|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:41-50 It is repeatedly said of the wicked, Their worm dieth not, as well as, The fire is never quenched. Doubtless, remorse of conscience and keen self-reflection are this never-dying worm. Surely it is beyond compare better to undergo all possible pain, hardship, and self-denial here, and to be happy for ever hereafter, than to enjoy all kinds of worldly pleasure for a season, and to be miserable for ever. Like the sacrifices, we must be salted with salt; our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified by the Holy Spirit. Those that have the salt of grace, must show they have a living principle of grace in their hearts, which works out corrupt dispositions in the soul that would offend God, or our own consciences.
Verse 43. - The hand, or the foot, or the eye represents any instrument by which sin may be committed; and it applies to those who may be the means of drawing us into sin. If your relative or your friend, who is useful or dear to you as your hand, your foot, or your eye, is drawing you into sin, cut him off from you, lest he should draw you into hell, into the unquenchable Gehenna. Gehenna, or the Valley of Hinnom, lay to the south of Jerusalem. Originally a pleasant suburb of the city, it became in later times the scene of the worship of Molech, "the abomination of the children of Ammon." On this account the valley was polluted by King Josiah. It thus became the receptacle of everything that was vile and filthy. These noisome accumulations were from time to time consumed by fire; and the things which were not consumed by fire were the prey of worms. Hence "Gehenna" became the image of the place of eternal punishment, where "the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." These terrible images are conclusive as to the eternity of future punishment, so far as our nature is concerned and our knowledge reaches. They are the symbols of certain dreadful realities; too dreadful for human language to describe or human thought to conceive.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off,.... I have observed on Matthew 5:30 that by the Jewish canons, cutting off of the hand was ordered in some cases there mentioned; which, though literally enjoined, must not be understood, as though the Jewish sanhedrim had a power of inflicting such a punishment, on persons found guilty of the things instanced in; or that it was required they should do this to themselves; but such rules were delivered in such language, to show the heinousness of the crimes committed, to express an abhorrence of them (g), and to deter persons from them; and to show, as the gloss (h) on one place observes, that it is better that the hand be cut off; or it should be more eligible to the person himself, to have it cut off, than to be guilty of such evil: and in like manner, Christ there and here, directs to what is most proper and fit to be done; even to part with what is ever so near and dear, rather than be drawn into evil by it: and his sense in this place is, that the dearest friends and acquaintance, or be they what they will, though ever so near and dear, like a right hand, the instrument of action, that obstruct the spiritual welfare of men, are to be renounced and parted with, and treated as real enemies, and of the most pernicious consequence; See Gill on Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:30.
It is better for thee to enter into life maimed: not that there will be any such thing, as upon the resurrection, going into heaven without a limb; for the words are to be understood, not literally, but figuratively; and the sense is, it is better to part with every thing here, that is detrimental to a man's doing, or enjoying, what is spiritually good, and enter into eternal life,
than having two hands, to go into hell; than by enjoying such persons and things, agreeable to the flesh, to the ruin of the soul, and be cast into hell;
into the fire that never shall be quenched. This is a periphrasis of hell, and is an allusion to the valley of Hinnom, from whence hell has its name, here and elsewhere; where a constant fire was kept, for the burning of polluted things: one of the Jewish writers says (i), that it
"was a place in the land near to Jerusalem, and was a place contemptible: where they cast things defiled, and carcasses; and there was there, , "a continual fire", to burn polluted things and bones; and therefore the condemnation of the wicked, in a parabolical way, is called "Gehinnom".''
And says another of them (k),
"Gehinnom is a place known, near to Jerusalem, and a valley, , "whose fire is never quenched"; and in which they burn bones of defilement, and carcasses, and other polluted things.''
This whole clause is left out in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; and the phrase, "that never shall be quenched", is not in the Arabic version.
(g) Maimonides in Misn. Nidda, c. 2. sect. 1.((h) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 108. 2.((i) Kimchi in Psal. xxvii. 13. (k) R. Isaac Saugari, Sepher Cosri, fol. 57. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
43. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell—See Mt 5:29, 30. The only difference between the words there and here is that there they refer to impure inclinations; here, to an ambitious disposition, an irascible or quarrelsome temper, and the like: and the injunction is to strike at the root of such dispositions and cut off the occasions of them.
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