Least In The Kingdom

While looking at Matthew 11:11, I decided to see where else the phrase “least in the Kingdom” was used.  We saw previously it’s use in Matthew 5:19.

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.

Then again in Matthew 11:11.

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.

And in Luke 7:28.

Luke 7:28 (ESV) I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Obviously the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are the same.  But the big question is, is the Kingdom now?  Later? or both.

I like Martyn Lloyd Jones‘ explanation about the Kingdom:

It has come; it is coming; it is to come. It was here when He was exercising authority; it is here in us now; and yet it is to come.

So why was the least in the Kingdom greater than John the Baptist?

My best understanding is that while John the Baptist was the forerunner and proclaimed Christ to the Jewish Nation, he did not live to see the completion of Christ’s work.  John the Baptist may not have even understood the full manner in which Christ was to fulfill the prophecy, just like the disciples didn’t until after the resurrection.  Yet, the disciples of Jesus and maybe even some of John the Baptist’s disciples were able to see the death burial and resurrection of the Lord.  Not until then did they really understand. (Ma shared the following verse which I had forgotten.)

Luke 18:31-34 (ESV)

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.
And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

We have a better knowledge, a clearer hope and a Messiah who said “It is Finished.”  We get to live in the completed portion.  John the Baptist began the foundation, but he didn’t live to see the completion of Christ’s work.

We can proclaim the full and complete Gospel to everyone of every race and nationality.  John the Baptist was just giving the advance notice; we have the full Good News.  Even the youngest, weakest believer has what John the Baptist was looking forward to.

John the Baptist proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  It was at hand for him.

We can proclaim the Kingdom (Acts 28:31) in boldness because it cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28) and testify (Acts 28:23) that it is here.

Just think of what we have revealed to us in the NT, which John the Baptist didn’t have.


4 thoughts on “Least In The Kingdom

  1. Good explanation. One of my favorite teachers says that the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are different, but I disagree.

    I do think that the disciples and perhaps John were not aware of the gospel of Grace as we have it now due to this:

    Luke 18:

    31Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.

    32For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

    33And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

    34And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

    The cross work seemed to have been purposely hid from them. For what reason, I’m not sure.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    I wonder how someone could say the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are not the same. Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28 are practically the same verses yet Matthew uses Kingdom of Heaven and Luke uses Kingdom of God. Actually Kingdom of Heaven is particular to Matthew’s Gospel.

    Wish I had remembered the verse you shared. I would have included it in the post. It is obvious throughout Scripture that although the Lord spoke often of His death the disciples eyes were veiled to the full truth until later. None of us can understand the Scripture, Grace and the Cross until the Lord lifts the veil from our eyes.

    Berean Wife

  2. I’m pretty sure he (the teacher) is very bent on his tradition. He thinks that the gospel of the kingdom (literal and future with Israel at the center) and the gospel of grace (the one new man /heavenly body of Christ) are so different that they cannot be overlapped. I really do think the truth is somewhere in between. This is really a distinction that is eschatological in nature.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    As in most areas probably none of us are exactly right. 🙂 We all tend to bounce from one wall to another with our theological understanding. Then when we try to understand future prophecy it gets even worse.

    Berean Wife

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