Matthew 18:8
Why if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
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(8, 9) If thy hand or thy foot offend thee.—(See Notes on Matthew 5:29-30.) The disciples had heard the words before in the Sermon on the Mount, but their verbal reproduction, sharpened as by a special personal application addressed not to the multitude but to the Twelve, gave them a new and solemn emphasis.

18:7-14 Considering the cunning and malice of Satan, and the weakness and depravity of men's hearts, it is not possible but that there should be offences. God permits them for wise and holy ends, that those who are sincere, and those who are not, may be made known. Being told before, that there will be seducers, tempters, persecutors, and bad examples, let us stand on our guard. We must, as far as lawfully we may, part with what we cannot keep without being entangled by it in sin. The outward occasions of sin must be avoided. If we live after the flesh, we must die. If we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live. Christ came into the world to save souls, and he will reckon severely with those who hinder the progress of others who are setting their faces heavenward. And shall any of us refuse attention to those whom the Son of God came to seek and to save? A father takes care of all his children, but is particularly tender of the little ones.If thy hand ... - See the notes at Matthew 5:29-30. The sense in all these instances is the same. Worldly attachments, friendships, and employments of any kind, that cannot be pursued without leading us into sin, be they ever so dear to us, must be abandoned, or the soul will be lost.

It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed ... - It is not meant, by this, that when the body shall be raised it will be maimed and disfigured in this manner. It will be perfect. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. But these things are said for the purpose of carrying out or making complete the figure or the representation of cutting off the hands, etc. The meaning is, it is better to go to heaven without enjoying the things that caused us to sin, than to enjoy them here and then be lost.

Halt - Lame.

Maimed - With a loss of limbs.

Into hell fire - It is implied, in all this, that if their sins, however dear to them, were not abandoned, the soul must go into everlasting fire. This is conclusive proof that the sufferings of the wicked will be eternal. See the notes at Mark 9:44, Mark 9:46, Mark 9:48.


Mt 18:1-9. Strife among the Twelve Who Should Be Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, with Relative Teaching. ( = Mr 9:33-50; Lu 9:46-50).

For the exposition, see on [1323]Mr 9:33-50.

See Poole on "Matthew 18:9". Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot,.... The same words are repeated here on occasion of offences, as are spoken by Christ, Matthew 5:29 on account of unchaste looks, desires and lusts: giving offence to Christ's disciples, or endeavouring, by any means whatever, to cause them to stumble and fall, is equally gratifying the flesh, and no more to be indulged, than the other, on pain of eternal damnation. See Gill on Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:30 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot {d} offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

(d) See Geneva Mt 5:29

Matthew 18:8 f. Comp. Mark 9:43 ff. A passing direction, suggested by Matthew 18:7, for avoiding certain specified offences, and substantially the same as in Matthew 5:29. A repetition depending here, no doubt, on Mark (Weiss), yet not to be regarded as out of place, because the proverbial saying refers to one’s own temptations as coming through the senses, while here the point in question is the temptation of others (de Wette, Kuinoel, Strauss, Holtzmann, Hilgenfeld), but on the contrary as quite appropriate, inasmuch as the σκάνδαλα occasioned from without operate through the senses, and thereby seduce into evil.

καλόν σοι ἐστὶν] a mixture, by attraction, of two constructions: It is good to enter into the life (of the Messiah’s kingdom at the second coming) maimed (and better) than, etc. See Fritzsche’s note on this passage, and Dissert. II. ad 2 Cor. p. 85; Winer, p. 226 [E. T. 302]; Buttmann, p. 309 [E. T. 360]. For examples from classical writers, see Kypke, Obss. I. p. 89; Bos, Ellips., ed. Schaefer, p. 769 ff. See besides, the note on Matthew 5:29-30. But in the present passage the material representation of mortification as the condition of eternal life is somewhat more circumstantial and graphic.

χωλόν] refers to the feet, one of which, indeed, is supposed to be awanting (comp. Hom. Il. ii. 217: χωλὸς δʼ ἕτερον πόδα); while, according to the context, κυλλόν here (more general in Matthew 25:30) refers to mutilation of the arm, from which the hand is supposed to be cut off. Hence: limping (χωλόν) or maimed (κυλλόν). But the circumstance of χωλόν being put first is due to the fact that the cutting off of the foot (αὐτόν, see critical notes) had been specified, although at the same time an identical proceeding in regard to the hand is, of course, to be understood.

μονόφθαλμ.] Herod. III. 116, IV. 27; Strabo, II. p. 70. According to the grammarians, we should have had ἑτερόφθαλμ. in contradistinction to μονόφθαλμ., which denotes the condition of one born with one eye. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 136 f.; Becker, Anecd. I. p. 280.Matthew 18:8-9. These verses are one of Mt.’s dualities, being found with some variations in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 18:29-30). Repetition perhaps due to use of two sources, but in sympathy with the connection of thought in both places. Since the offender is the greater loser in the end, it is worth his while to take precautions against being an offender.8, 9. Cp. note ch. Matthew 5:29-30.Matthew 18:8. Εἰ δὲ, κ.τ.λ., but if, etc.) He who is not careful to avoid offence to himself, will cause offence to others, and vice versa.—χεὶρ, ποὺς, hand—foot) In the impulse of sinning, acting ill, going where we ought not, the hands or other members are urged on by the animal spirits rushing together into them: and there is great propriety in the expressions employed by our Lord: for the imperative ἔκκοψον (cut off), holds good with regard to the hand, in as far as it is thus affected, and so on with the rest.—ζωὴν, life) opposed to eternal fire.—κωλὸν, κ.τ.λ., lame, etc.) The godly, forsooth, in this world are lame, deaf, dumb, etc., both to themselves and others;[812] see Psalm 38:14. This must be taken of the time of mortification, not that of glorification; for those members which have been most mortified will shine the most in glory; see Galatians 6:17.—ΑἸΏΝΙΟΝ, eternal) The word, eternal, signifies sometimes in the Old Testament a finite eternity more clearly than it does in the New.

[812] Comp. Revelation 3:17; 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.—ED.Verse 8. - Wherefore. The Lord teaches how to avoid this sin of giving offence, repeating the solemn words already delivered in the sermon on the mount, though with some variation and a different context (Matthew 5:29, 30). The reference on the former occasion was especially to breaches of the seventh commandment; here the Lord speaks of offences in general, of that external corruption among mankind which is the fruitful source of temptation and sin. The only remedy for this is the sternest self-denial, the strictest watchfulness. Or thy foot. Christ did not name this member in his previous discourse. Literally, the hand or foot leads into sin, when it is directed to forbidden objects, moves towards the acquisition of things contrary to the Law of God. Metaphorically, the expression signifies all that is as dear and as necessary as these important members. Such occasions of sin we must at once and absolutely cast aside. It includes also persons as well as things. Friends the dearest must be parted from if their presence, or conversation, or habits cause evil thoughts or encourage evil acts. In the presence of such offences, ties the nearest must be snapped asunder. Loneliness, isolation, is better than companionship in wickedness. It has been well said by Olshausen that the hand and the foot may denote mental powers and dispositions; and the warning is given that their over-cultivation may prove an obstacle to the spiritual life, and must be accordingly checked. We may also descry in the paragraph an admonition against making too much of skill, dexterity, and adroitness in business and occupation. There is a subtle snare in them; they may draw the heart away from God, and must be restrained and modified, so as not to interfere with the cultivation of religion and the care of the soul. Enter into life. This is an addition not found in the sermon on the mount; it refers to the eternal life which, beginning on earth, is consummated in heaven. Everlasting fire (τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον). This is the first time that this phrase occurs. Whatever these words may mean, there can be no doubt that they signify, and are intended to signify, some awful kind and extent of punishment, the fear of which may deter from such sins as incur it. It is not morally expedient to minimize the force of such terms by disputing about the exact connotation of "aeonian." When we remember that the words are spoken by the loving and pitiful Saviour, we must allow that they point to some dreadful reality, the import of which he knew, and which he thus mercifully veiled from us as not able to bear the full revelation (see on Matthew 25:46).
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