4 Ezra 7:52 Esdras
3 ‘Speak, my lord’, I said. He said to me: ‘Imagine a sea set in a vast open space, spreading far and wide, 4 but the entrance to it narrow like the gorge of a river. 5 If anyone is determined to reach this sea, whether to set eyes on it or to gain command of it, he cannot arrive at its open waters except through the narrow gorge 6 Or again, imagine a city built in a plain, a city full of everything you can desire, 7 but the entrance to it narrow and steep, with fire to the right and deep water to the left. 8 There is only the one path, between the fire and the water; and that is only wide enough for one man at a time. 9 If some man has been given this city as a legacy, how can he take possession of his inheritance except by passing through these dangerous approaches?’ 10 ‘That is the only way, my lord’, I agreed. He said to me: ‘Such is the lot of Israel. 11 It was for Israel that I made the world, and when Adam transgressed my decrees the creation came under judgment. 12 The entrances to this world were made narrow, painful, and arduous, few and evil, full of perils and grinding hardship. 13 But the entrances to the greater world are broad and safe, and lead to immortality. 14 All men must therefore enter this narrow and futile existence; otherwise they can never attain the blessings in store.
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets. 13 “Enter through the narrow gate because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it! 15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?
Notes and References
"... The eschatological orientation of 7.13-14 is manifest (1) from the many similar Jewish texts which are often eschatologically oriented; (2) from the use of 'life' elsewhere in Matthew to refer to the future life of the kingdom; (3) from the word anroA.Eta, which refers to eternal destruction ... Compare 2 Bar. 85.13: 'There is the sentence of corruption, the way of fire, and the path which bringeth to\ Gehenna'. The notion that vice is attractive and easy to succumb to is, of course, native to all religion. To sin is natural, to repent unnatural. Compare Diogenes Laertius 4.49 ('The road which leads to Hades is easy to follow') and Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 2.13 ('The way of evil is broad and well supplied with travellers; would not all men take its easy course if there were nothing to fear?') ... the theme of the two ways has, along with the image of the gate leading to eternal perdition (cf. 16.18; 3 Maccabees 5.51; 2 Baruch 59.10; T. Abraham A 11.11; b. 'Erub. 19a), been brought into secondary association with the original statement about the gate or entrance leading into eternal life (cf. 4 Ezra 7.6-8; Sib. Or. 2.150; Revelation 22.14; T. Abraham A 10.15; Shepherd of Hermas 9.12.5; Apocalypse of Zephaniah 3.9; T. Jacob 2.17; Pesiq. R. 179b). One cannot, therefore, expect a coherent image to crystallize readily if at all. ..."
Davies, William D., and Dale C. Allison A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Volume 1 (pp. 697-698) T&T Clark International, 1997
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