Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:24). A camel was the largest animal in Israel and a needle had the smallest opening. People in that day believed that a rich person was the most likely to make it into heaven. By combining these three things, Jesus created a totally impossible situation. The disciples were stunned in disbelief and said, “Then WHO can be saved?” (19:25).
Theologians over the centuries have tried to change the meaning of the text, trying to turn the impossible into the possible.
In the 5th century, a person copying manuscripts changed the word "camel" (which is kamelon in Greek) to kamilon, meaning a rope or cable. The problem is, you can’t get a cable through the eye of a needle either. I have a hard time getting a thread through one.
In the 15th century, the opposite was tried—to enlarge the needle’s eye. Someone came up with the idea that the "eye of the needle" wasn't really a needle after all, but a small gate entrance to a city. According to this theory, the camel had to leave its load and crawl on its knees to get through the gate. Apparently when the architect designed the gates he forgot about all the camels needing to get inside the city!
But that theory isn’t correct either. Luke, who was a physician (see Col. 4:14), used the Greek word in Luke 18:25 for a surgeon's needle proving it was not a small gate. Jesus was literally talking about that big, lumpy animal going through a tiny, little hole.
What’s the point of Jesus' teaching? No one, whether rich or poor, is going to enter into heaven without God doing a miracle to get him or her there. A camel can go through the eye of a needle if it’s passed molecule by molecule through the eye and reassembled on the other side. Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26), meaning ONLY GOD can get you there.
BIBLE STUDY: “Will only a few get into heaven?”
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