What does Luke 18:16 mean?
ESV: But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
NIV: But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
NASB: But Jesus called for the little ones, saying, 'Allow the children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
CSB: Jesus, however, invited them: "Let the little children come to me, and don't stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
NLT: Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, 'Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
KJV: But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Verse Commentary:
Luke develops the comparison within this story. Parents are bringing their young children to Jesus so He will touch them. The disciples apparently believe Jesus is too important to waste His time on children; the disciples rebuke the parents (Luke 18:15).

Jesus becomes indignant (Mark 10:14). Whatever motivation the disciples are living out of, it does not reflect Jesus' purpose. He has come that all might enter God's kingdom, including children. How dare they stand in these children's way! He commands them to both let the children come and to get out of the children's way.

The kingdom of God is any situation in which God's attributes—His sovereignty, power, and authority—are evident. With Jesus' birth, the kingdom of God on earth was initiated. Throughout this lengthy collection of lessons (Luke 9:51—19:27), Jesus has been teaching the disciples about what constitutes God's kingdom. The disciples may think God's kingdom is too grand for children; Jesus says children are its natural inhabitants. Their humble, unworldly state means they will enter more easily than adults.

This leads to a second comparison. Luke goes on to record Jesus' interaction with an honorable and wealthy man. The man has obeyed the Law and is good to people around him. Yet he still loves the world. He hopes that if he does enough good deeds, he can keep his privileged state on earth and also inherit eternal life. When challenged, he proves that God is almost his highest priority—but still second to being rich. This man is the foil to humble children who have nothing to lose and so are better prepared to enter God's kingdom (Luke 18:17–25).
Verse Context:
Luke 18:15–17 begins another comparison and sets up yet one more. Here, Luke compares Jesus, who welcomes children gladly, to the disciples, who want to "protect" Him from wasting His time. When paired with the next story about the rich ruler, we see how children with no worldly treasures are freer to enter God's kingdom than a powerful adult who values riches (Luke 18:18–25). Jesus also interacts with children in Matthew 19:13–15 and Mark 10:13–16.
Chapter Summary:
Luke continues to arrange Jesus' teachings by their topic. Here, he includes two parables: the persistent widow and the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus encourages children to approach Him. He interacts with a moral, wealthy man who can't bear to follow Jesus if it means giving up wealth. After another prediction of His death, Jesus encounters and heals a blind man on His way to Jerusalem.
Chapter Context:
Luke 18 approaches the end of Jesus' "travelogue" to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27). Luke has selected miracles, teachings, and events to show how Jesus trained His disciples. His emphasis was explaining the kingdom of God in preparation for their work to build the church. Luke 18 includes several contrasts between those who understand God's kingdom and those who don't. Luke 19 includes the story of Zacchaeus and another parable before Jesus' triumphal entry and the Passion Week. These stories are also found primarily in Matthew 19—20 and Mark 10.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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