Difficult Texts

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


By using the weaker form, "to loose", Christ may have intended to show that even a limited relaxing of the commandments warrants the reputation of "least in the kingdom."

The scribes had meticulously arranged all the precepts of the law of God, the laws of Moses, civil and ceremonial, and their own regulations in a scale of relative importance, on the presumption that when in conflict a requirement of lesser importance was nullified by one of presumably greater importance. By means of this petty legalism it was possible to devise means of circumventing the plainest requirements of the law of God. For illustrations of the application of this principle see Matt. 23:4, 14, 17-19, 23, 24; Mark 7:7-13; John 7:23. It was considered a rabbinical prerogative to declare certain actions "permitted" or "forbidden." Jesus made it clear that, far from releasing men from the precepts of the moral law, He was even more strict than the official expositors of the law, the scribes and rabbis, for He granted no exceptions at any time. All were equally and permanently binding.

Compare the example of "Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin" (1 Kings 14:16).

Christ in no way implied that one who broke the commandments and taught others to do so would go to heaven. He here states clearly the attitude that the kingdom will take toward lawbreakers—the evaluation that will be placed upon their characters. This point is made clear in v. 20, where the "scribes and Pharisees," who broke the commandments and taught others how they might do so, are emphatically excluded from the kingdom -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary.