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The Rich Young Man In The Bible

The Rich Young Man In The Bible is ⁢a well-known biblical figure mentioned in the⁤ Gospel of Matthew, Mark, and⁣ Luke. He ​approaches Jesus with a burning question; he asks what he must ‍do to gain eternal life. This​ character is often⁢ described as young, wealthy, and⁤ righteous, ⁣representing a ​person who has followed​ the commandments​ from his youth.

The⁣ rich young man is characterized by his possession​ of material ⁣wealth and a desire​ to ​do what is right. He is seen as a model citizen ⁤of high​ moral standing,​ fulfilling his‌ religious obligations and adhering to ethical principles. ⁣This man demonstrates a humble and curious⁤ attitude, seeking enlightenment on matters of

Jesus and the rich young man (also called Jesus and the rich ruler) is an episode in the life of Jesus recounted in the Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, the Gospel of Mark 10:17–31, and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30 in the New Testament. It deals with eternal life and the world to come.

The story of the Rich Young Man is a well-known parable in the Bible. It appears in Matthew 19:16–30, Mark 10:17–31, and Luke 18:18–30. The story is about a young man who approaches Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, to which the young man replies that he has kept them all. Jesus then tells him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow him. The young man goes away sad because he has great wealth.

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The Rich Young Man In The Bible

The story of the Rich Young Man is a powerful reminder of the importance of putting God first in our lives. The young man in the story was very wealthy and had many possessions, but he was not willing to give them up to follow Jesus. Jesus tells him that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. This statement emphasizes the importance of humility and the dangers of wealth.

The story of the Rich Young Man also teaches us about the importance of following God’s commandments. Jesus tells the young man to keep the commandments, and the young man replies that he has kept them all. This statement shows that following God’s commandments is an essential part of our relationship with Him.

The story of the Rich Young Man is also a reminder of the importance of putting others before ourselves. Jesus tells the young man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. This statement emphasizes the importance of helping those in need and putting others before ourselves.

The Rich Young Man Story

We see a very polite, respectful, and eager young man who leaves Christ and goes away sorrowful. Why? The story makes it clear that he is young, and Luke tells us he is a ruler (Luke 18:18), possibly a magistrate or a kind of Justice of the Peace.

In the parallel account in Mark, we are told that the young man came “running” up to Christ and “knelt” before him (Mark 10:17), indicating a sense of urgency and respect. He then shows submissiveness and a willingness to be taught when he addresses Jesus as “Good Teacher.” This was not a typical form of address for the Jews at this time. A more respectful greeting may not be found in the entire Bible.

This young man came, not to tempt Christ, but to learn from him. We know that he was not a Sadducee because it is clear that he believed in eternal life and wanted to attain it—an unusual goal in someone of his position and age. A man of wealth will often trust his riches and not be interested in what God has to offer. The young do not often look beyond today, much less to the far reaches of eternity.

This rich young ruler was a very sensible fellow. He knew something must be done to attain this happiness; eternal life is not a game of chance or blind fate. Romans 2:6-7 tells us that we are rewarded for our works, good and bad, and that “eternal life [goes] to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.”

Christ’s response to all this is interesting. He first establishes that none are truly good except God, and to Him goes all glory. Then Jesus tells him to “keep the commandments,” specifically listing the last six of the Ten Commandments, the ones dealing with human-to-human relationships. The Jews of the time were well-versed in the mechanics of the first four commandments, in terms of the letter of the law, so Christ lists the ones in which they were weakest.

It seems so simple, right? In order to have eternal life, “keep the commandments.” How do today’s professing Christians, who claim the law has been done away, get around this simple instruction? Other verses, such as John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” reinforce this straightforward directive.

The young ruler tells Christ that he has kept the commandments since he was a child. What else should he do? Jesus does not contradict him. In Mark’s account, it says He looked at him and “loved him.” Possibly, this man was adept at keeping the letter of the law, but he was coming up short in abiding by the spirit of the law. Perhaps Jesus saw that he was absolutely sincere in his efforts to abide by those commandments.

Whatever the case, Christ does not attempt to sermonize on this point. The way the young man phrased his question, “What do I still lack?” smacks a bit of pride or self-righteousness. In effect, he says, “I’m keeping the commandments and have done well in that regard all my life. Show me where I’m coming up short.”

Unlike what many of us would do, Christ avoids becoming mired in a dispute about this claim, but gets right to the bottom line: The young man’s love of the world. He tells him to sell his possessions, give the money away, and follow Him as a disciple. Yet, the young ruler was unwilling to do this. His treasure was here on earth. His money exerted a stronger tug on his heart than Christ did. Matthew Henry says in his commentary, “When we embrace Christ, we must let go of the world, for we cannot serve God and money.”

To the young man’s credit, he was not hypocritical. He did not pretend he could do this when he could not. He knew what this meant: Christ’s high standards and his own ambitions and desires were incompatible. Being both thoughtful and well-intentioned, he went away “sorrowful.”

What did he possess that had such a hold on him as to make him willing to walk away from eternal life? To put it into terms we can relate to: Did he have a fully equipped game room with pinball, billiards, jukebox, and wet bar? Maybe he had the latest and hottest SUV? Perhaps his living room sported a plasma television, where he could kick back and watch all the sports he could handle?

What was holding him back? What did he really trust in? There is nothing spiritually wrong with wealth itself. The Bible is full of examples of godly men who were very wealthy—for instance, great men of God like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and David. The problem is in the love of money.

Because we live in a consumer-driven society, the love of money can hold us back too. Advertisements call to us constantly, informing us of “needs” we did not even know we had. It is difficult to maintain a proper balance while under such an assault. We may not think of it this way, but it could be considered a blessing not to have great wealth because of the additional stress it can put on our spiritual lives.

It is instructive to study what Christ had to say to His disciples after the rich young ruler sadly walked away. Twice Jesus tells us how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. The Christian walk is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly hard for the wealthy. In fact, Jesus goes on to say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

Mike Ford (1955-2021)
The Rich Young Ruler and the Needle’s Eye

Related Topics: Commandments, Keeping | Covetousness | Law Keeping | Lawkeeping | Letter of the Law | Lovers of Money | Parable of the Rich Young Man | Spirit of the Law | Wealth

Matthew 19:23-26

This proverb has always been intriguing. Years ago, a friend related a story of a gate in the wall around ancient Jerusalem called the “Eye of the Needle,” or the “Needle’s Eye.” This gate was designed in such a way that it could be used by pedestrians but not by marauding bandits on their camels. The only way a camel could get through this “Eye of the Needle” was to be unloaded and crawl through on its knees. This great story—and several variations of it—have made the rounds over the years.

The spiritual analogies were clear. The camel could go through the “Eye of the Needle,” but only after being stripped of its baggage—its wealth!

The only problem with this story is that it is not true! There is absolutely no archaeological or historical evidence for the existence of such a gate. The story was first told several centuries ago and has been repeated ever since. It is yet another example of people trying to make Christ’s words fit their own concepts of what He meant.

Jesus clearly says that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Can this be done? Of course not! That is the point! Yet, people have tried in vain to make it happen. Some have suggested that there is a misprint in the Greek. The Greek word kamelos, meaning “camel”should really be kamilos, meaning “cable” or “rope.” Still, passing a rope through a needle’s eye is nevertheless impossible. Ah, but what if one uses a six-inch carpet needle, and the rope is actually made of camel’s hair? Others have suggested that this was an Aramaic pun on the word for a camel and that of a gnat or louse, from the Aramaic kalma meaning “vermin” or “louse.” It can become quite ridiculous.

All this maneuvering is unnecessary. Christ was using hyperbole, just as He did when He spoke of a plank being in one’s eye while attempting to remove the splinter in a brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-4). Everyone seems to understand that this is exaggeration for effect; commentators do not claim, “Well, He really meant a toothpick, not a 2 x 4.” In our own speech, we use hyperbole all the time, such as, “This book weighs a ton,” or “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

Jesus’ hyperbole in Matthew 19:24 is easily explained. The camel was the largest animal regularly seen in Israel, and its contrast with the small size of a needle’s eye shows the utter impossibility of the effort to squeeze the former through the latter. In Babylon, where portions of the Jewish Talmud were written, since the elephant was the largest animal, it was substituted for “camel” in this common aphorism.

Why do so many want to act as apologists for what Christ “really” meant in Matthew 19? Is it because we secretly—or even openly—desire wealth and do not want any biblical negativity slowing us down? Just in case we inherit big bucks from the uncle we forgot we had, we would not want any spiritual stigma attached to the money! To reiterate, the wealth itself is not the problem, but our attachment to it or what it can buy.

Jesus’ disciples were horrified at His words. “Who then can be saved?” they wondered. It is very simple. Christ is instructing them that, through his own efforts, no one can be saved. He does not mean just the wealthy cannot be saved, but no one can be saved through his money, his skills, his talents, his intellect, or his good looks!

During the time of Christ, the Jews believed that wealth and prosperity were a sign of God’s blessing, so the reaction of His disciples is sheer incredulity. Later, professing Christians fell into the opposite ditch by portraying riches as a hindrance to salvation—which they can be—but so can many other things.

What if we are considered to be poor by this world? Are we somehow better than those with more physical goods? It would be just as dangerous for an underprivileged person to think that he had it made—that his poverty gave him some sort of piety—as it would for a rich man to trust in his wealth. We can be tempted from the path of righteousness by just about anything. Our downfall might be drink, food, television, or any number of things available to us in this world.

It is easy for us to look at the wealthy and judge them to be unfit for God’s Kingdom, congratulating ourselves in the process for not having that particular distraction in our lives. While the rich young ruler walked away from Christ, extremely sad that he could not make that leap of faith, what in our own lives has the same hold on us? What is the anchor that keeps our spiritual ship from sailing?

In II Timothy 4:10, Paul writes, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” What caused Demas to leave Paul and Christ? Demas loved the world; the particulars are not divulged. Whatever it was is of less import than the simple, spiritual fact that a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle. Someone who loves the world, whether rich or poor, will not be in God’s Kingdom (James 4:4; I John 2:15-17).

The point is that we do not achieve salvation through our own efforts; it is from God alone, by His grace. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Jesus assures us. We have our part to play and are rewarded for our efforts, as Romans 2 explains, but when God takes us from this world, works with us, blesses us, and brings us into His Family, it is truly a miracle.

Mike Ford (1955-2021)
The Rich Young Ruler and the Needle’s Eye

Related Topics: Idolatry | Love of Money | Love of the World | Lovers of Money | Parable of the Rich Young Man | Riches | Wealth

Mark 10:17-24

Mark 10:17-24 tells the tragic story of a wealthy young man who greatly desired to become part of Jesus’ following. Because he wanted eternal life and to be in God’s Kingdom, he asked Jesus what he must do to obtain them. When Christ replied that he would have to get rid of all he had, his high ideals came crashing down. A sin smashed them because his sin was stronger than his ideals. Jesus says in verse 24: “And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God!'” The young man’s covetousness destroyed his ideals, and he was willing to settle for less.

Sin destroys ideals. A tragic process begins when we become involved in sin. At first, we regard sin with horror. If we continue to commit the sin, we will still feel ill at ease and unhappy about it, but gradually our consciences will adjust. Each sin makes the next one a bit easier. Over time, the conduct will become entirely acceptable, and we will sin without a qualm. Sin is addictive like a drug. As the addiction becomes stronger, the ideal depreciates until it is completely gone.

The Rich Young Man Lesson

What Do We Know about the Great Young Ruler?

What we know of the rich young ruler can be inferred from his description above, his demeanor, his conversation with Jesus, and his response.

The rich young ruler obviously knew about Jesus; he called Him Good Teacher. He also showed Jesus respect for His authority by asking Him about securing eternal life. And eternal life is a valid concern for everyone, even those rich, young, and influential. 

“When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly body will perish, our spirit will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we’ll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matthew 25:34, Matthew 25:41).”*

Why Did Jesus Answer the Rich Young Ruler’s Question the Way He Did?

Jesus is the Master Teacher, and we mustn’t lose sight of the valuable lesson we all learn from this interchange between Him and the rich young ruler. As we read the Gospels, we see Jesus seldom gave a direct answer to a question.

Jesus challenged the young man, asking him why he called Him good since only God is good (Mark 10:18). It’s a rebuke, for sure, yet Jesus handles it with gentleness. Jesus wasn’t impugning His own character. His response places a human’s standard of good against God’s perfect standard of righteousness. The definition of good is subjective to one’s values. God’s standard of what is good is the only one that matters. It sets the rich young ruler on his heels. 

Jesus reminded the rich young ruler of the commandments—not to murder, not to commit adultery or theft, not to speak falsely or commit fraud, and to honor his parents (Mark 10:19). 

Why would Jesus, who Himself fulfilled the Law and the prophets, give the impression the entrance to God’s kingdom is by following the Law? The Law does not bring salvation; it instead reveals sin (Galatians 3:19). But Jesus is only leading the man toward the truth He knows must be disclosed.

The rich young ruler probably breathed a sigh of relief as he replied that he’d kept all those commandments since he was young (Mark 10:20). He didn’t realize he’d just fallen into a quicksand of self. At this point, Mark 10:21 reveals Jesus’ compassion when he says, Jesus loved the man. Then Jesus told the man to sell all he had and give to the poor, and he would have treasure in heaven. After that, the young man could come and follow Jesus (Mark 10:21).

What Was the Rich Young Ruler’s Mistake?

When Jesus told the rich young ruler what he still lacked (Matthew 19:20), the Bible tells us the ruler was discouraged because he had many possessions (Mark 10:22). This young man should have been on that hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, for there He explained the gist of the Law and how He fulfilled it (Matthew 5:1-7:27).

By telling the rich young ruler to follow Him, Jesus essentially told him to throw away his idols (great wealth/possessions) and follow the only One who could save him. Deuteronomy 6:5 exhorts us to love God with all our hearts, souls, and might. To follow Jesus meant to love Him with all he was, not what he had. That is exactly what the young man lacked, and when he was confronted with the truth of his greatest love (money), he went away because he did not want to give up his riches. The rich young ruler indeed brought the sense of works-based salvation in his question to Jesus. What he didn’t know was he was face-to-face with God Incarnate.

Can Rich People Go to Heaven?

Luke’s Gospel adds to the account of the rich young ruler. After Jesus recognized the rich young ruler’s sadness, He stated how difficult it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, comparing it to a camel trying to make it through the eye of a needle. Those within earshot asked how anyone could be saved. Jesus answered that God can do what is impossible for humanity. Peter said they had left their homes to follow Him, and Jesus assured them they had made the right choice—everyone who left things behind for the kingdom of God would receive much more, including eternal life (Luke 18:24-30).

Some would take this to mean only the poor can enter the kingdom of God. But that is not what Jesus is saying. We learn His intent within the context of the passage. Jesus always points to God, and the lesson He just taught is multi-faceted.

Jesus said to love the Lord first and foremost. It’s the first and greatest commandment. People who make wealth and/or possessions an idol are placing something above God. Conversely, a poor person may boast of his lowliness and make that position a banner of his so-called humility. It’s still placing himself above God.

Jesus also teaches us we cannot earn our salvation. And that’s the onus of the lesson. The rich and the poor can go to heaven, but not because of anything they did. None of our works save us, only grace which is God’s gift that no one can boast about (Ephesians 2:8-9). It’s our heart’s attitude that matters. The Bible implies, that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

How Can We Pray Using These Lessons about the Rich Young Ruler?

Father, I praise You as Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. And in that provision, I know my salvation was part of how You provided for me. Thank You that it wasn’t up to me or anything I’d try to do on my own merit to enter Your kingdom. I praise You for Jesus, the Author and perfecter of my faith. Thank You that when I surrendered to Jesus, You assured me I am now in Your Kingdom.

Lord Jesus, I am prone to think more highly of myself than I ought. You tell me in Your Word I am not to do that. My pride bubbles to the surface and I cling to my accomplishments and any wealth I’ve acquired, as if it were mine to begin with. Jesus, it’s all Yours! I am so thankful for Your perfect patience with me as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I don’t deserve life with You, but Lord, You have welcomed me, sinner that I am. Change me, I pray into a person who is one after Your own heart.

Father God, I can’t do anything without You. I don’t know why I even ever tried. The work I do, I now do to please You. So, I pray that whatever You give me as a vocation, I lift it to You and work heartily as unto You and not myself. I know I will stand before You one day to give an account of what I’ve done with all You’ve given me. That scares me, Father, because I get selfish and prideful. Please, Father, reign in me.

Lord, thank You for saving me. All my works are as chaff before you, and no matter how I try, I cannot work my way into heaven. Knowing You died in my place makes me realize I could never atone for even one of my sins. My life is a mess without You. Thank you for forgiving me and inviting me to be with You forever in Your presence.

All these things I pray in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.


In conclusion, the story of the Rich Young Man is a powerful reminder of the importance of putting God first in our lives, following His commandments, and putting others before ourselves. The story teaches us about the dangers of wealth and the importance of humility. As Christians, we should strive to follow God’s commandments and to put others before ourselves.

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