From the wording of Matthew 5:19, it appears that even those who both break the commandments of God and then teach disobedience will actually be part of the Kingdom of God. Can you explain what this verse means?


This verse must be considered in light of other Scriptures in the Bible. Knowing that it is impossible for God to lie (Compare Titus 1:2), we know that the Bible does not contradict itself–that is, God hasn’t inspired teachings that differ. With that view in mind, let’s consider the verse in the context of Matthew 5 along with applicable principles in God’s Word.

Matthew 5:19 states, ” ‘Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’ ” It is vital to read the continuation of this statement from Jesus in verse 20: ” ‘For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, YOU WILL BY NO MEANS ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.’ “

In verses 17 and 18 of Matthew 5, Jesus taught that He had not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. His whole existence and purpose as a man was prophesied in detail in both the Law and the Prophets. Note John 5:39 in Christ’s own words: ” ‘You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and THESE TESTIFY OF ME.’ ” He also explains His additional role that expands on what we now call the Old Testament: ” ‘The law and the prophets were until John, Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.’ “

We know that “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and SIN IS LAWLESSNESS” (1 John 3:4). Matthew 5:19 speaks of those who both break the law–that is, sin–and also teach such a manner of living. That is what Satan and his ministers do (Compare 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Satan will certainly not be a part of God’s future Kingdom–not even a “least” part of it (Please refer to our booklet:”Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”)! Neither will sinners be a “least” part of God’s Kingdom!

Paul showed that “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Sinning and teaching others that it is alright to compromise with and break God’s laws does not end up having eternal life as its reward. Utter destruction is the end result for those who practice such things: ” ‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the SECOND DEATH’ ” (Revelation 21:8).

The Bible consistently teaches that sinners will NOT be in God’s future spiritual realm: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will NOT inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

What exactly is meant in Matthew 5:19, and who are these “least”? The very next verse of 1 Corinthians 6 shows us the key: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (verse 11). Paul is reminding these Christians that they were formerly sinners, but they had repented and were now living in a new way (Compare Galatians 2:20).

We also find this statement: “for ALL HAVE SINNED and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Since we have all sinned, and since we are ALL TO REPENT (2 Peter 3:9), we must look to the further explanations that have been given about the Kingdom of God. 2 Corinthians 5:10 states: “For we must ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Jesus also showed that the Judgment would involve rendering to each person the consequences of their own ways of living: ” ‘But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you [the “you” being some of those of His own generation who did not repent at His teachings]” (Matthew 11:24; also, Compare Matthew 25:31-46). Consider, too, what Peter says: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not OBEY the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear’ ” (1 Peter 4:17-18)?

Daniel 12:2: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament. And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.”

We know from God’s immutable Word that those who repent and overcome will be given eternal life. This is not to say that we are immediately disqualified if and when we slip and sin. We know that we all still do sin, even after conversion. But we are told that when we sin, we need to confess our sin to God, in repentance, and that God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrigtheousness (1 John 1:8-9). We also know that there will be different rewards within the family of God. That plan begins to unfold in the first resurrection and continues on as God brings to pass His awesome plan of salvation. Note this further statement from Jesus: ” ‘Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is LEAST in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ ” (Matthew 11:11).

Since we know that unrepentant sinners, who refuse to repent, will not be in God’s Kingdom, the “least” of Matthew 6 are not those who are unrepentant sinners. Rather, these “least” are those who actually repent and are granted entrance into God’s eternal Kingdom, but they do not bear the fruit of righteousness to the extent that some others do. Regardless of what “position” any may attain in God’s government of the future, to be given the unparalleled gift of eternal life with both the Father and Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment for everyone. Paul, who indeed did at one time fight against Christ and those who followed Him, also bitterly repented and went on to live out his life in service to God with this goal: “if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11).

©2024 Church of the Eternal God