But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Suffer little children, and forbid them not . . .—St. Mark adds that Jesus “was much displeased,” and represents Him as reproducing almost verbally the teaching of Matthew 18:3. The tenderness of His sympathy was kindled into indignation at the rough indifference of the disciples. As in thousands of those whose lives have been modelled after His pattern, the love of children was not weaker, but stronger, precisely because it depended on no human relationship, but sprang from His seeing in them the children of His Father.
Of such is the kingdom of heaven.—That is, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these, is theirs as by inheritance.
Of such is the kingdom of heaven - The kingdom of heaven evidently means here the church. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. In Mark and Luke it is said he immediately added, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter therein." Whosoever shall not be humble, unambitious, and docile, shall not be a true follower of Christ or a member of his kingdom. Of such as these - that is, of persons with such tempers as these - is the church to be composed. He does not say of those infants, but of such persons as resemble them, or are like them in temper, is the kingdom of heaven made up. As emblematic, therefore, of what his own followers were to be, and as having traits of character so strongly resembling what he required in his followers, it was proper that they should be brought to him. At the same time, it was proper on their own account that they should be brought to him, and that his blessing should be sought on them.
All are fallen; all have, a tendency to sin, and none but Jesus can save them. Little children, too, are in a world of sickness and death, and in the beginning of life it is proper to invoke on them the blessing of the Saviour. They are to live forever beyond the grave; and as they have just entered on a career of existence which can never terminate, it is an appropriate act to seek the blessing of that Saviour who only can make them happy forever, as they enter on their career of existence. No act, therefore, can be more proper than that by which parents, in a solemn ordinance of religion, give them up to God in baptism, consecrating them to his service, and seeking for them the blessing of the Saviour. It is probable - it is greatly to be hoped - that all infants will be saved. No contrary doctrine is taught in the sacred Scriptures. But it does not appear to be the design of this passage to teach that all infants will be saved. It means simply that they should be suffered to be brought to Christ as amiable, lovely, and uncorrupted by the world; as having traits of mind resembling those among real Christians; and as themselves needing his blessing.
For the exposition, see on Lu 18:15-17.See poole on "Matthew 19:15".
and forbid them not to come unto me, now, or at any other time;
for of such is the kingdom of heaven; that is, as the Syriac renders it, "who are as these" or as the Persic version, rather paraphrasing than translating, renders it, "who have been humble as these little children": and it is as if our Lord should say, do not drive away these children from my person and presence; they are lively emblems of the proper subjects of a Gospel church state, and of such that shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: by these I may instruct and point out to you, what converted persons should be, who have a place in my church below, and expect to enter into my kingdom and glory above; that they are, or ought to be, like such children, harmless and inoffensive; free from rancour and malice, meek, modest, and humble; without pride, self-conceit, and ambitious views, and desires of grandeur and superiority. Christ's entire silence about the baptism of infants at this time, when he had such an opportunity of speaking of it to his disciples, had it been his will, has no favourable aspect on such a practice. It is not denied that little children, whether born of believers or unbelievers, which matters not, may be chosen of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and have the passive work of the Spirit on their souls, and so enter into heaven; but this is not the sense of this text. It was indeed a controversy among the Jews, whether the little children of the wicked of Israel, , "go into the world to come": some affirmed, and others denied; but all agreed, that the little children of the wicked of the nations of the world, do not. They dispute about the time of entrance of a child into the world to come; some say, as soon as it is born, according to Psalm 22:31 others, as soon as it can speak, or count, according to Psalm 22:30 others as soon as it is sown, as the gloss says, as soon as the seed is received in its mother's womb, though it becomes an abortion; according to the same words, "a seed shall serve thee": others, as soon as he is circumcised, according to Psalm 88:15 others, as soon as he can say "Amen", according (z) to Isaiah 26:2 All weak, frivolous, and impertinent.But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 19:14. By τῶν τοιούτων we are not to understand literal children (Bengel, de Wette), for the Messianic kingdom cannot be said to belong to children as such (see Matthew 5:3 ff.), but men of a child-like disposition and character, Matthew 18:3 f. Jesus cannot consent to see the children turned away from Him; for, so far from their being too insignificant to become the objects of His blessing, He contemplates in their simplicity and innocence that character which those who are to share in His kingdom must acquire through being converted and becoming as little children. If they thus appeared to the Lord as types of the subjects of His kingdom, how could He withhold from them that prayer which was to be the means of communicating to their opening lives the blessing of early fellowship with Him! Herein lies the warrant, but, according to 1 Corinthians 7:14, not the necessity, for infant baptism; comp. in general, note on Acts 16:15.Matthew 19:14. ἄφετε, μὴ κωλύετε: visits of the children never unseasonable; Jesus ever delighted to look on the living emblems of the true citizen of the Kingdom of God; pleased with them for what they were naturally, and for what they signified.—τοιούτων, of such, i.e., the child-like; repetition of an old lesson (Matthew 18:3).14. of such is the kingdom of heaven] Love, simplicity of faith, innocence, and above all, humility, are the ideal characteristics of little children, and of the subjects of the kingdom.Matthew 19:14. Εἶπεν, κ.τ.λ., said, etc.) Previously He had defended the law of marriage; now he defends the rights of children.—ἄφετε—καἰ μὴ κωλύετε, permit—and do not prohibit) A most ample permission. The verb ἀφίημι, does not always mean to dismiss, but frequently, as here, to permit; see Mark 11:16.—τὰ παιδία, the little children) Haffenreffer renders it infantulos, little infants.—τοιούτων, of such) i.e., infants, sc. such infants, especially when they desire to come to Christ. τοιοῦτος, denotes substance combined with quality; see Acts 22:22. Grant that such are intended as are like infants, it follows of necessity, that much rather the infants themselves, who are such, have the kingdom of God, and both can and ought to receive it by coming to Christ. Many of those who then were infants, afterwards believed in Christ Jesus, when they had grown up.—ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, the kingdom of heaven) He who seeks the kingdom of God must come to Jesus.Verse 14. - Suffer [the] little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me. He speaks as though the infants were ready and eager to come to him, if they were not prevented. He thus intimates the truth that, though incompetent to undo, stand God's blessing, children were not incompetent to receive it. There was no natural impediment to bar the way. Unconscious intents, under the Mosaic dispensation, were admitted to the privileges of the Jewish Church by the rite of circumcision; in Christ's kingdom analogous mercies were to be extended to them. From this passage has been derived a cogent argument for infant baptism, because Christ herein showed, not only that tender age and immaturity of reason put no obstacle in the way of his blessing, but that children were the standard by which fitness for his kingdom was to be tested. For of such is the kingdom of heaven. They who would enter Christ's kingdom must be pure, simple, obedient, as little children (comp. Matthew 18:3). That is why he says, "of such," not "of these," intimating that it is not to the age, but to the disposition and character, that he refers. Some, not so suitably, confine the saying to such as are dedicated to God in baptism. It is well said that what children now are is God's work; what they shall be hereafter is their own.
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