Is John the Baptist greater than Mary?

In Mathew 11:11, Jesus explicitly states that no one born of woman is greater than John the Baptist, although the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Why than does the Church teach that Mary is the supreme creature? Thanks!

Mary is the mother of God .John is not , he was to preach the word of God before Jesus however the Bible says that john must decrease and the Lord must increase

Well, first of all, before the PC crowd came along, it was “no MAN born of woman is greater than John.” (Which of course, since Mary is a WOMAN, was fine!)

Also, a big case can be made for the ‘rest of the passage’ --the one about the 'least in the kingdom being greater than he." I don’t think Mary is the least in the kingdom, but even if she were, that would make her greater than John, correct? So I don’t see any contradiction whatsoever.

Remember too that the kingdom isn’t ‘time-bound.’ If it were, then nobody who had lived and died before Jesus’ death and resurrection could have been part of the kingdom, right? So obviously people could be part of the kingdom even if they lived long ago (like King David). . .meaning again that Mary could (obviously) be part of the kingdom, therefore ‘greater’ than John. . .

I **think the point the Lord was trying to make (which He elaborated in John 3) is that mere physical birth and biological descent does NOT make one great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Don’t forget, Jews believed they were special simply because of their biological descent from Abraham.**

\Well, first of all, before the PC crowd came along, it was “no MAN born of woman is greater than John.” (Which of course, since Mary is a WOMAN, was fine!)\

Actually, TantumErgo, in the Greek, it’s generic, and refers to people in general, NOT to males in particular. Nothing PC about saying rendering the passage “no one born of woman;” it’s actually more accurate.

Is John the Baptist greater than Mary?


In Mathew 11:11, Jesus explicitly states that no one born of woman is greater than John the Baptist, although the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Why than does the Church teach that Mary is the supreme creature? Thanks!

From which Bible did you quote Matthew 11:11? Matthew 11:11 says “I assure you that John the Baptist is greater than any man who has ever lived”. Jesus was comparing John with such people as Moses, David, all the prophets, etc, who lived before and up till Jesus’ time.

John was the messenger. Mary is the Mother of God the Son. Mary was concieved without sin. She is the greatest of all God’s creatures even John.

The subject that Jesus was speaking about was greatness. To a Jew, women weren’t generally included when considering who is greatest. But this passage does point to Jesus’ mother. If John is the greatest man born of women, what is Jesus saying about Himself? He’s born of a woman. Hidden in this teaching Jesus is revealing His divine origin. In so doing He also in an even more hidden way reveals the greatness of His mother. Both are acting out of desires that fulfill heavenly purposes. It could be said that she is greater than John because she is with Jesus, in a certain way like no other, in the Kingdom of God that is among the Jews on that day.

The answer is quite simple: Mary was one of those in the kingdom, unlike all others before her (including John the Baptist).

Mary is one of those in the Kingdom, since she was redeemed by Christ at the moment of her conception (Immaculate Conception). Therefore, Mary was “greater” than John The Baptist. Mary didn’t suffer from the stain of orginal sin, unlike John The Baptist. Basically, John was the Greatest under the Old Covenant, but Mary was the first person under the New Covenant.

Ok, thanks a lot everyone - I especially like StPeter’s answer. I think that has cleared it up for me :slight_smile:

Best answer. Regarding the ‘least in the kingdom being greater than he;’ I believe what Jesus was saying is not who is literally the least in the kingdom of heaven (which would be those who teach others to ignore the least in the Law as Jesus said elsewhere viz. Matt 5:19.) Rather it is those who are most humble. Since St. John the Baptist was said by Jesus to be the greatest man etc., that implies that the bar for humility is very high indeed. The Church would consider St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother Mary to be greater in Dignity even to St. John the Baptist.

Dear ConfusedLad, :slight_smile:

It is a phrase that historically has been used to put into question some of the doctrines of the Catholic Church, even back in the early days by the Jews. It does not surprise me that the Jehova’s Witnesses would utilize it against the Catholic Church. Use your own Catholic Bible, there are many available online ( vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_INDEX.HTM ) . You may know that the JW’s bible is a very liberal translation of the original texts and freely reworded to accomodate the beliefs they are promoting, such as for instance - no Trinity - (e.g. book of John 1:1 ).

How about Jesus? One can argue with that way of reading scripture this means that John is greater than Jesus, an understanding that would suit some sects just fine. But, this is not what Jesus meant. There is something else here too, regarding the word used for ‘woman’ but I am not familiar with the words being translated. It appears as though the word used for ‘woman’ here excludes virgins and the word used here is different than the word used when Jesus called Mary ‘Woman’ from the Cross. Nonetheless, you can read all the enlightening things the Fathers of the Church said regarding this passage. They are really interesting. On this site you can search the Bible and read the comments. Also, in the French Jerusalem Bible’s footnote the point is made that there are two different ‘economies’ being simultaneouly referred to here (heaven and earth). clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/index.htm

God bless,

Abba

Yes, and from what I understand that John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance. The baptism of Christ in His church places one in what we call a state of sanctifying Grace. The God head lives within us. That’s why the least in the kingdom is greater than John. Newly baptised babies( we might say) are least in the kingdom of God. Yet their souls shine brighter than the son. At least this is how I understand it.

I agree completely, William1964. John the Baptist was of the Old Covenant, and hadn’t yet been redeemed by Christ, along with everyone else under the Old Covenant. Therefore, no one from the Old Testament merited heaven, until after Christ had died and risen, liberating them. Therefore, whoever is baptised, even little babies, are ahead of those under the Old Covenant (although now, those that died before Christ under the Old Covenant have now actually been saved, as Christ descended to Hell to liberate them between his death and resurrection-traditionally celebrated on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, but when Jesus said this quote, he hadn’t yet died and liberated anyone from the Old Covenant).

All the original sentence spoken by Christ meant that The New Covenant was way more powerful than the Old Testament. Christ was not trying to say anything about Mary (although Mary being the first person on the New Covenant, is in complete harmony with this statement). Similarly, when St. Paul said that “all have fallen short of the grace of God”, all St, Paul was saying that, all the people reading his letter should repent, and trust in God rather than themselves. St. Paul wasn’t saying that Jesus or Mary in particular had sinned. Such an interpretation, would be a classic case of our separated brethren taking a scripture line out of context, and stretching it to mean something other than the intended message Paul wanted to give. The same would be true of Jesus’ words regarding the aforementioned quote found in Matthew.

Careful Tantum – you’re playing right into the hands of the PC crowd. You’re making it sound like the original passage only spoke about males. That’s what the feminists want you to think. But the way the Bible usually uses “man” is in the sense of mankind. So the phrase “no man born of woman…” already included females.

Well spoken Surritter :slight_smile:

Thank you all for the many good interprets of this passage sited by O.P ( would it not be likely too that our Lord had a little chuckle ,when He said these words , possibly having seen us all ahead , like little puppies / kittens , with this ball of yarn …) :slight_smile:

Having read somehwhere in Old Testament ( google didn’t help with this ) where Adam is called the greatest of all , can see how our Lord’s careful words - ’ born of women ’ can also be there not to contradict this foundational truth of the greatness of our First Father …after all, he was not born of women …

Adam , in his glory , possibly would even have been given power to bring forth holy children through the spoken word …and here is John The Baptist, already having recieved The Spirit ( through the charitable mission of Bl.Mother ), preparing many to be born in to The Kingdom, through his ministry of the word … …and our Lord’s next words, are they not there to tell us how great The Kingdom is to be …with all the merits from The Passion …the lifegiving priesthood and oneness with the Lord …us being born again to be His children …through The Holy Spirit …and thus undo the effect of the words of the fallen one , in our lives !

And the central life giving role of our Mother in all that too …

Praise and glory , to our Lord and our Father !

Interesting, especially when you consider that Jesus was “born of woman” too. Was John greater than Jesus? John says no. John says he isn’t worthy enough to untie Jesus’ sandals. Obviously there is something in the passage that is not readily apparent or does not come across in the translation. One thing to consider is that the kingdom of Heaven is the Body of Christ also called the church and Jesus could be contrasting John, representing the Old Covenant, with anyone in the New Covenant which is the church. He is saying, in effect, that the New Covenant that opened heaven and ushered in the Age of Grace is better than the Old Covenant Law of Moses where heaven was closed and the OT saints had to wait for the redeemer…

Please think about God’s command to Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

So, God being the creator, is it not possible that God placed Mary very high on his list of creations. I mean, creating a woman to bare his Son would mean that she was sinless also, in order to bring a perfect man into his world. So, the answer would be yes I believe, Mary is greater then John the Baptist for Mary is sinless as Jesus,and Adam, Eve before they committed Sin to temptation. Were there only four sinless people born?

But, I do not believe that Gods places a lessor or greater value on any of his creations for we are all his children and are created in his image.

Praise God in his Glory (Amen)

Having read somehwhere in Old Testament ( google didn’t help with this ) where Adam is called the greatest of all , can see how our Lord’s careful words - ’ born of women ’ can also be there not to contradict this foundational truth of the greatness of our First Father …after all, he was not born of women …Praise and glory , to our Lord and our Father !

Happened to locate where Adam is mentioned , in Book of Sirach , where , starting with chapter 44, the praises of many ancestors are sung out ;

Chap. 49 :16 -’ Glorious, too , were Shem and Seth and Enos ; but beyond that of any living being was the splendor of Adam .’

These chapters that are almost like a litany of saints, possibly also a good read to clear our hearts and minds of much calumny and negatives , to be able to focus more on The Light and its splendor in many lives !

Shalom !

There is something in the passage not readily apparent;

Born of woman is a euphamism that defined Adam’s generation . It is that Jesus is not generated by Adam born of woman( Eve). Jesus is discreetely revealing His divine origin. He is not of this wicked generation.

My normal reading of this without any biblical aids is simply that Jesus is agreeing with the opinion of the time that John the Baptist is a great man. The point isn’t the greatness of John (or any man - as far as ranking them 1-2-3) but the point that even the greatest in the Kingdom of God will be surpassed by even the least in the Kingdom of God. For the sake of argument let’s say the greatest of men on earth rank as a 10 – the minimum ranking in the Kingdom of God is at least 11. I even this this is far too crass an argument by putting numbers on it but I think the point is that Jesus is saying to be part of His Kingdom is going to be a greater experience than even the greatest men enjoy on earth.

So, to somehow to (ab)use this scripture to say that John the Baptist is greater than Mary is totally bizarre and a misuse of scripture.

MonFrere

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