Tag Archive | Least

Least of These Commandments

Matthew 5:19 (ESV) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

What does Jesus mean by least of these commandments?

Is that the same as the jots and tittles?

Matthew 5:18 (ESV) For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Jesus says the least little iota or dot will not pass away until all the Law is fulfilled.  The KJV calls this a jot and a tittle.

Matthew 5:18 (KJV) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

What were the jots and tittles?

They were the tiniest markings in Hebrew writing.  Things like we would express as “doting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

So does this mean Jesus is actually speaking of the least of the Old Testament Commandments?

What might those be?

How about a blue thread in your tassels?

Numbers 15:38 (ESV) “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.

How about wearing a cotton blend shirt?

Leviticus 19:19 (ESV) “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

Shall we buy slaves, if we desire to, as long as we buy them from another country?

Leviticus 25:44-46 (ESV)
44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you.
45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property.
46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

See the problem here if you say the Old Testament Laws are for New Testament believers?   This is why we as Christians are often the laughing stock of unbelievers.  They see that we as a general rule don’t even know what we believe nor do we do what we say we believe.

So was Jesus speaking of these least commandments in Matthew 5:19?  Or was He speaking of those commands that He was about to give in the Sermon on the Mount?

Jesus did fulfill the Law and the Prophets totally right down to wearing a blue cord in His tassel.  But because He fulfilled the Law of Moses we are free from being bound by that Law and are under the Law of Christ.

The Law of Christ is expounded by Jesus Himself throughout the New Testament but specifically in the Sermon on the Mount.


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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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