Verses 13-20


Jesus here presents two cities before us. One has a wide gateway opening onto the broad street, and other a narrow gate opening onto a straitened street or alley. The first city is destruction, the second is life.  Compare this with Luke 13:24.

“Enter ye at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and may there be which go in thereat:”

Jesus here compares the way to life to an entrance through a gate.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate”
Literally:  “Go through the narrow gate”– So says
Jesusis the path to the Kingdom for the Jews. It is narrow. It is not the great highway that men tread. Few go there. Here and.there one may be seen—travelling in solitude and singularity.

On the other hand, the way to death is broad. Multitudes are in it. It is the great highway in which men go. They fall into it easily and without effort, and go without thought. If they wish to leave that, and go by a narrow gate to the city, it would require effort and thought. So, Jesus says that diligence is needed to enter into life (see Luke 13:24).  All must strive to obtain it; and so narrow, unfrequented, and solitary is it, that few find it.  Remember, one does not need to strive to receive salvation now, for it is freely given, “whosoever will may come,” so again I must emphasize thatJesus is talking about the Jewish Kingdom, and not salvation as we speak of  today.

          STRAIT GATE: (Grk.–stenês pulês)—The words straight, and strait, have very differesnt meanings. Straight here does not mean not crooked; rather, the word means narrow; difficult to be entered.  And it means that the way into the kingdom is pent up, narrow, close, and not obviously entered. On the other hand, the way to eternal  death is open, broad, and thronged.

           Nearly every town in Palestine was surrounded by walls and entered into by gates. The principal ones are wide, with double doors, and closed with locks and fastened with iron bars. On the other hand the “strait gates” are in retired corners, are narrow, and they are only opened to those who knock.  In many of these “strait” gates, the ways into them were winding, for easy defense. Some of the gates connected with the great avenues to the city, and were broad, and admitted a throng. Others, for more private purposes, were narrow, and few would be seen entering them.  In modern forts such a gate is known as the “barbican” gate.  It was from these gates that assault troops could slip out of a fort and attack the enemy without.  In modern forts, such an assaulting gate is called the “barbican gate.”
           Keep in mind that Jesus is referring to entering into the Kingdom (under the Law), and not to salvation as we know it today. He is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven, and He is NOT talking about entering into heaven itself, nor is He even talking about salvation from our sins.

            “for wide {is} the gate”–That is, it is easily entered into.

            “broad {is} the way”– That is, it is easily trod or trod by the masses of people.

Jesus seems to be alluding to the distinction between the public and private ways mentioned by the Jewish lawyers.  The public roads were allowed to be sixteen cubits broad while the private ways only four.

“that leadeth to destruction”
Literally: “The way leading away into destruction.”–This destruction would be eternal

Those who have not become prepared to receive Jesus as their Messiah will not be able to enter into the Millennial Kingdom.  These are those referring to in 25:45-46:  “These shall go away into everlasting punish-ment.” They may be likened to the “unwise virgins” of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (25:10)–:”…the door was shut.”

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

In other words, the whole course is as difficult as the first step.

“Because strait is the gate”
Literally:  “Because narrow {is} the gate.”– Literally,
pressed, or hemmed in between walls or rocks, like the pathway in a mountain gorge.

           GATE:  (Grk.–pulês)—Referring to the holiness described in the foregoing chapters.  And this is the narrow way.  The strait gate may well signify what we call a wicket; i.e., a little door in a large gate. Among the Jews, “gate” signifies, metaphorically signifies of  entrance, introduction, or the means of acquiring anything. So they talk of the gate of repentance, the gate of prayers, and the gate of tears.

This mode of expression more forcibly points out the difficulty of the way to the Kingdom. Reason, as well as God, says that such people should be excluded from a place of blessedness. He who shows no mercy (and much more he who shows no justice) shall have judgment without mercy (James 2:13).

 few there be that find it.”
Literally:  “few are those finding it”–The Jews had a saying that said, “When God shut the gate of paradise against Adam, He opened to him the gate of repentance.”

Jesus may be reffering to the remnant who will come through that hell-on-earth known as the Great Tribulation.  It is only after going through that trial and cleansing that they will be ready to enter into the “gate” of the Millennial Kingdom.

            The way to the Kingdom of God is sufficiently shown, but men are so wedded to their own passions, and so determined to follow the imaginations of their own hearts, that it still may be said: “There are few who find the way to heaven; fewer yet who abide any time in it; fewer still who walk in it; and fewest of all who persevere unto the end.”  Nothing renders this way either narrow or difficult to any person but sin. Let all the world leave their sins, and all the world may walk abreast in this good way.


“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

“Beware of false prophets”
Literally:  “But beware of the false prophets.”–

          FALSE PROPHETS:  (Grk.–pseudoprophêtôn)–There were even false prophets in the time of the O.T. prophets. Jesus will predict “false Messiahs and false prophets” (24:24) who will lead many astray.  Peter refers to false prophets:  “But there were false prophets also among the people (Israel), even as there shall be false teachers among you (the church),  who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (II Pet. 2:1).

           The word “prophet,” originally meant one who foretells future events. As prophets, however, were commonly regarded as public instructors on the subject of religion, the word came to denote all who were religious teachers. In this sense it is probably used here. The word “prophet,” as used in the Scriptures, means any one who teaches authoritatively the will of God.
           By false prophets we are to understand teachers of erroneous doctrines, who come professing a commission from God, but whose aim is not to bring the heavenly treasure to the people, but rather to rob them of their earthly good and to fill their own purses.  The Jews knew about false prophets.  The true prophet Jeremiah had his conflict with such prophets who said, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11).
1.         The false prophet may teach for gain.
2.         The false prophet may teach for prestige.
            He may teach to show how clever he is.
3.         A false prophet may teach to transmit his own ideas.  He is out to transmit his own version of the truth; the true prophet is out to publish abroad God’s truth.
            a.      Teaching is false if it produces a religion which consists, in the observance of externals.  That is what was wrong with the Scribes and Pharisees.
            b.     Teaching is false if it produces a religion which consists in prohibitions
                    A teaching of “thou shalt nots.”
            c.      Teaching is false if it produces an easy religiion.  Any teaching is a false religion:
                     (1)    That takes the iron out of faith,
                     (2)    That takes the Cross out of Christianity
                     (3)    That the treat from the Voice of Christ,
                     (4)    That pushes judgment into the background and
                     (5)    That makes men think lightly of sin.
           d.      Teaching is false if it separates religion and life

           This is the mistake of asceticism (of monks and monasteries).  They believed that in order to live the Christian life and to get away from sin was to get away from people  and to shut themselves up in monestaries.
          I have heard people foolishly say, I have my personal life and I have my religious life.”  The fallacy of this statements is that if your “religious life” does not set the mode for, and govern, your “personal life,” then  your “religious life” is dead, or as Jerry Clower used to say, grave yard dead.

          “who come to you in sheep’s clothing,”–The sheep is an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness.

           SHEEP’S CLOTHING:  (Grk.–endumasi probatōn)–By “sheep's clothing” we are to understand that they shall bear a gentle, meek, and inoffensive outward demeanor; but    this is only a cloak to hide their real wickedness, and so effectively does it hide it that these false prophets often deceive even themselves.

            To come in sheep's clothing, is to assume the appearance of sanctity, and innocence, when the heart is evil. T hey come with a bland, gentle, plausible exterior; persuading you that the gate is not strait nor the way narrow, and that to teach so is restrictive and bigoted precisely what the old prophets did (Ezek. 13:1-10, 22. When the shepherd watched over his flocks, his garment was a sheepskin, worn with the skin outside and the fleece inside.  But a man might wear a shepherd’s garment and still not be a shepherd.
             The prophets had acquired a prominent attire:  Elijah had a mantle, (I Kings 19:13, 19). This mantle had been a hairy cloak (II Kings 1:8).  Over time, the sheepskin mantle had become the “uniform” of the prophet; and it was by this mantle that the prophet could be distinguished from other men.  Alas, however, that garb was sometimes worn by those who had no right to wear it, for Zechariah, in his picture of the great days to come, says, “He will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive” (Zech. 13:14).  There were those who wore a prophet’s mantle, but who lived anything but a prophet’s life

“ravening wolves
Literally: “Plundering wolves.”–Greedy for
power, gain, self. It is a tragedy that such men and women reappear through the ages and always find victims.

          WOLVES: (Grk.–lukoi)–This was the name by which false rulers and false prophets were called.

“Her princes in the midst of her are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood and destroying lives, to get dishonest gain” (Ezek. 22:27).
“Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are wanton, faithless men” (Zeph. 3:3).

           Wolves are more dangerous than dogs and hogs, being rapacious; or disposed to plunder. When this term is applied to the false teachers, it means that they assumed the appearance of holiness in order to more readily get the property of the people. They were full of extortion and excess (see 23:25).
           Although Jesus was giving this warning to Jews regarding “false prophets,” coming during especially during the Great Tribulation, such a warning is also quite appropriate for today, and for the Church.  The apostles Paul and Peter gave this warning to pastors regarding false preachers:

           “Take heed … to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…for I know this, that…shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20: 28-29). 
           “But there were false prophets also among the people (Israel), even as there shall be false teachers among you (the Church), who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denyjing the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction
            “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of”  (II Peter 2:1-2).


“Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”

“Ye shall know them by their fruits”
Literally: “From their fruits you will know them.”–A short, plain, easy rule, whereby to know the true from the false prophets: and one that may be applied by people of the weakest capacity, who are not accustomed to deep reasoning. 

KNOW:  (Grk.–epiginôskô)–The Greek verb for “know” (ginôskô)—has the prephesis (epi) added so it means “fully know.”

FRUITS:  (Grk.–karpōn)–True prophets convert sinners to God, or at least confirm and strengthen those that are converted.  False prophets do not.

           The illustrations from the trees and vines have many parallels in ancient writers. The Jews, Greeks and Romans all used the idea that a tree is to be judged by its fruits:  “Like root, like fruit” ran an old Romans proverb. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “How can a vine grow not like a vine but like an olive, or, how can an olive grow not like an olive but like vine?”  The Roman philosopher Seneca declared that good cannot grow from evil any more than a fig tree can grow from an olive. We are to test men and every institution by this principle.  
          Jesus gives the proper test of the prophet’s character. Men do not judge of a tree by its leaves, or by its bark, or by its flowers, but men do judge the tree by the fruit which it bears. The flowers may be pretty and fragrant; the foliage may be thick and green; but these are merely ornaments.  It is the fruit that is of chief service to man; and he forms his opinion of the nature and value of the tree by its fruit.
           So it is of pretensions to religion. The profession may be fair; but the conduct–the fruit in the eye of the world–will determine the nature of the principles. Not leaves (professions), or appearance, are the proper tests of the life that is in the tree, but the fruit it bears. We are to test men and every institution by this principle.

“grapes of thorns…figs of thistles”
Literally: “Thornbush grapes…
thistles figs.”–Two of the most highly valued fruits of Palestine are grapes and figs.

            Nothing is more common than thorns and thistles. It has been said of Palestine that it is the land of thorns and thorny plants. Good fruit cannot be expected on such evil stocks.  There was a certain thorn, the buckthorn, which had little black berries that closely resembled little grapes. Also, there was a certain thistle, which had a flow that, at least at a distance, might well be taken for a fig.  The point is that there may be a superficial resemblance between the true and the false prophet.  The false prophet may wear the right clothes and use the right language, but you cannot sustain life with the berries of a buckthorn or the flowers of a thistle; and the life of the soul can never be sustained with the food which a false prophet offers. The real test of any teaching is:“Does it strengthen a man to bear the burdens of life, and to walk in the way wherein he ought to go?”
           The basic interest of the false prophet is his own self-interest.  The true shepherd cares for the flock more than he cares for his own life; the wolf cares for nothing but to satisfy his own hunger and his own greed.

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

“so every good tree”– As the thorn can only produce thorns, NOTgrapes; and the thistle, NOT figs, but prickles; so an unregenerate heart will produce fruits of degeneracy. 

           As we know that a good tree will not produce bad fruit, and the bad tree will not, or cannot, produce good fruit, so we know that the profession of godliness, while the life is ungodly, is hypocrisy, and deceit.
           A man cannot be a saint and a sinner at the same time.  Let us remember, that as the good tree means a good heart, and the good fruit, a holy life, and that every heart is naturally vicious; so there is none but God Who can pluck up the vicious tree, create a good heart, plant, cultivate, water, and make it continually fruitful in righteousness and true holiness.

“a corrupt tree”
The Greek word used here for “corrupt,”  (sapron),  does not signify, as our translation would seem to indicate, that the tree had been good, but had gone bad; rather that it was a tree of a totally useless character; of a nature that produces nothing beneficial. 

“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
Literally: “A good tree is not able to produce evil fruits, nor a good tree to produce corrupt fruits.”–The Lord Jesus points to the uniform law of nature. Every tree bears after its kind.  As is the tree, so is the fruit. The same principle holds good in the moral world. A good man will show forth good deeds, while a bad man will bear fruit according to his nature.

            A good tree”-Love to God and man is the root of the good tree; and from this principle all its fruit is found.

This correspondence of external product to internal character is necessary. It cannot be otherwise. If the heart is good, good results follow; therefore, Jesus implies, if good results are not seen in these “false prophets,” it is because of their real character. A bad life cannot help but spring from a worthless heart. Of course, our Lord deals only with the general rule. There are apparent anomalies in the world of spirit as of nature

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit.—The crowds who listened must, for the most part, have recognised Jesus’ words as those which they had heard before from the lips of John the Baptizer, and they served accordingly as a link connecting the teaching of our Lord with that of the forerunner (comp. 3:10.)

“every tree that bringeth forth not good fruit is hewn down”
Literally: “Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down.”–A parenthesis expressing the terrible fate of those the general product (ver. 16, note) of whose life is not good.  Every tree that does not produce good fruit is to be now cut down; the act of excision is now taking place: the curse of the Lord is even NOW on the head and the heart of every false teacher, and impenitent hearer (John 3:18, 36).

          This is exactly what happened to Israel.  They failed to bring forth the fruit that God meant them to do; they failed to be the salt of the earth as He meant them to be; they failed to be light and let that light shine as God had meant for them; and as a result, they were “hewn down” and “trodden under foot of men”  (5:13).  At the return of Christ, those who still fail to be what they should, will be “cast into the fire”THE ETERNAL LAKE OF HELL-FIRE! This is what is happening today to Jews who fail to receive their Messiah.  This is what happens to ANYONE who fails to receive Christ.
         The test of good and bad trees, good and bad  men,  good and bad systems, has been presented. Now the figure is carried farther to show their destiny.  Jesus now states a principle that seems to run through the whole government of GodWhatever is useless and evil shall finally be swept away.   

“and cast in
Literally:  And is thrown into the fire.”
Jesus is obviously referring to what will take place at the Judgment at the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Matt. 25:41)—“Then shall He say unto them on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”  This takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Literally: “Then surely from their fruits you will know them.”–As if
Jesus were saying, “But the point I now press” is not so much the end of such, as the means of detecting them; and this, as already said, is their fruits.

           The hypocrisy of teachers now leads to a solemn warning against religious hypocrisy in general. Not to have good fruit is to have evil:  there can be no innocent sterility in the invisible tree of the heart.  He that brings forth no fruit, and he that brings forth bad fruit, are both only fit for the fire.
            This truth is often repeated, because our eternal interests depend so much upon it. Not to have good fruit is to have evil: there can be no innocent sterility in the invisible tree of the heart.  He that brings forth NO fruit, and he that brings forth BAD fruit, are both only fit for the fire.