“An Interpretation of Matthew chapter 7, verses 13-20,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

“An Interpretation of Matthew chapter 7, verses 13-20,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

My dear readers, thinkers, and you who wish to know and grasp, not skating on the surface but making use of discernment and critical thinking and rejecting political code words, media slogans, and political hype, and seeking to grasp and understand truth and factual knowledge, I bid you join with me in this intellectual journey to find and understand the light and have done with the dark lies of the world.

I now propose to interpret, analyze, and attempt to understand some words of holy scripture found in the words of the living and eternal god Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of the father, and the savior and redeemer of the world. The verses are found in the gospel Matthew 7:13-20, where Jesus says as follows: ‘Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? So every sound tree bears good fruit but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.’

Jesus finally says that we are known by our fruits and every tree that does not bear good fruit is thrown into the fire which could be termed and interpreted as eternal damnation and death. These are all harsh words, a radical message, somewhat disturbing if not challenging, to our modern ears which are most unhappy to be told and informed about evil and good, death, damnation, and the narrow and difficult road to eternal life and the joy of heaven. There are many who find these hard sayings difficult to grasp and understand. It is quite clear that Jesus means here about the narrow and wide way and that first the good life and following Christ and attaining eternal life in heaven is hard and even more disturbing. He says that few find their way on the path to life in Christ in heaven and that the choice of, if not evil, then the following the messages of the world, is attractive and easy and leads, perhaps properly interpreted, to hell and eternal death and destruction. This saying of Jesus makes clear that evil and eternal destruction are ever-present choices and realities and that Jesus’s message here is not that of the good guy who only preaches and proclaims love for all. He is telling of our choices in life, how they work for us, and what can happen to us with those choices and the consequences of those choices. The good way is hard and narrow and few find it, and the wide way where we make bad and evil choices in our live, he makes clear, leads to death and destruction. Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets in sheep’s clothing, but inside are ravenous wolves. He is addressing here, I think as well, so-called religious and other leaders who on the outside and perhaps in their message are attractive but in truth and reality are bad and evil. Perhaps the so-called proponents of the prosperity gospel could be referred to here who present the idea and interpretation, false and misleading, that material prosperity is the message of Christ and the gospel and the result of the proper Christian life. Again, the message of universal salvation is another false idea and prophecy used to make people feel comfortable as is the message that all religions are the same and have the same god—again an easy, comfortable, and false message in contrast to the exclusive claim of Jesus as the only route and way to salvation.

Finally, Jesus refers here to good fruit and bad fruit and every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire and he concludes with the telling message that will know them by their fruits. What can we make of this last passage? First, we are informed in no uncertain terms, that prophets, if not all men and women, are known and judged by their fruits and every good person seen as a sound tree bears good fruit and the bad tree bears evil fruit. Jesus ends with this warning that the bad tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Jesus makes clear we all will be judged by our moral fruits and the person whose life and its fruits are evil will be cut down, meaning condemned into the fire of hell.

This group of sayings ends with the advice and warning you will know people by their fruits. Jesus here makes clear his moral and ethical vision of the world: there are good and evil men and women in the world and they are and will be known by their lives and how they behave and conduct themselves and those whose deeds and lives are evil will, like the tree he refers to, and be cut down and thrown into the fire, meaning, it would appear, the eternal condemnation and punishment of hell.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope I have shed some light in my interpretation and explanation of these verses and group of sayings of the eternal god the savior and redeemer of the world, the only begotten son of the eternal father. In setting about this task, I am aware of my limited human understanding of the words of god as he speaks to us in his holy word and engage in this task with humility and hesitation. I invite comments to this essay at a.schatkin48@gmail.com and urge all my readers to go back to the text of Matthew here which I have attempted to interpret and grasp.