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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Through a needle’s eye.—The Greek word for “needle” in the better MSS. differs from that in St. Matthew and St. Mark, and is a more classical word. That which the others use was unknown to Attic writers. The fact, small as it is, takes its place among the signs of St. Luke’s culture.Matthew 19:13-30. See Poole on "Luke 18:18" Matthew 19:24 and See Gill on Mark 10:24. 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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 18:25. τρήματος βελόνης: each evangelist has his own expression here.—τρῆμα from τιτράω, τίτρημι (or τράω), to pierce, bore through; hence τρανής, penetrating, clear; βελόνη, the point of a spear.25. for a camel to go through a needles eye] To soften the apparent harshness of this expression, some have conjectured Kamilon, ‘a rope;’ and some have explained ‘the needle’s eye’ of the small side gate for passengers (at the side of the large city gates), through which a camel might press its way, if it were first unladen. But (i) the conjecture Kamilon is wholly without authority, (ii) The name of ‘the needle’s eye’ applied to small gates is probably a modern one which has actually originated from an attempt to soften this verse:—at any rate there is no ancient trace of it. (iii) The Rabbinic parallels are decisive to prove that a camel is meant because the Babylonian Jews using the same proverb substitute ‘an elephant’ for ‘a camel.’ (iv) It is the object of the proverb to express human i?npossibility. In the human sphere—apart from the special grace of God—it would be certain that those who have riches would be led to trust in them, and so would fail to enter into the kingdom of God, which requires absolute humility, ungrudging liberality, and constant self-denial.Verse 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. This simile, taken in its plain and obvious sense, appears to many an exaggerated one, and various explanations have been suggested to soften it down. The best is found in Lord Nugent's 'Lands Classical and Sacred,' who mentions that in some modern Syrian towns the narrow gate for foot-passengers at the side of the larger gate by which waggons, camels, and other beasts of burden enter the city, is known as the "needle's eye." It is, however, very uncertain whether this term for the little gate was known in ancient times. But the simile was evidently a common one among the Jews. The Talmud, for instance, gives us the parallel phrase of an elephant passing through a needle's eye. The Koran repeats the very words of the Gospel. it is the object of the proverb to express human impossibility.
"I would ride the camel,
Yea leap him flying, through the needle's eye
As easily as such a pampered soul
Could pass the narrow gate."
(Southey.) It seems strange that the three evangelists, SS. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who tell this story of the young questioner and the Master's conversation with him, do not mention his name. And yet he must have been a conspicuous personage in the society of the time. First of all, his riches were evidently remarkable. One account tells us that he was" very rich." Two of the Gospels mention his "great possessions." St. Luke tells us that he was "a ruler." He was, then, certainly a very wealthy Jew holding a high official position, not improbably a member of the Sanhedrin council. Why is he nameless in the three Gospels? Dean Plumptre has a most interesting theory that the young wealthy ruler was Lazarus of Bethany. He bases his hypothesis upon the following data: He begins by stating that "there is one other case in the first two Gospels which presents similar phenomena. ]n the narrative of the supper at Bethany, St. Matthew and St. Mark record the passionate affection which expressed itself in pouring the precious ointment of spikenard upon our Lord's head as the act of 'a woman' (Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3), leaving her unnamed. In John 12:3 we find that the woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. The train of thought thus suggested points to the supposition that here also there may have been reasons for suppressing in the records a name which was familiar to the narrator. What if the young ruler were Lazarus himself? The points of agreement are sufficiently numerous to warrant the conjecture. The household of Lazarus, as the spikenard ointment shows, were of the wealthier class. The friends who came to comfort the bereaved sisters were themselves, in St. John's language, 'of the Jews,' i.e. of the chief rulers (John 11:19). The young ruler was obviously a Pharisee, and the language of Martha (John 11:24) shows that she, too, believed in eternal life and the resurrection of the dead. The answer to the young ruler, ' One thing thou lackest' (as given by St. Mark and St. Luke), is almost identical with that to Martha, 'One thing is needful' (Luke 10:42). In such a case, of course, nothing can be attained beyond conjectural inference; but the present writer must avow his belief that the coincidences in this case are such as to carry the evidence to a very high point of probability."
See on Matthew 19:24.
To go through the eye of a needle (διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν)
Rev., more literally, to enter in through a needle's eye. Both Matthew and Mark use another word for needle (ῥαφίς); see on Mark 10:25. Luke alone has βελόνη, which, besides being an older term, is the peculiar word for the surgical needle. The other word is condemned by the Greek grammarians as barbarous.
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