|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:27-32 Victory over the desires of the heart, must be attended with painful exertions. But it must be done. Every thing is bestowed to save us from our sins, not in them. All our senses and powers must be kept from those things which lead to transgression. Those who lead others into temptation to sin, by dress or in other ways, or leave them in it, or expose them to it, make themselves guilty of their sin, and will be accountable for it. If painful operations are submitted to, that our lives may be saved, what ought our minds to shrink from, when the salvation of our souls is concerned? There is tender mercy under all the Divine requirements, and the grace and consolations of the Spirit will enable us to attend to them.
Verses 29, 30. - Also in Matthew 18:8, 9 (parallel passage, Mark 9:43-47); the chief differences being
(1) that they are there adduced with reference to "offences" generally;
(2) that the foot is mentioned, as well as the eye and the hand. It seems not improbable that this saying was spoken twice.
The reason why our Lord did not mention the foot here may be either that that member is less immediately connected with sins of the flesh than the other two (cf. Wetstein, in loc., "Averte oculum a vultu illecebroso: arce manum ab impudicis contrectationibus"), or, as seems more probable, that the eye and the hand represent the two sets of faculties receptive and active, and together express man's whole nature. The insertion of the foot in ch. 18:8, 9, only makes the illustration more definite. "The remark in ver. 29f treats of what is to be done by the subjects of the kingdom when, in spite of themselves, evil desires are aroused" (Weiss, 'Life,' 2:149). Verse 29. - Right. Not in ch. 18, and parallel passage. Inserted to enhance the preciousness of the members spoken of (cf. Zechariah 11:17; cf. ver. 39). Offend thee; Authorized Version, do cause thee to offend; Revised Version, cause thee to stumble (σκανδαλίζει σε). Perhaps the verb originally referred to the stick of a trap (σκάνδαλον, a Hellenistic word, apparently equivalent to σκανδάληθρον) striking the person's foot, and so catching him in the trap; but when found in literature (almost solely in the New Testament) it has apparently lost all connotation of the trap, and only means causing a person to stumble (for an analysis of its use in the New Testament, vide especially Cremer, s.v.). Pluck it out, and cast it from thee. The second clause shows the purely figurative character of the sentence. Our Lord commands
(1) the removal of the means of "offence" out of the place of affection that it has long held;
(2) the putting it away so thoroughly, both by the manner of the act and the distance placed between the "offence" and the person, that restoration is almost impossible. In both verbs the aorist brings out the decisiveness of the action. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish. It is better to lose one faculty, one sphere of usefulness, one part of those things which normally make a person complete, than that the person himself should be lost. Notice the sixfold personal pronoun in this one verse; "Our Lord grounds his precept of the most rigid and decisive self-denial on the considerations of the truest self interest" (Alford). Should be cast. For to One thy whole person will become as abhorrent as the offending member ought in fact now to be to thee (βάλε βληθῇ).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And if thy right eye offend thee,.... Or "cause thee to offend", to stumble, and fall into sin. Our Lord has no regard here to near and dear relations seeking to alienate us from God and Christ, and hinder us in the pursuit of divine things; whose solicitations are to be rejected with the utmost indignation, and they themselves to be parted with, and forsaken, rather than complied with; which is the sense some give of the words: for both in this, and the following verse, respect is had only to the law of adultery; and to such members of the body, which often are the means of leading persons on to the breach of it; particularly the eye and hand. The eye is often the instrument of ensnaring the heart this way: hence the Jews have a (z) saying,
"whoever looks upon women, at the end comes into the hands of transgression.''
Mention is only made of the right eye; not but that the left may be an occasion of sinning, as well as the right; but that being most dear and valuable, is instanced in, and ordered to be parted with:
pluck it out, and cast it from thee: which is not to be understood literally; for no man is obliged to mutilate any part of his body, to prevent sin, or on account of the commission of it; this is no where required, and if done, would be sinful, as in the case of Origen: but figuratively; and the sense is, that persons should make a covenant with their eyes, as Job did; and turn them away from beholding such objects, which may tend to excite impure thoughts and desires; deny themselves the gratification of the sense of seeing, or feeding the eyes with such sights, as are graceful to the flesh; and with indignation and contempt, reject, and avoid all opportunities and occasions of sinning; which the eye may be the instrument of, and lead unto:
for it is profitable for thee, that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. This is still a continuation of the figure here used; and the meaning is, that it will turn to better account, to lose all the carnal pleasures of the eye, or all those pleasing sights, which are grateful to a carnal heart, than, by enjoying them, to expose the whole man, body and soul, to everlasting destruction, in the fire of hell.
(z) T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 20. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. And if thy right eye—the readier and the dearer of the two.
offend thee—be a "trap spring," or as in the New Testament, be "an occasion of stumbling" to thee.
pluck it out and cast it from thee—implying a certain indignant promptitude, heedless of whatever cost to feeling the act may involve. Of course, it is not the eye simply of which our Lord speaks—as if execution were to be done upon the bodily organ—though there have been fanatical ascetics who have both advocated and practiced this, showing a very low apprehension of spiritual things—but the offending eye, or the eye considered as the occasion of sin; and consequently, only the sinful exercise of the organ which is meant. For as one might put out his eyes without in the least quenching the lust to which they ministered, so, "if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light," and, when directed by a holy mind, becomes an "instrument of righteousness unto God." At the same time, just as by cutting off a hand, or plucking out an eye, the power of acting and of seeing would be destroyed, our Lord certainly means that we are to strike at the root of such unholy dispositions, as well as cut off the occasions which tend to stimulate them.
for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell—He who despises the warning to cast from him, with indignant promptitude, an offending member, will find his whole body "cast," with a retributive promptitude of indignation, "into hell." Sharp language, this, from the lips of Love incarnate!
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