The Age of Accountability
Many people have asked me, “What is the age of accountability?” There is no specific age and I believe it’s going to vary from person to person. While the Bible does not say specifically, it does give clues about what the age of accountability might be.
Isaiah 7:15, 16 says, “Before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good.” A child can know evil from good. What age would that child be? 2 Kings 22:1 says Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign in Jerusalem. It reads, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” He knew to choose right at eight years old. In 2 Chronicles 36:9, King Jehoiachin began to rule at eight years old. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. In 2 Kings 21:1, Manasseh was twelve years old and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. It appears they between the ages of eight and twelve a child knows to do good from evil.
There is also a progression. In 2 Chronicles 34:1, Josiah was eight years old and he did that which was right. At sixteen years old, he began to seek the Lord and at twenty years old he began to purge Judah from the high places. He knew to do right, and then began to seek God. He actually began to do something for God at age twenty.
There are some other interesting verses about the age of twenty. In Numbers 1:3 one must be twenty years old and upward to go to war. In Ezra 3:8, one must be twenty years old and upward to work in the house of the Lord. In Exodus 40:13, one must be twenty years and upward to offer a ransom. Leviticus 27:3 -5 states one had to be 20 years old to make a vow. Also, in Numbers 32:11 it says of the men who murmured against God, “from twenty years old and upward, they would die in the wilderness.” They were not allowed to enter the promised land. Does this make twenty years old the age of accountability? It’s not clear. It could just be the age of maturity or responsibility.
I believe it is clear through the teaching of Jesus that little children will go to Heaven. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3 states, “Except you be converted and come as a little child, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:4 reads, “Who so ever therefore shall humble himself as this little child.” Mark 9:37 says, “Who so ever receives one of these little children in my name receives me,” and He goes on with more verses. He’s showing us that little children go to Heaven.
We do not know for certain the exact age of accountability, but scripture has provided some clear insight into the window of time that might be.
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By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell