Matthew 18 – Little Ones

I don’t even know how I ended up reading in Matthew 18 last night.  I started in Genesis as probably 90% of the people did who were following a reading plan for January 1.  But after reading along in Genesis while listening to the audio from the ESV Daily Bible Passage, I somehow ended up in Matthew 18.  This is a very familiar passage to many people and the KJV is the version I have most often heard it in, so here is the KJV of Matthew 18:1-14.  Notice the little child and little ones throughout.

Matthew 18:1-14 (KJV) 

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Often I have heard the verse Matthew 18:14 to say that God’s will is that none should perish but that all should be saved.  But even more so I have heard many sermons referring to the little ones and their angels and that God provides extra protection of little children, etc.  It is very easy to see how that conclusion might be made from reading the KJV.  But look at the treasure I found hidden in the depths.

In Matthew 18:1-5, each phrase such as little child or little children is the Greek word “paidion” meaning child.

NT:3813   – paidion (pahee-dee’-on); neuter dimin. of NT:3816; a childling (of either sex), i.e. (properly,) an infant, or (by extension) a half-grown boy or girl; figuratively, an immature Christian:

KJV – (little, young) child, damsel.

(Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

This is talking about young children as we would all have expected it was.

But here is the interesting thing.

The verses change from little child to little ones.  Why?

Turns out they are not the same words nor really even close beyond the size factor.

Matthew 18:6 (KJV) But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:10 (KJV) Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 18:14 (KJV) Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

I have always heard these verses as relating to children, but they don’t.

Little ones is the Greek word “mikros”.  As my husband pointed out related to “micro” meaning small or little in English.  But the definition of the Greek is interesting – “least”.

NT:3398 mikros (mik-ros’); including the comparative mikroteros (mik-rot’-er-os); apparently a primary word; small (in size, quantity, number or (figuratively) dignity):

KJV – least, less, little, small.

(Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Notice also that Matthew 18:6 qualifies who the “least” are, those who “believe in me”.  So why are those who believe in Christ called the “least”?  That takes us back to the beginning of the passages in Matthew 18.  Particularly verse 4.

Matthew 18:1-5 (KJV) 
1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Little ones is referring to those who believe in Jesus Christ and have humbled themselves, they are the least of these.

These aren’t promises just to children but they are promises to all who believe in Christ and are humble!

This same phrase least or little ones (mikros) is used all through the NT.  Here are some examples:

Matthew 10:42 (ESV) And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Luke 12:32 (ESV) “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  

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4 thoughts on “Matthew 18 – Little Ones

  1. Your article is very timely for me. I am going through a time of trial in my spirit in studying. I am trying to discern and have wisdom and am waiting on the Lord to enlighten me…the waiting is hard 🙂

    However, I must do it so that I can teach my children correctly.

    That said, these verses came to me clearly the other night when we had guests. One was a teacher and she claims to be a Jew. She told me how she argues with the “evangelicals” in her class all the time. She teaches a religion unit in her school and tells the kids that the The Jewish religion, the Chrisitan religion and the Muslim religion all worship the same God. She told me that the New Testament was not written until 150 years after those people who susposedly wrote them were dead and that there is no hell.

    I was speechless in part…in horror. I could not believe what she is pouring into children. I was terrified for HER! And for the children she is leading astray. I was FURIOUS with the parents of the Christians who obviously have bold children who go and fight and should not be receiving EVIL instruction.

    And again confirmed that the only “freedom from religion” going on in schools is from the CHRISTIAN kind.

    I asked her to give me some kind of proof of where she was getting her “facts” that she is teaching and she kept blowing me off.

    I asked her to tell me SPECIFICALLY what books SAID this…she never answered. I TOLD HER that perhpase the lay out of the religions is similar (she kept saying “No, listen…God spoke to Moses, God spoke to Jesus, God spoke to Muhummad..they are all the same!) but the GOD was different!

    She told me I was wrong. I demanded PROOF for what she was telling me..she told me that the PROOF I had was the Bible and it was wrong and her proof was right…and oh, she didn’t remember what the names of the books with proof in it for her where. WHAT!

    So, let me get this straight… I AM WRONG…because..she says so. And she is PAID to TEACH THIS to children…but I would not be able to teach anything to a child using a HISTORIC book as back up.

    In awe, IN AWE of the blindness going on…

    Many Blessings 🙂
    Ace

  2. Ace,

    Your example is just one of the many, many reasons I homeschool my children. I feel that as parents we are responsible for what we allow our children to be taught. Even those in the church can have very strange ideas. I remember one lady who insisted that “Paul hated women.” Because she did not like his instructions to women.

    There seems to be many people who are more influenced by Dan Brown’s work of fiction “The Da Vinci Code” than by the truth of the Bible. They are constantly bringing up that the Scripture were tampered with, we don’t have all the books, etc. Some just want to believe what they want to believe. 🙁

    Berean Wife

  3. What is so heart breaking is not only when a non-believer teaches wrong beliefs, but even more damage comes to our children when one of there own leaders hurts them. This happened to my child. I went to this leader first not only because of what had been done to my child but also because of gossip and slander this leader had been telling me about other leaders in the church, completely destroying there reputation and there enfluence for Christ. What was being said about them I had found to be mostly lies. I then took a witness, and then took it to the pastor. It was admitted to be just a misunderstanding when it was in fact according to the word of God SIN. This pastor justifed the wicked and condemned the righteous. I was asked to keep this to myself. I was also told that they would do whatever it took to help restore my child, But when I asked for council three different times it never came. I had also asked for my pastor to encourage my husband who at the time a new convert and a recovering alcohlic and nothing again. When I went privately to tell my pastor my husband no longer wanted to attend his church and asked him again if he would encourage my husband, which never came. What I believed was a private conversation that same night my friend sent me a message stating that she had heard that I had left the church and it was told by the leader that hurt my child from the beginning. After that had happened not knowing what to do or who we could trust anymore. We tried other churches for awhile. We went back to that church a couple of times; until he told the congragation that anyone that leaves a church it is out of plan stupidity. We haven’t been back, because of it my child now trusts no one especially Christians. I have had to seek council online… anonymously…Please everyone pray for us.

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Anonymous,

    I’m so sorry for you and your family’s pain. I’m even more sorry that it came at the hand of those who claim to be believers. The Lord will hold everyone accountable for their actions. All you can do is pray for them.

    You really need to find a good, solid, Biblical teaching church. There are several links on my sidebar to help find a church.

    How To Find A Good Church

    The National Center For Family Integrated Churches (NCIFC) church network

    Anchored in Truth Pastor’s Network

    The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches Church Directory

    Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE) – Member listing

    SermonAudio Local Church Finder

    9Marks Church Search

    International Reformed Baptist Church Directory

    All the churches listed need to be seriously evaluated, but it should help you find out about a good, Biblical Church in your area, although you may have to drive some (which is worth it). Your child and you need to be in a church that can offer its love of believers personally. Although the internet can be a good source of information and can offer limited friendships and encouragement nothing takes the place of a church of your own to encourage, build-up and if need be rebuke individual believers and families.

    Praying you are able to find a church to help restore your family and bring all into more Christ-likeness.

    Berean Wife

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