Least in the Kingdom


Why in one part of the Bible does Jesus say St. John the Baptist is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven and in another part He says those who mislead others are the least in the Kingdom?


Poetic language. Essentially, even John the Baptist, the culmination of the OT prophets, pales in comparison to God’s new covenant through His son, Jesus Christ.

I believe that there are two potential answers to the second portion. Either it means that they are least in the Earthly kingdom, or that those who mislead others in an effort to bring them to God are the least of the Heavenly kingdom. We shouldn’t use deception to bring people to God, the Truth is enough. I’m honestly not sure on this part though. Can you tell me which specific passage you’re referencing?


Matt. 11:11 – Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

There is no reference that matches the second part of your query.


Jesus does not say “St. John the Baptist is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven”

** Matthew 11:11** “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”

Luke 7:28 “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he”

Neither does he say “those who mislead others are the least in the Kingdom”


Here is the other verse (in context):
Matthew 5:17-20 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 20 I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Good question. I find this confusing too.


From the USCCB, regarding verses 17 - 20

  • [5:17–20] This statement of Jesus’ position concerning the Mosaic law is composed of traditional material from Matthew’s sermon documentation (see note on Mt 5:1–7:29), other Q material (cf. Mt 18; Lk 16:17), and the evangelist’s own editorial touches. To fulfill the law appears at first to mean a literal enforcement of the law in the least detail: until heaven and earth pass away nothing of the law will pass (Mt 5:18). Yet the “passing away” of heaven and earth is not necessarily the end of the world understood, as in much apocalyptic literature, as the dissolution of the existing universe. The “turning of the ages” comes with the apocalyptic event of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and those to whom this gospel is addressed are living in the new and final age, prophesied by Isaiah as the time of “new heavens and a new earth” (Is 65:17; 66:22). Meanwhile, during Jesus’ ministry when the kingdom is already breaking in, his mission remains within the framework of the law, though with significant anticipation of the age to come, as the following antitheses (Mt 5:21–48) show.
  • [5:19] Probably these commandments means those of the Mosaic law. But this is an interim ethic “until heaven and earth pass away.”

It appears that that specific reference to “the law” is regarding the Mosaic law.


Nice! Thanks for the responses…


Nothing confusing. The law must be obeyed and that’s something Jesus did. That’s why Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (the greatest in God’s Administration)


Righto. John the Baptist was the last and greatest of the OT prophets (since he personally got to proclaim the appearance of the Messiah). But if looked at just on the basis of that status, he (and Abraham and Moses and all the rest) is outranked by even the least member of the Body of Christ. (Of course, Christians generally hold that all the great figures of the OT were saved by Jesus and taken to Heaven during His three days among the dead, so John and the rest of them would also, after that, have the greater status of the saved.)

As for who will be least or last in the Kingdom, Jesus mentions several groups (those who lead others astray; those who seek the highest places), all of whom have in common that they have drastically twisted or misused Jesus’ teachings about how his followers are to behave. On the one hand, they’re still in the Kingdom, which can give hope to all of us despite our failings. On the other hand, as the Church has always taught, there is a path toward perfection that we are following in our Christian lives, beyond just the bare minimum of getting into Heaven.


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