Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Read Chapter 11
George Leo Haydock
He that is the lesser Many understand this of Christ, who is less in as much as he is more humble, younger in age, and according to the erroneous opinion of men, of less sanctity than John. Maldonatus and Tolletus suppose the meaning to be, that he who is the least in sanctity in the Church of Christ is greater than John; not that John did not excel in sanctity many, nay even most of the children of the Church of Christ, but that those who belong to the Church, on account of this circumstance of their being under the new law, which is the law of children, are greater than those under the old law, which was the law of bondsmen, as the least among the children is greater than the greatest among the bondsmen. Now John in this respect did not belong to the Church of Christ, as he was slain before Christ's death, before which time the gospel was not fully established. (Menochius)
There hath not risen . a greater This comparison, by what we find, Luke vii. 28, is only betwixt John and the a...
He is then set before all those that are born in wedlock, and not before Him who was born of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit; yet these words, “there has notarisen a greater than John the Baptist,” do not imply that John is to be set above the Prophets and Patriarchs and all others, but only makes him equal to the rest; for it does not follow that because others are not greater than him, that therefore he is greater than others.
We understand it simply, that every saint who is already with the Lord is greater than he who yet stands in the battle; for it is one thing to have gained the crown of victory, another to be yet fighting in the field.
“Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Now, many would like to interpret this with reference to the Savior, as meaning that the one lesser in age is the greater in worth. However, let us interpret it simply to mean that every saint who is already with God is greater than anyone who remains expectant, as yet in the battle. For it is one thing to possess the crown of victory, another to be still fighting in the ranks. Some conclude that the very newest angel who serves God in heaven is greater than any one, even the best, who dwells on the earth still in expectation. .
Then having said, that he is greater than a prophet, He signifies also in what he is greater. And in what is he greater? In being near Him that had come. For, I send, says He, my messenger before Your face; that is, near You. For as with kings, they who ride near the chariot, these are more illustrious than the rest, just so John also appears in his course near the advent itself. See how He signified John's excellency by this also; and not even here does He stop, but adds afterwards His own suffrage as well.
Now what He said is like this: woman has not borne a greater than this man. And His very sentence is indeed sufficient; but if you are minded to learn from facts also, consider his table, his manner of life, the height of his soul. For he so lived as though he were in heaven: and having got above the necessities of nature, he travelled as it were a new way, spending all his time in hymns and prayers, and holding intercourse with none among men, but with God alone continually. Fo...
Having first delivered the Prophet’s testimony in praise of John, He rested not there, but added His own decision respecting him, saying, “Among them that areborn of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.”.
But seeing that righteousness has so great deepness that none can be perfect therein but God only, I suppose that all the saints tried by the keenness of the divine judgment, rank in a fixed order, some lower, some before other. Whence we understand that He that hath none greater than Himself, is greater than all.
That the abundance of this praise might not beget a wrong inclination in the Jews to set John above Christ, he corrects this, saying, “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
The kingdom of heaven, that is, in the spiritual world, and all relating thereto. But some say that Christ spoke this of the Apostles.
He declares this with certainty, that there is no one greater than John. But by saying "born of women" He excludes Himself, for Christ was born of a virgin, not of a woman, that is, one who is married.
Since He has extolled the praises of John, lest they think that John is greater than He says here more clearly, I am the younger in age and the lesser in your opinion, yet I am greater than he in the kingdom of heaven, that is, in regards to spiritual and heavenly good things. For here I appear less than he, both because his birth preceded Mine and because he appears great to you, but there in the kingdom of heaven I am greater.