Jesus famous words, “Let the little children come to me”, is often used to underline the importance of child evangelism. They can be found in 3 Gospels, specifically in Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16. While this is a relatively simple phrase, it profoundly reveals God’s affection for children.
Here, we present these verses in 6 different Bible versions for comparison as well as excerpts from 3 Bible commentaries. We hope that these will give you a better understanding and appreciation for Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16.
Here are the bible verses in 6 different Bible versions: New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), New Living Translation (NLT), New Century Version (NCV), King James Version (KJV) and New King James Version (NKJV).
Matthew 19:14 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14 English Standard Version (ESV)
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14 New Living Translation (NLT)
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
Matthew 19:14 New Century Version (NCV)
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children.”
Matthew 19:14 King James Version (KJV)
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Mark 10:14 New International Version (NIV)
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Mark 10:14 English Standard Version (ESV)
But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
Mark 10:14 New Living Translation (NLT)
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”
Mark 10:14 New Century Version (NCV)
When Jesus saw this, he was upset and said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these children.”
Mark 10:14 King James Version (KJV)
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Luke 18:16 New International Version (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.”
Luke 18:16 English Standard Version (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.”
Luke 18:16 New Living Translation (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.”
Luke 18:16 New Century Version (NCV)
But Jesus called for the children, saying, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these children.”
Luke 18:16 King James Version (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.
Luke 18:16 New King James Version (NKJV)
But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”
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Here are excerpts from various Bible Commentaries:
Many parents were bringing children… to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples felt this was a waste of Jesus’ time. They began rebuking those bringing their children. Apparently the disciples had already forgotten what Jesus said earlier about the worth of children and the seriousness of causing them to fall (cf. 18:1-14). Jesus rebuked the disciples, telling them to let the little children come and not hinder them. The kingdom of heaven is not limited to adults who might be considered to be worth more than children. Anyone who comes to the Lord in faith is a worthy subject for the kingdom. This implies (19:15) that Jesus had time for all the children, for He did not depart from the region till He had blessed them all.
10:13. People—mothers, fathers, older children, and others—were bringing little children (paidia, those ranging from babies to preteens, cf. same word in 5:39; a different word brephē, meaning infants and young children, is used in Lk 18:15) to Jesus in order that He might touch them, a visible means of conveying God’s blessing on their future lives (cf. Mk 10:16). The disciples rebuked them (cf. 8:30,32-33) and tried to keep them from going to Jesus. They probably thought children were unimportant (cf. 9:36-37) and should not waste His time—another instance where they thought only in human-cultural categories (cf. 8:32-33; 9:33-37).
10:14. Jesus… was indignant (cf. v. 41) at the disciples’ interference (cf. 9:38). This verb of strong emotional reaction is unique to Mark who highlighted Jesus’ emotions more than the other Gospel writers (cf. 1:25,41,43; 3:5; 7:34; 8:12; 9:19). Jesus’ sharp double command—Let (lit., “start allowing”) the little children come to Me, and do not hinder (lit., “stop preventing”) them—was a rebuke to the disciples (who had rebuked the people!).
Jesus welcomed the children because the kingdom of God, God’s present spiritual rule in people’s lives (cf. comments on 1:14-15), belongs as a possession to such as these. All, including children, who come to Jesus in childlike trust and dependence, are given free access to Jesus.
10:15. In a solemn pronouncement (I tell you the truth; cf. 3:28) Jesus developed the truth in 10:14. Whoever will not receive God’s kingdom as a gift now with the trustful attitude of a child will never (emphatic negative, ou mē, “by no means”) enter it. He will be excluded from its future blessings, specifically eternal life (cf. vv. 17,23-26). God’s kingdom is not gained by human achievement or merit; it must be received as God’s gift through simple trust by those who acknowledge their inability to gain it any other way (cf. comments on 1:15).
10:16. Jesus’ loving action (cf. 9:36) vividly illustrated that His blessing is freely given to those who receive it trustingly. The intensive compound verb blessed (kateulogei, imperf., occurring only here in the NT) emphasizes the warmhearted fervor with which Jesus blessed each child who came to Him.
Luke placed this short section here to follow up on the message of the previous parable. Jesus had taught that it was necessary to be humble before God. In these verses He compared that humility to childlikeness: Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. In these words Jesus was stating that a person must come to Him in humility in order to enter the kingdom. Children come with expectation and excitement. They come realizing that they are not sufficient in themselves. They depend totally on others. If these same attitudes are not present in adults, they can never enter into the kingdom.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old & New Testaments © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries
The disciples may have been simply insensitive and snobbish, or perhaps they were trying to protect Jesus from too much attention. At any rate, they had not yet absorbed his revolutionary scale of values, in which the ‘little ones’ were the greatest. To say that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these was not to declare the automatic salvation of all children, but rather (as in 18:1-5) to set up their lowly status as a model for discipleship.
(This passage comes immediately after Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce in Mark 10:1-12.)
By contrast to this severity (regarding Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce), Mark adds here a tender story of Jesus’ loving concern for little children. This is the other side of his stern words about the sanctity of marriage. Children, after all, are the greatest sufferers from divorce. But there is also another truth about God’s kingdom: only those who receive it with the simplicity and trust of children can enter it. This is one of the very few occasions where Mark records that Jesus was indignant, and it is interesting to see the cause. We might have thought that other matters were more important than the spiritual welfare of children, but Jesus valued them and often uses children as examples for us. Perhaps that is why the word ‘children’ is sometimes used to mean ‘simple believers’ in the gospels.
Luke alone refers to the children as babies. Touch implies that Jesus would place his hands on them and pray to God to bless them. In Mark the main point of the story is that the kingdom of God belongs to such as them, and this is emphasized by Jesus taking the children in his arms. Luke omitted this feature, not because he felt that it was an improper thing to record, but more probably because he wanted to concentrate attention on the lesson that the kingdom of God is only for those who are prepared to receive it like a little child in a humble and receptive frame of mind (cf. 18:14).
New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition © Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Leicester, England, 1953, 1954, 1970, 1994
See comment on Mk 10:13-16 for more details; Matthew’s form of the story is abbreviated, but abbreviating such accounts was a common practice in ancient writing. Children were socially powerless and dependent. Some people in the *Old Testament would lay hands on others to bestow a blessing in prayer. Insensitive *disciples trying to keep from the master those seeking his help might remind Jewish hearers of Gehazi, a disciple of Elisha who eventually lost his position (2Ki 4:27; 5:27).
Images of the Kingdom
10:13. Children were loved but were socially powerless; the high infant mortality rate meant that they were physically powerless as well, many dying before attaining maturity. (In the poorest places, like Egypt, perhaps half of those born died by the age of twelve. Poorer *Gentile families often discarded babies if they thought they could not support them.) Eager to get on with the business of setting up the *kingdom, the *disciples have little time for people who do not wield political power.
10:14-15. Some thought that the *kingdom would be achieved by force of arms; others, by radical moral reform, and so on. But although Jewish people (unlike Greeks) respected humility, no one expected the kingdom to come by becoming powerless like children. The totally powerless can depend on no one but God.
10:16. In Genesis some of the patriarchs conferred blessings by the laying on of hands (Ge 48:14), and their prayers were answered. We may be sure that these children were truly blessed.
The Kingdom Is for Children
Children were people of no social status, and the *disciples would not want the important time of their *rabbi taken up with blessing them. But Jesus says that the *kingdom belongs to the nobodies, those who do not approach it on the merits of their own status.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament © 1993 by Craig S. Keener
This website is inspired by and named after Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me.” We believe that all children are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14) and that each child is precious in his sight. And that just as adults need salvation through faith in Jesus, children, too, need to hear the good news so that they, too, can be saved.
In our personal ministry to children, we had difficulty finding Gospel tracts to engage and share the Gospel with kids, as well as Gospel presentation tools that equip kids to share their faith with friends. This led us to embark on a journey to create the evangelism tools and resources found on this website. We are thankful that many have come to know Christ through these various child evangelism tools.
One of our favorite children’s song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, is also said to be inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:14:
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
You can read more about this song here.
It is our prayer that as you evangelize to children with our gospel tools (or any other tools), you will do so prayerfully and commit your efforts to God. Any gospel presentation tool is useless without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It is He who would minister to the hearts of your listeners. Share the gospel in love and obedience, and leave the results to God.