“Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven” complex

& LOY Commentary 9 Comments

Jesus' response to the rich man and Jesus' subsequent teaching about the importance of counting the cost of discipleship may have been prompted solely by the rich man’s question.

The image above shows a camel attempting to squeeze through a very small opening. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Revised: 24-February-2017

The story of a rich man who declined Jesus’ invitation to become one of his disciples (Luke 18:18-30 and parallels) is perhaps only one segment of a much longer story. Robert L. Lindsey suggested that the rich man story was continued by two additional passages: Luke 14:25-33 and Matthew 13:44-46. If Lindsey’s supposition is correct, the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven episode is the opening incident in a story that originally included the sayings about the difficult Demands of Discipleship (Luke 14:25-27, 33) and the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables (Matt. 13:44-46).

Click on the following titles to view the Reconstruction and Commentary for each pericope in the “Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven” complex.



Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven


LOY 49 Staurogram2


Demands of Discipleship

LOY 49


Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl Parables




To test how well the parts of the conjectured “Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven” complex “hang together,” read the entire story with the aid of our paraphrase of the Hebrew reconstruction. For our Greek and Hebrew reconstructions, see below.

…“Teacher,” he asked, “what ‘good’ can I do to obtain eternal life?”

Yeshua replied: “Why do you refer to a deed as ‘good’? Call only one thing ‘good’—the Torah. You know how to obtain eternal life: keep the commandments—‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not give false testimony….’”

“All these I have kept since I was a child,” the man interrupted.

At that, Yeshua said: “There is something more you should do: Give away all your wealth to charity—you will have heavenly wealth—and become my disciple.”

The man’s face fell—he was very wealthy.

When Yeshua saw that, he said: “How difficult it is for someone who is rich to join my band of disciples; it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye.”

“Look at us, we have left everything to become your disciples!” Peter exclaimed.

“You have done the right thing,” Yeshua replied. “I promise you that all who have left family, livelihood and possessions to join my band of disciples will in this life get much, much more than what they have given up, and in the life after death, eternal life.

“Anyone who wants to join me but puts family ties or love of self ahead of me cannot possibly be my full-time disciple. Anyone who is not prepared to die cannot possibly be my full-time disciple. Anyone who does not renounce his possessions cannot possibly be my full-time disciple.

“One could illustrate the worth of belonging to my band of disciples by comparing it to a man who stumbles upon buried treasure in a field. What does he do? He reburies it, and in his excitement goes and sells everything he owns to get enough money to buy the field and obtain the treasure.

“Or, one could illustrate its worth by analogy to a man who has spent his life buying and selling rare pearls. One day he comes upon the perfect pearl. What does he do? He goes and sells everything he owns to get enough money to buy it.”

Greek Reconstruction:

…διδάσκαλε τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τί λέγεις ἀγαθόν οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας μὴ μοιχεύσῃς μὴ φονεύσῃς μὴ κλέψῃς μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς ὁ δὲ εἶπεν ταῦτα πάντα ἐφύλαξα ἐκ νεότητός μου ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ἔτι ἕν σοι λείπει πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ διάδος πτωχοῖς καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι ὁ δὲ ἀκούσας περίλυπος ἐγενήθη ἦν γὰρ πλούσιος σφόδρα ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν εὐκοπώτερον γάρ ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Πέτρος ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήσαμέν σοι ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἀμήν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὅς ἀφῆκεν οἰκίαν ἕνεκεν τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν λήμψεται πολλαπλασίονα ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ καὶ ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ζωὴν αἰώνιον

εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρός με καὶ οὐ μεισεῖ τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τὰ τέκνα καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ τὰς ἀδελφὰς ἔτι τε καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἑαυτοῦ οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής ὅστις οὐκ ἀφίησι πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής

ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῷ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ ὃν εὑρὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔκρυψεν καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθεν καὶ ἐπώλησεν πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν καὶ ἠγόρασεν τὸν ἀγρὸν ἐκεῖνον

ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀνθρώπῳ ἐμπόρῳ ζητοῦντι καλοὺς μαργαρείτας εὑρὼν δὲ ἕνα πολύτειμον μαργαρείτην ἀπελθὼν πέπρακεν πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν καὶ ἠγόρασεν αὐτόν

Hebrew Reconstruction:

‏…רַבִּי מַה טּוֹב אֶעֱשֶֹה וְאִירַשׁ חַיֵּי עוֹלָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יֵשׁוּעַ לָמָּה אַתָּה אוֹמֵר טוֹב אֵין טוֹב אֶלָּא אֶחָד אֶת הַמִּצְוֹת אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ לֹא תִנְאַף לֹא תִרְצָח לֹא תִגְנֹב לֹא תַעֲנֶה עֵד שָׁקֶר וַיֹּאמֶר כָּל אֵלּוּ עָשִׂיתִי מִיַּלְדוּתִי וַיִּשְׁמַע יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ עוֹד אַחַת חֲסֵרָה לְךָ כָּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְךָ מְכֹר וְחַלֵּק לָעֲנִיִּים וִיהִי לְךָ אוֹצָר בַּשָּׁמָיִם וּבוֹא לֵךְ אַחֲרַי וַיִּשְׁמַע וַיֵּעָצֵב כִּי הָיָה עָשִׁיר מְאֹד וַיַּרְא אֹתוֹ יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר מַה קָשֶׁה לְאֵלּוּ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם נְכָסִים לָבוֹא בְּמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם נוֹחַ לַגָּמָל לְהִכָּנֵס בַּחֲרִירָהּ שֶׁלְּמַחַט מִלֶּעָשִׁיר לָבוֹא בְּמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וַיֹּאמֶר פֶּטְרוֹס הֲרֵי אָנוּ הִנַּחְנוּ אֶת הַכֹּל וְהָלַכְנוּ אַחֲרֶיךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אָמֵן אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם כָּל שֶׁהִנִּיחַ בֵּיתוֹ לְשֵׁם מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם יְקַבֵּל כִּפְלַיִם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְחַיֵּי עוֹלָם בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא

הַבָּא אֵלַי וְאֵינוֹ שׂוֹנֵא אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ וְאֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת יְלָדָיו וְאֶת אֶחָיו וְאֶת אַחְיוֹתָיו וְאַף אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶת צְלוּבוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ אַחֲרַי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַנִּיחַ כָּל מַה שֶׁיֵשׁ לוֹ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי

מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם דּוֹמָה לְאוֹצָר טָמוּן בַּשָּׂדֶה שֶׁמָצָא אָדָם וְטָמַן אֹתוֹ וּמִשִׂמְחָתוֹ הָלַךְ וְמָכַר כֹּל מַה שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ וְלָקַח אֶת הַשָּׂדֶה הַהוּא

מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם דּוֹמָה לְאִישׁ תַּגָּר הַמְּבַקֵּשׁ מַרְגָּלִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וּכְשֶׁמָצָא מַרְגָּלִית אַחַת יְקָרָה הָלַךְ וְמָכַר כֹּל מַה שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ וְלָקַח אוֹתָהּ


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David N. Bivin

David N. Bivin

David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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Joshua N. Tilton

Joshua N. Tilton

Joshua N. Tilton grew up in St. George, a small town on the coast of Maine. For his undergraduate degree he studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). There he studied Biblical Hebrew and…
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