Summary: Jesus discussion with His disciples right after the incident with the rich young ruler. Seeks to correct the myth of the existance of the so called "needle gate" and explains what Jesus meant when he said "through the eye of a needle."
Mark 10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" (24) The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (25) 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."
(26) The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" (27) Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
Let’s view verse 23 from the Amplified Bible because it does a better job of clarifying this verse. And Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “With what difficulty will those who possess wealth and keep on holding it enter the kingdom of God!”
Note that this is an exclamation stating that it is going to be difficult for those who possess wealth and keep on holding it (or perhaps having it hold onto them) to enter the kingdom of God. In our language today we would say it will be hard for those whose wealth controls them to enter into the kingdom of God.
24) The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
The disciples were amazed, bewildered, and perplexed (AMP) at Him saying this. Perhaps because they thought the rich could easily win God’s favor by giving alms or gifts at the synagogue or using their money in ways that would buy them favor with God. They were puzzled by the remark.
But He reemphasizes His remark by restating that it is hard to enter the kingdom of God.
(25) 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."
This is a scripture which has been preached and recycled and repreached again and again over the years. I want us to take a good look at it so that we can really understand what Jesus is saying.
Jesus clearly says that it is easier for a camel—the largest animal in that part of the world—to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
For years now—at least the past couple of decades there has been teaching and preaching going around that Jesus was speaking figuratively here. They say that what He was implying was that the eye of the needle was not an actual eye of an actual needle but rather a small gate in the wall of the city. Most of you have heard this teaching but I will briefly cover it here for those who have not. The teaching said that Jesus was speaking of a small personal sized gate in the wall of the city which they called the needle gate. The teaching goes on to say that if a traveler arrived at the city after the big main gates were closed at nightfall he had to enter the city through this small personal gate. If the person had a camel carrying his goods then he was suppose to unload the camel and make it crawl through the small “eye of a needle” gate and then reload the beast on the other side. This so called eye of the needle gate was the one they said Jesus was talking about when He spoke of a rich man having a harder time getting into heaven than a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
But if this teaching is true then scripture must be wrong! Why? Well, in this instance to understand what Jesus meant we must look at the Greek to see what words are used that make up the phrase “a needle.” Matthew and Mark in their Gospels both use the Greek word “rhaphis” from rhapto which in translation means ‘to sew.’ Luke, a doctor, clearly identifies what Jesus meant when he used the Greek word “belone” which means a dart, a sharp point, hence, a needle. Luke, being a doctor says a needle, an item he would be very familiar with. What we need to notice here is that both of these Greek words DO NOT in any way describe a gate in a wall of any shape or kind. They talk of a dart like sharp pointed object used to sew—hence an actual needle.
Note: (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words-1996.) Vines [under the word needle] also indicates that the idea of a small gate is a modern one and there is no ancient trace of it.
I used multiple resources as well as the internet to check into this teaching and this is the conclusion I have come to. There are no historical or archaeological findings that have been identified as the "eye of a needle gate”, it simply did not exist." Some teachers and preachers have claimed this was a reference to a small gate in the city wall, but there is no evidence for that conclusion other than the author’s imagination. It is sad that this misinformation was so completely accepted based on someone’s teaching and preaching and no one took the time to check it out to see if it was true—they just kept spreading a wrong teaching. See why I tell you to check things out? See why I encourage additional bible study resources? See how easy it is to get on the wrong track if you just believe what you hear without checking it out?