This Is Impossible!
“IT IS easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Jesus Christ said this to teach his disciples a lesson. A rich young ruler had just turned down an invitation to become Jesus’ follower and share many wonderful spiritual opportunities. The man chose to hold on to his many possessions rather than follow the Messiah.
Jesus was not saying that it is totally impossible for a rich person to gain everlasting life in the Kingdom arrangement, for certain wealthy individuals became his followers. (Matthew 27:57; Luke 19:2, 9) However, this is impossible for any rich person having a greater love for his possessions than for spiritual things. Only by becoming conscious of his spiritual need and seeking divine help can such a person receive God-given salvation.—Matthew 5:3; 19:16-26.
The illustration of the camel and the needle’s eye is not to be taken literally. Jesus was using hyperbole to emphasize the difficulty facing wealthy people who try to please God while maintaining a rich, materialistic life-style.—1 Timothy 6:17-19.
Some say that the needle’s eye was a small gate in a city wall through which a camel could pass with difficulty if relieved of its load. But the Greek word rha·phisʹ, translated “needle” at Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25, comes from a verb meaning “sew.” At Luke 18:25 the term be·loʹne denotes a sewing needle, and there the New World Translation reads: “It is easier, in fact, for a camel to get through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.” Various authorities support this rendering. W. E. Vine says: “The idea of applying ‘the needle’s eye’ to small gates seems to be a modern one; there is no ancient trace of it.”—An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.
A huge camel trying to fit through the eye of a tiny sewing needle “savours of Eastern exaggeration,” says one reference work. And regarding some so shrewd that they seemed to do the impossible, The Babylonian Talmud says: “They draw an elephant through the eye of a needle.” Jesus used typical hyperbole and vivid contrast to emphasize an impossibility. It is impossible for a camel, or an elephant, to go through the eye of a sewing needle. With divine help, however, a rich man can abandon a materialistic view and truly seek everlasting life. So can all who have a heartfelt desire to learn and do the will of the Most High God, Jehovah.