What is the meaning of “suffer the little children” in the Bible?

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus famously said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:14, KJV). This phrase has become a popular saying in Christian circles and is often used to emphasize the importance of children in the Christian faith. But what exactly did Jesus mean when he said these words?

To understand the meaning of this phrase, it's important to look at the cultural context in which Jesus spoke these words. In ancient times, children were often seen as insignificant and unimportant. They held no social status or power and were often treated as second-class citizens. However, Jesus flipped this cultural norm on its head by inviting children to come to him and blessing them.

By saying "suffer the little children," Jesus was essentially telling his disciples to allow the children to come to him and not to hinder or prevent them in any way. He wanted to show that children were just as important and valuable as adults in God's eyes. Jesus saw children as pure, innocent, and full of faith, qualities that were essential for entering the kingdom of God.

This phrase also has a deeper meaning when we consider it in the context of salvation. Jesus often spoke about the need to have child-like faith in order to enter the kingdom of God. In other words, we must approach God with the same trust and innocence that a child has, without the cynicism and skepticism that can come with age.

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Jamie Larson