NKJV: Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

NIV: But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

KJV: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

ESV: For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

NASB: For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

CSB: How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

I've looked at different translations, and it appears like they're not all agreeing on some bits of the verse. What is the right translation based on the Greek and the context?

The gate: Is it narrow/strait or is it small?

The way: Is it difficult/hard, or is it narrow/constricted?

  • Jesus said " I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me." Jn.14:6. Sounds pretty 'narrow' or straight. Precise and exclusive one might say, but not difficult. King James translation seems the best.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Mar 16 at 6:11

1 Answer 1


The two operative words here are:

στενός (stenos)

According the BDAG this word means:

in reference to dimension, narrow ... Matt 7:13 so that it would be difficult for even a relatively small man to pass through without some distress Luke 13:24 ... one narrow, rough path and not readily passable for a large group Matt 7:14

τεθλιμμένη (tethlimmenē)

This perfect participle (here meaning "compressed") is from the verbal root θλίβω (thlibo) meaning (BDAG):

  1. to press or crowd close against, press upon, crowd, Matt 3:9
  2. to cause something to be constricted or narrow, press together, compress, make narrow, Matt 7:14
  3. to cause to be troubled, oppress, afflict someone, 2 Thess 1:6. Passive: be afflicted, distressed 2 Cor 1:6, 4:8, 7:5, Heb 11:37, 1 Tim 5:10, 1 Thess 3:4, 2 Thess 1:7.

For what it is worth, here is my literal translation of Matt 7:14 -

For small the gate and constricted the way leading to life, and few are those finding it.

  • +1. Thank you. I can see why it's translated differently now.
    – Jason_
    Commented Mar 13 at 23:22
  • 1
    This is a case where I opt for tradition. Hank Williams used the KJV when he wrote I Saw the Light. As I result, that translation can't be beat, at least for me. But I confess that I usually think of the "gait" being straight, not the "gate." Commented Mar 14 at 1:00

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