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.”
There are a couple of questions about the interpretation of this verse. I do not pretend to have the final word. I am only going to present one possibility that makes a lot of sense to me.
First, is Jesus still talking about believers, born again ones who have become as little children? Or is He now talking of actual children?
The little child He had set in their midst was most likely still there. I can’t imagine that a child would leave Jesus’ side if he didn’t have to! It makes the most sense that Jesus now spoke concerning little ones, little children. He warns against despising them,, treating them as if they have no importance. There will be children in the kingdom of heaven, after all, and they are to be treasured. In the next chapter, we’ll see how little the disciples understood what Jesus was saying here when they try to shoo the children away from Jesus.
Second, there is some question about the angels. Was Jesus referring to the angels whose residence is in heaven? One of my sources offers Acts 12 as a key to the interpretation of “angels.” It is the story of Peter’s imprisonment, and his rescue by an angel who led him miraculously from the prison. When the angel knocked at the door of the house where believers were praying for Peter, and Rhoda declared that Peter stood outside, they said “It is his angel.” They believed that Peter had been killed, and that it was his departed spirit that Rhoda had seen. This source maintains that if a child dies, his “angel,” or departed spirit, beholds the face of the Father in heaven. Next week, when we get into the next several verses, we could come away thinking this interpretation is exactly on track.
On the other hand, there are references to angels as “ministering spirits” in other passages of scripture: Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 34:7. Some scholars use Matthew 18:10 to support the idea that we all have our own guardian angels who minister to us under the authority of God.
I’m not ready to take an adamant position either way. I lean toward the idea that the “angels” are indeed a reference to the spirits of children who have died, but I can’t be dogmatic. I’ve searched to see if there is any help in the Greek word for “angel,” and the same word is used both in Matthew 18 and Acts 12, referring simply to a “messenger,”
In the meantime, I think we need to focus on the message that is quite clear: We are not to despise little children. They are God’s.