Matthew 7:13-23: Two Roads, Two Gates

Read: Matthew 7:13-23

Two roads, two gates – one road is hard and leads to a narrow gate that when opened leads to life. The other road is easy that leads to a wide gate that when opened leads to death. This is the imagery that Jesus gives to describe the path that he is laying out for his followers to follow. Jesus’ path is the hard path that isn’t easy to follow, but to those that do they will have eternal life.

In light of this description of paths and gates, Jesus gives a staunch warning concerning false prophets and false teachers. The Jews in Jesus’ day already understood the consequences of false teachers and prophets. The law had rather harsh consequences for false prophets: death. Any one that made a false prophecy or turned the Israelites to false gods was to be put to death without prejudice (Deuteronomy 13). When Jesus is teaching here, he is warning against such teachers and tells his hearers to test them. By way of analogy he is telling his hearers to look at the fruits in their lives. A tree bears fruit in keeping with its kind and health. For the Christian, there are two kinds of fruit: spiritual progeny and fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). One can tell what a teacher teaches based on the teacher’s students and based on the teacher’s own life. If one, the other, or both are bad, then it is indicative of the nature of the teacher and his teachings. In effect, just because somebody calls Jesus “Lord” and puts on a good show doesn’t mean that he himself is saved or teaching sound doctrine.

James 3 also gives a staunch warning about being eager to teach. In the same vein as Deuteronomy 13, to those who teach there will be a more strict judgment. In the discourse that follows, James talks about a destructive tongue, and such is the tongue of one who teaches false doctrine. It can cause a lot of harm and destruction. For the Christian to know this though it is imperative that he or she also be well grounded in the scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Paul reminds Timothy of the model that Paul had laid out for him and also warns him against imposters and evil doers. The antidote for false teaching was teaching from the Word of God, which is inspired by God for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.

Lord, help me to follow the narrow path found in your Word!