Matthew 19:13-15 “Let the Little Children Come”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 03 Mar. 2013


19:13 Then children were led toward Him

in order that He might place His hands upon and pray for them,

but the disciples reprimanded them.


19:14 Then Jesus said,

“Let go of the children

and stop hindering them from coming toward me,

for the kingdom of the heavens is [made up] of these sort [of individuals].

19:15 And after placing His hands upon them, He proceeded on from there.


As we look at our next passage in Matthew, let us remember the context of it: Jesus has left His residence in the town of Capernaum at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, and He is heading toward Jerusalem. We are reading about several conversations He has along the way. Currently Jesus is in someone’s house talking with His disciples (Mark 10:10). In the latest dialogue, He has just affirmed both singleness and marriage when appropriate. Now, if you’re going to affirm marriage, you’re going to have to deal with children, so, appropriately enough, a dialogue regarding children comes next:


19:13 Then children were led toward Him in order that He might place His hands upon and pray for them, but the disciples reprimanded them.

Τοτε προσηνεχθη[1] αυτω παιδια ‘ινα τας χειρας επιθη αυτοις και προσευξηται. Οι δε μαθηται επετιμησαν αυτοις.

o       In Deut 4:37, God said, “because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them[3]

o       Deut 7:9 Know therefore that Jehovah your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations,” not just to the one generation currently expressing faith in Him but to a thousand generations in a row! How can this be?

o       Deut. 29:14, 15 …I make this covenant and this oath… also with him that is not here with us today22 the generation to come, your children that shall rise up after you, and the foreigner that shall come from a far land… 29 The secret things belong unto Jehovah our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children. (Hold that thought until we see Peter quote this passage to an international audience in the book of Acts.)

o       Deut. 30:6 And Jehovah your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your children, to love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that your may live. (This is New Testament language!)

o       Furthermore, God states it negatively, making the same point: Deut 7:1-5 You shall not intermarry with [the Caananites], giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, [Why?] for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of Jehovah would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fireNot only did God want His people to teach their children His ways, but He also wanted them to remove any competing religious influences so that the children would walk with God.


19:14 Then Jesus said, “Let go of the children and stop hindering them from coming toward me, for the kingdom of the heavens is [made up] of these sort [of individuals].”

‘ο δε Ιησους ειπεν [5] Αφετε τα παιδια και μη κωλυετε αυτα ελθειν προς με[6] των γαρ τοιουτων εστιν ‘η βασιλεια των ουρανων.


19:15 Then after placing His hands upon them, He proceeded on from there.

και επιθεις αυτοις τας χειρας επορευθη εκειθεν.


  1. It is on this basis that many Christian parents baptize their children[8],
  2. Let us bring our children – and everybody else we love – to Jesus so that they can be blessed by Him![10] How do we do that today? By bringing them to the Word of Christ and to the Body of Christ.
  1. Let us remove influences that could destroy our children’s faith.

[1] Προσηνεχθησαν  (Plural instead of singular) is the reading of Critical editions. Neither UBS4 nor N-A4 provides a manuscript basis for this. With a plural neuter subject like paideia, Koine Greek often uses a singular verb, so there is no difference in meaning.

[2] The 5 uses of brephe in the Bible are: a fetus before it is born (Luke 1:41-44), a baby within hours of its birth (Luke 2:12-16, 1 Pet. 2:2), the beginning of a child’s life (2 Tim. 3:15), and babies fresh out of their mother’s womb (Acts 7:19, cf. Ex. 1:16).

[3] On blessings to O.T. believers and their seed see also: Gen. 17:7-12; Psalm 103:17, 105:6-10; Isa. 44:3, 59:21.

[4] Additional N.T. references: Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; 1 Cor. 1:16; Col. 2:11-12.

[5] Although not in any of my GNT editions, a significant number of manuscripts (א, C, D, L, W, f13) insert autois here. The Vulgate also has this indirect object spelled out.

[6] A few manuscripts (א, L, Δ) make this pronoun emphatic (eme).

[7] “The kingdom of heaven evidently means here the church” Albert Barnes

[8] Viz. Albert Barnes commentary on this passage: “Little children, too, are in a world of sickness and death, and in the beginning of life it is proper to invoke on them the blessing of the Saviour. They are to live forever beyond the grave; and as they have just entered on a career of existence which can never terminate, it is an appropriate act to seek the blessing of that Saviour who only can make them happy forever, as they enter on their career of existence. No act, therefore, can be more proper than that by which parents, in a solemn ordinance of religion, give them up to God in baptism, consecrating them to his service, and seeking for them the blessing of the Saviour.”

John Calvin’s commentary: “…since baptism is the pledge and figure of the free forgiveness of sins and of divine adoption, it should certainly not be denied to infants… They are renewed by God’s Spirit according to the measure of their age until, by degrees and in its own time, this power hidden within them increases and shines forth openly.”

William Hendriksen’s commentary: “On the basis of such passages as Matt. 19:13-15… the belief that since the little children of believers belong to God’s church and to His covenant, baptism, the sign and seal of such belonging, should not be withheld from them, must be regarded as well-founded.”

On the other hand, John Gill’s commentary is full of scoffing at the idea of paedobaptism.

Chrysostom says nothing about children in the kingdom in his treatment of this passage. His take is that it is all about Jesus teaching His disciples to be humble and pure by accepting lowly, innocent children. “Teaching them to be lowly, and to trample under foot worldly pride… For like as to become rich is contrary to covetousness, so is the loving of glory to the obtaining of glory… Even so also than him that is arrogant and mad about glory, and accounts himself to be high, nothing is more base and dishonored.”

[9] “Just as Jesus said many wonderful things about The Twelve (10:29, 30, 40; 19:28, etc.) without always immediately adding ‘I exclude Judas,” so also it must be understood here (19:13-15) that those little ones who in later years reject the Lord and persist in this unbelief are not saved.” ~William Hendricksen

[10] “Those who glorify Christ by coming to him themselves, should further glorify him by bringing all they have, or have influence upon, to him likewise…. Little children may be brought to Christ as needing, and being capable of receiving, blessings from him, and having an interest in his intercession. Therefore they should be brought to him. We cannot do better for our children than to commit them to the Lord Jesus, to be wrought upon, and prayed for, by him. We can but beg a blessing for them, it is Christ only that can command the blessing.” ~Matthew Henry