Troubled by Matthew 7:13


“Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” - Matthew 7:13

This one line in the bible (or at least, the way I always see it being interpreted) has always bothered me because of the great deal of cognitive dissonance it causes in me.

The main reason I worship God is not because he is all-powerful, but because he is all-loving. Indeed there are numerous verses in the bible that talk about how loving and compassionate God is, about how he was so compassionate that he died to forgive our sins, about how no matter how much we sin and how horrible our sins God will never stop loving us and about how he will welcome us back with open arms the moment we repent (sinners are compared to Lost Sheep and Runaway Sons).

God’s love gives me hope: the world is a cruel place. It is a place full of remorseless monsters who go their whole lives without being punished for their cruelties and of innocent people who suffer and die unduly.
In the face of this, I have always taken comfort in the knowledge of God’s Love. The idea that no matter how unfair the world or life might be, God IS fair and will not damn the innocent or the repentant.

Then a lot of Christians on The Internet claim that the vast majority of humans on earth go to Hell, and cite Matthew 7:13 as evidence of this. If God loves every human being, than why would he stack the cards against us? Matthew 7:13 makes it seem like God doesn’t even want us to go to Heaven.

I do not see how it can be possible for a world ruled by a all-loving God to also be a world in which 8 out of every 10 humans (or even a majority of humans) go to Hell. To be honest the very idea makes me sick, and even now I can not hear or read a reference to “The Narrow Path” in a Christian Context without feeling a little disgusted.

Does Matthew 7:13 mean something else? Are there any other possible interpretations?

Because the idea of more humans going to hell than to heaven is one that I can not reconcile with the idea of an All-Loving God.


God does love all of us not matter what we do. God even loves those souls that go to Hell. He wants every single one of us to go to Heaven to be with Him. God is the source of all love but God is also about justice. He is a just judge.

I was reading a quote from one of the Saints (I’m sorry, I can’t remember which one) who said that when a person dies and stands in front of Jesus to be judged, no matter what the result (Heaven, Hell or Purgatory) the soul will not dispute Jesus’ judgement because they will know that Jesus is always right and just and always makes the right judgement.

As for the number or percentages of people that go to Hell, only God knows that. We do not know what is in a person’s heart or their deepest thoughts and beliefs.

As for me, all I can do is worship and adore God, try to obey His commandments, pray, try to love all my brothers and sisters, help the poor, go to confession and receive our Lord’s Body and Blood for grace and forgiveness. I trust in His love and mercy and I’m counting on it when I am judged, even though I do not deserve it.

God Bless


Do not fall for the modernist canard of everyone automatically being saved. Jesus gave us commandments, not suggestions. God is both mercy and justice. Our sins have merited only terrible and eternal justice, but His mercy tempers that justice, and in that mercy, we have our hope.

Those in hell have freely chosen it. Seriously.


Thank you!

This is exactly what I needed to hear, and it puts me at peace. Whenever I feel bothered by this question, I can look over this again and feel calm.

God Bless you too.


My problem wasn’t with there being a test, my problem was with the possibility of the test having an abnormally high failure rate.

Even if the vast majority of humans lacked the holiness to avoid Hell upon death, the implication would be either that God’s standards are too high or that he created most of humanity too unholy to match.


I worry about this too. I won’t go into it here because I’ve posted about it so much but it concerns me greatly where my son is. He was a really good person. I don’t believe at all that I’m saying that just because I’m his mom. He would do anything to help someone. He loved everyone except maybe a couple of people he didn’t really like. He was loving and caring and a baptized Catholic but stopped going to church in his teens. Hadn’t confessed in years. Four months before he died he said he didn’t believe in God anymore because he couldn’t understand how God could let people, like him, hurt and suffer so much. I believed he was just speaking from his pain and I believed we had time to work this out. But then in the hospital when they told me my son was going to die, I asked him if he wanted to speak to a priest and he said yes. The hospital chaplain had just left that day for a two-week vacation. I asked the nurses desk to help us find the priest who was going to replace him. They said they couldn’t find another priest. So I told my son I would find a priest for him in the morning if that was ok and he, again, said YES. But he died that night.

My point is that he was a very good and loving person who was indeed a sinner like many of us are. I sure am. So I worry about how God would judge someone like that. If so many end up in hell, could it be those who are really good and loving people? Would he send people like my son to be mixed in with the murderers, etc., in hell? Does God make that wide and spacious road to hell for good people who are human and can’t live up to the greatness of God because of reasons they can’t control? I have problems with that if it is so. The God I love and worship is loving, forgiving, merciful, and understanding of our very souls, as well as judge. It will be three years, this coming January 18, that my son died and I still grieve for my son. More than ever. And I will till the day I die and we are together again. That’s what I live for now.

I pray he got to go through that narrow gate because he sure traveled a hard road in his lifetime. :gopray:


What about we look at another, similar verse: Seek and you shall find.

Anyone who seeks the narrow gate will find it, but it seems that many will not even seek the gate. You can’t show compassion to someone who runs away from you, you can’t give a gift to someone who rejects it.

And what is “running away from God?” Sin. The problem is not with God not providing the means to find the narrow gate, but with the heart of the sinner who refuses to seek His Mercy.

In a sense, the only real mortal sins, sins that cause eternal death, are the the sins we don’t repent from in our hearts.

Christi pax.


I cannot answer your question from the Catholic or broader Christian perspective. However, from one of the Jewish perspectives (there are always several), it is the good deeds we do for others in this life that G-d judges all of us on (and so do we at the heavenly tribunal according to Jewish tradition). Most Jews do not fear hell but trust in G-d and try to live according to His commandments, even if they constantly fall short of obeying the latter. G-d’s mercy and love conquer all and are intimately entwined with His justice, for there can be no true justice without mercy. In other words, justice and mercy are not diametrically opposed to one another but interconnected. G-d will always forgive our shortcomings up to the last act of repentance and perhaps even beyond.


I do not hold on to the “most people go to hell” interpretation of the passage. This is because the number of the predestined, while unknown, is first of all, God’s decree. Since God is in control, it is hard to believe he would lay out an order of grace with a terrible failure rate. It pretty much sets up a kingdom smaller than the devil’s and God is not a lousy planner.

The “most people go to hell” interpretation extols man’s free will without considering God’s sovereignty when in fact the first movement is God’s by laying out the fixed order of grace.

Since i have a fairly high regard of God, i must believe the number of the elect is larger then the number of the reprobate.


It’s probably more like most people go to purgatory.

An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory

Excerpt :

I can tell you about the different degrees of Purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great Purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, like a temporary hell, are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with this difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us.


Don’t be fooled. Salvation takes an enormous amount of effort.

True devotion to Mary can make us great Saints.

Is salvation easy? Our Lord said to strive to enter the narrow gate but the Greek is stronger than the word ‘strive’.

Salvation & the Immaculate Heart of Mary
24 minutes


Whatever the case, God loves the damned much more than we do.


A priest once told me a good indicator at your ‘status’ would be to look around at your own life, are you hated and scorned by the secular world due to your beliefs, or that you choose to stand for them…if the answer is no, then there is probably something wrong, it would not be good thing for a truly devout christian to have an easy or comfortable life, especially in the type of world we live in.


Purgatory I can accept, because even a billion years in purgatory will feel like nothing compared to an eternity in Heaven.

I especially love the Excerpt you quoted.


I would refer you to the CCC, 2nd edition, paragraph 1058, which says:

If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him “all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).

This seems to imply the possibility, however remote, that all of humanity might be saved.

I add a word of warning; I would not, through unrepentant mortal sin, want to be the first human (or perhaps, God forbid, the only human) to ever go to hell as a permanent afterlife. And straying from the sacraments of the Church is a sure way to do that!


I would not look to God for the fault. He granted us a radical freedom - insisted upon it, as love must be an absolutely free choice to be pure. It is in the abuse or disordered use of that freedom that a departure from God is chosen. The problem is us.


The Merciful Love of Jesus

On a certain occasion I received a book and I read in it that our Jesus was complaining that the souls fell into hell like snowflakes fall in winter. Upon reading this I began to see how the world is around me, and in spirit I cried at the feet of Jesus. Then Jesus said to me:- Do not cry, because this comes from the malignant spirit who loves to denigrate the Merciful Love of my Father. Understand my daughter. If the souls fell into hell as the snowflakes in winter fall, my Father would never have created man. But He created it because He wanted to shed on his creatures the happiness of the Most Holy Trinity.- It is true that man committed sin with his disobedience, but my Father sent the Son, who with his obedience repaired everything. Only those souls fall into the outer darkness who at the last moment of their existence reject God. But the soul that before leaving the body only says with repentance:** “My God, be merciful to me!”** has already been liberated from the outer darkness.- But look, my daughter, the Merciful Love of my Father even reaches hardened sinners.For that reason I request the life offering that, as a sacrifice together with my bloody sacrifice, at least obtains the satisfaction of Divine Justice, and in this way also can have mercy for the hardened ones, at least on the last day or last moment of its life. For that reason I will summon a multitude of souls given for this apostolic fishing of souls."



Well you know some people want to stress God’s mercy, while others want to stress God’s justice…which is it ?


God does not stack the deck against us; quite the contrary, for the Lord has given us free will, that rather than fashioning us in a manner that we would utterly incapable of the opposite, we have been given the freedom to choose Him of our own volition. The real problem begins where man believes that God sends other men to hell; this is placing no culpability upon one’s self and one’s actions, and instead wishes to place the blame on the Lord. For through their choices, they have given themselves a reality that their actions have entailed; an eternity aloft from the presence of the Lord, an eternity in Hell.

The Lord indeed has high standards, let that not be disavowed. As Christ said: “Be prefect, like your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ calls us to replicate the holiness of Our Father in Heaven. I stumble often into sin my friend, as do us all, but the difference between saints and sinners, is that the saint despises the sin and endeavours to refrain from committing it again, while the sinner takes up the sin and continues in it. I will pray for you my friend, that this despair may be lifted from you, and that the Lord fill you with hope.

God bless you my friend.

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