Laat die kindertjies na My toe kom: ‘n Gereformeerde antwoord op ‘n Baptistiese standpunt


13 En hulle het kindertjies na Hom gebring, dat Hy hulle kon aanraak; en die dissipels het die wat hulle gebring het, bestraf.
14 Maar toe Jesus dit sien, het Hy hulle dit baie kwalik geneem en vir hulle gesê: Laat die kindertjies na My toe kom en verhinder hulle nie, want aan sulkes behoort die koninkryk van God.
15 Voorwaar Ek sê vir julle, elkeen wat die koninkryk van God nie soos ‘n kindjie ontvang nie, sal daar nooit ingaan nie.
16 En Hy het sy arms om hulle geslaan, sy hande op hulle gelê en hulle geseën. – Markus 10:13-16 (lees ook die parallele gedeeltes: Matt.19:13-15; Luk.18:15-17)

In Charles Spurgeon se preek oor bogenoemde teks (“Children Brought to Christ, Not to the Font“), beweer hy dat die kinders wat hier ter sprake is, slegs kleuters en ouer kinders was, dus kinders wat kon loop en Jesus se woorde kon verstaan. Hy meen ook die feit dat hul die vermoë gehad het om te kom, omdat Jesus hul geroep het (v.14), beteken dit moes kinders gewees het wat kon verstaan en loop.  Hy is dus van mening dat dit nie babas kon gewees het nie.

Vern Poythress antwoord as volg op Spurgeon se verklaring, in sy artikel “Linking Small Children with Infants in the Theology of Baptizing” (sien voetnoot 7. Lees gerus die hele artikel ook.):

Charles H. Spurgeon, “Children Brought to Christ, Not to the Font, A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, July 24th, 1864,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1969) 10:419, argues with some plausibility that these passages have in view toddlers and older children, that is, children who could walk and understand Jesus’ speech. Spurgeon observes that in verse 16 Jesus called the children, “which he would hardly have done if they could not comprehend his call: and he said, ‘Suffer the little children to come,’ which implies that they could come, and doubtless they did come, ….” Several points may be made in response to Spurgeon.

First, what is the meaning of βρέφη (NIV “babies”)?

The term can appropriately be applied to babies still in the womb (Luke 1:41) and to newborn babies (Luke 2:12, 16; Acts 7:19). Presumably the term denotes babies with a range of ages. It is difficult without extensive evidence to determine an upper cut-off point in age. But without further evidence one cannot simply assume that toddlers are included.

At the very least, the use of this more specific term instead of the more general word παιδία (“children”) puts focus on the young age of these children, not on their being old enough to walk as Spurgeon emphasizes. Moreover, note the phrase “also … babies” (καὶ τὰβρέφη) in Luke 18:15. “Also, even” (καὶ) suggests that the babies are in addition to others. The use of the more general term “child” (παιδίον) at later points in the passage makes it fairly plain that babies came in addition to children who were somewhat older.

The parallel passages in Matthew and Mark, which use only the more general term “child” (παιδίον), confirm the point. βρέφη in Luke 18:15 is thus specifically contrasted with the generality of “children,” making it more problematic to assume that only toddlers and older children were involved.

Second, what is the meaning of Jesus’ calling the children in verse 16?

Spurgeon argues that the children must be able to understand Jesus’ words. But the attending participial clause introduced by λέγων is a construction with an adverbial participle of means or manner (Ernest de Witt Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek [3d ed.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1898], §443). From this construction, we may infer that Jesus called the children by uttering the words given in the subsequent clause. The quoted speech, “Let the little children … ,” thus provides us with the substance of his call. This speech addresses the disciples in the second person, and the children themselves only indirectly in the third person.

Jesus called the children, not by means of a direct address to them that would presuppose their ability to understand, but by means of an address to the disciples, who have it in their power to ensure that the call is adequately responded to. In fact, we may reasonably assume that the children included a mixture of ages, as the “also” of verse 15 hints.

Older children who were walking on their own would of course be encouraged by hearing Jesus’ words. Some toddlers might have asked to be carried, even if they were able to walk. They would be encouraged, though they would not have had to do anything. Parents who were carrying infants or toddlers, and parents who were coming along side their older children, would also be encouraged to continue to bring their children toward Jesus. But all these are intended secondary effects of a speech that is directed primarily to the disciples. Hence we cannot confidently deduce that all the children needed to understand in order for the call to be real. Spurgeon presupposes exactly what is not provided in the text, namely that calling the children must mean calling them by directly addressing them.

Third, what is the meaning of the directive that the children “come to me” in verse 16? The older children come by walking, the toddlers come by walking or being carried, while the infants come by being carried. The word “come” (ἔρχεσθαι) is in fact a quite general word for physical movement, and does not contain in itself any specific indication concerning the manner of locomotion (cf. Matt 7:25; 13:4; Heb 6:7). Spurgeon has once again assumed something more specific than the text warrants.

Fourth, it seems natural to assume that the statement in verse 16, “Let the children come to me,” is to be taken broadly, and does not exclude infants of any age. Does Spurgeon seriously want to argue that Jesus would not have been willing to embrace and bless children who were under one year old, if their parents had brought them? Thus, it seems unnecessary to establish the exact ages of the children who did in fact come to Jesus. We ought simply to acknowledge the general principle: he welcomes them when they are brought, whatever their age.

In the larger context of his sermon, Spurgeon explicitly recognizes that a passage like this one encourages parents to bring their children to Jesus now, by praying for them and instructing them in the Christian faith (ibid., pp. 416-17). I agree that such actions are included among the secondary implications of the passage.

But Spurgeon appears to have left out the corporate dimensions of the Christian worship. The church presents itself and its members to Christ in heavenly assembly every Sunday. Surely this assembly provides the most immediate point of contact with the instances in the Gospels where Jesus meets with disciples or would-be disciples seeking his blessing.


Sien hierdie artikels oor kinders in die verbond

3 thoughts on “Laat die kindertjies na My toe kom: ‘n Gereformeerde antwoord op ‘n Baptistiese standpunt

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  1. Een van die beste samevattings van die Skrif oor die doop vd verbondskinders vir wie God sopas met hulle geboorte in sy verbond opgeneem het, is die Gereformeerde Doopformulier. ‘Aangesien ons kinders hierdie dinge nie verstaan nie, maar hulle nie daarom van die doop uitgesluit word nie’, ensovoorts. Lees dit gerus.

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