|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 4. - Whosoever therefore. This verse gives a direct application of the principle just enunciated, and supplies an answer to the apostles' question. Shall humble himself. Not that a child consciously humbles itself, but is humble by nature. The disciple must become that by deliberate choice which the child is by reason of his constitution and natural disposition. The same is greatest; rather, greater (μείζων), Christ using the same term as the questioners in ver. 1. The more a man annihilates self and casts away pride, conceit, obstinacy, the fitter is he to become a living member of Christ's kingdom. "Quanto humilior, tanto altior," says Thomas Aquinas. But this is a joint work. St. Gregory says well, "The good which a man doeth is both the work of God and the work of man: of God, as being the Author, in giving grace; of man, as being actor, in using grace, yet so that he cooperate with grace by grace" (quoted by Ford, in loc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself,.... Whoever shall entertain mean thoughts of himself, and prefer others to himself, shall behave in a modest humble manner, not affecting dominion over others, or treating his brethren and Christians in a haughty and supercilious manner, with scorn and contempt; but condescend to those of the lowest state, and place himself in the lowest form, conversing with his friends freely and familiarly, without distinction,
as this little child; or any other of the like age; for there is no reason to suppose, that there was anything peculiar in this child, which was not in another, it being common to children to behave towards one another, as on a level; not to envy one another, or to set up one above another, or be vainly elated with the distinctions of birth and fortune.
The same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven; in the Gospel church state; which was verified in the Apostle Paul, though not one of the twelve: nor are these words limited to them; at least, this passage may be illustrated in his case: he thought himself to be the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints, and unworthy to be called an apostle; yet had the largest measures of grace, the greatest gifts and abilities; and was honoured with the greatest usefulness and success in the preaching of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners, and planting of churches; labouring more abundantly than they all.
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