What did Jesus mean by the camel going through the eye of the needle?
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Matthew 19:24 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.
Mark 10:25 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.
Luke 18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
The word translated camel appears 6 times in the New Testament. The other 3 places are as follows:
Matthew 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair...
Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Mark 1:6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair...
The word translated ‘needle’ appears just 3 times. The Greek word is ‘rhaphis’ from ‘rhapto’ - to sew.
It seems reasonable to accept the words at their face value..
I think we can safely discard the idea that (a) ‘camel’ should be translated ‘rope’ or (b) ‘the eye of a needle’ is a reference to a small entrance into Jerusalem; access through which necessitated the unloading of a camel.
It is physically impossible to put a camel through a needle’s eye. Thus, in the normal course of events, it is impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. The love of money is not compatible with a life in Christ.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
We cannot serve God if we aspire to be wealthy.
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters... Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Those who are wealthy when they come to understand the gospel will only attain to the kingdom of God if they use their wealth in God’s service.
So we find among the early disciples:
Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common... 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet...
Barnabas is singled out as an example:
Acts 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Paul instructs Timothy:
NKJV 1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
If the rich can transfer their trust from riches to God, he will give them an entrance into his kingdom.
Wealth in this life was viewed, mistakenly, as a sign of God’s approval and this was the reason for the disciples’ astonishment.
Matthew 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
A rich man who puts his faith in God and obeys the gospel preached by Jesus Christ can be saved.
Paul was a Pharisee educated by Gamaliel and destined to become rich in this world’s goods among the Pharisees. He says of himself:
Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
He gave up all for Christ.
Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
I hope you have found this helpful.
May God bless you,