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Matthew 18:10 seems to put forth an idea that children have a certain privilege over adults:

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 (Matthew 18:10)

Since any child, if it doesn't die in early age, grows up and sooner or later becomes an adult, one can suggest that children are losing that privilege as they grow up.

How has this verse been traditionally interpreted in Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Early Protestantism? What is an overview of the major views in mainstream Christianity in this regard?

  • What exactly is your question? What 'place'? "How has this place been..." – Andrew Apr 27 '15 at 19:37
  • Is this an age of accountability question? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/8557/… – Andrew Apr 27 '15 at 19:41
  • @Andrew - By 'this place' I meant 'this place in the Scriptures', that is, Matthew 18:10. Perhaps, the word 'verse' would be better here. I will edit my question. – brilliant Apr 27 '15 at 22:28
  • The verse doesn't say that adults don't also have guardian angels who behold the face of God. Perhaps Jesus made this statement about children not because they have special angels but because people are more likely to despise children than adults (who can fight back) and therefore need to be warned specifically against despising children. – Andreas Blass Apr 27 '15 at 22:49
  • @AndreasBlass - "The verse doesn't say that adults don't also have guardian angels who behold the face of God" - However, the verse doesn't say 'their angels do ALSO always behold the face of my Father' either. True, the verse does not deny the fact of existence of an individual guardian angel for each adult, but neither does it explicitly state that it talks exactly about the individual guardian angels. It may be a special group of angels that are somehow responsible for some additional protection for humans while they are still in the early days of their life course. – brilliant Apr 27 '15 at 23:40
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For Catholics, one can read from the Catechism paragraphs 328-336. In terms of a guardian angel, we read the following, showing the Catholic Church believes children do not lose their angels:

336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. [Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Pss 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12.] “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” [St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, I: PG 29, 656B.] Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

St. Paul makes an interesting reference to his Guardian Angel here:

Acts 27:23 For last night an angel of the God to whom (I) belong and whom I serve stood by me 24 and said…

Further, this makes it sounds as if John's Guardian Angel was involved:

Rev 1:1b He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John

Also the following:

Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Ps 91:11 For he commands his angels with regard to you, (Heb 1:14) to guard you wherever you go. (Ps 121:3; Prv 3:23) – Referenced by Satan in Lk 4:10–11/Mt 4:6 when he tempts Jesus in the desert

Mt 18:10 (Ez 34:1–3 & 16; Lk 15:3–7) “See that you do not despise one of these little ones25, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

  • Also Acts 12:15. – user900 Apr 29 '15 at 4:19
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Chapter 18 of Matthew explains it pretty clearly that these little ones are not only referring to children, but to those who believe in Jesus and humbles himself as a little child.

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Jesus specifies who he is talking about in verse 6:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

We all have angels who watch over us, what Jesus is saying is be careful that you don't mistreat the little ones or the believer, and think of them as less, because God will know. And they are worth more than all the riches in the world to God, even though they may be worthless in human eyes.

Jesus came to die and save, even those whom we deem insignificant.

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.[a]

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

  • In verse 6 He does specify that He is talking about the believing little ones (by the words "those who believe me"), however, in the verse 10 there is no such specification, which means that in the verse 10 He is talking about all children, not necessarily the believing ones. – brilliant Jun 17 '16 at 21:57
  • @brilliant No, this isn't correct, I'll show you why. Take a look at v. 10 again. The word 'these' in the phrase 'these little ones' specifies that He is talking about the same ones, His believing children. This is followed by the idea of the sheep in v.12 going astray. If you don't believe, you are already astray so it wouldn't make sense for His unbelieving children to go astray. This is the context of the whole passage, so taking this verse as 'all His children' would certainly be taking it out of its context. – jlaverde Jun 21 '16 at 15:20
  • (1) "He is talking about the same ones, His believing children. This is followed by the idea of the sheep in v.12 going astray" - This, in fact, is followed by verse 11 (which you have effectively left off both from your answer and from the comment): "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost". If He were speaking about only the believing children, then “that which was lost” in v.11 would refer only to – brilliant Jun 22 '16 at 12:49
  • (2) those children who used to believe at some point in their life, but then were led astray from their faith – as if the children that had never believed in Him in their life (say, because they had never heard of Him) were not among those whom He would want to save, which is, of course, not the case. – brilliant Jun 22 '16 at 12:50
  • (3) I am not deviating from the context. The context remains unaltered and, in fact, corresponds to the context of the whole Bible: all humans had been lost in Adam and Eve and the Son of Man came with one sole purpose of saving them (and the Bible says clearly that in the end not all humans will be saved), – brilliant Jun 22 '16 at 12:51

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