What does Luke 7:28 mean?
ESV: I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
NIV: I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
NASB: I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.'
CSB: I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
NLT: I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!'
KJV: For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
NKJV: For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Verse Commentary:
Jesus finishes His explanation of the importance of John the Baptist with a cryptic description.

John is the last of the Old Testament-era prophets (Luke 16:16). As such, he will share a fate common to prophets: being murdered for his message (Mark 6:17–29). Jesus, He whom John heralded, affirms John is the greatest of all prophets to that time. This is not because of personal holiness or merit, but because of his prophetic role. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets. He is the hinge between the Old and New Testaments: the Dispensation of the Law and the Dispensation of Grace. He is the forerunner of the Messiah. His prophetic work provides a transition between the promise of salvation and its fulfillment.

Greatness aside, John is also like the Old Testament prophets who did not live to see their own predictions completed. John dies before the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension, and Pentecost. As a prophet of the Old Testament age, he is filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15), but he is not indwelt by the Spirit (Acts 2). His natural life does not last until the inaugurated kingdom of God. He only gets to announce its coming arrival.

The kingdom is inaugurated in the days from Jesus' crucifixion to Pentecost. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit blesses Christians, makes them citizens of God's kingdom (Philippians 3:20), and seals them for salvation (Ephesians 1:13). The kingdom will not be fulfilled until Jesus' return—we are in the "now and not yet"—but it has begun. Christ-followers now are "greater" than John not because of anything we have done, but because we are blessed to live in this time.

Luke goes on to compare the reactions to John by the sinners and the Pharisees (Luke 7:29–30). The sinners and tax collectors accepted John's baptism and repented from their sins. They are "prepared" to accept Jesus (Luke 7:27) and, at Pentecost, receive the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees and scribes rejected John's message. At this point, they are not ready for the kingdom of God; they choose to stay in the time of the prophets and the Law. Jesus is saying that the vilest sinner who repents and enters the kingdom is greater than John who is greater than all the Pharisees, scribes, and priests who heard his message and rejected it.

"Born of women" is probably in comparison to those who will be born again: born of the Spirit (John 3:1–15). It is not saying that if technology develops an artificial womb, a child could be greater than John.
Verse Context:
Luke 7:24–35 records Jesus making an interesting observation. John lived an ascetic, monk-like lifestyle in the wilderness; Jesus eats and drinks alongside moral and social outcasts. Yet both preach the same message of repentance of sins. The sinners and tax collectors respond to both John and Jesus, drawn to the message without concern for their lifestyles. Stubborn religious leaders, however, claim to judge their lifestyles; what they really can't accept is the message proclaimed by Jesus and John. This section is also depicted in Matthew 11:7–19.
Chapter Summary:
Luke 7 presents a chiasm: a set of themes mirrored around a reflection point. The humble centurion (Luke 7:1–10) contrasts the legalistic Pharisee (Luke 7:39–50). The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–17) and the sinful women (Luke 7:36–38) have nothing to offer but gratitude for Jesus' blessings. In the center are John the Baptist and his disciples who struggle to trust that Jesus is worth following (Luke 7:18–23), then the sinners who do choose to follow Jesus and the religious leaders who refuse (Luke 7:24–35).
Chapter Context:
Luke 7 continues Jesus' mission primarily to the people of Galilee expressed as a series of pointed events and teachings punctuated by calls to follow Him. He has finished teaching the rigors of discipleship (Luke 6:17–45) and invited the crowd to place their faith in Him (Luke 6:46–49). Here, Luke describes different reactions to Jesus' miracles and message. Next, Jesus will reveal the mechanics of and reactions to His call (Luke 8:4–21) before showing His great authority over nature, demons, sickness, and worldly powers (Luke 8:22—9:17). After a final call to the disciples to deepen their faith (Luke 9:18–50), Jesus will turn toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27).
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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