on Matthew 11 :11
A greater than John the Baptist - A sixth excellency of the Baptist - he was greater than any prophet from the beginning of the world till that time: -
1st. Because he was prophesied of by them, Isaiah 40:3, and Malachi 3:1, where Jesus Christ himself seems to be the speaker.
2ndly. Because he had the privilege of showing the fulfillment of their predictions, by pointing out that Christ has now come, which they foretold should come. And
3dly. Because he saw and enjoyed that salvation which they could only foretell. See Quesnel.
Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven - By the kingdom of heaven in this verse is meant, the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace; which fullness was not known till after Christ had been crucified, and had risen from the dead. Now the least in this kingdom, the meanest preacher of a crucified, risen, and glorified Savior, was greater than John, who was not permitted to live to see the plenitude of Gospel grace, in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Let the reader observe,
1st. That the kingdom of heaven here does not mean the state of future glory. See Matthew 3:2.
2dly. That it is not in holiness or devotedness to God that the least in this kingdom is greater than John; but
3dly. That it is merely in the difference of the ministry.
The prophets pointed out a Christ that was coming; John showed that that Christ was then among them; and the preachers of the Gospel prove that this Christ has suffered, and entered into his glory, and that repentance and remission of sins are proclaimed through his blood. There is a saying similar to this among the Jews: "Even the servant maid that passed through the Red Sea, saw what neither Ezekiel, nor any other of the prophets had seen."
on Matthew 11 :11
Among them that are born of women - This is an emphatic way of saying that there "had never" been a greater "man" than John. See Job 14:1.
He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he - The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is used in many senses. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. It here probably means, "in preaching the kingdom of God," or the gospel. It could hardly be affirmed of the obscurest and most ignorant Christian that he had clearer views than Isaiah or John; but of the apostles of the Saviour, of the first preachers who were with him and who heard his instructions, it might be said that they had more correct apprehensions than any of the ancient prophets, or than John.
on Matthew 11 :11
11:11 But he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he - Which an ancient author explains thus: - One perfect in the law, as John was, is inferior to one who is baptized into the death of Christ. For this is the kingdom of heaven, even to be buried with Christ, and to be raised up together with him. John was greater than all who had been then born of women, but he was cut off before the kingdom of heaven was given. [He seems to mean, that righteousness, peace, and joy, which constitute the present inward kingdom of heaven.] He was blameless as to that righteousness which is by the law; but he fell short of those who are perfected by the spirit of life which is in Christ. Whosoever, therefore, is least in the kingdom of heaven, by Christian regeneration, is greater than any who has attained only the righteousness of the law, because the law maketh nothing perfect. It may farther mean, the least true Christian believer has a more perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ, of his redemption and kingdom, than John the Baptist had, who died before the full manifestation of the Gospel.