How is it that the least of the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist?


“Amen I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is greater than he. But from the days of John the Baptist until now the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN has been enduring violent assault, and the violent have been seizing it by force.” (Matt. 11:11-12).

If the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church, isn’t John the Baptist part of the Church?


The word risen refers to prophets. There has not risen a greater prophet than John the Baptist. John the Baptist is the greatest prophet. The prophets all longed to see God’s face.

*But," he said, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” … then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen." (Exodus 33:20,23) *

Those in God’s kingdom today get to see God’s face every day in the Eucharist. We are not greater because of anything we do but because God has granted us to see his face. The Bread of the Presence in the Old Testament was called the Bread of the Face of God.



So, John is the greatest because he was the last prophet and the one to actually see the Messiah?

If the Kingdom of God is the Church as Saint Augustine understood; then why is John lower than the least?

Isn’t John a member of the Church in the Church triumphant?

If it is a matter of seeing God’s face; John should be seeing it every day as he is in heaven with Our Lord, right?

Is the Kingdom of God the Church as Saint Augustine thought?


John bridges the gap between the OT and the NT.

He is the last of the prophets and yet got to see the messiah, just as you say.

All the OT prophets are members of God’s Kingdom in the Church Triumphant.

My confirmation name is Augustine. I’m not going to say that he is wrong. :slight_smile:



I dont understand this, I thought God was pure spirit, how could he have a face or a back for man to see? Why would a man die from looking upon his face?

Furthermore, in the OP post, it mentions Heaven being under violent assault, being seized by force…Is this referring to Satan and the demons, battling with the angels?


The Kingdom of Heaven is already here, when Jesus resurrected, HE inaugurated HIS Kingdom here on Earth.

The Kingdom of Heaven is His Church.

Matthew 11:12 But from the days of John the Baptist, even until now, the kingdom of heaven has endured violence, and the violent carry it away.

How true there will always be Judas among us.

The least in the new Kingdom who did not know Jesus when HE walked among us and yet believe with faith in Him, some lost their life because of Him and persevered to the en, they are greater that John the Baptist.


Originally Posted by JerryZ
The least in the new Kingdom who did not know Jesus when HE walked among us and yet believe with faith in Him, some lost their life because of Him and persevered to the en, they are greater that John the Baptist

John went around saying the Kingdom of God is at hand, why would he be left out of it?

Matthew 3:2-3

2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”[a]

When John used the phrase ‘is at hand’ did he mean it is almost here or that it is here? If it is here, then he was part of it and if so, why would he be the less the the least of the Kingdom?

When Jesus was walking on earth there were people who made sacrifices for Him, such as, Joseph, John the Baptist, the apostles, etc… It could not be that this is referring to the faithfuls who lived after Jesus resurrected. Some of Jesus followers, followed Him from faith and He either reprimanded their lack of or commended their abundance of faith. In other words, if the Kingdom of God is the Church, it did not start after Jesus resurrected.


Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity and many have seen His face. Up until the present, I have understood that passage as referring to God the father - who we cannot see.

I think it is referring to Satan attacking the Church…" But from the days of John the Baptist until now the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN has been enduring violent assault, and the violent have been seizing it by force." (Matt. 11:11-12)." The battle with the angels occurred long before John the Baptist.


John did not live long enough to see the Kingdom. Remember he was beheaded by Herodes to satisfy his daughter Salome.

At hand means “It is almost here”


Jesus HIMSELF is the Kingdom of Heaven.

*In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2)

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)*

At hand means right in front of you, able to reach out and touch it with your hand. Jesus is God’s Kingdom. Jesus was taken by force. Violent men took him to his Crucifixion.

The Church is Christ’s body. It is part of the kingdom but it is not the Kingdom itself. The kingdom flows from the king to the members. Without the king there is no kingdom. It all depends on Jesus.

Jesus IS the Kingdom.



But, wasn’t Jesus king even before he died and resurrected?

When was the Church born? Was it when Jesus was born, when he summoned Peter, Pentecost, when blood and water gushed out of his side, when Jesus died, or when he resurrected?

If after John the Baptist, aren’t all the dead before the Church was started part of the Church?

Jesus was king from birth. The three kings acknowledge it and bow down as He is King of Kings.


Jesus was born a king but did not want to become an earthly king.

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:15)

The Church was born sacramentally when blood and water flowed from Christ’s side. The Church was born physically when the Holy Spirit breathed on the Apostles and disciples at Pentecost.



The answer to this question is not shrouded in mystery at all, it is actually quite simple. Jesus said that of those born of women (from the beginning of time) there has been none greater than John the Baptist (because he was not only the greatest, but the last prophet before the coming of the Messiah). Jesus makes a distinction between John’s era (the past), and the kingdom of heaven (the future). Certainly, the kingdom of heaven was at hand with John’s proclaiming Jesus as Messiah, and the beginning of Jesus earthly ministry, but what Jesus was really referring to in John 11: 11 is those who accept Him and do the Father’s will and are saved (born of water and spirit), those people who inherit the kingdom are greater, relatively speaking, than the human person, John the Baptist, born of a woman. The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence since John up until the time of Jesus. This is not referring to the battle in heaven with the disobedient angels, but the earthly battle going on with those opposed to the gospel.


This battle occured as a result of Jesus death and resurrection, when Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God in heaven, at that point there was no place for Satan and his angels in heaven, therefore, Michael and his angels fought Satan and his angels and cast them down to earth once and for all. See Luke 10:18 and Rev.12: 7-12.


Well let’s see:

Luke 10:18 And he said to them: “I was watching as Satan fell like lightning from heaven.

Jesus is the one speaking and HE witnessed the fall, Revelation on the other hand is hardly a basis for a chronological time-line of the battle in heaven. However if Jesus witnessed the battle and subsequent expulsion of satan from Heaven this must have happened before His incarnation. NOT after His death and resurrection.


You are both right. :slight_smile:

Okay, this is what happened:

Lucifer was a beautiful angel. His name means Lght Bearer (Morning Light - Light of the Aurora). But, he got proud and he thought he could be higher than God and would try to do so. God let his own corruption come out and ruin him. He kicked him out of heaven and sent him to earth. (Is 14.12-14) (Ez 28.12-19)

However, he could still go to Heaven and approach the throne of God as he would to accuse and test pious people like Job. (Job 1:7; 2:2)

Now, when Jesus resurrected, there was no room for Satan and his demons and the Angel Michael kicked them out. Now Satan can no longer go to heaven nor his demons and they remain in earth trying to get people to sin. (Zechariah 3, Rev 12)


That said, let’s forget Satan and get back to John the Baptist. I am still trying to figure that one out. :shrug: I’ll get some sleep and maybe I will understand better tomorrow. :yawn:

God bless.


What do you think of my answer a few posts back?


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 11. He that is the lesser, &c. Many understand this of Christ, who is less in as much as he is more humble, younger in age, and according to the erroneous opinion of men, of less sanctity than John. Maldonatus and Tolletus suppose the meaning to be, that he who is the least in sanctity in the Church of Christ is greater than John; not that John did not excel in sanctity many, nay even most of the children of the Church of Christ, but that those who belong to the Church, on account of this circumstance of their being under the new law, which is the law of children, are greater than those under the old law, which was the law of bondsmen, as the least among the children is greater than the greatest among the bondsmen. Now John in this respect did not belong to the Church of Christ, as he was slain before Christ’s death, before which time the gospel was not fully established. (Menochius) — There hath not risen … a greater, &c. This comparison, by what we find, Luke vii. 28, is only betwixt John and the ancient prophets, to signify that John was greater than any of the prophets, at least by his office of being the immediate precursor of the Messias. The comparison cannot be extended to Christ himself, who was both God and man, nor to his blessed Virgin Mother; nor need we understand it of his apostles. (Witham)

Ver. 12. Suffereth violence, &c. It is not to be obtained but by main force, by using violence upon ourselves, by mortification and penance, and resisting our perverse inclinations. (Challoner) — Certainly it is great violence for a man to look for a seat in heaven, and to obtain that by his virtue which was refused him by his nature. (St. Jerome in St. Thomas Aquinas) — The kingdom of heaven, &c. That is, the kingdom of heaven is to be obtained by mortification, penance, poverty, and those practices of austerity which John, both by word and example, pointed out. According to this interpretation, the kingdom of heaven means eternal life. Or the meaning may be, the kingdom of heaven is taken by the violent, because it is not now confined, as in the old law, to one people, but open to all, that whoever will may enter in and take possession of it. The kingdom of heaven, in this interpretation, is taken for the Church of Christ, for the gospel, and also for eternal life. (Menochius)


I like the JB.

11 'I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.e

11e. Simply because he is a member of the kingdom, whereas John, as the Precursor, remains at its gates. The sentence contrasts epochs rather than persons: the era of the kingdom immeasurably transcends that which preceded and prepared for it .

12 Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violencef and the violent are taking it by storm.

11f. Various interpretations have been offered. The ‘violence’ may be:

  1. the praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom:
  2. the misguided violence of those who would establish the kingdom by force (the Zealots):
  3. the tyrannical violence of the powers of evil, or of their agents on earth, who seek to maintain their dominion in this world and to thwart the advance of the kingdom of God.
  4. A possible translation ‘The kingdom of heaven clears a way for itself by violence’, i.e. is powerfully establishing itself despite all obstacles.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit