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Recently I read something that quoted this verse from the bible:

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

It got me wondering, when Jesus says things like "will be called least in the kingdom of heaven", does this give evidence that there are different positions in heaven, or was Jesus implying the least position in heaven is not going to heaven at all?

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The phrase "kingdom of Heaven" is equivalent to "kingdom of God" (e.g., Matt. 3:2 cp. Mark 1:15, etc.). "Heaven" (Hebrew shamayim) is a kinnui (substitute) for the Tetragrammaton. The phrase "kingdom of Heaven" does not mean "kingdom in heaven." God's kingdom can even be within someone (Luke 17:21) and is not restricted to a particular locality. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jan 16 '13 at 0:16
The bible does distinguish between levels of rewards in heaven, and levels of punishment in hell, but the verse you mention is on a different topic. The Pharisees avoided some parts of the law while trying to be great teachers by distinguishing between 'so called' small sins versus big sins, similar to Catholic practice today. Jesus is just saying they will no longer be respected by believers and will be considered 'low' no matter who they think they are. Generally this implies actual exclusion from God's kingdom regardless of how they are thought of by men, even when merely thought as 'low'. –  Mike Jan 16 '13 at 4:46

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There are several teachings that indicate that there will be rewards in Heaven. Most commonly this is in reference to the Bema Seat. The statement of "least" and "greatest" in heaven is a art of that belief. Being "great" would imply that you've earned it as a reward for meekness, faithfulness, humility, etc.

More here:

Excerpt from the last:

This article is essentially a continuation of The Bema or Judgment Seat of Christ... Unfortunately many Christians, draw the conclusion that since all our sins have been forgiven, our works cannot possibly be considered at the judgment Seat of Christ.. Not true according to I Corinthians 3:9-13.


Introduction Rewards [mis-thos'] in the Bible means pay for service… literally or figuratively, good or bad… exemplified by Revelation 22:12... - "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Revelation 22:12).

The following two verses are one example each of good and bad.

  • And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; [2Peter 2:13-15]

  • Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. [1Corinthians 3:8].

The wicked are also ‘rewarded’, but this article concerns itself solely with the ‘good’ rewards’.

Rewards Vs. Salvation It will be well to make it clear from the outset that Salvation and Rewards are two totally different things. Salvation is a free gift, but rewards are earned by our works after we are saved. The Bible clearly teaches good works will not get us into heaven. Salvation [forgiveness of sin and entrance to heaven] is based on Jesus’ work on the cross and God shows no partiality regarding salvation (Acts 10:34). [See Salvation].

However, the Bible also makes it clear that the saved will also receive rewards in Heaven over and above forgiveness and eternal life, and that the level of reward will be based on works done here on earth. Apparently there are those that will make it to heaven, but who have earned little or no additional rewards. Right after assuring us that salvation is not by works in Ephesians 2, Paul says this, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do".

It is the consistent teaching of the New Testament that God promises to reward believers for their good works… mentioned explicitly in many verses!

  • "The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27).

  • "[God] will render to each one according to his deeds" (Romans 2:6).

  • "He who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor" (1 Corinthians 3:8).

  • Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding (excelling) in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 15:58]

  • Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ. [Colossians 3:23-24]

And implied in many more…

  • yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy: for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you, ye that are full now! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you, ye that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26).

  • knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:8).

  • whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. (Col 3:23-25).

  • "God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10).

Some of the good works mentioned in Scripture which will be rewarded include

  • perseverance under persecution (Luke 6:22-23), caring for the needy (Matthew 25:34-36), treating enemies kindly (Luke 6:35), prayer (Matthew 6:6), fasting (Matthew 6:18), and generous giving (Matthew 19:21).
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Awesome, dude. So, how did you get your sources? –  Double U Aug 9 '13 at 23:58
@Anonymous - Assuming you're asking seriously, it's simply a matter of paying attention in Church, reading a lot, and using the knowledge gained from those activities to know what terms to search for to get good results in Bing and Google that back up what I have already been taught or read. it's a lot easier to google if you know what to look for. –  David Aug 10 '13 at 13:44
Thanks for the info. I am asking this question seriously. Sorry if I bothered you. Out of curiosity, can you be a regular churchgoer without being officially a member? –  Double U Aug 10 '13 at 20:11
@anonymous, you should be welcomed at any church I would consider attending, as long as you do not engage in outrageously disruptive behavior. I would want to leave with you and help you find a better place if you were rejected. –  disciple Jun 19 '14 at 21:59

Consider logically if the answer is yes. That would mean someone could teach that it is ok to worship idols or another god, never repent of a sin and enter the kingdom of God. Would this be so? Certainly not for it is written

Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. (Jonah 2:8)

Listen to the words of Jesus

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. 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. (Matthew 5:19-20)

Verse 20 is a description of the fate of those who break one of the least of the commandments and teach others to do so. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, it is not safe to hold on even to little sins. This is why Peter's declaration stands firm today

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (Acts 3:19-20)

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Mt 5:19 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.

Mt 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

by WAESHAEL: The revealed truth in Mt 11:11 is that John the Baptist was not in the Kingdom of Heaven while alive and in prison. On the other hand some people had entered the kingdom of heaven, even those who were just beginning to understand were allowed in.

by WAESHAEL: God chooses who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven - those He declares righteous, He converts and makes as little children. That is, He gives the grace of repentance, to man, who then is drawn to change his fleshly life, demonstrates this desire to others, accepts Christ as his Lord and King, and studies the word of God - as if a child, accepting all he is taught. And thereby man enters the Kingdom of Heaven.

by WAESHAEL: So you see here that to enter the KOH requires one to accept Christ as Lord and King. John the Baptist did not do this. He sent his own disciples to ask Jesus whether he was the one they waited for i.e JB did not know Jesus was Christ. And JB died before he could enter the kingdom of heaven. But He was declared by God to be righteous (Jesus calls him "the greatest.") and presumably obtained Life Eternal through the Abrahamic covenant.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23, KJV.

Summary: To enter into the Kingdom of Heaven is to enter into a life as taught to the disciples by The Master. A life of doing things for others - healing all manner of sickness - whether physical or spiritual. If you did God's will and showed others "teach others to observe whatsoever I have shown you." Jesus had told the disciples at a later time, then you are the greatest. If, on the other hand you disagreed with God's will, and taught others to disagree, you would be the lowest in the KOH - but you were not excluded from it, because you had accepted Christ as your Lord and King. You were only a "child," and could repent.

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Least in the kingdom of heaven also relates to the 144,000; especially when referring to the levels. They have been chosen and not just called. God will use them to complete His end time work by His spirit which will dwell inside of them. The grace/unmerited favor will enable them to understand God's righteousness in their own lives which will allow the gospel to go out in its fulness.

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Of which group is this a belief? What reference can you give to support this? –  Matt Gutting Feb 5 at 22:03
Welcome to Christianity! Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Here are some meta posts about this site to help you learn how we do it here: What Christianity.StackExchange is (and more importantly, what it isn't) and How we are different than other sites Please also take the tour and see the help center. I hope to see you post again soon. Please also keep in mind that I and other users are willing to help you, so ask us anything if you need help. –  fredsbend Feb 5 at 23:22

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