As Jesus was leaving Galilee for the last time and journeying on His way to Jerusalem, a disciple asked, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” Jesus answered the disciple saying:
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:23-24).
Earlier Jesus affirmed that the narrow gate and the narrow way is the way that leads to heaven and there will be “few” who will find it (Matthew 7:14). On the other hand, our Lord tells us that the wide gate and broad way is the way that leads to destruction and there will be “many” who will go in by it (Matthew 7:13).
A question we might ask is, “How few is few and how many are many?” Both words are comparative terms which do not have exacting perimeters but rather relative limitations. For example, in 1 Peter 3:20 KJV, the word “few” refers to eight people as compared to the world’s population in Noah’s day.
The “many” in 1 Corinthians 10:5 KJV, describes the more than 600,000 men of fighting age, not counting women and children, who fell in the wilderness because of disobedience (cf. Numbers 14:26-33; Numbers 26:1-65). At that time, faithful and obedient Joshua and Caleb constituted the “few.”
When Jesus says that there are “few” that will be saved, He is not at all expressing God’s desire. His desire is that all men might be saved through Christ — our Lord giving Himself as a ransom for all people (1 Timothy 2:4-6; cf. Mark 10:45; Titus 2:13-14).
Jesus simply expresses an undeniable fact that “few” will enter the strait gate because “most” folks will not accept and be obedient to the New Testament terms of salvation.
The difference between the “few” and the “many” can be summed up in the beginning word of Luke 13:24 — “Strive.”
—Mike Riley; via gewatkins.net