4 votes

Camels and Needles

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

"If your family income is $10,000 a year, you are wealthier than 84 percent of the world. If it's $50,000 or more a year, you make more than 99 percent of the world."


How then can any American citizen, even those we consider to be living in poverty, be with God in the afterlife?

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

If you are rich,

I am sure you can afford a giant needle that can accommodate a camel.

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu

Keep reading

When in doubt while reading the Bible you have to look at the texts around this verse as well.

Why does everyone suddenly lose their ability to think critically when reading the Bible?

“This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.”

"Once you become knowledgeable, you have an obligation to do something about it."- Ron Paul

Look at the whole passage.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” The disciples were greatly astonished when they heard this and said, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26)

The figure of speech Jesus used was hyperbole which is very common for the Hebrew speaker. The needle referred to was a sewing needle so the picture is very dramatic. There is a common misconception that He was referring to the gate in Jerusalem known as "The Needle's Eye" but that was built in the Middle Ages and did not exist in Jesus' day.

The disciples were taken aback because it was commonly believed at that time that material wealth was a sign of God's favour so this statement by Jesus flew in the face of that belief, as did most of His teaching. It is worth noting that this belief that material wealth is a sign of God's favour has crept back into Christian teaching especially in the "Prosperity Gospel" doctrine. Jesus turned that belief on its head when He said "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". He identified with the spiritually oppressed and encouraged them to "Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things (material goods) will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33) rather than wasting their time (their lives) worrying about what to eat and wear or how to provide for themselves.

The point is that entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven (or God) is a gift of God and enabled by Him. Jesus first shattered their misapprehensions about who would inherit the Kingdom and then emphasised that it was not by any natural effort but by God's providence that one would be so enabled.

This is further expanded upon in the Gospel of John, chapter 3:3-7:

Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’

This makes it clear that the initiative lies with God and it is He alone who decides who will be born into the Kingdom and, since timing is always the Father's prerogative, when this will take place. The last sentence above indicates that WE MUST ALL be born from above. This is confirmed in other scriptures which tell us that everyone SHALL enter the Kingdom at the point in time determined by the Father.

Finally there in nothing in the scriptures that teaches about an "afterlife". It is too large a topic to discuss here but most understanding about such things in the public mind has been planted there by Hollywood. Even most Christians have at best a very hazy notion of what the Bible teaches about life and death. The idea that when we die as Christians we go to Heaven is not supported by scripture. The promise of Life is definitely in the Author of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, but accession to that Life is in the Resurrection.

"Jesus answered them: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" (John 8:34-36)

I understand the point.

You fail to take into account that we pay more taxes than anyone else and that things cost more than anywhere else. A person in the US making $10,000 a year is NOT rich, not even $50,000 makes you rich.

The love of money is the problem not the necessity and I'm sure the love of money is just as strong in Africa as it is here.


I thought that problem involves the premise of relative deprivation, taught in anthropology class in college. When I visited Belize, the people seemed happy to live in mahogany homes with few amenities. It is all relative as to who sees themselves as rich. I grew up in a family, well below the "poverty" level income. Yet, we never were starved. We had a nice house, for us, and even a TV in 1957! That does not compare to the 60 inch TV setting in the corner, now!

Michael Nystrom's picture

$10,000 a year in this country is VERY rich

compared to the rest of the world.

Your statement just goes to further make the OP's point. $10,000 is icing on the cake of having, for example, a toilet. Do you happen to know anyone in the US who has this problem?


It's amazing isn't it?

The government raises the official poverty line in the US on a regular basis, so that a significant portion of the US population is always in "poverty," but the fact is the poorest American is better off than almost everyone else in the world (thank you free market capitalism! [or what remains of it...]).

Perhaps the next time the American left bemoans poverty in the US (only a dumbphone, new clothes only twice a year, no cable, or whatever "poverty" means these days..), somebody on our side of the aisle ought to remind them about...O...say...Africa!. And remind them what the difference is between the US and Africa (i.e. security for life and property, aka free market capitalism!).

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Yes, I know several people without toilets and running water.

Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Several Indian reservations in Oklahoma also.

Pine Ridge Today:

"The Oglala Lakota on Pine Ridge Reservation face obstacles that do not face most other communities in the United States. The Reservation reports an unemployment rate of over 80%, drop-out rates of up to 70%, and an average life expectancy of 47 for men and low-50s for women, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere aside from Haiti.
The children are the most vulnerable victims of the historic inequalities and disadvantage: the youth attempted suicide rate is estimated at 7-10 times the national average. In the first 110 days of 2013, Pine Ridge saw 100 attempted suicides by youth as young as 6 years old and the tribe has declared a Suicide State of Emergency.
There is only one hospital on the Pine Ridge Reservation, it is underfunded and mental health professionals are not readily available to most children.
Although the Internet is readily accessible to communities in sub-Saharan Africa and other “developing nations,” it is not readily accessible to many families on Pine Ridge — they simply cannot afford high internet service charges.
Mail is not delivered to residences and some have to travel 50 miles or more to the nearest Post Office to receive medications and other communications. There is only one supermarket on the Reservation and the small community stores scattered across the reservation do not offer healthy food options.
Many residences do not have toilets or access to running water; instead, families or clusters of families share outhouses.
Despite these and other obstacles, the Oglala Lakota have retained their culture and community, and are working hard to create a strong future for the next generation of tribal leaders." http://lakotachildren.org/pine-ridge-reservation/

Start at the 4:30 mark and the elder speaks of natural law, sovereign immunity and how being taken care of by the govt. has caused the Lakota to decline.


Hau Ralph

I think this belongs on it's own post brother. PM me when it's up. Let's discuss some things. Maybe the time is right.

Most of those who think so actually don't and most of those who think sew actually rip.

If you only make

$10k in this country then you probably don't have a toilet. Unless it is subsidized. Fact is everyone has a toilet. When I was a kid it was called an Outhouse and I would gladly give up the indoor toilet for an outhouse if it meant more freedom.

The OP is misusing the verse to make a point. The problems of this world are not caused by a lack of money but the lust for it.

another . .

Let me tweak your last statement a little -

The problems of this world are not caused by a lack of money, but the United States's LUST for it.

Jackson County Georgia

War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.
Thomas Jefferson

The comparison says it is easier for the camel, rather than

impossible for the rich man.
The eye of the needle referred to is not that of a sewing needle. In New Testiment times walled cities had large gates in the walls, but also small, defensible openings that restricted passage. One of these was referred to as an eye of a needle. In order for a camel carrying freight to pass through the eye of a needle, it would have to be unloaded first; Your identifying love of money being the problem is right on. The point is a rich man will have to abandon his attachment to material possessions in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

[F]orce can only settle questions of power, not of right. - Clyde N. Wilson


But the rich are not the only ones who have a love of money. Having more just makes it harder to relinquish. UNLESS you are spiritually minded in which case how much money you have is moot.

That's Why We Should Defend our "Kingdom"

If the God is really omnipotent then it would be easy for Him to create a large so-heavy stone that even himself couldn't be able to lift it? Unfortunately, it is not the case, because this world is ruled by the natural laws and pure logic, that's why we should spend more time on defending this world instead of assuring our safe passage to the Hades.

The basic problem is that one believes that everything is real, and thus everything is treated as such.
---Kalu Rinpoche

I can't help but laugh at what you said.

"...this world is ruled by the natural laws and pure logic,..."

Is that sarcasm?


God is omnipotent and that question has an easy answer.
It is YES, God can create a rock he can't lift.
God can not break his word.
So any rock he promises not to pick up he can not.

God created these natural laws and logic you speak of as well.
He also functions out side of them :)

Further I do not agree with the this world first attitude, and neither did those leaders that founded this country.
They were fearless because they feared God more than any thing the Red coats could do to them.

George Washington feared God and dishonor not a bullet.

The fiercest fighters for freedom are the ones that do not fear your weapons.

There is a reason government fears "religious extremists"
Which is what they would label any real Christian.
Because any real Christian will chose God over any conflicting government decree.

"You only live free if your willing to die free."

that doesn't make sense

This is getting off-topic from my original point, but no God cannot create this hypothetical rock b/c if he can't break his own word like you say he can't, well then he is not God, by definition.

Furthermore, how do you speak for God? Please do not speak of matters as if you know facts about the details of God's existence.

oh but I do :)

His words are quite clear.
He can not break his word.
If he could you think he would have let the Jews crucify his son?
I do not speak for him. I only repeat his words.
They can be found in any King James bible.
You do not define God, he does.
Perhaps if you read it, instead of assumptions you would have knowledge :D

"You only live free if your willing to die free."

well then he DOES not break

well then he DOES not break his word, if he CANNOT then he is not all-powerful


The word is omnipotent.
Considering he spoke you and every thing on the physical plain into existence I'd say he qualifies.

Further more since he exists out side of time your statement would be false.
If I must I can explain it, but figuring your smart enough to be a libertarian, I will not insult your intellect by assuming you can not think past 3D.

peace :)

"You only live free if your willing to die free."

no you are not understanding

no you are not understanding my point, this is one of the most classic arguments about God in history.

omnipotent - all powerful. as in, can do ANYTHING.

If you are saying that God CANNOT break his word, then he is not OMNIPOTENT, bc he can't do something. therefore God is limited, therefore probably not a "god" by the most common definition.

IF you are saying that he DOES NOT break his word bc he is a super awesome nice guy, THEN I understand.

i agree!

i agree!

side note

You do know the "eye of a needle" is describing a place, not a thing. An alleyway for pedestrians.

That's right oceanoz....

The eye is a hole in a fortress wall, where a camel had to crouch down on all fours to get thru. It was to slow camels down form coming into the fortress too fast to impede invasion.

Because: Some animals are more equal than other animals. -Animal Farm- What the? > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MTIwY3_-ks
Strike The Root: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

That makes no sense whatsoever and isn't supported by anything

except something written in the 9th Century.

Do you really think that Jesus was saying he didn't want rich people RUNNING quickly into heaven, but wanted them to have to crouch?

Do you think his disciples would have been stunned by that as they were?

Do you think he wouldn't have used the proper name for it?

That explanation is pure rationalization and I remember the first time I ever read it going "Oh, Come on...."

There is (and was) no such place. That was just made up.

"Next, the history and archaeology. The notion your Baptist friend has picked up apparently comes from a single ninth-century commentary asserting that in first-century Jerusalem there was a gate called the Needle's Eye which a camel could only get through on its knees. (Sort of like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "only the penitent man will pass …") A cute allegory, but there's no archaeological or historical evidence for the existence of such a gate."


Do you think Jesus really would have referred to such a place without using the proper pronouns if that is what he meant and if such a place existed?

A reference to what Jesus really meant from the 9th Century (the 800's) would be like me referring to a place in 1300 without knowing if it really existed or not.

my 2 copper

Few will make it in to heaven from any country.
It has nothing to do with how much you make.
It does have to do with the how you spend it.
Not just the how but the why.
God is very exacting about what he wants from you.
He sees your heart and will judge it true.
You will not fool him with the right actions for the wrong reasons.
What you seek in life you will have in death.
Are you seeking God?

"You only live free if your willing to die free."

Michael Nystrom's picture

"If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons...

"...you may as well have done the wrong thing."

That is what a Christian friend of mine told me once.

Is this true?