston

    This makes me think what other sections of the Bible are based on misspellings or mistranslations (like in the creation story)

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Most MSs have camel, not rope, and as a scribal error assuming correcting the text to the more “logical” rope makes more sense than from rope to camel.
    I agree the gate explanation is bogus, because the expression is actually very simple to understand: the very biggest animal (no elephants in 1st century Judea) passing through the very smallest hole. No further explanation is required.

  • ashpenaz

    “Arsenkoites” and “malakoi” are also mistranslated as “homosexual.” The word “homosexual” was not coined until the mid-19th century, so that could not possibly have been what Paul was thinking about.

  • Guy Norred

    Whatever the metaphor, I think it really comes down to how one defines “rich”. (If there is any further specificity to the ancient languages, chalk it up to my not knowing any of them.) Richness is relative. What it means to be rich varies greatly by time and place. I have come to consider richness to be enough wealth that one relies on it first, looks to it for comfort in stress, or takes if for granted in ways that suggest it is deserved (specifically if deserved more than others). In that way, most people I know, not least of all myself, probably fall into the category at one time or another. Entering the Kingdom is about relying on God and looking out for others. I have known people who held their relative great wealth lightly and exemplified the Kingdom much more than most people without their resources, but I have also known them to be exceptional in this. Wealth, by creating the illusion of self sufficiency, blinds us to the many things.

  • David

    The story of a camel going through a small gate and having to get on its knees after unloading all the baggage is a great analogy of coming to God in humbleness.
    The argument there may not have been a small gate called the needle at the Temple during Jesus time does not seem significant to me. When we read the scriptures in the context of their time we understand Jesus is a Jew and speaking to Jewish followers. He often refers to Old Testament scripture and ideas. Note the book of Nehemiah lists ten different gates while other gates are listed in later times. If there had been such a gate in the memory of the Jews of Jesus day they would have known it. So my point is we cannot look at Jesus’ words according to his specific time.
    The idea of a hawser for a large ship also does not connect since we are looking at the fishing villages you speak of being around the Sea of Galilee which is a fresh water lake approximately 13 miles long by 8 miles wide. But the idea of a smaller rope which would be used for smaller fishing vessels going through a needle makes more sense. Also if we think not of a small sewing needle but a large wooden needle for repairing fishing nets we are more on track for the fishing industry you mention.
    I think Jesus could very well be speaking of a needle such as those used for fishing nets or he could have been talking about a smaller needle for clothing or even a small portal in a gate. Either way I find no difficulty in the use of an animal such as a camel to make the point it would be impossible for man but only possible by God.
    Thank you for your writings, I always enjoy your point of view and the new ideas you present.

  • MichaelElwood

    That’s interesting, Benjamin. There’s a similar verse in the Quran:

    “Surely, those who reject our revelations and are too arrogant to uphold them, the gates of the sky will never open for them, nor will they enter Paradise until the camel passes through the needle’s eye. . . .” [Quran 7:40]

    However, about a decade ago, Prof. Martha Schulte-Nafeh and Edip Yuksel suggested that the word translated as “camel” should be translated as “rope”. In the footnote for this verse, they wrote:

    “If the word jamal is read as jummal (rope), then it changes the meaning of the phrase to ‘until the rope passes through the eye of a needle.’ The Bible uses the same metaphor. ‘And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’ (Matthew 19:24 ; Mark 10:25 ; Luke 18:25).”

    And about two decades before Schulte-Nafeh and Yuksel’s translation, Muhammad Asad also preferred the word as rope instead of camel in his translation of the Quran.

  • Y’know you can pass a camel through the eye of a needle… if you grind him up finely enough.

    But yeah, I’ve heard the theory it’s κάμιλον/“cable” instead of κάμηλον/“camel.” (It’s listed as a textual variant in the NA26.) In modern Greek pronunciation they sound exactly alike, so there’s every chance if the gospels were copied using dictation, the error could’ve crept in. Especially as “camel” is way more memorable.

  • Bones

    The gates theory has long been debunked.

    There simply were none.

    It’s just more dishonesty.

  • Tim

    A lot of bad doctrines have come out of mistranslations and other misunderstandings arising from cultural and linguistic differences of time and place that have been missed or not accounted for. This is one of the milder ones.
    Unfortunately, most people have been indoctrinated to think about these scriptures in only one way for so long, that this stuff gets perpetuated. It’s also unfortunate that it continues to be reinforced rather than corrected from the pulpit.

  • Deborah Dean

    Another story I learned in church which turns out to be untrue. Thanks for this. Very interesting and another example of how translation errors can change the whole meaning of a passage.

  • menomanmd

    now you’re gonna have a whole bunch of pastors get in the pulpit to show off their new shiny toy – it’s rope! BUT “Manuscripts of Mark consistently say “camel.” A few manuscripts of Matthew and Luke have “rope” instead of “camel.” But this is because the two words are different in only one letter, and they sound alike when pronounced. Later scribes, transcribing orally, might have HEARD “rope” when the word was actually camel. It’s virtually certain, in other words, that Jesus said “camel.” In either case, however, the point is impossibility.” – from Mike Goreman. #followthemanuscripttree

  • Alan Christensen

    Yes. The point of the metaphor is the same either way. I do find this an interesting textual point (and fortunately, I’m not a pastor though I do preach occasionally). Of course the “camel” reading could be correct even if it’s found in a minority of MSS.

  • Alan Christensen

    Then there’s the KJV-only cultists who decry any “changing God’s word” in modern translations. For instance, if Rev. 1:5 in your Bible says, “To him who loves us and freed [instead of washed] us from our sins by his blood” you HAVEN’T BEEN WASHED IN THE BLOOD!

  • Alan Christensen

    The gate explanation, though, gives the rich a bigger loophole (pardon the pun).

  • Anne Le Bas

    The problem with the “gate” story is that it implies that if we are humble enough we can enter his kingdom with all our riches – which is a bit of a get out clause for those who need to let go of their stuff but would rather not. The point Jesus was making was that it was impossible for us to do so. The kingdom of heaven requires a radical change in our lives.

  • Anne Le Bas

    I heard or read somewhere that this image of something impossibly large trying to get through the eye of a needle was a common proverb in the ancient world – whatever it was I read (sorry, no idea what the source was now!) said that in India the proverb involved an elephant trying to get through the eye of the needle. It’s like we would say in the UK that we are “trying to fit a quart into a pint pot”, when we are trying to do too much.

  • John Smith

    The meaning of the parable is that it IS impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

    Hence why Jesus says “With men this is impossible”

    Then the point of Jesus sharing the story is revealed with His quote “With God all things are possible” – Jesus telling is us it’s God, not us, who can save us from our sin.

  • Dean

    I will say this though, it is troubling to hear about the story of the rich young ruler who was told by Jesus to give all he had to the poor and follow him, only to have everyone sitting in the congregation say to themselves, what a relief, thank God I’m not a rich man, as they drive home in their luxury sedans. To make matters worse, pastors have been trained to explain this one away by saying, well Jesus knew that the rich young ruler loved wealth more than anything else, what is it that you love more than God? Certainly it’s not wealth, since it’s just not practical to give everything to the poor and Jesus would never tell you to do something that impractical (as if it was practical for the rich young ruler). When 100% of people think a parable isn’t about them it likely means it is of universal application. There is an entire cottage industry among theologians to explain how Jesus didn’t literally mean what he said (except as it corresponds to one’s own agenda).

  • In order for your argument to work, though, you would have to demonstrate that, at some point in history, there would have been a gate in Jerusalem called “the Needle” and that everyone listening to Jesus would be familiar with it. Do you have any evidence like that?

    As much as one might think a camel on its knees is an appropriate image for a rich man entering heaven, there’s no reason at all to think that’s what Jesus meant.

  • OR if you have a really large needle.

  • Guy Norred

    Thanking God for not being something doesn’t seem to ever turn out well. In that I will agree. I don’t find it any stretch though to take the story at least a bit as you point out is commonly taught. There are numerous accounts of Jesus speaking to rich people without bringing up their wealth. Of course we likely only have part of those conversations, and he certainly did speak of wealth in general senses. Like any number of other things, it seems that it gets made out as the bad guy when when we should be looking at ourselves. The love of money is the root of all evil becomes money is the root of all evil. Do not be drunk with wine becomes simply don’t drink. This puts the onus on the object when when it is we ourselves that is the problem. (speaking of jumping through hoops to explain a story when it might go against your agenda, you haven’t heard anything until you hear a sermon on the wedding at Cana from a vehemently anti-alcohol preacher)

  • Ron McPherson

    I always wondered what the KJV only crowd would hand a Spanish speaking new believer (or Chinese, or Russian, etc). So if it’s the only version that can be used, where does that leave all the other non-English speaking people lol? There’s a church in my area whose sign reads something like, “King James, premillennial, pre-tribulation”. God help us

  • Ron McPherson

    I bet the people got drunk on Welch’s

  • Guy Norred

    The very best of Welch’s :-)

  • Herm

    … made in jars of water???

  • John

    Exactly, this was exactly what I was going to respond. Whether a camel or a rope, the entire point centers around the impossibility of what’s being mentioned, as seen by the apostles’ response.

  • John

    Whether camel or rope does nothing to change the meaning of the verse. The apostle’s response and Jesus’s response to them makes it clear that whatever is being talked about is seen as impossible.

  • John

    That really isn’t what needs to be proved because there isn’t evidence that the gate doesn’t exist.

    The main point is that it’s fairly irrelevant because Jesus tells us exactly what his point is in the analogy.

  • John

    The word “bed” didn’t exist in Paul’s time either, yet “koitai” is the Greek word for bed. Whether an english term existed in Paul’s time doesn’t mean the concept didn’t exist.

    Although, I would clarify that Paul’s use of the word would be related to the sexual act, not the state of being a person who’s attracted to people of the same sex.

  • John

    Not when you read it in context. Jesus makes it clear that the act in question is impossible without God.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    The story about a gate called the eye of a needle is clearly bogus.

    I’m not sure about the quote referring to a rope instead of a camel though, because we have another Jewish source from around that era using a similar hyperbolic expression about an Elephant passing through the eye of a needle.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I believe I have heard that the proverb about an elephant passing through the eye of a needle comes from the Babylonian Talmud. That would make sense if it was a common Jewish saying. Elephants would be the largest animals seen in Babylon, whereas Camels were the largest seen in Judea.

  • Anne Le Bas

    Yes, I think that’s it. Thank you.

  • There’s no evidence there wasn’t a gate in Jerusalem called Willa Wonga Booga Boo, either, but that’s not really how logic or exegesis works. You can’t make up some referent for Jesus’ teachings and then say, “Well, there’s no evidence that referent DOESN’T exist.” You could make up pretty much anything you wanted at that point.

    Observe.

    When Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” he doesn’t mean your actual enemies. There was a gang of disaffected poor teenagers in Jerusalem called “The Enemies,” and they vandalized property and beat people up and whatnot. Jesus knew that all they needed was love and acceptance, so he urged everyone not to respond to them in kind, but rather love them. But he didn’t mean your enemies in general – he meant this gang. You are actually still free to respond violently to everyone else.

    What? There’s no evidence this gang didn’t exist.

    And that’s what makes this discussion relevant. Taking the teeth out of Jesus’ statements with evangelical urban legends is a tool for sterilizing him and making his way of life comfortable and compatible with modern evangelical sensibilities.

  • John

    2 points:
    1) I’m simply saying that the lack of evidence of the gate isn’t an argument for the translation being wrong. It may be a gate, it may actually mean an camel going through a sewing needle, etc.

    2) Even with under the assumption of the gate the meaning isn’t changed at all. The apostles and Jesus go on to stress it’s impossibility without God.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    The odd thing is that many early Christians had the same bizarre views about the authority of the Greek Septuagint. In the first few centuries of the church, most Christians believed that this 3rd century BC translation was divinely inspired and authoritative but that the original Hebrew texts which the 70 used as their sources were not inspired or worth studying. When Jerome went back to the Hebrew manuscripts as a basis for the Vetus Testamentum of his Latin Vulgate, many considered it blasphemous. Most of it was eventually adopted anyway, but his Hebrew-based book of Psalms was rejected. He was forced to provide an alternative version of that based on the Septuagint.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    It depends on which KJV-only group you mean.

    Many of them don’t care so much about KJV per se but insist that only the manuscripts used by its translators are authoritative. They might even accept more modern translations from the same sources, so long as they do not reference any of the (more reliable) manuscripts used in most modern translations. They reason that God would not let his perfect word be forgotten entirely, so older manuscripts with variant wordings were only ever lost because they were defective. They do not trust modern methods of textual criticism which compares multiple defective texts in order to try to reconstruct the original reading. They only trust the majority text, or Erasmus’s Textus Receptus. These types of course would not have a problem with using those same sources to make translations in other languages.

    Some KJV only types place the authority of the English KJV so high that they insist the English KJV is the inspired version which should be the basis of all translations into foreign languages. They would not want those translations to be checked against the Greek or Hebrew originals, lest corrections make them diverge from the common English understanding. (Some fall between this and the previous camp, preferring translations from the KJV that were checked against only the Textus Receptus.) Many of the early evangelists in Asia were members of this camp. South Korea was already a majority Christian country before anyone started making a Hangul version of the bible based on the original languages. Their bibles before that were based on a Chinese translation which in turn was based only on the KJV.

    A very small minority of KJV only types are so attached to their translations they they believe that the holy scriptures can only be understood in English, so foreigners must all be taught to adopt our language (and probably American culture as a whole) if they are to have any hope of salvation.

    Of course, most KJV only types have never read the real KJV. They rely on the 19th century revisions published under the same name. They don’t tend to be the most intellectual types, and often cannot handle the archaic and inconsistent spellings of the 1611 edition. My grandfather went to a church with many KJV-only members, so be bought 1611 edition facsimiles to give away to prove to them that they were not KJV only. I still have the copy that he originally bought for my grandmother, which she did not want as she said trying to read it always gave her a horrible headache.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I’ve read that words for rope and camel were very similar in that region because such ropes were usually made of camel hair in antiquity.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    The ancients had plenty of terms commonly to refer to men who had sex with men, in either active or passive roles. The bible uses none of them.

    “Malakoi” certainly does not mean homosexual. It means “soft.” That could be taken to mean effeminate, although it says nothing about femininity per se. The association between softness and females relies on sexist prejudices towards that gender. The term soft was commonly used to mean those who lacked self discipline, who were too weak to resist temptation or to do hard work. It is worth noting that in Plato’s Symposium it is argued that sexual relationships with women make men more soft than relations with other men do.

    “Arsenkoites” is a word Paul himself seemed to have coined, from root words meaning “male” and “bed.” Those are both words used in the Septuagint in the verse that forbids males from lying with males in the manner of women, although the words are not quite adjacent there much less fused into one.

    There was however one very similar term used (rarely) before his time to refer to sexual relations between men. It uses the same root for “bed” but another root for “man,” which specifically refers to an adult free man instead of just any male of any age. That term would not include the common practice of pederasty, but the culturally shameful act of a grown man sexually demeaning another of his same rank.

    The earliest source that uses the term with enough context to guess it meaning apart from its use is a reference to Zeus raping the young Ganymede.

    It seems reasonable that “Arsenkoites” would mean a male who has sex with males, yet some early Christian writers like Saint John the Faster wrote about the sort of penance a man should pay for performing arsenokoitia upon his wife. Apparently, in the 6th century at least, it was seen as a sexual sin that heterosexuals could commit together. I could understand arguments that it refers to men inviting other men to have group sex with their wives, but most ancient or early medieval sources seem to imply that it simply refers to anal sex regardless of whether the receptive partner is male or female.

    Nothing anywhere in the bible implies that female homosexuality is wrong. There is one verse in Romans that could be interpreted that way, but there is a stronger argument that it refers to women who avoid vaginal intercourse to retain their technical virginity while still trying to sexually pleasure men in other ways.

    (Jewish sources from the era referred to anal sex as unnatural and had a generally negative view towards the act, yet said it was not sinful if a wife consented.)

  • ashpenaz

    Who was St. John faster than? Did he win some sort of saintly marathon? Did St. Mary and St. Peter come in second and third? :)

    (I simply couldn’t resist!)

  • Mr Cleats

    ..

  • otrotierra

    Thank you for confirming that you have no legitimate response to Guy’s thoughtful comments.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The most logical, simple explanation for the story of the rich young man I have seen, which to me makes obvious sense, is one given by the author George MacDonald in his book “Unspoken Sermons” (which I thoroughly recommend BTW): Jesus is rewarding the man.
    He has been a faithful follower of the Law, is diligently seeking God and eternal life, and Jesus says to him exactly what he says to Peter, James and John and all his other disciples: “Come and follow me.”
    He was given the chance to be one of the apostles and he blew it, because he couldn’t bear to leave behind his life of wealth and privilege.
    George Macdonald makes the point that this story does not instruct us to give up our wealth and follow Jesus as an apostle because we are not worthy and haven’t been asked.

  • Ron McPherson

    Good info. Thanks

  • MichaelElwood

    The Arabs probably made rope from camel hair, but I don’t know. I think the similarity between the words “camel” and “rope” in Quranic Arabic probably has more to do with the fact that they are spelled the same (e.g., jim, mim, lam). The words only differ in the “harakat,” or vowel markings. I wonder if the same is true for the Aramaic Bible?

  • Bones

    Lol the gates theory was made up by catholics in the middle ages.

  • Tim

    Or very difficult. Not necessarily impossible.

  • Bones

    Or a very tiny camel….

  • Bones

    How many goes do you think it will take you to get a camel through the eye of a needle?

  • Bones

    Yeah, you’ve got it.

    The gospel writers were fond of adapting local idioms.

  • Tim

    It’s clearly hyperbole.

  • Jesus does stress the impossibility, but that’s exactly the thing the business about the gate is trying to de-fang.

    Because, if Jesus is talking about a gate that it’s merely -difficult- to get through, then rich evangelicals are fine. This teaching gets put in the same bin as, “It’s ok for me to get as rich as possible, just so long as I don’t -love- my money.” In this approach, it’s actually quite possible for a camel to squeeze through a smaller gate; it’s just hard. So, if I’m a rich evangelical, I can just take this verse as a reminder to keep my priorities in order, make sure to keep God first, then go back on Monday to shoveling in the cash.

    But as you pointed out, Jesus point isn’t that it’s difficult for the rich to get into the kingdom, but entirely possible as long as they keep their priorities straight. The warning is that it is impossible. It literally takes a divine miracle to make it happen. It’s supposed to make everyone who is rich compare their riches to the worthiness of obtaining the kingdom and go, “Man, nothing I have is worth missing out on that,” and giving your wealth to the poor or whatever restructuring of your life you might do to enter the kingdom.

    You, personally, may see the point of the verse as the same whether “eye of a needle” refers to an actual needle or just a smallish gate, but I can assure you the difference makes all the difference in the world in terms of the preaching and practical application of the parable from American pulpits.

  • Guy Norred

    Well, in this instance I will accept nerdy as a complement. I am coming to terms with possibly being considered old (I think I will spend the rest of my life going into minor shock when I realize my age), and as to being a poofter, well, I am just slightly curious how anyone came to that conclusion from this comment. :-)

    Not the first time this kind of VERY random drive by comment on something completely not to that point has happened to me. Strange the lengths people go to to show how unhappy they are.

  • John

    It’s not about my interpretation. Jesus clearly calls it “impossible.” That’s the entire point of the analogy. If someone is skewing that clear conclusion, then no changing of the analogy is going to make it more clear.
    With that said, I’m an evangelical and have never heard the interpretation that you’ve offered.

  • John

    The verse explicitly says that they’re talking about something impossible for man.

  • Tim

    Yes, but the referent there for “impossible with man” is salvation, not a rich man entering the kingdom of God. Jesus just says that is “hard”.

  • Realist1234

    The context of Jesus’ words shouldnt be forgotten, regardless of whether it was a rope or camel He was talking about. A ‘rich young man’ had just come up to Him and asked what ‘good work’ he needed to do to ‘get eternal life’. He seemed to be rather self-righteous given that he believes he has kept all the commandments Jesus related – effectively the whole Law. But then Jesus tells him he must sell his possessions and share with the poor AND follow Him. Because he feels he cannot do the former, he refuses the latter.

    The Jewish disciples would have believed a rich man such as this had shown himself to be ‘blessed’ by God precisely because he was wealthy, hence their astonished question – if even he cant be ‘saved’ who of us can be (they being relatively poor and therefore seemingly not ‘blessed’ by God)?

    I noticed some comments below have viewed Jesus’ words to mean ‘it is intrinsically impossible for a ‘rich’ person to be saved’.

    I dont agree. It was this rich person’s refusal to let go of his wealth AND follow Jesus that barred him from salvation. But Jesus says both with the poor disciples and the rich, it is possible because it is God who saves, not our wealth or self-righteousness that the rich man had.

    It would also seem there were a number of ‘wealthy’ Christians in the early church who owned property – eg Philemon who owned a big enough home for the church to meet in. Did God require him to sell his property? It seems not. Indeed Acts clearly says some sold their property or land as was required – ‘For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.’

    I would also ask the question – who does God consider ‘rich’? By the world’s standard, just about everyone in the West could be called ‘rich’ in comparison to many people in say, India.

  • Alan Christensen

    Good point.

  • Ignoring the misuse of the so-called “needle eye gate” to completely gut the meaning of the saying, it seems as though all of the evidence for “rope” rather than “camel” is based around the notion that it makes more sense. But the entire point of the saying is that it’s impossible. But for an act of God, a rich person cannot enter the Kingdom. Likewise, but for an act of God, a camel cannot enter the eye of a needle. It may be an absurdity, but that seems to accentuate the point rather than detract from it. And if I recall correctly, there are supposed to be similar absurd sayings involving large animals and tiny spaces which are contemporary to Jesus.

    But I suppose ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a camel or a rope. So long as the main point is maintained, that the illustration is something that is impossible.

  • Are you an evangelical in America? If so, I’m very glad to hear you’ve never run across people watering down the passage that way.

  • John

    Yes, I’m an evangelical in America and have been attending evangelical churches for over 15 years. I’ve been to very large churches, I’ve been to very small churches, I’ve been to old churches, and to new churches, but none of them gave the interpretation of stressing that it was merely difficult, but not impossible, for a rich man to gain salvation without God.

    They all, without fail, teach that our salvation depends solely on the mercy and grace of God and that it’s impossible for anyone, including the rich man, to earn it through their own power.

  • Matthew

    So are we to assume that even very early followers of Jesus gave up all they had financially speaking? I think some owned houses.

  • Ok, we might not be saying the same thing. At no point have I ever heard someone say we can “gain salvation” without God, either.

    But Jesus’ point is that it’s impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom short of a special, miraculous intervention. He’s not contrasting that with “gaining salvation” through having money.

    That’s what makes it an issue in evangelical churches. We’re full of wealthy people who “got saved.” Jesus’ warning is to those people, not to people who think their riches will get them salvation.

  • Oh, I doubt that very much. For example, Zaccheus the tax collector gave up half of his possessions to the poor and repaid anyone he had skimmed from with four times as much. There’s not a one size fits all mandate anywhere in the New Testament, I don’t think, as to how to displace money that so easily defines us, especially in the first century.

    I will say that, if there is a unifying factor, it’s always that someone did something concrete that demonstrated their new priorities. It wasn’t just an attitude adjustment.

  • Great. The next exegetical urban legend.

    “Now, in Jerusalem, it was very popular to use what they called ‘dwarf camels’ that actually -could- fit through the eye of a needle if you really…”

  • Betty Giroux

    A 50-60 YEAR HARVARD STUDY ON WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE MOST TO HEALTH: SURPRISE SURPRISE, IT WAS RELATIONSHIPS. “THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN” IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH REWARD & AFTERLIFE. GOD’S KINGDOM IS LOVE. LOVE GOD, OR THE GROUND OF BEING/ CREATOR/ LIFE FORCE/ ALLAH/ YAW EH/ BUDDHA/ ETC FIRST. IN OTHER WORDS :SEEK. SECOND: LOVE NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, THAT IS: “LOOK INTO YOUR OWN HEART, DISCOVER WHAT IT IS THAT GIVES YOU PAIN, AND REFUSE, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE WHATSOEVER, TO INFLICT THAT PAIN ON ANYONE ELSE”. DON’T LOOK FOR THE KINGDOM IN THE NEXT LIFE. THERE’S NO PROOF OF ONE. BE CONCERNED ABOUT NOW.

  • Nixon is Lord

    “Doctor” Corey? He can prescribe meds?

  • Nixon is Lord

    I love passive-aggressive; it’s so obvious!

  • Michael Idarecis

    Had done a study on “Eye means I”

    Eye of The Needle

    The verses dealing with the “eye of the needle” have been looked at for centuries and yet the clarity has been lacking. We can infer as a parable that it is impossible for the rich man to enter by his will. However that is not the same understanding as the “I” understanding we will explore now. Immediately in verse 23 it is evident that the “reign of the heavens” is “reign of God” which is the focus of verse 23 & 24. Therefore this is about the “reign of God” where there is no inflated ego of the “I” of man’s will. Reign of God means God is controlling and not man.

    Matthew 19:23 “23 and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Verily I say to you, that hardly shall a rich man enter into the reign of the heavens;”

    Now we read the verse and look at “eye” as it being “I”. The image below will make this clearer. It is not that the camel has to go through the center of the opening of the needle that is called an eye. Rather it is giving us proportional size difference of the “i” of camel compared to the Inflated ego “I” of the rich man. It is easier for the “i” (camel) to be reigned over by God than the enormous inflated ego “I” of the rich man. The eye of the needle which is the “i” of the camel is representation of a simple man that can have God ringing over them. In the preceding verses the rich young ruler wanted to justify his own will and use have “life age-during” (we omitted those verses to keep this simpler).

    Matthew 19:24 “24 and again I say to you, it is easier for a camel through the eye of a needle to go, than for a rich man to enter into the reign of God.’”

    Praise I AM,
    Michael Idarecis

  • Nixon is Lord

    Oh, you mean someone who wants to pretend a “degree” in an overcrowded field in which there are fewer and fewer high paying jobs is just as good as a degree which is not only much more in demand and much, much better paid but takes at least twice as long to get and whose pre-requisites are much more demanding?

  • Trilemma

    How about updating it to, “It is easier to get 20 pounds of poop into a 5 pound bag than for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

  • As an aside, from a not specifically Christian person, I always heard the “Camel through the eye of a needle” metaphor, as referring to the sheer inertia of possessions and influence.

    A rich person has dug a deep hole and sees very little of the sky.

    If fate goes mostly your way, there is no incentive to relinquish the helm.

  • Ben, you said, “I remember this verse well from my childhood, and remember Sunday School teachers explaining the meaning to me as if these well-intentioned souls were biblical scholars– ”
    I say that your Sunday School teachers were much better off not being thought of as “bible scholars” because that particular label has no real meaning. It is a status from other scholars/teachers whose opinion about bible versus are contaminated with earlier prejudices learned from an unending succession of personal opinions passed off as “truth.” You are the perfect exhibit of that self deception.
    Sunday School teachers opened the minds of their charges to bible study and a potentially richer life because of it.

  • Herm

    Do you mean bible scholars like the Sanhedrin who judged Jesus to be blasphemous to their studied evidence of God?

    Bob, what is the evidence for your judgment beyond your studies? You do know there actually is one Teacher available this moment to all? It says so in your Bible … only one … not the pope of smoke … not your priest in all his or her traditional regalia of ritual … not any Sabbath or Sunday School teacher.

    What authority does your Sanhedrin have to teach the will of God before the world court?

  • The question present is regarding Sunday School teachers and bible scholars. Ben and all the teachers of his ilk are like the Sanhedrin. They preach error for the truth and believe they are doing a service.The bible is of no private interpretation and that means bible scholars and their pet theories. Oh where, oh where, have all the Bereans gone.

  • Herm

    You do know there was no New Testament Bible in the time of the Bereans, don’t you?

    Bob, who is your one teacher?

  • You are incorrect. The Bereans were taught by Paul;
    Question: “Who were the Bereans in the Bible?”

    Answer: The Bereans were residents of the city of Berea in Macedonia. Paul and Silas preached to them during Paul’s second missionary journey. The account of Paul and Silas in this location is recorded in Acts 17:10-15. It reads,

    The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

  • Herm

    So was the book of Acts written before Paul and Silas went to Berea? So then they were examining scripture about themselves, right?

  • Bones

    Yeah there still was no New Testament.

    You are no Berean either.

    The Bereans were open minded unlike the Jews in Thessalonica who were fundamentalists and read the Old Testament like fundamentalists.

  • Ron McPherson

    “The bible is of no private interpretation…”

    So how do you know that you yourself are not guilty of private interpretation, yet Ben is?

  • Bones

    Lol…

    Bob doesn’t have a private interpretation…..

  • Ron McPherson

    “But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also…”

    Read this very carefully. Note that it says Paul proclaimed “the word of God.” And yet the sermon itself is not recorded within the pages of the canon of scripture. Think about this very carefully.

  • Matthew

    Was he preaching Jesus as the word rather than the Bible as the word? Must have since the Bible was not yet produced when Paul preached the “word of God” … or Paul was preaching the OT? What were the Bereans examining?

    What are you getting at Ron??

  • Ron McPherson

    Lol

    Edit: It just cracks me up when others reference that verse, as if “I have a right to interpret but those who disagree with me do not.”

  • Ron McPherson

    We don’t know precisely. But that’s kinda the point. He was likely preaching truth thru the guidance of the Spirit in whatever context it was.

    Edit: Here’s what we DO know. He wasn’t using the NT to preach from.

  • Matthew

    Thanks so much Ron. What were the Bereans studying in your opinion?

  • Ron McPherson

    I assume it was passages contained within what we know now as the OT. But what strikes me most is that there were not leather bound parchments tucked under the arms of his hearers comprising a single volume of the OT canon. And are we to believe”the word of God” was confined to merely the source of what Paul may have been preaching from? Or were the words of Paul himself divinely inspired? If so, then we don’t see them recorded in the NT canon and that should tell us something. But if not, then why are we to believe that the words of his NT epistles were divinely inspired and made the canon, but yet his message to the Bereans failed to make the cut?

  • Because Ben has already said in his responses that he does not believe in the inerrancy of the Old Testament. That is a good indicator of someone who will interpret the scriptures to support his own views.

  • Jeff Preuss

    You just have to wonder when Paul said that all Scripture (or “verses” or “writing”) is useful for instruction, which of the following he considered Scripture:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_canon#Table

    Were some of the writings he considered useful for Christian instruction eliminated from the Nicaea-compiled canon ? We simply can never know, so assertions that Scripture is “unchanging” ignore the fact that the assortment of Christian Scriptures has not been consistent through the ages.

  • Matthew

    Excellent question. Currently, I don´t have an answer.

    I´ve been thinking about Acts 17. It says that the Jews in Berea were more fair-minded (NKJV) than those in Thessalonica. That they received “the word” with all readiness and searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

    I know what I think “the word” is in my post-Reformation, modern day, western theological context, but what was “the word” Paul was preaching to the Bereans in that original context? I have a hard time believing he was preaching Torah given the newness of heart and perspective he received on the road to Damascus, but the text in Acts says the Bereans searched the scriptures, discovered what Paul was preaching was true, and then believed. What scriptures did they search? It must have been the OT since NT sources were not yet available. If that´s the case, then how did they discover the message of Christ crucified in the parchments of the OT?

    Odd really ……. thoughts?

  • Ron McPherson

    Not necessarily. People who believe in inerrancy even interpret it differently from one another, each claiming the other is using “private interpretation.”

  • Ron McPherson

    Exactly.

  • Ron McPherson

    Well it’s all speculative of course. But we catch a good glimpse of Paul’s theology in Romans and Galatians especially. Again, we can only guess, but I imagine he may have preached Christ crucified and resurrected, and how Jesus was the end of the law, that the mystery of the church had now been revealed, that those in Christ (Jew and Gentile alike) are true Israel (expounding the validity of his points through OT scriptures). Just spiritual speculation on my part.

  • Matthew

    Maybe so Ron. Thanks.

  • Ok. And that is why the term “bible scholar” has less meaning than other scholars. When there is no agreement on the simplest versus let alone the more difficult ones it is not productive to debate. However, deciding which versus apply and which do not is another level of confusion.

  • Ron McPherson

    And it is universally understood that many do not. We all can agree that the stoning of disobedient sons is not to be enforced today. The problem arises when one oppresses another ( or advocates for it) while using the scriptures as justification. Then ones “interpretation ” becomes quite serious. If we applied Jesus’ greatest commandment (Matthew 22:35-40), then any confusion over what does, or does not, apply greatly diminishes in my view.

  • All scripture is profitable for instruction and correction. Scripture is the written word of God and Satan cannot prevail upon it. John said Jesus did many other things that were not written down. However, everything we need for our salvation is contained in the bible. We today have both testaments unlike many who did not.

    Whatever Paul preached was in line with the scriptures don’t you agree?

  • Ron McPherson

    When Paul wrote “All scripture is profitable”, what did he have in mind? The biblical canon had yet to be assembled. Further, Christians do not agree on what comprises even the canon of scripture today. Protestants do not hold the apocrypha to be included. Roman Catholics believe in the inclusion of some of the apocrypha, but differ with Greek Orthodox, etc. Again, apply the great commandment uttered by the Son of God and we can’t go far wrong. I try to filter my reading of scripture through that lens.

  • Matthew

    What do we do with the words of Jesus that aren’t so loving?

  • Ron McPherson

    In majority of those instances his rebukes were leveled against the judgmental self righteous religious leaders, no?

  • Matthew

    I think you are right except for the judgement passages and the verses in Matthew about the Syrophonecian woman …

  • Ron McPherson

    Not sure I quite follow on the Syrophoenicin woman. He commended her faith and granted her request. The word he used for dogs was kynarion, like a little family pet (not a wild mongrel or anything). Pets were fed and provided for, but not necessarily before the family had their meal I suppose. Jesus came as a Jew, walked among the Jews, came as the Jewish Messiah, and ministered to the Jews. Following the resurrection, the Gentiles would be directly given the gospel as well. I take this event as a foretaste of the mystery of the church. The good news given to the Jews first, the Gentiles (the little family pet) would follow. Again, spiritual speculation on my part ha.

  • Ron McPherson

    Which judgement passages in particular?

  • Paul referred to all the Old Testament and two thirds of the New Testament. Assembled or not all the churches had that which was written. Christians do agree on what comprises scripture with the Apocrycha perhaps embraced by some. The verse reads “All scripture is given by inspiration of God..” Much more to the point.

    Whether it is possible to filter the entire New Testament effectively through the great commandment is not necessary. We have the words of God everywhere unlike many, many past generations who never even knew Christ.

  • Matthew

    I just read the passage again Ron. I guess he wasn´t calling her a little dog to insult her, but rather using the reference to the little dog (NKJV) in order to make a larger point that he had come first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles. Thanks as always for the help Ron.

  • Matthew

    I suppose those sections where Jesus talks about that place “hell” as translated in the English (I realize now the problems with this translation).

    Matthew 25 verse 46 troubles me … in the NKJV those who didn´t do the good works spoken of in the previous verses go away into everlasting punishment. This is not good news I don´t think, hence the reason I have some problems with some of the things Jesus says.

  • Ron McPherson

    So do you assert that the Apocrypha is the word of God?

  • Ron McPherson

    When the English word “hell” is translated from the mouth of Jesus, the actual word he used was either Gehenna (literal valley outside Jerusalem) or Hades (the grave). No doubt Jesus was speaking of judgement in some form when referencing either. But no doubt Im not telling you anything you don’t already know. I think a decent case could be made that either reference can be tied back, either directly or indirectly, to the greatest commandment (either how we treat others or our attitude toward God).

    Dispensationalists get around the Matt 25 dilemma by asserting it’s not even meant for the church (that it’s a judgment of nations for how they treat Jews in a futuristic tribulation period). Reformed thought would say it is a reference to a future general judgment. Others perhaps see it as a parable. Candidly, I’m not entirely satisfied with any of those viewpoints. What seems clear however is the judgment boils down to our treatment of others (again think great commandment here). This is the direction I believe the Spirit leads me in. Yet we also know that salvation is of grace, it’s God’s to give. I think we have to be careful and not equate this as God having some kind of divine scorecard because there are times when we sometimes resemble sheep, while other times we resemble goats. I’ve literally talked all around this I suppose. I’m hoping Phil will weigh in here if he sees this.

  • Embraced by some but not the majority including me.

  • Ron McPherson

    So this is kinda my point. Not only do people disagree on ‘interpretation’ of universally agreed upon books of the canon, but there is also disagreement on what should comprise the very canon itself. I have a high regard for scripture, but Jesus was clear that the Spirit is the source of truth. The Bible is used by so many people in so many different ways, each claiming that they are possessors of the truth. I’ve heard statements like, “We’re people of the book.” A friend of mine once said something like, “shouldn’t Christians actually be people of the Christ?”

  • Disagreement on the meaning of bible versus is the norm. That does not mean there is great latitude in various interpretations. The original point is that the Bereans did not accept what they heard without studying the matter in the scriptures. Notice that it does not say Paul preached only the words of Jesus.

    When Christians say the Spirit is the source of truth where is that truth recorded if not the bible? Where were Jesus’ words recorded if not that same bible? What makes one think that the words of Jesus were recorded exactly but the other word may not be? Jesus was the Word in the beginning. The bible is just the verbal expression of the Word in written form. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

  • Herm

    Bob, is there any word of God that you know to speak boldly that is not in the Bible?

  • Ron McPherson

    So what did the early Christians do before the NT? Did they not abide in the Spirit?

  • Matthew

    Thanks so much Ron. Your thoughts are always helpful even if I don´t understand everything as I should. A lot of this stuff is very new for me.

  • Ron McPherson

    I understand very little ha. Blessings brother

  • Early Christians listened to the Apostles and studied their Epistles. The better question is what did the billions of people before Christ do as they did not have the Spirit.

  • Ron McPherson

    “The better question is what did the billions of people before Christ do as they did not have the Spirit.”

    From the writings of Paul:
    “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:1-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • Are you saying that Galatians 4:1-7 indicates the Spirit of God was given to those billions of souls from the First Age and the Second Age prior to Jesus who were already dead because of the redemption?

  • I pray, God answers. God answers in various ways; sometimes through the bible, sometimes through other people, sometimes through fulfillment of a request.

  • Christians before the sacrifice of Jesus could not, in general, have the Spirit. The few that we know about are listed in the bible.

  • Ron McPherson

    I’m not referring to OT saints

    Edit: I’m referring to NT saints (early Christians after the resurrection) indwelt by the Spirit prior to the compilation/assembling of the NT canon as we know it today

  • Ron McPherson

    No

  • Herm

    Bob, I’ve been there, as well as many here who are trying their hardest to get through to you. There is infinitely more than God answers your prayers.

    Bob, there is continual prayer without pause forever. There is actually, as it is written, being immersed with and in the Holy Spirit, Jesus in you and you in Jesus.

    It is good that you recognize the hand of God in your life as I did for 33 years. It is better to be in God and God in you as I have been for the last 22 years.

    All we can do is testify that this is so while showing you where it is written in the Bible we share. It is up to you to trust that God can protect you, provide for you and teach you without any physical church on earth and without any sacred writings by the hand of mankind. This, too, is written and I didn’t see it until the Spirit of truth was my only teacher on earth.

    The early Christians spoke the word of God boldly without any New Testament Bible. There are many throughout this world today who do the same because they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They never are separate from the Holy Spirit so all they are, all they feel, all they think and all they do is constantly in the presence of The Spirit who counsels continually to keep us out of trouble while growing and moving forward in and with God. This too is written and has been shared with you but you only judge by a book of God as taught by Man not by a direct relationship in God as the only Teacher.

    There is no disagreement on Bible verses when there is only one Teacher.

  • Thanks Herm. I’ll continue to pray for you.However, I really don’t understand how a Christian can reject the bible as sacred writings by the hand of man. As far as a church you are correct. All churches are organizations run by man.

  • Herm

    Thank you, Bob. Your prayers are heard. You were in God’s headlights from the beginning we began conversing. I know you do not understand that as you cannot know what you do not know. Keep it in mind and heart that there is more to a relationship with God than you already have. Picture the possibility that you were actually in God this moment and able to ask God any question. If such were possible then ask yourself why would you need writings past by mankind when the answers were in you exactly as you could most use them to grow toward the end of eternity.

    Bob, why would you think my writing to you is any less sacred than Paul’s writing to the Corinthians? Don’t you believe he had his detractors, as do I? Neither of us is trying to have you follow either of us, absolutely the opposite is true. We are pointing to who you can trust to follow. We are “little” children of God who only know our Father and Brother by the Spirit we share in God, but the fact is we do know our Father and Brother in us and we in Them.

    You are progressing toward being able to say the same when you realize that Jesus’ church is spirit only and only He is authorized to administrate it and serve it.

    Love you!

  • “Bob, why would you think my writing to you is any less sacred than Paul’s writing to the Corinthians?” I think anyone would have a problem with that statement.

    Who is the “us” you are referring to?

  • Herm

    Paul, the author of the letters contained in the New Testament, and myself constitutes the us I was referring to.

    How many had a problem with what Paul said in his letters?

    Why would you think “anyone” would have a problem with that statement? Do you believe all sacred letters stopped with what is contained in the Bible? God has quit communicating through His children? How would you know one way or the other for certain?

  • God calls his children to receive His spirit as he will. He does that by many means. I have never met anyone who was contacted personally.

  • Herm

    Do you actually believe Paul was the last?

    … or these:

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    Do you recognize the image of God in you? Is that image physical? Would you recognize being filled by the Holy Spirit forever without pause? Could you sin if you were? Could you persecute and/or execute a child of God if you were immersed in the Spirit of truth?

  • So you are saying anyone who favors abortion does not have God’s spirit – I agree.

    Paul was taught personally and used by God as an Apostle to preach to the early churches and through his epistles to the whole world through the bible which contain Paul’s epistles. I am not sure why you cannot see that is the purpose of the bible.

    I have no way of knowing if Paul was the last to be personally taught by God because God does many things every day we are not generally aware of.

  • Herm

    Bob, none of Paul’s letters were written to you, none. And the Bible gives no value, at all, according to God for any life under one month of age. You argue with no evidence. You don’t know God and for certain God didn’t die at the end of Revelations. Your god did.

  • So you are ok with baby killing similar to sacrificing your child to Molech?

    Paul’s letters are words from the Spirit to everyone including us today. That is why they were written. Without the bible you would not even know Christ was born let alone died for our sins.

    God is alive and well and ruling at the end of this age as are a remnant of man into the next age.

  • Herm

    … or Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac to God???

    No Bob, I am not okay with taking any life and I am ready to give my own that others might live. I hold much greater value for the mother’s and father’s life than I do an infants life, as does God.

    The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the LORD by giving the equivalent value, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; for a female, set her value at thirty shekels; for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels; for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver; for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels. If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, the person being dedicated is to be presented to the priest, who will set the value according to what the one making the vow can afford.

    Leviticus 27:1-8 (NIV2011)

    According to the LORD’s talk with Moses any person less than one month out of the womb there is no value at all to God.

    Now, I carry the responsibility for many lives lost in Vietnam because good Christian people like you sent me there; lives worth the most according to the LORD.

    NO Bob, Paul’s letters were written to only those he addressed them to. Intellectual authorities who did not know the Spirit of truth in them but had studied about God collected those letters and compiled into a book for others to study likewise. Thousands of people knew Christ was born both on earth and in them for the 300 years prior to the Bible you worship as though it is God.

    If God is alive and well why do you not know Them in you without the Bible? They are, it is true, and I do know Them in me; no brag just fact.

  • Your position on the value of the mother’s life vs the infant is illogical and certainly not supported by God either.

    Thanks for your service. I didn’t send you, your country did.

    Your idea that the Epistles were intended only for the churches they were addressed to is preposterous.

  • Herm

    Look Bob, I gave you the scripture and you refute it as God’s will regarding the value of life. Is it logical to pick up your cross to die for your enemy?

    This is a country of the people, by the people, and for the people who touts a majority of christians as its religious soul. Those majority of christians sent me to Vietnam.

    Why do you think Paul’s 14 specifically addressed letters were ever meant by God to be lumped together for your edification? It is more preposterous to me that anything less than the Holy Spirit as your one and only Teacher is sufficient for your learning as a little child of God.

  • The scripture you quote has nothing to do with the value God places on an infant’s life. Get serious. Send me one other source claiming the same – you can’t.

    Jesus came to proclaim the Gospel of the Good News; which he did. The written documentation was for all the rest of us who weren’t there. It’s called the bible. The largest published book in the history of the world; God said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it and that includes your delusional testimony that the bible is not for our edification.

  • Herm

    The Greek word εὐαγγέλιον is “gospel” in your bible and means no more than “a good message”. You idolize and separate words as sacred to God when they are meant only to convey an easily understood meaning.

    The four gospels (called so by mankind alone, not by God) of your bible were meant to stand alone and not be formed at mankind’s discretion into the first four books of the New Testament. I know you and Eva just don’t get that God did not write the Bible. You don’t get that God breathed words have never stopped coming from the mouths of disciples inspired to share the “good message”.

    The “good message” is that we have an Advocate on this earth who keeps us from becoming orphaned children of God. The “good message” is that salvation is now, right now, not at some later date when Jesus returns to earth. Jesus is on His throne now, as Lord with all authority, and is in His disciples as His disciples are in Him. To be His disciple and He your only school master you must be immersed (baptized) in the Holy Spirit which means the Holy Spirit is, also, in you forever beginning now.

    Bob, why do you follow others’ word who don’t know the Teacher and don’t read your most trusted bible for yourself that you try to tell everyone is the word of God to you? These are the only places in your bible where Jesus is quoted as using the word “gospel”.

    Matthew 24:9-14, Matthew 26:8-13, Mark 8:34-38, Mark 10:29-31, Mark 13:9-11, Mark 14:4-9, and this verse was not in the original manuscripts of the book of Mark; Mark 16:15-18.
    This is the only time the word gospel is used in the book of Revelation:

    Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.

    Revelation 14:6 (NIV2011)

    All other references to the word gospel are conveyed by preaching and none by reading except when referencing the Holy Spirit directly as the good message.

    We are to proclaim the “good message” as I am doing with you right now. The bible you adore as though it is all God between two covers is not the word of God or in any way the Gospel. That is a fabrication your church authorities have appended to that book to enhance their power over you as your master in the place of Jesus. You are their slave.

    Why can’t you trust to go to Jesus right this moment for only His protection, only His nurture, only His providing and only His instructions through the Spirit of truth available to you right this moment. If he can’t do all those things for you today, then He does not have all authority in heaven and on earth. If He can’t do all those things for you today, then you are an orphan left to the wiles of spiritual predators. If He can’t do all those things for you today, exactly what are you defending? … maybe your own insecurity, or the doctrine of your church, or the traditions of your family, or without the Bible you would have no connection at all with a God you’ve read about but never really have met???

    The “Good Message” I proclaim to you today is that God is very real and very capable of doing all those things for you right this moment if you give yourself wholly up to Them; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The bad news is that you will never find God in the bible for God’s hearts, souls, strengths, minds is spirit and only in the Spirit will your heart, soul, strength, mind (your image in the likeness of God) be found in God.

    Oh, I hope so that you (and Eva) find God in you and you in God.

  • Herm

    Ed, if you put credence in that scripture being breathed by God then it has everything to do with the value God places on an infant’s and fetus’ life. You send me any source that gives more or less value to an infant’s and fetus’ life to God. I sent you one so you owe me one.

  • Thanks Herm. Your gospel is another gospel. May work for you but not for me. God has a Plan for Man and it is not as you describe.

  • Your scripture is about redeeming a vow not the worth of a person to God. ” In Old Testatment Israel, it was possible to make a vow dedicating yourself or one of your children to the LORD. This person then served full time in the temple. You see an example of this in I Samuel chapter one. Samuel’s mother Hannah dedicates him to the LORD’s service and Samuel goes to live in the temple beginning right after he’s weaned, eventually becoming Israel’s last Judge before the monarchy is established.” Note the word weaned.

  • Herm

    You are welcome Bob.

    There is no other gospel spoken of in your bible.

    The plan is now, the greatest news that you don’t seem to understand is that all of Man immersed in the Holy Spirit today are children of God. Does it matter what happens after this because Luke 10:27 is easy when your all is in God and God in you? Children of God “inherit” eternal life which no child of God/child of Man on earth today can understand for there is nothing to compare no death against within a carnal finite world. Those who do not live will die to all understanding, awareness and remembrance. That’s the plan made perfectly clear when taught by the Teacher in you. The plan unfolds, beginning today, without end.

  • Herm

    Congratulations Bob, you are beginning to read what is put before you. I only wish you could do the same with the quoted words of Jesus our Christ.

    Understand that this was not a dedication in Leviticus but an offering to the Lord. The value established represented the value offered such as was the value in dispute between Cain’s produce and Abel’s animals. This still represents the value the Lord placed upon each offering of which there is no value before one month of age for a child. Weaning a child from her/his mother’s breast came much later than a month so this is not the issue regarding worth of the offering. What is the value you offer to the Lord today?

    If you accept all the Scripture studied by the Bereans as God breathed then accept this as value given to fetuses and children with no regard to an offering to our Lord (though in full context there is much regarding offering by wicked Israel):

    Give them, LORD— what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry and breasts that are dry.

    “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious. Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.”

    Hosea 9:14-16 (NIV2011)

    Can you give me any source that gives more or less value to an infant’s and fetus’ life to God?

  • This is the same misleading idea that Satan told Adam and Eve – a corruption of God’s word.

  • Herm

    Ask God if what you just said is true!!! The Bible is not God. The Bible tells you that the Spirit of truth is available to all who seek, knock, see, accept and ask.

    Your interpretation and that of mankind who taught you what you believe is corrupt. There is alive, well and available to you today God as the one only Teacher, the one only Instructor and the one only Father for all children of God in heaven and on earth today. Any other message you derive from the Bible is anti-Christ who is risen, alive and with all authority in heaven and on earth today.

  • needtimetothink

    Picture of the Eye of the Needle gate at the Jerusalem wall. http://www.best-travel-deals-tips.com/jerusalem-eye-of-the-needle-gate.html Perhaps if we read things in context it helps. Since Jesus was not talking of fishermen or boats, but to a rich man, likely a merchant with many camels, who knew the inconvenience of unloading things at night for merchants, we might be more inclined to believe what Jesus was trying to say to the rich young ruler. Thus, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom, but not uncommon.

  • The compelling part of that link, which you alluded to, is “So, Jesus told the young man that, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he needed to disentangle himself from his wealth first like you would have to unload all that was on a camel’s back to get through the eye of the needle.”
    You moved me back toward the fence but i’ll still go with rope. :)
    Because Jesus’s genius was using common examples like wheat, leaven, mustard seed. But… it just occurred to me, what if Jesus was so good (and we know he was) that he meant BOTH!

  • No! Who was Jesus calling “pups”? The woman was the one who had faith, but the disciples wanted to send her away. SHE is the child and THEY are the dogs/pups who had a lot to learn! It’s a wink and a nod to her, and she gets it!

  • David Warsop

    It certainly does make more intuitive sense to compare a rope to a piece of sewing thread passing through the eye of a needle, rather than a camel to a piece of sewing thread, but we weren’t there and can only guess what was actually said, based on our own opinions and preconceptions. I’ve heard bible scholars discus this point before – there seem to be people who have very strong opinions on both sides and the conclusion is that no one can be 100% sure which it actually was. However, as both are as ridiculous as each other and both just as impossible as each other, the point of the story remains the same in either case. Disusing it is merely of academic interest to those wishing to gain a qualification, rather than a person reading the bible to deepen their faith. If the Devil is real, I think he delights when we spend so much time on ‘missing the value of a truth’.

  • Flyercrazy

    You are splitting hairs here, we all know the point Jesus was making, a, camel or
    a rope, doesn’t really make any difference, what makes a difference is whether a rich man is willing to place Jesus ahead of his wealth and humble himself before God.