Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)
This is a well-known saying of Jesus and I have read it many times. But, this time I decided to take a look at the Greek meanings and roots of the important concepts – narrow, wide, broad. I would like to share with you what I discovered and some related verses that help reveal the amazing story of Redemption hidden in these verses.
Enter through the narrow (stenos) gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small (stenos) is the gate …
The word translated “narrow” in verse 13 and the word translated “small” in verse 14 are the same Greek word, which is stenos. Stenos means narrow or strait, and it comes from the root word histemi, which means to stand, abide, continue, covenant, to be of a steadfast mind which does not hesitate or waiver.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NASB)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NASB)
But small is the gate and narrow (thlibo) the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The other word in verse 14 also translated “narrow” (or hard, difficult) is thlibo, which means to press like grapes, press hard upon, be crowded, afflicted, suffer tribulation and trouble. There are two breathtaking roots to this word: tragos = a male goat; and trauma = a wound or wounds.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 15:33 (NIV)
Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins … The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness. Leviticus 16:21-22 (NASB)
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12 (NIV)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)
For wide (platus) is the gate and broad (euruchoros) is the road that leads to destruction
The word translated “wide” is platus. Its origin is the root word plasso, which means to form, mold, fabricate, or shape.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Finally, the word translated “broad”, or spacious, is euruchoros. It comes from chora which means and empty expanse or the space lying between two places or limits. Interestingly, the root of both these words is chasma, from which our English word chasm comes.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10 (NIV)
Enter through the narrow gate, where you can abide in me, holding fast your confession without wavering. For wide is the gate where you are formed by the molding of the world, and broad is the road that leads to destruction and separation from God, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road, where you are pressed hard upon like grapes, afflicted, suffer tribulation and trouble for my sake, but that leads to life, and only a few find it.
I [Jesus] am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9 (NIV)