INTRODUCTION

The principle purpose of my book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth[i] is to provide a vehicle for a person to gain a sense of their eternal destiny, and thereby, make a change, if necessary.  It is vitally important for a person to gain a sense of their eternal destiny because, as the title of this article reads, “So Many People Go to Hell and So Few Go to Heaven.” 

Using the current version of the Graphōble Bible Study Method – New Testament (GBSMNT), this article updates the discussion of Matthew 7:13-14 (passage-under-study) found on pages 25-27 of The Salvation Meter.  My primary hope is that this article incentivizes people who have not already done so to examine their spiritual condition using The Salvation Meter

SUMMARY OF INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF MATTHEW 7:13-14

In reference to the interpretation, Matthew originally intended to convey to his original audience, most of whom thought most Jews were headed to heaven, Jesus’ stern warning that most people were traveling on the road to hell whereby they would suffer God’s wrath.  Only a few people were on the path to eternal life in heaven.  Matthew emphasized that Jesus’ characterized the road to hell as broad and easy while the road to heaven was narrow and difficult. 

In reference to the application, in the context of Jesus’ warning, nothing has changed between the early 1st Century and the 20th Century in the following important aspects.  First, the road to hell remains broad and easy still today just like it was about 2000 years ago.  Second, contrary to common thought in the USA, as well as in 1st Century Judaism, many people are on the road to hell.  Third, like in Jesus’ time, only a few are travelling on the narrow and difficult road to heaven. 

Jesus’ teaching as conveyed by Matthew in Matthew 7:13-14 cries out that people today make sure of their salvation. 

Once a lost person draws their last breath and enters into destruction through the wide gate there is never a chance to change their eternal destiny.  This is one compelling reason why a person ought to use The Salvation Meter to examine their salvation and make certain they are on the road to heaven. Then, if they discover they are on the road to hell, they can exercise biblical saving faith and forever change their eternal destiny.

THE GRAPHŌBLE BIBLE STUDY METHOD

Brief Introduction

There are many benefits to using computers and word processing to carry out Bible study.  I do that through Logos 9 and word-processing software like Microsoft WORD.  But, I find there is an advantage to adding a handwriting component to my Bible study through handwriting the text of the passage-under-study and developing a visual representation of the passage-under–study.  My analysis of Matthew 7:13-14 using the GBSMNT is below. 

The Handwritten Scripture Sheet

First, I hand-wrote the passage-under-study on the Handwritten Scripture Sheet from an English Standard Version (ESV)[ii] translation of the Bible with giant print because it is easier to read and accurately copy. Second, I made several copies of the Handwritten Scripture sheet on which to mark the text, make notes, etc., that emanate from additional study. 

The Handwritten Scripture sheet includes a left-hand column for word study issues.  In the case of Matthew 7:13-14, word study issues concerned most of the words in the passage, especially those that point out the stark contrast between heaven and hell.  In the ESV, these contrasting words are narrow-wide, hard-easy, life-destruction, and few-many.  Below I discuss the pertinent Greek words using the Logos 9 Exegetical Guide and other language resources.[iii]

Road to HeavenRoad to Hell
Life: The ESV translates the Greek noun zōē as “life,” meaning to be alive, to live, life.  Matthew 7:14 refers to eternal life in the future.Destruction: The ESV translates the Greek noun apōleia as “destruction,” It means to destroy or to cause the destruction or ruin of persons, objects, or institutions.  Matthew 7:!3 refers to eternal destruction as punishment for the wicked as the result of God’s wrath.  Note that God is the One who is imposing the punishment.
Narrow: The ESV translates the Greek adjective stenos as “narrow” and it means pertaining to being narrow or restricted.  The narrowness presents a sense of difficulty for anyone to travel along a path that is stenosWide: The ESV translates the Greek adjective platys as “wide,” which means pertaining to being wide or broad.  It has the sense of possessing a great dimension from side to side. 
Hard: The ESV translates the Greek verb[iv] thlibō as “hard,” meaning to cause someone to suffer trouble, hardship, or persecution.  The fact a road is narrow or confined renders it difficult on which to travel.Easy: The ESV translates the Greek adjective eurchōros as “easy,” and it means pertaining to being broad and spacious, with the implication of agreeable and pleasant.
Few: The ESV translates the Greek adjective oligos as “few,” and it means a relatively small quantity on any dimension.Many: The ESV translates the Greek adjective polys as “many,’ and it means a relatively large quantity of objects or events.

English Translation Comparison Sheet

Second, using Logos 9, I copied the Greek text from Nestle-Aland 28th Edition and a number of English translations to the English Translation Comparison Sheet.  After reading the different English translations, I noted the contribution each translation made to the analysis.  My summary of these contributions is below.

Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) reads “leading to destruction … going in through it” and “leading to the life … finding it.”  The sense is an active ongoing activity.  This appears to be consistent with the Greek grammar of the pertinent verbs. 

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) uses the expression “many who take it” in reference to those on the wide and easy road.  The New Living Translation (NLT) uses the expression “highway to hell” to describe the broad road for those that “choose that way.”  The NRSV and NLT provide a sense that those on the “road to hell” have chosen to be on that pathway.

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible stated that Greek, Romans, and Jewish writers often spoke of two ways; namely, the choice between life and death.  Many Jews thoughts that most would be saved, which is contrary to what Jesus taught per Matthew 7:13-14.

Literary Context Sheet

Third, the literary context comprises the biblical text that encompasses the passage.  For Matthew 7:13-14, the relevant literary contexts were the intermediate text of Matthew 7:15-29 and a broader context of the Sermon on the Mount, i.e., Matthew 5-7, excluding Matthew 7:13-29. 

The intermediate literary context contains two basic teachings; namely, you will recognize them by their fruit (vv. 15-21) and the wise and foolish builders (vv. 24-27). 

The takeaways from Matthew 7:15-21 are below.  (1)  There is a contrast between what is on the outside of a person (i.e., come in sheep’s clothing) and what is on the inside of a person (i.e., inwardly ravenous wolves). (2)  Grapes are different then thorn bushes. (3)  A healthy tree produces good fruit.  A diseased tree produces bad fruit. (4) A healthy tree cannot produce bad fruit.  A diseased tree cannot produce good fruit. (5)  The diseased tree will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  The basic teaching is healthy-good cannot be diseased-bad, and diseased-bad cannot be healthy-good, and those that are diseased-bad will go to destruction.

The takeaways from Matthew 7:24-27 are below.  (1)  A wise is someone who hears the biblical truth and does it.  A foolish man is someone who hears the biblical truth and does not do it.  (2) A wise man built his house upon rock.  A foolish man built his house on the sand.  (3)  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew, but the wise man’s house built on rock stood because it was founded upon rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew, and the foolish man’s house fell, and great was its fall.  The basic teaching is that the houses of the wise man and foolish man may look alike. Still, when turmoil comes, only the wise man’s house built on rock (i.e., obedience to biblical truth) will stand while the foolish man’s house built on sand (i.e., disobedience to biblical truth) will fall in a great way.

My takeaways from the Sermon on the Mount, i.e., Matthew 5-7, are below.  First, the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) describe attributes that are contrary to the world.  There is a contrast between a Christ-follower and a nonbeliever.  Second, there are consequences for disobedience, such as not entering the kingdom of heaven (5:20), liable to the fire of hell (5:22), and go into or thrown into hell (5:29, 30).  Third, a person cannot serve two masters (6:24).  Fourth, where someone lays up their treasure shows where their heart is (6:19-21).  Fifth, the nature of Jesus’ teaching was different from that of mankind per Matthew 7:28–29 (NASB95):

28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

The Study Bible Contribution Sheet

Next, I read the passage-under-study in multiple English translations using different kinds of study Bibles[v].  I recorded my observations on a Study Bible Contribution Sheet.  The primary takeaways from the study Bibles are set out below.

The cross-references in the New Inductive Study Bible references a similar teaching in Luke 13:23–24 (ESV), which reads:

23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

The NIV Study Bible notes that Jesus is the “gate” in John 10:7, 9 (NIV):

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  … 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

Along this line, the Expositor’s Study Bible references the “door” of John 10:1 (KJV 1900):

1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

The Amplified Bible notes that the narrow way is contracted by pressure.  The Amplified Bible along with others references Deuteronomy 30:19 and Jeremiah 21:8.  The Dake Annotated Reference Bible adds 1 Kings 18:21.  These Old Testament references emphasize that when it comes to following God, a person has one of two choices.  Deuteronomy 30:15–20 (ASV 1901) contrasts between life and death:

15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. 17 But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; 20 to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Jeremiah 21:8–10 (ASV 1901) contrasts the way of life and the way of death:

8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith Jehovah: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out, and passeth over to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. 10 For I have set my face upon this city for evil, and not for good, saith Jehovah: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

1 Kings 18:21 (ASV 1901) teaches not to hesitate between choosing who a person will serve:

21 And Elijah came near unto all the people, and said, How long go ye limping between the two sides? if Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

The MacArthur Study Bible and the Expositor’s Study Bible point out that the broad way includes false teaching and false religions. 

Visual Representation Sheet

Next, I created a drawing of Matthew 7:13-14 on the Visual Representation Sheet.  What I tried to accomplish through the Visual Representation Sheet was to sketch the relationships in Matthew 7:13-14 and then use what else I learn through my study to expand on those relationships.

Interpretation of Matthew 7:13-14

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics reads at ARTICLE VII:

We affirm that the meaning expressed in each biblical text is single, definite and fixed.
We deny that the recognition of this single meaning eliminates the variety of its application.

The single, definite and fixed meaning expressed by Matthew in writing Matthew 7:13-14 is Matthew originally intended to convey to his original audience, most of whom thought most Jews were headed to heaven, Jesus’ stern warning that most people were travelling on the road to hell whereby they would suffer God’s wrath, and only a few people were on the path to eternal life in heaven.  Matthew emphasized that Jesus’ characterized the road to hell as broad and easy while the road to heaven was narrow and difficult. 

Relevant Application(s) of Matthew 7:13-14

In the context of using The Salvation Meter, the relevant applications from Matthew 7:13-14 are set forth below.

First,  In the context of Jesus’ warning, nothing has changed between the early 1st Century and the 20th Century in the following important aspects.  First, the road to hell remains broad and easy still today just like it was about 2000 years ago.  Second, contrary to common thought in the USA, as well as in 1st Century Judaism, many people are on the road to hell.  Third, like in Jesus’ time, only a few are travelling on the narrow and difficult road to heaven. 

Jesus’ teaching as conveyed by Matthew in Matthew 7:13-14 cries out that people today make sure of their salvation.  Once a lost person draws their last breath and enters into destruction through the wide gate there is never a chance to change their eternal destiny.  This is one very compelling reason why a person ought to use The Salvation Meter to examine their salvation, and thereby, make certain they are on the road to heaven.  If they discover they are on the road to hell, they can exercise biblical saving faith and forever change their eternal destiny.

Comments to Those Who are Lost

If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, your eternal destination is hell unless God intervenes.  But, your destiny can change.  Today can be the day of your salvation.  Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).

NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS

I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works.  I thus try my best to not violate any copyright rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works.  The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works.  The quotations from commentaries are considered to be “fair use.”

Scripture quotations marked “ASV 1901” are from the American Standard Version published in1901 and which is in the public domain.

Scripture quotations marked “KJV 1900” are from the King James Version published in 1900 and which is in the public domain.

Scripture quotations marked “YLT  are from Young’s Literal Translation which is in the public domain.

Scripture marked “NRSV” are taken from the New Revised Standard Version copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Scripture marked “NASB95” are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Used by Permission HCSB ©1999,2000,2002,2003,2009 Holman Bible Publishers. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Scripture marked “NCV” is taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

The Scriptures marked “NET” are quoted are from the NET Bible®  http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved”.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked “GW” is taken from the God’s Word Bible that is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission.


[i] You can purchase The Salvation Meter at:

Christian Publisher Xulon Press: Author Steve Belsheim – Christian Publisher Xulon Press

Amazon: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth: Belsheim, Steve, Mangrum, Josh: 9781662828638: Amazon.com: Books

Barnes & Noble: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth by Steve Belsheim | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Target: The Salvation Meter – By Steve Belsheim (paperback) : Target

Cokesbury: The Salvation Meter – Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tes | Cokesbury

[ii]  In the future, I will use either the Lexham English Bible or the New American Standard Bible (1995 update) as the main source of the text.  The chart on page 36 of the September/October 2019 issue of Bible Study Magazine reflects these two translations as the most “formal” or word-for-word. 

[iii]  For example, Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition). New York: United Bible Societies; Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, (2006), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI..

[iv] The verb is in the perfect tense which means perfect — The verb tense used by the writer to describe a completed verbal action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer). The emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.  See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.  It appears that the way of the narrow road has always been difficult so it is nothing new.

[v] The study Bibles I use are as follows: (1) The Greek-English New Testament (Nestle-Aland 28th Edition (NA28) Greek Text and ESV English translation) [Crossway, Wheaton, IL]; (2) the John MacArthur Study Bible in the New King James Version (NKJV) [(1997), Word Publishing, Nashville, TN]; (3) The New Inductive Study Bible in the New American Standard Bible (1995 update) translation (NASB95) [(2000 Precept Ministries, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR]; (4) The NIV Study Bible (New International Version translation) [(1985), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI]; (5) The Amplified Bible, (1987), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; (6) The Dake Annotated Reference Bible (1963), Dake Bible Sales, Lawrenceville, GA; (7) the NET Bible, Full Notes Edition; (1996, 2019), Biblical Studies Press, LLC, Thomas Nelson; (8) the Expositor’s Study Bible [Jimmy Swaggert Ministries, Baton Rouge, LA]; (9) The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible in the ESV translation (Zondervan); and (10) The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bile (2016), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI..