In Luke 13:22-24

22 He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. Source

Now my question is this. What is the Catholic understanding of "will attempt to enter". Who are these people who attempt to enter heaven? And who are the people who are attempting but aren't strong enough? I would assume God would help them if they aren't strong enough. (They must be rejecting help)

Normal understanding would be all practicing Christians. We all are attempting to be holy. Is it all Christians who can't overcome mortal sins in their life?

Is Jesus talking about protestants or schismatics since they don't want to follow the narrow door of the Catholic teaching but still attempting to get into heaven?

  • What version are you quoting from? Every version I have checked has the translation "many will try to enter but will not be able to." Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 14:01
  • @DJClayworth, Catholic usccb.org/bible/luke/13
    – Grasper
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 14:02
  • 1
    There are some badly translated Sacred Texts on some Catholic sites.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 14:22
  • @KenGraham, Ok but it doesn't change what I'm asking or the meaning of the verse.
    – Grasper
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


The Greek language, which is the language of the original text, is not as specific as English when it comes to definitions. Much of the language results from context during a conversation, body language and tone, which is not transferred well to the writing languages.

The greek word translated as "strength" can also mean,“to be able,” “to be capable,” “capacity,” “power,” “strength.”

The word, no matter which you use, matches perfectly with Catholic views on infused righteousness. We must Persevere to the end, We must transform ourselves and strengthen our faith, and be obedient to Gods Word, who is Jesus Christ. This is not an easy thing to do, many will fail despite the fact that they want the rewards of heaven. Faith Alone for example teaches that a person is saved by faith alone. It is easy to have faith, but much harder to be obedient to that faith. This is why Catholics always ask for help from the Saints and point to their examples of sacrifice and dedication.

From a Catholic perspective, being able to to enter into that gate, has much to do with fallowing the precepts of the Catholic Church, something that takes Strength, Power and capability to be able to do.

Jesus is speaking to the Church. He is speaking to those sitting in the Catholic pews on Sunday and to the Priests, to those who have left the Church, to those who disagree with the dogmas of the Church, to those who are not obedient to Church teaching, to those outside the Church in any capacity including Separated Brethren. The Church is Christs Body and he is the head, we should do everything we can to enter that narrow Gate.


The Church's official translation, St. Jerome's Vulgate, says for Luke 13:24:

Contendite intrare per angustam portam : quia multi, dico vobis, quaerent intrare, et non poterunt.

Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.

"To be unable" is not the same as "not to be strong enough". (For example, a rock is unable to see; it'd be ridiculous to say a rock could see if were strong enough.)

  • in case of people it doesn't matter but that's not what my question was primarily about.
    – Grasper
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 17:58

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