And if your hand offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Into hell.—Better, Gehenna, to distinguish it from the other word “Hades,” also translated “Hell.” (See Notes on Matthew 5:22.)Mark 9:43. And if thy hand offend thee, &c. — The discourse here passes from the case of offending to that of being offended. If one who is as useful or dear to thee as a hand or eye, prevent thee from walking in the ways of God, or hinder thee therein, renounce all intercourse with him. This primarily relates to persons; secondarily, to things. See the note on Matthew 5:29-30, where this subject is explained at large. The sum is, It is better to deny one’s self the greatest earthly satisfactions, and to part with any and every person and thing, however precious, represented by the figures of a hand, a foot, and eye, than by these things to cause the weakest of Christ’s disciples to stumble, or to be made to stumble ourselves. Further, the amputation of our hands and feet, and the digging out of our eyes, when they cause us to stumble, import also, that we should deny ourselves such use of our senses and members as may lead us into sin. Thus the hand and the eye are to be turned away from those alluring objects which raise in us lust and ambition. The foot must be restrained from carrying us into evil company, unlawful diversions, and forbidden pleasures. Nor can we complain of these injunctions as severe, since by causing, or even by tempting others to sin, as well as by sinning ourselves, we are exposed to the eternal punishments of hell. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched — “These expressions seem to be borrowed from Isaiah 66:24, in which passage the prophet is describing the miserable end of hardened sinners, by a similitude taken from the behaviour of conquerors, who, after having gained the battle, and beaten the enemy out of the field, go forth to view the slain. Thus, at the last day, the devil, with all his adherents, being finally and completely vanquished, the saints shall go forth to view them, doomed by the just judgment of God to eternal death. And this their punishment is represented by two metaphors, drawn from the different ways of burying the dead in use among the Jews. Bodies of men, interred in the earth, are eaten up of worms, which die when their food faileth; and those that are burned are consumed in fire, which extinguishes itself when there is no more fuel added to feed it. But it shall not be so with the wicked; their worm shall not die, and their fire is not quenched. These metaphors, therefore, as they are used by our Lord, and by the Prophet Isaiah, paint the eternal punishments of the damned in strong and lively colours.” — Macknight. To this may be added, that by the worm here spoken of, that dieth not, may be denoted, the continual torture of an accusing conscience, and the misery naturally arising from the evil dispositions of pride, self-will, desire, malice, envy, shame, sorrow, despair; and by the fire that is not quenched, the positive punishment inflicted by the fiery wrath of God. Dr. Whitby’s note on these verses deserves the reader’s particular attention. After observing that these words, Where their worm dieth not, &c., are taken from Isaiah 66:24, (where see the notes,) he adds, “It seems reasonable to interpret them according to the received opinion of the Jews, since otherwise our Lord, by using them so frequently in speaking to them, without saying any thing to show them that he did not understand the expression as they did, must have strengthened them in their error. Now, it is certain, 1st, That gehenna (hell) was by them still looked on as the place in which the wicked were to be tormented by fire. So the Jerusalem Targum, on Genesis 15:17, represents it as a furnace sparkling and flaming with fire, into which the wicked fall. And the Targum, upon Ecclesiastes 9:15, speaks of the fire of hell; and, Mark 10:11, of the sparks of the fire of hell; and, chap. Mark 8:10, of the wicked who shall go to be burned in hell. Accordingly, our Lord speaks here, Mark 9:47, and Matthew 5:22, of the wicked being cast into hell fire; and, Matthew 13:42, of their being cast into a furnace of fire. 2d, The ancient Jews held that the punishments of the wicked in hell will be perpetual, or without end. So Judith says, chap. Mark 16:17, κλαυσονται εν αισθησι εως αιωτος, they shall weep under the sense of their pains for ever. Josephus informs us that the Pharisees held that the souls of the wicked were to be punished, αιδιω τιμωρια, with perpetual punishment; and that there was appointed for them, ειργμος αιδιος, a perpetual prison. Philo saith, “The punishment of the wicked person is, ζην αποθανοντα αει, to live for ever dying, and to be for ever in pains, and griefs, and calamities that never cease: accordingly our Lord says of them, that they shall go away into eternal punishment, Matthew 25:41; that God will destroy the soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28; and here, that their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.” Whence the doctor concludes, 1st, That though it is not to be doubted that the expression, the worm dieth not, is to be understood figuratively of remorse of conscience and keen self-reflection; yet, that the bodies of the wicked shall suffer in fire, properly so called, this he thinks being suitable not only to the tradition of the Jewish and of the Christian Church, but to the constant phraseology of the Scriptures. And, 2dly, That the punishment of the wicked shall be, strictly speaking, eternal; this also being the constant opinion of the Christian Church, as he shows in a note on Hebrews 6:2; and this punishment being consistent with divine justice and goodness, as he proves in his Appendix to 2 Thessalonians 1. It is justly added here, by Dr. Macknight, “The most superficial reader must be sensible, that our Lord’s repeating so frequently his declaration concerning the duration of future punishments, has in it something very awful, and implies that mankind should attend to it as a matter of infinite importance to them. It likewise affords a lesson to all the ministers of the gospel, directing them to enforce the precepts of religion, which they inculcate, by frequently and earnestly holding forth to the view of their hearers the terrors of a future judgment.”Matthew 18:7-9. Millstone. See Matthew 18:6.See Poole on "Matthew 5:29". See Poole on "Matthew 5:30", where the same things occur. Matthew only mentions the hand and the eye. All have the same significance, viz. that it is better to deny ourselves in some particular satisfaction, than to hazard eternal salvation for the gratifying the appetite in it. 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.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, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Mark 9:43. The offender of the little ones is still more an offender against himself, hence the discourse by an easy transition passes to counsels against such folly. In Mk.’s version these are given in a most particular way, hand, foot and eye being each used separately to illustrate the common admonition. In Mt. hand and foot are combined. In the third illustration εἰς τὴν ζωὴν is replaced by εἰς τ. βασιλείαν τ. θ. The refrain: “where the worm, etc.,” is repeated in T. R. with solemn effect after each example, but the best MSS. have it only after the third, Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46 being thus omitted (R. V).
 Revised Version.43. offend thee] or, as in margin, cause thee to offend, lead thee into sin. Our Lord makes special mention of the Hand, the Foot, the Eye, those members, whereby we do amiss, or walk astray, or gaze on what is sinful.
into hell] Literally, the Gehenna, or the Gehenna of fire (Mark 9:47). The “Ravine of Hinnom,” also called “Topheth” (2 Kings 23:10; Isaiah 30:33), is described in Josh, Joshua 18:16, as on the south of Mount Zion. Its total length is a mile and a half. It is a deep retired glen, shut in by rugged cliffs, with the bleak mountain sides rising over all. It became notorious in the times of Ahaz and Manasseh as the scene of the barbarous rites of Molech and Chemosh, when the idolatrous inhabitants of Jerusalem cast their sons and daughters into the red-hot arms of a monster idol of brass placed at the opening of the ravine (2 Kings 16:3; 1 Chronicles 28:3; Jeremiah 7:31). To put an end to these abominations the place was polluted by Josiah, who spread over it human bones and other corruptions (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Kings 23:13-14), from which time it seems to have become the common cesspool of the city. These inhuman rites and subsequent ceremonial defilement caused the later Jews to regard it with horror and detestation, and they applied the name given to the valley to the place of torment.Mark 9:43; Mark 9:45; Mark 9:47. Εἰσελθεῖν, to enter) Thrice put; to which there stands in antithesis, once, ἀπελθεῖν, to go away into hell, Mark 9:43; and twice, βληθῆναι, to be cast, Mark 9:45; Mark 9:47.—εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον, the fire that cannot be quenched) So Mark 9:45; and with a little variation, Mark 9:47.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.
See on Matthew 5:22.
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