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Matthew 18:10

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Jesus was talking about not offending the little ones who believe in Him. Then He gives this cryptic statement as an added incentive to beware.

In what sense is this statement a warning to his disciples? Clicking on the link will give you fuller context of the quote. Any Protestant and Catholic perspective is welcome.

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Good question. Makes me think of Acts 12:15. I'd love to hear a good explanation for this. –  1Up Aug 5 at 0:55
    
@Steve I do not read that as a warning but an indication of how serious scandal involving little children is. The warning came before, in Mt 18:6‌​. –  FMS Aug 5 at 8:02
    
@FMShyanguya Their angels beholding God's face doesn't prompt in me "a serious scandal of involving little children." If I'm wrong and you don't think it's a warning, then an explanation would be appreciated. :) –  Steve Aug 5 at 13:09
    
@Steve They behold ALL Beauty, ALL Good, ALL Truth, yet now they have to behold the ugliness, the repulsiveness, the very disturbing incident of an innocent one being led into sin. –  FMS Aug 5 at 19:45

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Commentator Alfred Barnes has some thoughts. First he points to Hebrews 1:14. The entire verse and his commentary are with reading but here are some excerpts.

Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Are they not all - There is not one of them that is elevated to the high rank of the Redeemer. Even the most exalted angel is employed in the comparatively humble office of a ministering spirit appointed to aid the heirs of salvation. "Ministering spirits." A "ministering" spirit is one that is employed to execute the will of God. The proper meaning of the word here - λειτουργικὰ leitourgika - (whence our word "liturgy") is, "pertaining to public service," or "the service of the people" (λαός laos}}; and is applied particularly to those who were engaged in the public service of the temple. They were those who rendered aid to others; who were helpers, or servants. Such is the meaning as used here. They are employed to render "aid" or "assistance" to others - to wit, to Christians. "Sent forth." Appointed by God for this. They are "sent;" are under his control; are in a subordinate capacity. ...

The following methods of angelic interposition in behalf of man are noted in the Scriptures: (1) They feel a deep interest in man. ... (2) they feel a special interest in all that relates to the redemption of man. ... (3) they appear for the defense and protection of the people of God. ... (4) angels are sent to give us strength to resist temptation. (5) they support us in affliction. ... (6) they attend dying saints, and conduct them to glory.

That's just background. Here's what he says on the verse in question:

Do always behold the face of God - This is taken from the practice of earthly courts. To be admitted to the presence of a king; to be allowed to see his face continually; to have free access to him at all times, was deemed a mark of special favor 1 Kings 10:8; Esther 1:14, and was esteemed a security for his protection. So, says our Saviour, we should not despise the obscurest Christian, for he is ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings by beings who are always enjoying the favor and friendship of God.

The Almighty God is a loving shepherd and merciful father to his little ones, and a general to an army of angels. Cross one of his little ones and you'll endure his wrath.

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Let's take a little longer look at the Chapter and see if it gives any more insight into Jesus warning.

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation unless otherwise noted.

Matthew 18:1 through 6 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

What exactly is Jesus telling his disciples with these statements?

  1. Jesus only used the child as an example of how a Child of God should be.

    Children are unassuming, non judgmental, trusting, and loving, and unconcerned with the things of the World.

  2. Note:Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Jesus is saying that that is the way they should be, and place their trust in him, from this point on Jesus is referring to the converted and not the child.

In the next section Jesus is warning them about not being a stumbling block to other believers.

Mat 18:7 through 9 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

This warning is very clear in that he is telling them that no matter how hard it is they must overcome any tendency to cause another Christian to sin. That even includes the unintentional things.

Now to the point of your question.

Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

The warning here becomes more clear when we realize that he is referring to Christians here and not children. What he is saying is there should be no jealousy among Christians and we should never assume a holier than thou attitude toward, other Christians.

Jesus alone is qualified to judge the holiness of anyone!

As far as the guardian Angels part that means that as a Christian we are always in the presence of God.

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Catholic Bible

Q. How is “their angels always behold the Father in heaven” a warning?

The Navarre Bible New Testament Compact Edition Mt 18:10 has:

"See that you do not despise on of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my father who is in heaven."

See ... [because] for ...

A. Therefore my reading of this is not as a warning but what one ought not do because when what ought not to be done is being done, observing, are very significant witnesses.


The heading preceeding Mt 18: 1-14 is:

The "little ones" and the Kingdom. On leading others astray.
The lost sheep

The note on Mt 18:1-14 - link is to RSVCE - is:

To the disciples' questions about who is the greatest, Jesus seems to give a paradoxical answer: "If you ask me," St. Augustine writes, "what is the most essential thing in the religion and morality of Jesus Christ, I will reply: first, humility, second, humility; and third, humility" (Letters, 118, 22).

Our LORD goes on to warn about the danger of scandal in the Church. "Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil" (CCC, 2284). To show the gravity of scandal, Jesus exaggerates in order to make his point. Scandal is particularly serious when it affects those for whom our LORD has most regard - the weak, children, for example (v.14).
[...]


Closing:

Man (male and female) is made in the image and likeness of God [cf. Gn 1:27]. How more like to God is then the innocent one. When an innocent one is led to sin, that image and likeness is mangled. Their angels behold the face of Jesus' Father, and when an innocent one is led to sin, now have to witness the distorting, the mangling, the defacing, and the attempted effacing of the image and likeness of God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ [cf. Ep 1:3].

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