Mark 9:42
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
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(42-48) Whosoever shall offend.—See Notes on Matthew 18:6-9. The verbal, or all but verbal, reproduction of these verses indicates the impression which they had made on the disciples. It may be noted, however, that St. Mark omits the “Woe unto the world because of offences . . .,” which we find in St. Matthew, and that the emphatic thrice-repeated words, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” are found only in St. Mark. It should be noted, however, that in Mark 9:43; Mark 9:45 the words “into the fire that never shall be quenched” are omitted in some of the best MSS., and that the same MSS., and others, omit both Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46, leaving Mark 9:48 to stand as the only description of Gehenna.

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.See the notes at Matthew 18:7-9. Millstone. See Matthew 18:6.42. For whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me—or, shall cause them to stumble; referring probably to the effect which such unsavory disputes as they had held would have upon the inquiring and hopeful who came in contact with them, leading to the belief that after all they were no better than others.

it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck—The word here is simply "millstone," without expressing of which kind. But in Mt 18:6 it is the "ass-turned" kind, far heavier than the small hand-mill turned by female slaves, as in Lu 17:35. It is of course the same which is meant here.

and he were cast into the sea—meaning, that if by such a death that stumbling were prevented, and so its eternal consequences averted, it would be a happy thing for them. Here follows a striking verse in Mt 18:7, "Woe unto the world because of offences!" (There will be stumblings and falls and loss of souls enough from the world's treatment of disciples, without any addition from you: dreadful will be its doom in consequence; see that ye share not in it). "For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" (The struggle between light and darkness will inevitably cause stumblings, but not less guilty is he who wilfully makes any to stumble).

See Poole on "Matthew 18:6".

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me,.... Whosoever shall do the, least injury to the meanest person that believes in Christ, who are mean both in their own eyes, and the eyes of others; for Christ is not speaking of little children in age, who are neither capable of believing in Christ, nor are they ready to take offence; but of such as belong to him; his disciples and followers, of whom he is speaking in the preceding verse:

it is better for him that a mill stone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea; and drowned there: the allusion is to the drowning of malefactors, by tying a stone, or any heavy thing about their necks, and casting them into the sea. Casaubon, and others, have shown out of Heathen writers, that this has been a practice of some nations, particularly the Grecians: Jerom says, Christ speaks according to the custom of the country; this being a punishment of the greatest crimes among the Jews; but I have no where met with it in their writings: Christ's sense is, that such who give offence to any of his ministers or people, how mean soever they may appear, shall undergo the severest punishment; See Gill on Matthew 18:6.

{10} And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

(10) God is such a severe avenger of offences that it is better to suffer anything else than to be an occasion of offence to any.

Mark 9:42-48. See on Matthew 18:6-9. Comp. Luke 17:1-4. Jesus now reverts to the demeanour towards the lowly modest believers, as whose lively type the little child was still standing before Him (Mark 9:36), and administers the warning that none should give offence to such child-like ones (Mark 9:42). To comply with this, we need the most decided sternness towards ourselves and self-denial, so as not to be seduced by ourselves to evil and thereby to incur everlasting torment (Mark 9:43-48). This simple course of the address is often mistaken, and even de Wette (comp. Saunier, p. 111, Köstlin, Baur) thought that Mark had allowed himself to be drawn out of the connection by Luke. The source from which Mark draws is the collection of Logia.

καλόνμᾶλλον] namely, than that he should have accomplished such a seduction.

περίκειται and βέβληται bring vividly before us the state of the case, in which he is sunk with the millstone round his neck.

Mark 9:43 ff. Observe, according to the corrected text (see the critical remarks), how in the three references to the everlasting torment (which, indeed, according to Köstlin, p. 349, are alleged to be in the taste of a later time) it is only at the end, in the case of the third, Mark 9:47, that the awful ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ κ.τ.λ., Mark 9:48, comes in and affectingly winds up the representation.

Mark 9:48. A figurative designation of the extremely painful and endless punishments of hell (not merely the terrors of conscience), in accordance with Isaiah 66:24 (comp. Sir 7:17; Jdt 16:17). Against the literal understanding of the worm and the fire it may be urged that in reality (in opposition to Augustine, de civit. xxi. 9) the two together are incompatible, and, moreover, that ἁλί, Mark 9:49, the counterpart of πυρί, is to be understood figuratively.

Mark 9:42-48. After the episode of the exorcist the narrative returns to the discourse broken off at Mark 9:38. From receiving little children and all they represent, Jesus passes to speak of the sin of causing them to stumble.

42. a millstone] Literally, an ass-mill-stone, a mill-stone turned by an ass. These were much larger and heavier than the stones of hand-mills. Comp. Ov. Fast. vi. 318,

“Et quæ pumiceas versat asella molas.”

It was not a Jewish punishment, but was in use among the Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Phœnicians. “Pædagogum ministrosque C. fili … oneratos gravi pondere cervicibus præcipitavit in flumen.” Sueton. Oct. lxvii.

Verse 42. - This verse stands out as the severe antithesis to what has gone before. As he who receives and encourages Christ's little ones and those who are like little children and believe in him, receives him, and so shall receive from him the glorious rewards of Heaven; so, on the contrary, whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Christ is guilty of deadly sin; and it were better for him if a great millstone (μύλος ὀνικός) - literally, a millstone so large as to require to be turned by an ass - were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42Millstone

Rev., great millstone. See on Matthew 18:6. Wyc., millstone of asses. Note the graphic present and perfect tenses; the millstone is hanged, and he hath been cast.

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