Matthew 19:25

ESV When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
NIV When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, 'Who then can be saved?'
NASB When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, 'Then who can be saved?'
CSB When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, "Then who can be saved? "
NLT The disciples were astounded. 'Then who in the world can be saved?' they asked.
KJV When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

What does Matthew 19:25 mean?

Jesus' statements constantly surprised the disciples. He had just said it would be 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). The disciples are floored. Like so many others, their culture held a spiritually backwards idea about wealth.

The assumption was that wealthy people were more favored by God than everyone else. Common wisdom of the time claimed that people were rich because God was blessing them in response to their worthiness. From the disciples' point of view, there was no reason for God to bless someone with riches if that person wasn't "worthy."

The truth is that wealthy people are no more or less likely to be good than anyone else. Money is not an indicator of God's favor, necessarily. Success is certainly more likely when we follow godly wisdom (Proverbs 3:1–4). Yet people sometimes become wealthy by refusing to do good. Israel's great prophet Jeremiah understood this and asked God about it: "Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?" (Jeremiah 12:1). Jeremiah's exaggeration aside, not all treacherous people thrive. Still, many seem to. The Jewish people of Jesus' day reached the conclusion that wealthy people were closer to God by taking on ungodly assumptions from the world around them.

Jesus' point has been that the humility of simple faith is required to enter the kingdom of heaven. Rich people—those who find it easy to get what they want and fix earthly problems with money—will find it more difficult to humble themselves. Admitting they need someone else to provide for them is an unnatural experience. This can apply to more than money. Those who rely on their intellect, or looks, or power, can fall into the same trap.

The disciples are essentially asking, "if those we think are blessed by God cannot be saved, then who can be saved? What hope is there for the rest of us?"

They might have expected Jesus to refer to humility or to reemphasize being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). Instead, He says something else astounding: that it is, in fact, impossible…at least for mankind.
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