Re: city gates
I think that the disciple's response makes the city gates interpretation
"And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, 'Then
who can be saved?' "
It is clear that the disciples did not interpret Jesus' saying as referring to
city gates, for otherwise there was no reason to be astonished or to question
if anyone could be saved. (I have heard that the last comes from an assumption
common at that time that if anyone could be saved, it would be the rich, since
they had time to study the Scriptures and riches were considered a mark of
God's blessing.) One possibility is that Jesus intended to refer to city
gates, but that the disciples misunderstood him. However, this doesn't seem
likely, since Jesus doesn't correct their misunderstanding with his next
"And looking upon them Jesus said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but
with God all things are possible.' "
I tend to agree with Sterling Bjorndahl that this passage gets reinterpreted
because of people's dis-ease people feel at Jesus' radical statement, not only
at the difficulty of rich men entering the kingdom of heaven but of *any* man
entering the kingdom of heaven. This is supported by other statements that
Jesus makes, such as Matthew 5:20 ("unless your righteousness surpasses that of
the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven"), John
3:3 ("unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God"), and Matthew
18:3 ("unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter
the kingdom of heaven").