Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 18:17

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Babes;   Jesus, the Christ;   Regeneration;   Righteous;   Symbols and Similitudes;   Thompson Chain Reference - Simplicity;   Simplicity-Duplicity;   The Topic Concordance - Kingdom of God;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Humility;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Hearing the Word of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Child;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jesus Christ;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Luke, Gospel of;   Parables;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Babe;   Children;   Humility;   Manliness;   Mission;   Property (2);   Simple, Simplicity ;   Worldliness (2);   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Phar'isees,;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for February 1;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 18:17

Receive the kingdom of God as a little child

Receiving the kingdom of God as a little child

I.
To begin with, let me deal with THE SECRET THOUGHT OF THE DISCIPLES, expressed by their actions though not spoken in words.

1. And, first, it is pretty clear that the disciples thought the children were too insignificant for the Lord’s time to be taken up by them.

2. Again, I suppose that these grown-up apostles thought that the children’s minds were too trifling. Despise not children for trifling when the whole world is given to folly.

3. “Ay,” say they, “but if we should let the children come to Christ, and if He should bless them, they will soon forget it. No matter how loving His look and how spiritual His words, they will go back to their play, and their weak memories will preserve no trace of it at all.” This objection we meet in the same manner as the others. Do not men forget?

4. Perhaps, too, they thought that children had not sufficient capacity.

5. To put the thought of the apostle into one or two words: they thought that the children must not come to Christ because they were not like themselves--they were not men and women. The child must not come to the Master because he is not like the man. How the blessed Saviour turns the tables and says, “Say, not, the child may not come till he is like a man, but know that you cannot come till you are like him. It is no difficulty in the child’s way that he is not like you; the difficulty is with you, that you are not like the child.” Instead of the child needing to wait until he grows up and becomes a man, it is the man who must grow down and become like a child.

II. Now we pass to our second head, namely, THE OPEN DECLARATION OF OUR LORD, wherein He sets forth His mind upon this matter,

1. Looking at it carefully, we observe, first, that He tells the disciples that the gospel sets up a kingdom. Was there ever a kingdom which had no children in it? How then could it grow?

2. Next, our Lord tells us that the way of entering the kingdom is by receiving. “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” We do not enter into the kingdom of God by working out some deep problem and arriving at its solution; not by fetching something out of our selves, but by receiving a secret something into us. We come into the kingdom by the kingdom’s coming into us: it receives us by our receiving it. Now, if this entrance into the kingdom depended upon something to be fetched out of the human mind by study and deep thought, then very few children could over enter it; but it depends upon something to be received, and therefore children may enter,

3. The next thing in the text is that if we receive this kingdom, and so enter into it, we must receive it as children receive it.

III. THE GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT given by our Lord in the text. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 18:17". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/luke-18.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Verily I say unto you,...., Christ takes an occasion from hence to teach his disciples humility, and guard them against pride and vanity:

whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God; the King Messiah, the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, even the whole Gospel dispensation;

as a little child; without prejudice, pride, ambition, and vanity, with meekness, and humility:

shall in no wise enter therein; a very unfit and improper person to be a professor of the Gospel; or to be admitted to Gospel ordinances: or be a member of a Gospel church; or be reckoned a subject of the Messiah's kingdom, which is of a spiritual nature; and as he has not a meetness for, and a right unto the kingdom of glory, he shall never see it, and enjoy it.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

6 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

(6) Childlike innocence is an ornament of Christians.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-18.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

As a little child (ως παιδιονhōs paidion). Jesus makes the child the model for those who seek entrance into the kingdom of God, not the adult the model for the child. He does not say that the child is already in the kingdom without coming to him. Jesus has made the child‘s world by understanding the child and opening the door for him.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-18.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

The Fourfold Gospel

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein1.

  1. Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein. See .

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-18.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Ver. 17. {See Trapp on "Matthew 19:14"}

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-18.html. 1865-1868.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 18:17. παιδίον, a little child) A παιδίον, or little child, has already somewhat of the use of his reason, so as to be able to receive, δέξασθαι (“the kingdom of God”); but the βρέφος, an infant, expresses even a lower degree, which is suited to the touch of the Saviour, Luke 18:15-16. [The fellowship of the kingdom of heaven consists for the most part of little children.—V. g.]

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-18.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 18:15"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 18:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-18.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

как дитя См. пояснение к Мф. 18:3.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-18.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the Kingly Rule of God in the same way as a little child, he shall in no wise enter into it.”

And then He adds a solemn saying, as evidenced by its opening words, the solemn ‘truly I say to you’ which occur only seven times in Luke. And the point of His saying is that anyone who receives the Kingly Rule of God must do so in the ready and willing way in which a little child does. For there is no other way to receive it. These children would have no hang ups about obeying God, they would see it as the right thing to do (even though they might sometimes forget it on the spur of the moment). It is only adults (over elevens) whose hearts, like that of the rich young ruler in the next story and the Pharisee in the previous story, become hardened against obedience to Him.

Arguments about whether receiving the Kingly Rule of God refers to the present Kingly Rule, present in Jesus, or the future heavenly Kingly Rule are unnecessary. It is the whole concept of the responsiveness of hearts towards God that is in mind, and that includes both this world and the next.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-18.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.Receive the kingdom of God as a little child—It is plain that the little child here specified must be a literal infant. And when it is asked in what respect is the converted adult to become as a little child, we must reply, just in that respect by which a child is a member of the kingdom of God. He must come back to that state of acceptance with Christ which he possessed before actual sin. See note on Matthew 18:3.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-18.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 18:17, as in Mark 10:15. With this reflection Lk. ends, his interest being mainly in the didactic element, humility the door into the kingdom.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-18.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Verily. See note on Matthew 5:18.

in no wise. Greek. ou me. App-105.

therein = into (App-104.) it.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-18.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. See the note at Mark 9:36. But the action that followed-omitted by our Evangelist, and only partially given by Matthew, but fully supplied by Mark-is the best of all: "AND HE TOOK THEM UP IN HIS ARMS, PUT HIS HANDS UPON THEM, AND BLESSED THEM" (Mark 10:16). Now, is it to be conceived that all our Lord meant by this was to teach a lesson, not about children at all, but about grown people; namely, that they must become childlike if they would be capable of the kingdom of God, and for this reason they should not hinder infants from coming to Him, and therefore He took up and blessed the infants themselves? Did not the grave mistake of the disciples, which so "much displeased" the Lord Jesus, consist just in this, that they thought infants should not be brought to Christ, because only grown people could profit by Him? And though He took the irresistible opportunity of lowering their pride of reason, by informing them that, in order to enter the Kingdom, instead of the children first becoming like them, they must themselves become like the children-as a German writer has well expressed it-yet this was but by the way; and returning to the children themselves, He took them up in His gracious arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them, for no conceivable reason but to show that they were thereby made capable, AS INFANTS, of the Kingdom of God.

Remarks:

(1) How different the feelings of Jesus from those of His disciples, in this as in so many other cases! They "marveled that He talked with the woman" of Samaria, while that "talk" was "meat to Him that they knew not of" (John 4:27; John 4:32): The cries of the Syrophoenician woman after Jesus were harsh in their ears, but they were music in His (Matthew 15:23; Matthew 15:28): And here, they think He has grown people enough to attend to, without being annoyed with untaught children and unconscious babes, who could get no possible good from Him; and so they administer to the expectant parents their damping, miserable "rebuke." But this was not more false in doctrine than the feeling that expressed it was at variance with His. It 'grievously vexed' Him, as the word signifies. His heart yearned after these babes just as "babes" and "little children;" nor are we capable of knowing the whole heart of Christ toward us if we leave out of it this most touching and beautiful element-the feeling that grievously vexed Him when infants were held back from Him. O what a spectacle was that which presented itself to the eye that was capable (if, indeed, there was one) of seeing into the interior of it-The Only begotten of the Father with an unconscious Babe in His arms; His gentle, yet mighty hands upon it; and His eyes upraised to heaven as the blessing descended upon it! Was not this one of those things which 'angels desired to look into?" For He was "seen of angels."

`He raised them in His holy arms, He blessed them from the world and all its harms: Heirs though they were of sin and shame, He blessed them in his own and in His Father's name.

`Then, as each fond, unconscious child On th' everlasting Parent sweetly smil'd, Like infants sporting on the shore, That tremble not at ocean's boundless roar,' etc.

(-KEBLE)

(2) If Christ was "much displeased" with His disciples for interfering with those who were bringing their infants to Him, surely it is not enough that we do not positively hinder them. Whatsoever on our part is fitted to keep back children from Christ is in effect the same thing, and may be expected to cause the same displeasure. But that is not all. For, as it is an acknowledged rule, that whenever any sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded, so the displeasure of Christ at the attempt to keep back these children from Him carries with it the duty of bringing, or having them brought to Him, and the assurance of His benignant satisfaction with parents that bring them, and everyone who does anything to cause them to be brought to Him. Be stirred up, then, and emboldened, believing parents, to bring your babes, even from their first breath, to Jesus; and let the ministers of Christ, and all who would have His gracious complacency resting upon them, as the first and the last step in "feeding His lambs," bring them to Jesus!

(3) As the parable of the Good Samaritan has filled Christendom with Institutions for the relief of the wretched, over and above all that individuals have done in private, so this little incident-recorded by three of the Evangelists, yet occupying, even in the most detailed narrative of it, only four brief verses-has, over and above all that it has given birth to in private, filled Christendom with classes for the Christian training of the young; in the earlier ages, in a less systematic and comprehensive form, and chiefly by pastoral superintendence of parental instruction, but in these latter days on a vast scale, and to admirable effect. Nor can we doubt that the eye of Him who, in the days of His flesh, took up little children in His arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them, looks down from the skies in sweet complacency upon such efforts, blesses richly those that in obedience and love to Him engage in them, gathers many a lamb from among such flocks, to fold them in His own bosom above, and sends the rest as they grow up into the great world as "a seed to serve Him," a leaven to leaven the lump, that He may not come and smite it with a curse (Malachi 4:6).

(4) Let the intelligent reader note carefully the standing which this incident gives to children-even unconscious "infants" - in the Kingdom of God. "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God." We have given reasons why this cannot mean merely, 'Let little children come to me, because grown people must be like them if they would enter the Kingdom.' What can be balder than such an interpretation of our Lord's words? But how natural and self-commending is the following sense of them: 'Ye are wrong in thinking that not until these children have grown to manhood can they get any good from Me. They also, even these unconscious babes, have their place, and not the least place, in the Kingdom of Heaven.' But if there could be any doubt whether our Lord was here speaking of the children themselves, or only of child-like men, surely His putting His hands upon them, and blessing them, ought to set that question at rest.

What could such actions mean, if not to convey some spiritual blessing, some saving benefit, to the babes themselves? Does any one doubt that children, dying in infancy, are capable of going to heaven? Or, does any Christian think that without the new birth, and the blood that cleanseth from all sin, they will be fit company for heaven's inhabitants, or find themselves in an atmosphere congenial to their nature, or without this will ever see it? But, if infants are capable of all that saves the soul, before they are capable of consciously believing in Christ, and even though they die before ever doing so, what follows? "Can any man forbid water" - said Peter of the Gentile Cornelius and his company - "that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" (Acts 10:47). Of course, such application of the baptismal water to infants can have no warrant from our incident, except where the infants have been previously brought to Christ Himself for his benediction, and only as the sign and seal of His promised benediction.

But you may say, 'Is not faith explicitly and peremptorily required in order to baptism?' Yes, and in order to salvation too. Nay, "he that believeth not shall be damned." Are those who die in infancy, then, damned-because incapable of believing? 'O no,' it will be said; 'they were not contemplated in the demand for faith, in order to salvation.' Just so; and for that reason, since they are capable of the new birth, and forgiveness, and complete salvation-all in infancy and without any faith at all, just as truly as grown people-they are surely capable of the mere outward symbol of it, which brings them within the sacred enclosure, and separates them to a holy service and society, and inheritance among the people of God (1 Corinthians 7:14). Within this sacred enclosure, the apostle regards them as "in the Lord," and addresses them as such (Ephesians 6:1), inculcating on them obedience to their parents, as "well pleasing unto the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). The Christian household is thus to be a Christian nursery. Sweet view this of the standing of children that have been from their very birth brought to Christ, and blessed of Him, as believers may not doubt that their children are, and loved as dearly as if He took them up in His very arms, and made the blessing to descend upon them, even life for evermore! For more on this subject, see the notes at Luke 19:28-44, Remark 5 at the close of that section.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-18.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
Psalms 131:1,2; Mark 10:15; 1 Peter 1:14
Reciprocal: Matthew 5:18 - verily;  Matthew 5:20 - ye;  Matthew 18:3 - and become;  Matthew 19:14 - Suffer;  John 9:34 - and dost;  1 Corinthians 3:18 - let

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 18:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-18.html.