Matthew 18:1-5 “Who then is the greatest?”
“Who then is the greatest?” The word ‘then’ connects one to what immediately preceded. Jesus had made the argument with Peter that they should not be required to pay the temple tax because they were ministers of the gospel. Instead of paying this tax, they should have been supported by it. So in effect the disciples regarded, as many others did and still do, the ministers in the temple of God as being the greatest. Therefore if they as ministers were not the greatest then who was? It gave Jesus the opportunity to emphasize that greatness in the kingdom of heaven was to be found in those who had the humility of a child, who naturally recognize their need. The greatest are not those who think they deserve God’s favour, like the apostate religious leadership, but rather those who know their need for mercy and help. It presented one among several occasions when Jesus would emphasize that the kingdom of heaven is made up of the converted, those who have this humble dependence on God alone for life eternal (Cf. 19:14; Mk. 9:33-37; Lk. 9:46-48; 22:24-27). As Luke points out, these include infants (18:15-17).