Matthew 19

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Matt 19:3 the Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying...Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause

Bruce R. McConkie

"Legal justification for divorce today varies from almost the mere whim of the parties on the one hand to adultery on the other, depending upon the laws of the state or nation involved. This same divergence of opinion existed among the Jews, and Jesus was being asked to decide one of the burning issues of the day.

"Among the questions of the day fiercely debated between the great rival schools of Hillel and Shammai, no one was more so than that of divorce. The school of Hillel contended that a man had a right to divorce his wife for any cause he might assign, if it were no more than his having ceased to love her, or his having seen one he liked better, or her having cooked a dinner badly. The school of Schammai, on the contrary, held that divorce could be issued only for the crime of adultery, and offences against chastity. If it were possible to get Jesus to pronounce in favor of either school, the hostility of the other would be roused, and, hence, it seemed a favorable chance for compromising him.' (Geikie, vol. 2, pp. 347-348, cited, Talmage, p. 484.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 547.)

Matt 19:4 he which made them at the beginning made them male and female

Ezra Taft Benson

"Marriage, the home, and family are more than mere social institutions. They are divine, not man-made. God ordained marriage from the very beginning. In the record of that first marriage recorded in Genesis, the Lord makes four significant pronouncements: first, that it is not good for man to be alone; second, that woman was created to be a helpmeet for man; third, that they twain should be one flesh; and fourth, that man should leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife. (See Genesis 2:18, 24.)

"Later, as though to reinforce the earlier statement, the Lord said: 'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder' (Matthew 19:6). He also said, 'Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else' (D&C 42:22).

"This first marriage, instituted by God, was between two immortal beings. Marriage was thus intended to be eternal." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 534.)

Matt 19:5 they twain shall be one flesh

James E. Faust

"I urge the husbands and fathers of this church to be the kind of a man your wife would not want to be without. I urge the sisters of this church to be patient, loving, and understanding with their husbands. Those who enter into marriage should be fully prepared to establish their marriage as the first priority in their lives.

"It is destructive to the feeling essential for a happy marriage for either party to say to the other marriage partner, 'I don't need you.' This is particularly so because the counsel of the Savior was and is to become one flesh: 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh

"'Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.' (Matt. 19:5-6.) It is far more difficult to be of one heart and mind than to be physically one. This unity of heart and mind is manifest in sincere expressions of 'I appreciate you' and 'I am proud of you.' Such domestic harmony results from forgiving and forgetting, essential elements of a maturing marriage relationship. Someone has said that we should keep our eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterward. (Magdeleine Scudery, as cited in The International Dictionary of Thoughts, Chicago: J. G. Ferguson Publishing Co., 1969, p. 472.) True charity ought to begin in marriage, for it is a relationship that must be rebuilt every day." (Teachings of James E. Faust, 366.)

Matt 19:6 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder

"It is easy in a relationship, especially in times of stress, to focus on things that aren't right instead of on all those things that are right. We can lose perspective and let little things irritate our relationship and even destroy the precious things.

"After we walk the road together for a distance, the little things that may have been annoying become the sweet and precious things that we cling to with inexpressible fondness. We learn to look at both sides of the coin and give thanks for one and laugh at the other. She says, 'The qualities I love in him are his commitment, his firm determination, his unwavering faith, and his strong will for righteousness. I love him most for his stalwart strength in times of storm. Yet, why do I get so annoyed with what seems to be a stubborn streak on occasion?' And he says, 'I love her for her sensitivity, her beauty of thought, her tenderness, her responding to the subtle beauties that others might overlook. I love her for her compassion and tenderness and the hurt she feels at others' discomfort. Yet why am I annoyed at what seems to be an oversensitivity when I am brisk or impatient?'

"When we talk disagreements out together, bonding takes place. A relationship is tried and tested in times of disappointment, discouragement, and maybe even despair. But when we link arms and tread the way to God, hand in hand, the valleys that we traverse together can bring us to the mountain peaks. Marriage relationships are tempered and welded in times of adversity. Volumes have been written on the process of building strong relationships, but experience tells us that success depends not so much on a formula that we follow as on a commitment to each other that we feel. With that commitment, we work through the barriers that could be destructive and use them as bonds to strengthen, stabilize, and weld heart to heart, and soul to soul. Then privately we go about our secret ways to bring joy to each other." (Ardeth Greene Kapp, My Neighbor, My Sister, My Friend, 116-7.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"Now I want to impress upon all my good brethren and sisters who have been married in the temple that they should never forget the great blessings which were bestowed upon them: That the Lord has given unto them, through their faithfulness, the right to become his sons and his daughters, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, possessing, as stated here, all that the Father has.

"And yet, there are members of the Church who fail to comprehend this and after they are married for time and all eternity, become members of the Church of the Firstborn, receiving the promise of the fulness of the Father's kingdom, they permit things to come into their lives that bring friction and separate them. And they forget that they have made a covenant for time and all eternity with each other; and not only that, but they have made a covenant with their Father in heaven; and I want to say to you, my brethren and sisters, it isn't an easy thing to break a covenant that we make with our Father in heaven. And that is what they do." (Conference Report, April 1949, Third Day-Morning Meeting 135.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"Marriage is to be eternal, just as the Lord declares here in the words that I have read, and when a man and a woman go to the house of the Lord and are married for time and for all eternity, they take upon them certain covenants that they will be true and faithful in that union. Those covenants are made in the presence of God and angels at the altar in the temple of the Lord. How, then, can a man and a woman with the love of God in their hearts ever turn away from the solemn covenants that they make that they will be true and faithful all the days of their lives in mortality and that their faithfulness will continue after death? That is the covenant that they make." (Conference Report, April 1961, Second Day-Morning Meeting 50.)

Matt 19:8 Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives

The Lord's plan of celestial marriage does not include divorce. Yet, the Israelites in Moses day were so far from being able to keep the law in its fullness that divorce was allowed. While we often think that today we are living the higher law, the Lord has had to rescind several commandments in the latter-days for the same reason. We do not live the United Order, and live the law of consecration only in spirit. The practical application had to be scrapped because the saints were not perfect enough to make it work.

So it is with the law of celestial marriage. Cancellation of temple sealings is allowed by the First Presidency who hold the keys of this power. They are allowed because of mortal weakness, and to spare the individuals the judgment which the fullest measure of the highest law would require.

Bruce R. McConkie

"Even in the Church today the saints do not abide by the full and perfect law. It is somewhat as it was in the days of Moses; divorce is permitted because of the hardness of the hearts of the people, and the Lord permits his agents to exercise the power to loose as well as the power to bind. Under our circumstances divorced persons who remarry are not always guilty of the crimes they would be if the highest gospel standards were in force." (Mormon Doctrine, 203.)

Matt 19:9 Whosoever shall put away his wife

"Twentieth-century Church leaders speak of divorce as a threat to the family. In the April 1969 General Conference, President David O. McKay declared, 'Christ's ideal pertaining to marriage is the unbroken home, and conditions that cause divorce are violations of his divine teachings. Except in cases of infidelity or other extreme conditions, the Church frowns upon divorce' (IE 72 [June 1969]:2-5). President Spencer W. Kimball said that relatively few divorces are justifiable. He also told members that divorce frequently results from selfishness and other sins of one or both spouses (Kimball, 1975, p. 6). Other Church leaders also emphasize selfishness and mention additional causes of divorce, such as poor choice of a marriage partner, infidelity, lack of understanding of the divine nature of marriage, poor financial management, and lack of continued marital enrichment. 'The current philosophy-get a divorce if it doesn't work out-handicaps a marriage from the beginning' (Haight, p. 12).

"Church leaders urge members to prepare for marriage, marry within the faith, marry in the temple, live righteously and nurture their marriage relationships, pray for guidance, and counsel with each other and with priesthood leaders to resolve differences and deter divorce." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 392.)

Harold B. Lee

"The sacred nature of this partnership is nowhere better explained than by President David O. McKay, who said, 'Love is the highest attribute of the human soul, and fidelity is love's noblest offspring.' Most, if not all, of the virtues are the natural fruit of genuine love... The curse of infidelity was also plainly set forth by President McKay. He said:

'As teachers, we are to let the people know, and warn these men-and this is not imagination-who, after having lived with their wives and brought into this world four or five children, get tired of them and seek a divorce, that they are on the road to hell.

'It is unfair to a woman to leave her that way, merely because the man happens to fall in love with some younger woman and feels that the wife is not so beautiful or attractive as she used to be. Warn him! Nothing but unhappiness for him and injustice to those children can result. (Ibid., pp 63-64.)

"Sometimes, as we travel throughout the Church, a husband and wife will come to us and ask if, because they are not compatible in their marriage-they having had a temple marriage-it wouldn't be better if they were to free themselves from each other and then seek more congenial partners. To all such we say, whenever a couple who have been married in the temple say they are tiring of each other, it is an evidence that either one or both are not true to their temple covenants. Any couple married in the temple who are true to their covenants will grow dearer to each other, and love will find a deeper meaning on their golden wedding anniversary than on the day they were married in the house of the Lord. Don't you mistake that." (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee, Chap 37.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"There never could be a divorce in this Church if the husband and wife were keeping the commandments of God.

"Within the week, my attention was called to a case where a man and a woman, married in the temple for time and all eternity, have tired of each other. They have reared a family. Now he wants to go his way, and she wants to go her way. But they want to be friends! There are no hard feelings between them. They have just got tired. They want a change.

"Do they have the spirit of the gospel in their hearts? I say to you, no, or they would not be tired of each other. That could not follow. They got tired of living the principles of eternal truth. A man would not get tired of his wife, if he had the love of God in his heart. A woman would not get tired of her husband, if she had in her heart the love of God, that first of all commandments. They could not do it!

"And then think of the children. Here you have a broken home. These people get a divorce, and then they want to get cancellation, perhaps, of their sealing. They want to marry somebody else. And there you have a broken home. What is going to become of the parents? What is going to become of the children? Haven't the children any rights?

"The parents become separated. Each goes a different way, but they want to be friends! And then they expect to marry again for time and all eternity and enter into the celestial kingdom of God to receive all the blessings of exaltation! Are they entitled to do it? Not as I read the scriptures-they are not entitled to do it." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2: 81-82.)

Matt 19:11 All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given

Hugh Nibley

"In all the scriptures and apocryphal writings one finds frequent indication of the careful rationing out of the teaching as people were able to receive it. It was not a matter of secrecy...On the contrary, the rationing of information by and among the early saints was in accordance with a clearly stated policy by which no one was to be denied any teaching which he was ready to receive. And when was one ready to receive information? As soon as one sincerely sought and asked for it...It is also apparent that people are to be given knowledge as they are able to receive it, so that the mysteries of the kingdom are imparted by degrees. There are, as it were, automatic safeguards built into the teaching to protect sacred things from common misunderstanding and to protect the unworthy from damaging themselves with them. God, according to Justin Martyr, has hidden the truth from the smartest doctors of the Jews whose own warped minds render them incapable of grasping it. When John the Baptist was hailed before the Jewish doctors, according to Josephus, he told them: 'I will not reveal to you the secret that is among you, because you have not desired it' (italics added). One receives as one is able to receive." (Since Cumorah, 91.)

Matt 19:12 eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and...some...were made eunuchs of men

There are several developmental disorders which result in boys being born with ambiguous genitalia or as hermaphrodites. As adults, they are unable to father children and were classed as eunuchs. Another group of eunuchs were "a class of emasculated men attached to the courts of eastern rulers. They were employed to watch of the harems, and also were often given positions as trusted officials." (Bible Dictionary)

Matt 19:12 there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake

There are no known scriptural or historical accounts which tell us more about these particular eunuchs. So, how are we to understand this passage? Joseph Smith said, "I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer." (Teachings, 276) Jesus was responding to the disciples' statement that it would be better not to marry if the law was so strict.

Christ's response, in essence, declared, "You're right, for those who understand and receive the full meaning of the law of celestial marriage, it is better not to marry at all than to make the mistake of violating the covenants of your first marriage in marrying another. For example, there have been men who understood this doctrine and made themselves eunuchs rather than take the risk of violating this holy law." This response was not meant to justify the mutilating act required to become a eunuch nor to condone a celibate lifestyle but to acknowledge their understanding of the supreme solemnity of the covenant of celestial marriage.

Those who have received a testimony of this principle are obligated to live by its precepts. For them, it would be better to live a celibate life than to violate this law, for 'he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation' (DC 82:3). Therefore, 'He that is able to receive it, let him receive it'-for those who are not able to receive it are not obligated to abide such a strict law.

"If our societies were on a higher plane, then, marriage covenants would be held in great, sacred trust; essentially, divorce would not exist or be considered except for truly serious reasons such as adultery. I would also suggest that in a higher system, with individuals living in harmony with all the Lord's teachings, there would be no such serious problems and thus no divorce.

"Unfortunately, our societies are less than ideal. Some persons do live in unbearably difficult marital circumstances, suffering as victims of spouse abuse, substance abuse, promiscuity, and other evils that are sometimes addressed through divorce as a last resort. In such cases, the Lord in his mercy 'permits his agents to exercise the power to loose [to authorize divorce] as well as the power to bind.' (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 204)" (Jonathan M. Chamberlain, Ensign, Jan. 1993, p. 60)

Matt 19:13 the disciples rebuked them

Neal A. Maxwell

"Why the disciples acted as they did is not stated in the KJV, and the reader is left to wonder at their motives. Did they think Jesus was too busy? Or were they themselves annoyed by the interruption?

"Fortunately, the JST adds these clarifying words: '. . . And the disciples rebuked them, saying, There is no need, for Jesus hath said, Such shall be saved.' (JST Matt. 19:13.) From the text of the JST we see that the action of the disciples in Judea was influenced by the Savior's earlier teachings in Galilee. The JST clarifies the motives of the disciples, and speaks of the Savior's atoning sacrifice for little children. The reader's enjoyment of these two events is thereby significantly increased." (Plain and Precious Things, 81.)

Matt 19:14 Suffer little children, and forbid them not...for of such is the kingdom of heaven

'Of such is the kingdom of heaven.' What are the implications of this declaration? Is the kingdom of heaven made up of children? Obviously not, but those who make up that kingdom are as pure and innocent as little children. Furthermore, Christ's declaration implies that little children are already qualified for the kingdom of heaven. Joseph Smith 'beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven' (DC 137:10).

Furthermore, if little children are qualified for the kingdom of heaven, then they are in no need of any external ordinances or sacraments to get there. 'And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement...For behold that all little children are alive in Christ...he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing' (Moro 8:20-22). During Christ's entire ministry, the only individuals who were clean and pure enough to deserve the privilege of his presence were these little children. The Master must have enjoyed associating with such purity and so declared, 'Suffer little children, and forbid them not.'

Bruce R. McConkie

"Little children, blessed spirits, pure and holy children of the Father, scarce removed from the Celestial Presence-such, in their innocence and perfection, are heirs of full salvation. 'And little children also have eternal life,' Abinadi said (Mosiah 15:25)." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 3: 300.)

George Albert Smith

"As a people we believe in children. We believe that they are an heritage given to us by our Father in heaven. We can understand how, in the olden times, as recorded in the Scriptures, when some of the grand women of Israel were childless, and deprived of the joy of having little arms cling around their necks, and sweet innocent lips to give them the kiss of childish affection, they cried unto the Lord that they might have children, to take away their reproach. We understand what that means, if we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and we comprehend that one child, born under proper conditions and reared under suitable circumstances, is worth more than all the cattle and sheep upon a thousand hills, aye, than all the treasures of the world. That is why, as Latter-day Saints doing our duty, we welcome these priceless treasures from the throne of God when they come into our homes." (Conference Report, October 1907, Second Day-Morning Session. 35 - 36.)

Hugh B. Brown

"I wish I could qualify to stand beside the dedicated Primary workers of the Church and be judged with them and somehow borrow a bit from their glory...I am very sure that all Primary teachers and officers and most parents desire to sanctify themselves for the work which lies ahead. But that work is not always easy...Oh, I'm quite aware that in some of your classes you have wondered what heaven must be like. I think I see a little red-headed, freckle-faced bundle of electricity and dust in a class. Yet, that boy may become the President of the Church. We have to look through and see the soul of a child. The Lord will qualify and prepare you to meet your responsibilities." (The Abundant Life, 200.) 

Matt 19:17 Why callest thou me good?

Bruce R. McConkie

"Evidently [the young inquirer] was sincere, but his words were so phrased as to specify that Jesus was only a great and good Rabbi and not the Divine One, not the Messiah, not the one whose answer would...settle the matter forever. His words, coupled with Jesus' reply, have always been somewhat troublesome and difficult to understand; but by placing them-and particularly Jesus' answer-in their Jewish setting, we get a radically different meaning than otherwise would be the case. The devout young man said: 'Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?'

"Now, in all Jewish literature there is no such thing as addressing a Rabbi as good. It is said that the whole Talmud contains no single instance of such an accolade. It simply was not done in that day. He might be called Rab, Rabbi, or Rabboni, as when Mary Magdalene knelt before the Risen Lord in the garden, but not Good Rabbi, or Good Master. We have seen his disciples and those made whole by his healing power kneel before him, worship his person, and call him the Messiah, the God of Israel, and the Son of God. This our rich young ruler does not do-he has some reservations about the claims of this Rabbi; and yet it is clear to him that here is one who is more than other Rabbis; and so he seeks a middle ground, one that will honor Jesus more than the mere title Rabbi, and yet one that will avoid ascribing to him divine Messianic status. He says, 'Good Master.' It is as though he said, 'I salute you as a great Rabbi, one whose wisdom is greater than these others, but I refrain from calling you the Messiah, as do your disciples.'

"In reply, Jesus said: 'Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.' 'Do not address me by the title good unless you acknowledge me as God, for none but God is good, none but he is sinless, none but he is perfect. I am indeed the Sinless One, and therefore I am good. As I have heretofore taught, no one convicts me of sin; and so unless you are ready to accede this, do not call me good.' By this answer, which carries a touch of irony, Jesus affirms by inference his divinity and makes it plain to the young ruler that his halfhearted attempt to laud the one who needs no honor from men does not suffice." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 3: 301.)

Matt 19:20 All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

True disciples will liken the scriptures unto themselves. They will place themselves in the position of the young ruler and ask, 'what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?' (v. 16) For all, the answer will be the same, 'keep the commandments' (v. 17). Only the most daring disciple will ask the next question, 'what lack I yet?' The answer to this question is not universal. The Lord's requirement will be different for every individual, and what the Lord will require 'if thou wilt be perfect,' will be the very thing that is most difficult to do. For the young man, it was to give up his riches. For Abraham, it was to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. For us, it may be something else. John Taylor quoted the Prophet Joseph as follows:

"You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (he said) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God." (Journal of Discourses, 24:197.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"We too may shrink from such confronting moments, but they will come, and what we lack will be made plainly and painfully clear. We will not be able to say we were not shown and reminded repeatedly." (Even As I Am, 19.)

Elder Milton R. Hunter

"As I have meditated on this incident, I have seen in my mind's eye Jesus also standing there sorrowing, because the rich young man chose worldly possessions instead of eternal life. Jesus knew that this was the parting of the way between him and that rich young man. The young Jewish ruler loved the things of this world more than he loved treasures in heaven, including eternal life.

"You will observe that the young man possessed most of the things commonly considered as requisite for success: He was trained in a good home, He held a position of importance. He possessed wealth. But he himself recognized that there was still something lacking if he was to attain eternal life. Doubtless he knew that eternal life was perhaps more important than the things he possessed, and yet he was not willing to pay the price for it." (December 15, 1964, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1964, p. 6.)

Matt 19:21 go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor...and come and follow me

Joseph Smith

"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God...Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life." (Lectures on Faith, 58)

Matt 19:22 the young man...went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"...'the man went away sorrowing, for he loved his possessions.' (See Matthew 19:16-22.) How many of us would pass this test?

"Many of us have made sacred covenants to live the laws of sacrifice and consecration. But when the Lord blesses us with riches and affluence, we may give little thought to how we should use these blessings to help build up his church.

"The scriptures are full of warnings against worldliness and pride because they too can lead us off course. The Lord explained to the Prophet Joseph Smith that many people veer from the path 'because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world.' (D&C 121:35.)" (Finding Peace in Our Lives, 198.)

Matt 19:23 a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven

Elaine L. Jack

"Are we willing to leave behind the world to become like God? Worldly comforts may temporarily minimize the impact of our struggles here on earth; they may give us comfort and a sense of importance, even a measure of success. But such reliance on material possessions deprives us of reliance upon our Heavenly Father and his saving grace. Our spiritual growth comes from seeing the Lord's hand in our lives. There is little comparison between a worldly check register and our account in the Lamb's Book of Life." ("Never Take No Cutoffs," Ensign, Aug. 1994, 64)

Spencer W. Kimball

"Why should it be so hard for rich men to enter the kingdom? Wealth should give a man independence, time and opportunity to serve others and worship his God. It should give him a chance to alleviate suffering, teach righteousness and further all good works.

"But frequently it seems to accentuate selfishness, encourage aloofness, create class distinction, and it too often blinds its possessor to the opportunity of uncompensated service to those who cannot reward him....

"[The rich young man's] sins were of omission and not so much of commission. In spite of his statement, he broke the tenth commandment, for the Lord indicates, 'Thou shalt not covet'-not even our own properties. The Redeemer with perfect vision read the thoughts and desires of the inquirer. He knew that the trial of his faith was not murder, adultery, theft, or bearing false witness, but in giving up his 'things of the world.' Jesus knew where his first love and first loyalty were and knew further that the barrier of wealth must be removed before this young man could be cleansed and purified. Like the camel he must unload his burden and get on his knees in humility and in complete surrender before the treasures of eternity were made available to him. (49-05)" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, 356.)

Joseph F. Smith

"'A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.' (See Matt. 19:16-23.)

"Is this because the rich man is rich? No. May not the rich man, who has the light of God in his heart, who possesses the principle and spirit of truth, and who understands the principle of God's government and law in the world, enter into the kingdom of heaven as easily, and be as acceptable there as the poor man may? Precisely. God is not a respecter of persons. The rich man may enter into the kingdom of heaven as freely as the poor, if he will bring his heart and affections into subjection to the law of God and to the principle of truth; if he will place his affections upon God, his heart upon the truth, and his soul upon the accomplishment of God's purposes, and not fix his affections and his hopes upon the things of the world. Here is the difficulty, and this was the difficulty with the young man. He had great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ. If he had possessed the spirit of truth in his heart to have known the will of God, and to have loved the Lord with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, he would have said to the Lord, 'Yea, Lord, I will do as you require, I will go and sell all that I have, and give it to the poor.' If he had had it in his heart to do this, that alone might have been sufficient, and the demand would probably have stopped there; for undoubtedly the Lord did not deem it essential for him to go and give his riches away, or to sell his possessions and give the proceeds away, in order that he might be perfect, for that, in a measure, would have been improvident. Yet, if it had required all this to test him and to prove him, to see whether he loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself, then he ought to have been willing to do it; and if he had been, he would have lacked nothing and would have received the gift of eternal life, which is the greatest gift of God, and which can be received on no other principle than the one mentioned by Jesus to the young man. If you will read the sixth lecture on faith, in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, you will learn that no man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it. We cannot do this so long as our affections are fixed upon the world." (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe, 260.)

Matt 19:24 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

This expression has been a difficult one to explain. The current thought amongst Mormon scholars is that the term "eye of a needle" meant exactly that and not a small city gate or error in translation. They explain that the expression is merely a form of hyperbole. Robert Millet stated, "There is no metaphor intended. No softening of this hard saying by linguistic or cultural traditions is justifiable." (An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship, 34.)

"The camel going through the eye of a needle does not refer to some hypothetical little gate in or alongside a main city gate, through which a camel is supposed to edge his way on its knees after being stripped of its burden. The present writer has seen the remnants of numerous ancient cities and gates throughout the Near East, and his conclusion is that such a little gate did not exist! Such a notion is a figment of the imagination of someone who was probably trying to explain the image without understanding an important figure of speech that Jesus used." (D. Kelly Ogden, Where Jesus Walked: The Land and Culture of New Testament Times, 116.)

Hugh Nibley

"We are told that the apostles were amazed beyond measure when he told them that. They didn't know about any postern gates through which a camel comes. That's an invention of modern-day criticism. There is no evidence anywhere at all that there was a gate called 'The Eye of the Needle.' No, Jesus really meant it: It's impossible. You've got to get rid of your treasures."  (Approaching Zion, 315.)

James E. Talmage

"In comparing the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom with that of a camel passing through the eye of a needle, Jesus used a rhetorical figure, which, strong and prohibitory as it appears in our translation, was of a type familiar to those who heard the remark. There was a 'common Jewish proverb, that a man did not even in his dreams see an elephant pass through the eye of a needle' (Edersheim). Some interpreters insist that a rope, not a camel, was mentioned by Jesus, and these base their contention on the fact that the Greek word kamelos (camel) differs in but a single letter from kamilos (rope), and that the alleged error of substituting 'camel' for 'rope' in the scriptural text is chargeable to the early copyists. Farrar (p. 476) rejects this possible interpretation on the ground that proverbs involving comparisons of a kind with that of a camel passing through the eye of a needle are common in the Talmud." (Jesus the Christ, 450.)

Matt 19:26 with God all things are possible

Russell M. Nelson

"I feel impressed to counsel those engaged in personal challenges to do right. In particular, my heart reaches out to those who feel discouraged by the magnitude of their struggle. Many shoulder heavy burdens of righteous responsibility which, on occasion, seem so difficult to bear. I have heard those challenges termed impossible....But, in fact, our Lord had spoken: 'With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible' (Matt. 19:26; see also Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27)

"...You who may be momentarily disheartened, remember, life is not meant to be easy. Trials must be borne and grief endured along the way. As you remember that 'with God nothing shall be impossible' (Luke 1:37), know that He is your Father. You are a son or daughter created in His image, entitled through your worthiness to receive revelation to help with your righteous endeavors. You may take upon you the holy name of the Lord. You can qualify to speak in the sacred name of God (see D&C 1:20). It matters not that giants of tribulation torment you. Your prayerful access to help is just as real as when David battled his Goliath (see 1 Sam. 17).

"Foster your faith. Fuse your focus with an eye single to the glory of God. 'Be strong and courageous' (2 Chr. 32:7), and you will be given power and protection from on high. 'For I will go before your face,' the Lord declared. 'I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88).

The great latter-day work of which we are a part shall be accomplished. Prophecies of the ages shall be fulfilled. 'For with God all things are possible'" ("With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible," Ensign, May 1988, 33)

Matt 19:28 ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel

Bruce R. McConkie

"Under Christ, selected agents and representatives shall sit in judgment upon specified peoples and nations. Scriptural intimations indicate that there will be a great judicial hierarchy, each judge acting in his own sphere of appointment and in conformity with the eternal principles of judgment which are in Christ. .

"Our Lord promised his 12 apostolic ministers in Jerusalem that when he came in glory, they also should 'sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30.) 'It hath gone forth in a firm decree, by the will of the Father, that mine apostles, the Twelve which were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem, shall stand at my right hand at the day of my coming in a pillar of fire, being clothed with robes of righteousness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am, to judge the whole house of Israel, even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else.' (D. & C. 29:12.)

"Some 600 years before the first coming of our Lord, an angel told Nephi, 'The twelve apostles of the Lamb . . . are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them; for ye are of the house of Israel. And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed.' (1 Ne. 12:9-10.) Then to those 12 Nephite ministers, the resurrected Lord said: 'Ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.' (3 Ne. 27:27; Morm. 3:19.)" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 398-399.)"

Matt 19:29 every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters...shall receive an hundredfold

Spencer W. Kimball

"Great as are the blessings in mortality which follow righteousness, they are dwarfed beside those awaiting in the world to come. Naturally the faithful are required to renounce some of the things of this world as they reach after those of the eternal world. This is often thought of as a sacrifice, though those who eventually reach the heights will certainly not think so then. Listen to the words of the Savior on the results of genuine sacrifice for the kingdom: 'And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.' (Matt. 19:29.)

"The one who delights in all of the worldly luxuries of today, at the expense of spirituality, is living but for the moment. His day is now. He will be barred from the rewards of the higher life he rejected.

"In the impressive parable of the Prodigal Son the Lord taught us a remarkable lesson. This squanderer lived but for today. He spent his life in riotous living. He disregarded the commandments of God. His inheritance was expendable, and he spent it. He was never to enjoy it again, as it was irretrievably gone. No quantity of tears or regrets or remorse could bring it back. Even though his father forgave him and dined him and clothed him and kissed him, he could not give back to the profligate son that which had been dissipated. But the other brother, who had been faithful, loyal, righteous and constant, retained his inheritance, and the father reassured him: 'All that I have is thine.'" (The Miracle of forgiveness, 306-7)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"...we met another friend who once was on the faculty of Brigham Young University. His children were then grown, and he and his wife concluded that rather than retire into idleness-as they could well have done, and as millions of others do-they would find some place in the world where they could help some of our Father's children by teaching them the truths that would save them.

"They found such a land. They sold their beautiful home; they sold their car; they left friends and relatives for a distant, less comfortable place. But as they cast their bread upon the waters, the Lord opened opportunities for them to teach and lift and help. No one can foretell the consequences of their pioneering.

"As I have thought of this man and woman who left the comforts of home and society and friends at an age when most people want to slow down and take it easy, I have thought of the words of the Lord: 'And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.' (Matthew 19:29.) I have thought the same whenever I meet or hear of other elderly brothers and sisters, single or married, who either volunteer or accept calls to serve the Lord in the missions of the Church.

"We need them. The Lord needs them. The people of the earth need them. And those wonderful brothers and sisters also need that blessed experience. For, generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others." (Faith: The Essence of True Religion, 38-39)

Matt 19:30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first

This passage has many doctrinal applications. In the context of worldly riches, it can be read as follows, "But many that are first in worldly things shall be last in heavenly things; and the last in worldly things shall be first in heavenly things."

Neal A. Maxwell

"For those of us who are too concerned about status or being last in line or losing our place, we need to read again those words about how the 'last shall be first' and 'the first shall be last.' (Matt. 19:30.) (Plain and Precious Things, p. 54.)

"A 'Who's Who' is not needed in a church that teaches us all our real identity and in which there is, significantly, a democracy of dress in the holy temples. (Notwithstanding My Weakness, p. 84.)" (Cory H. Maxwell, ed., The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, 328.)