Matthew 18:5
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
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(5) Whoso shall receive one such little child.—The words are memorable as the first utterance of the truth afterwards proclaimed as the law of final judgment in Matthew 25:40, and as giving to that law the widest possible range of universality. No child of man is excluded from those whom Christ calls His brethren.

Matthew 18:5-6. And whoso shall receive one such little child — Whosoever shall entertain or discover an affectionate regard to any one of my humble and meek followers; receiveth me — I shall take the kindness as done to myself. As if he had said, And all who are in this sense little children, are unspeakably dear to me. Therefore help them all you can, as if it were myself in person, and see that ye offend them not: that is, that ye turn them not out of the right way, neither hinder them in it. The original expression, Ος δαν σκανδαλιση, is literally, Whosoever shall cause to stumble one of these little ones that believe in me — Whosoever shall tempt them to sin, or lay obstructions in their way, and render it rough and difficult, and shall thereby impede their progress in it; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck — Casaubon and Elsner, not to mention others, have shown at large that drowning in the sea was a punishment used among the ancients, and that the persons condemned had sometimes heavy stones tied about their necks, or were rolled up in sheets of lead. It seems to have grown into a proverb for dreadful and inevitable ruin. The term, μυλος ονικος, (as Erasmus, Grotius, Raphelius, and many others observe,) properly signifies a millstone too large to be turned, as some were, by the hand, and requiring the force of asses to move it; as it seems those animals were generally used by the Jews on these occasions.

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.And whoso shall receive one such little child - That is, whoso shall receive and love one with a spirit like this child one who is humble, meek, and unambitious - that is, a real Christian.

In my name - As a follower of me, or because he is attached to me.

Whoso receives one possessed of my spirit, or who loves him because he has that spirit, loves me also. The word "receive" means to approve, love, or treat with kindness; to aid in the time of need. See Matthew 25:35-40.

Mark Mar 9:38 and Luke Luk 9:49 add a conversation that took place on this occasion, which has been omitted by Matthew. John told him that they had seen one casting out devils in his name, and they forbade him, because he followed not with them. Jesus replied that he should not have been forbidden, for there was no one who could work a miracle in his name that could lightly speak evil of him. That is, though he did not attend them though he had not joined himself to their society, yet he could not really be opposed to him. Indeed, they should have remembered that the power to work a miracle must always come from the same source, that is, God; and that he who had the ability given him to work a miracle, and who did it in the name of Christ, must be a real friend to him. It is probable, from this, that the power of working miracles in the name of Christ was given to many who did not attend on his ministry.


Mt 18:1-9. Strife among the Twelve Who Should Be Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, with Relative Teaching. ( = Mr 9:33-50; Lu 9:46-50).

For the exposition, see on [1323]Mr 9:33-50.

See Poole on "Matthew 18:6".

And whoso shall receive one such little child,.... Which is to be understood, not literally but metaphorically; meaning not such an one in age, but one, as the Syriac renders it, , "that is as this child": like unto it for modesty and humility; one, that is as that, free from pride, ambition, and envy. Christ's sense is, that whoever receives his disciples, that are meek and lowly, into their houses, or into their hearts and affections; that receives their ministry and message, embraces the Gospel preached by them with readiness and cheerfulness, with faith and love,

in my name; on his account, because they are his disciples, believe in him, preach his Gospel, and, as being sent by, and representing him,

receiveth me: it is so taken by Christ, as if he was personally present, and personally received, and had all the favours shown to his, done to himself in person; yea, such receive Christ in the ministry of the word, he being the sum and substance of it. This is said to encourage modesty and humility; and intimates, that proud and haughty persons will not be received as the disciples and followers of the meek and lowly Jesus; and to encourage persons to receive such that are modest and humble, since the respect shown to them, is all one as if shown to him.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Matthew 18:5. Comp. Mark 9:37; Luke 9:47. The question of the disciples has been answered. But His eye having lighted upon this child who happened to be present, Jesus now seizes the opportunity of inculcating upon them the duty of taking an affectionate interest in such little ones,—an exhortation, of which the jealous and ambitious spirit evinced by their question in Matthew 18:1 must have shown they stood but too much in need.

παιδίον τοιοῦτον] such a little child, i.e. according to the context, not a literal child (Bengel, Paulus, Neander, de Wette, Arnoldi, Bleek, Hilgenfeld), which would give a turn to the discourse utterly foreign to the connection, but a man of such a disposition as this little child represents—one who with child-like simplicity is humble and unassuming. So Chrysostom (παιδίον γὰρ ἐνταῦθα τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς οὕτως ἀφελεῖς φησὶ καὶ ταπεινοὺς καὶ ἀπεῤῥιμμένους παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς), Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Wetstein, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Kern, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Keim. Jesus well knew how much the unassuming, child-like disposition, free from everything like self-assertion, was just that which others, animated by an opposite spirit, were in the habit of overlooking, slighting, and thrusting aside.

ἕν] a single one. So very precious are they!

δέξηται] denotes a loving reception with a view to further care for the soul; the opposite to this is σκανδαλίζειν, Matthew 18:6.

ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου] on the ground of my name (Matthew 24:5)—i.e. on account of my name, which, however, is not, with de Wette, to be taken subjectively, and referred to the faith of the one who receives (whosoever confessing my name, on account of his faith in me, etc.), but is to be understood as referring to the παιδίον τοιοῦτον that is to be received (Mark 9:41; Matthew 10:42), because my name (Jesus the Messiah) contains the sum of his belief and confession (“non ob causas naturales aut politicas,” Bengel).

ἐμέ] comp. Matthew 10:40, Matthew 25:40; John 13:20.

Matthew 18:5-7.

5, 6. Christ’s Little Ones. Mark 9:37The thought of Jesus passes from the dispute among His disciples to the care of His little ones, the young in faith, who, if they have the weakness, have also the humility of little children.

whoso shall receive] It is a sacrament of lovingkindness when Christ Himself is received in the visible form of His little ones. To receive is to welcome, shew kindness to.

a millstone] Literally, a millstone turned by an ass, and so larger than the ordinary millstone. Cp. Ovid (Fasti vi. 318): “Et quæ pumiceas versat asella molas.”

The manner of death alluded to appears to have been unknown to the Jews. But Plutarch mentions this punishment as being common to Greece and Rome. Cp. Juv. Sat. xiv. 16, 17, where, as in other places, it is named rather than the cross as a swift and terrible penalty for crime.

Matthew 18:5. Δέξηται, shall receive) sc. humbly, lovingly, to the profit of his soul, as appears from the contrast in the next verse.—τοιοῦτον, such) For little children also are sometimes corrupt.[805]—The same termination occurs in Acts 21:25.[806]—ἑν, one) God’s providence is exercised also on individuals; see the next verse. One is frequently mentioned in this chapter. ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί Μου, in My name) Not from natural or political causes.—ὀνόματι, name) see Matthew 18:20.—Ἐμὲ, Me) sc. who am in the little ones which believe on Me, as the Father is in Me. In like manner it may be said that, in Justification, when God receives a believer, He receives Christ.

[805] Therefore He marks out one endued with humbleness of heart.—V. g.

[806] τοιοῦτος, τοιαῦτη, τοιοῦτο, Att. also τοιοῦτον, which however is also found in Od. vii. 309, and xiii. 330; and seems to prevail in Herodotus. Liddell and Scott.—(I. B.)

Verses 5-14. - The treatment due to such. Verse 5. - Shall receive (ο{ς ἐὰν δέξηται). The word is pregnant with meaning. It includes not only the showing of tender affection and the giving of material succour, such as hospitality, shelter, etc., but also the bestowal of help and support in spiritual things, encouragement in holiness, instruction in Divine lore. One such little child. Primarily, Jesus refers to children, pure and confiding as the one he had placed in the midst; but his words are applicable to all who have the childlike spirit and character, the graces which he specially loves and rewards. The expressions here and in the next verse must be understood to belong in some cases to the symbol, and in others to the symbolized. In my Name (ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου); for the sake of my Name; because he belongs to me; not merely from natural affection and pity, but from a higher motive, because the child has in him somewhat of Christ - is the child of God, and a member of Christ. Receiveth me. That which is done to his little ones Christ regards as done to himself (comp. Matthew 10:40-42). What a blessing waits on those who teach the young, working laboriously in schools, and training souls for heaven! This "receiving" Christ is a far higher and better thing than being "greatest" in an earthly kingdom. Matthew 18:5In my name (ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου)

Lit., upon my name; on the ground of, or on account of; for my sake.

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