What did Jesus mean when He spoke of some as “the least in the kingdom of heaven“?

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“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

In this verse, Jesus makes a comparison of the actions and teachings in this world as opposed to the kingdom of heaven. In this world, it is often looked at favorably to do things that break the commandments of God.  An example of this is when someone is encouraged to engage sexually with someone who is not their spouse. Instead of calling that person’s actions adultery, the worldly culture might say he’s a stud.

In our world today, movie stars and musicians who practice and promote sinful things are glorified. However, while they might be rich and famous in this world, they will not be highly esteemed in the kingdom of heaven. They will be considered “the least” because they rebelled against God’s law and taught others to do so, leading them to lose their salvation.  Nothing hurts God more than when His children are lost (Ezekiel 33:11).

Although the culture of the world might promote sinful things as acceptable, Jesus teaches a standard that will never change: His law.  In Matthew 5:18 He says, “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.” Jesus wanted His people to get back to basics in order to be saved and keeping the commandments is essential (John 15:10).

Jesus knew that there are those who are in the church who have been influenced by the culture of the world. He wants His people to be a commandment keeping people, regardless of what the world thinks.  “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

In God’s kingdom the humble who have obeyed God’s law from his heart is exalted (1 Peter 5:6).  Jesus was the greatest example of what God’s kingdom is like (Philippians 2:8-9).  It is a great thought that in the kingdom of heaven, we can be highly regarded like the heroes of faith in the Bible. People like Daniel, Noah and Enoch will be highly sought after because of their faithfulness to God.

We may not be rich and famous in this life, however, our godly words and deeds are written in the books of heaven and nothing we do goes unnoticed (Malachi 3:16). May we strive to be faithful in keeping God’s commandments in all humility that we may glorify God and be counted as great in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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