|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:1-6 Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of his glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the others. Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, who are willing to pass by the thoughts of work and trouble. Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our own spirits.
Verse 2. - A little child. Our Lord teaches, not only by spoken parables, but by symbolical actions also. This was not a mere infant, as Christ is said to have called him unto him. A tradition, mentioned by Nicephorus ('Hist. Eccl.,' 2:35), asserts that this child was the famous martyr Ignatius. Set him in the midst of them. Taking him in his arms, as St. Mark tells. What a picture of Christ's tenderness and human love! From the boy's trustfulness and submission he draws a needed lesson for the ambitious apostles.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jesus called a little child unto him,.... One, very likely, that was in the house, and might belong to the master of it, and which was big enough to come to him at his call. Some have thought that this was Ignatius the martyr, but without any foundation. His own words, in his epistle to the church at Smyrna (y), can give no countenance to it; where he says, "for I also know, that after his resurrection he was in the flesh, and I believe that he is." The Latin version indeed renders it thus; "for I also saw him in the flesh after the resurrection, and believe that he exists." But it does not follow from hence that he must be this child, but rather the contrary; since it cannot be thought, that a child so young as this, in half a year after, had it seen Christ, when risen from the dead, could have took so much notice of him, as this version represents Ignatius to do; but it matters not who it was; Christ designed, by this emblem, to give them his sense of the question, and convey some proper instruction to the minds of his disciples:
and set him in the midst of them; that everyone might see him; and upon the very sight of him, had he said no more to them, they might easily have perceived what was his opinion; that he that was but a child, the most humble, and least in his own eyes, would be the greatest: but besides setting the child in such a situation, he pointed to him, saying what follows.
(y) p. 3. Ed. Voss.
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