Luke 10:17-24 (ESV):

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

What's wrong with being wise and understanding that warrants being denied by God the mysteries of His kingdom? Why are these mysteries only revealed to little children instead? (What does little children mean by the way?) If someone is wise and learned, is there any hope for such a person to partake in God's revelations too?

4 Answers 4


The point isn’t so much about being LESS wise and LESS learned. No, rather the point is to be humble, because knowledge can cause the possessor to become puffed up or conceited, arrogant.

“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:2‬ ‭

Jesus makes it clear that anyone who wants to enter the kingdom must be like a child, a humble child, that is teachable, willing and faithfully loyal.

“and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:3-4‬ ‭

Consider that Jesus makes this very point

“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:21‬ ‭

But the disciples were fully grown men, with businesses, careers and jobs. The secrets of the kingdom are not given to those who will exploit them for their own personal pleasure and gain, though many steal these treasures and market them as their own extorting money from people for selfish means.

“The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭

“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭

Once again in conclusion. The issue isn’t about being wise and learned but being submissive to the Spirit.

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:1, 3-5‬ ‭

Like a child

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:15‬ ‭

Because self righteousness is pride and pride goes before destruction, trusting in your own knowledge/wisdom is also pride and trusting in your own strength is also pride. But a child trusts in his father and is dependent

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” ‭‭John‬ ‭5:19‬ ‭

One must be willing to humble themselves in order to be obedient. Jesus obeyed to the end

“but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:7-8‬ ‭

But a wise man in his own eyes is reprehensible and cannot be directed. And there are sufficient texts and revelations in Scripture that only those with a childlike humility can accept. The dead rising, the sun being created four days later after the light, the beginning being on day one, donkeys talking, blind seeing, paralyzed recovering, demonized being delivered, just to name a few. The learned and the wise will dismiss these are fairytales, hyperbole and wishful thinking.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-7‬ ‭

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    Great description of what it means to be submissive, and a very effective use of Proverbs 3:5-7. Upvoted +1 Commented May 6, 2021 at 4:02

Paul was wise and learned, but not many like him turned to Christ. Paul was very zealous about doing what he thought was right, so Christ intervened to stop him and turn him in the right direction (see Acts). Nicodemus was wise and learned but not one of the apostles (the Gospels). Jesus criticized self-righteousness which often kept the wise and learned leaders from accepting Jesus' teachings, because Jesus' teaching corrected them rather than going along with them.

The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man [Jesus] has learning, when he has never studied?” (John 7:15, ESV)

The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man [Jesus] were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. (John 9:30–34, ESV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, ESV)

The scriptures should correct us, not back us up:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16–17, ESV)

  • ”The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man [Jesus] has learning, when he has never studied?” This snippet is very interesting. Thx for bringing it up. The statement of the Jews about Jesus that he never had studied is saying a lot. Jesus must have studied the scriptures a lot, because he frequently quoted them. What he probably didn’t have though was a formal education. No diploma in religious studies to hang on the wall. In many Jews’ mind “to study” probably meant to have done recognized, formal, studies, in an institution. But, studies can also be done in private. Commented May 6, 2021 at 23:00
  • @Constantthin See hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/39793/… However, his studies weren't restricted to their interpretations.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 23:24

The one who said "be wise as serpents" (Matthew 10:16) cannot praise naiveté, for serpent is a symbol of Satan and a Christian should be of as sharp of a mind as to be ready to outwit even the wittiest and cunningest of spiritual evil creatures (2 Cor. 2:11). Thus, "little children" here does not signify a naiveté bordering with foolishness, but a simplicity and goodness of heart; receptivity of divine goodness without an excessive and ill-grounded suspicion; ability to recognize goodness and truth through an undamaged common sense, empathy and humanity.

The immediate context is that the most important thing in faith is not power and authority over evil spirits, but joy in God, in appreciating His infinite love towards us, joy of being God's adopted children though His eternal, natural Son, Jesus Christ. The sages who have all knowledge but lack this immediate "shortcut" to God through faith in His infinite goodness and self-sacrificial love towards us, will be left with their "all knowledge" but this will not pave their way to the mentioned joy in God. The same is said by Paul when he affirms clearly that not only knowledge, but even miracle-working faith and even self-sacrifice for the cause of faith will avail for nothing unless one has love (1 Cor. 13:2).

This does not mean, of course that the sages, for the very reason they are sages and wise, are blinded by God to this joyful apprehension of His goodness and love which even little children can perceive and understand. Does not He include all people, sages as well, in His commandment "Be like children!" (Matthew 18:3)? Indeed He does, which means that sage can also have access to the childish joy in God without abandoning being a sage. Otherwise, such a genius-like clever apostle as Paul will be deprived of Kingdom of Heaven for he definitely is wise.

But again, a Christian should be "wise as serpent" and simultaneously "innocent as dove", being innocent implying semantically the same as being like a little child.


Jesus is probably echoing the language, at least the idea, of Psalm 8, a psalm that was very important to the writers of the New Testament. The first two verses in the NIV read:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

The idea of the psalm is that God's power is so great that he can influence world events through people that are, humanly speaking, very weak — little children, say, or otherwise-inconsequential Bronze Age fiefdoms, or Galilean peasants. This showcases the power of God, because the effects are clearly not brought about by human strength of competence.

Paul writes on this theme at length in the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians.

So there is nothing necessarily wrong with wise and understanding people. (Indeed, Jesus doesn't say why these things were hidden from wise and understanding people. It might be because they are wise and understanding, or it could have been a moral critique of the people who were wise and understanding in that time; the latter reason would be congruent with the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55.) But by revealing His power through the weakest of humans, God shows His power most clearly.

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