Stumbling Blocks

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:5-7)

“A good man cannot help but experience offences, yet he must by no means offer offence.” – Geneva Bible (1599)

“Anything that gets in the way of effective discipleship is a skandalon (‘stumbling-block’), an unkind word or a cold shoulder no less than a ’cause of sin’.” – R.T. France

“The cruelest legal punishment in Jesus’ day was crucifixion, but this image of drowning represents a Roman punishment more horrifying to Jewish hearers than crucifixion and one only rarely tolerated among them… Jesus refers here not to the lighter millstone turned by a woman’s hand but to the heavier community kind turned by an ass — heavy enough to take one quickly to the bottom of the sea. Jesus says this punishment would be an act of mercy compared to what is in store for those who turn ‘little ones’ from Christ’s way — be they arrogant university professors, torturers enforcing Islamic law or gossipers within the church.” – Craig S. Keener

“‘It would be better for him to…’ might suggest only that it would benefit the congregation to be rid of him, but the Greek makes it clear that it is preferable from his point of view too.” – R.T. France

“Jesus, when He pronounces a woe against the world is using the world in the sense of that system which is allied and united against God; mankind alienated from the life of God; mankind opposed to the life of God. And He pronounces a woe against those who are part of that world system. And His purpose in pronouncing this woe against the world while He’s talking to His disciples is precisely this: He is warning His disciples not to act as if they were part of the world in opposition to God.” – Ligon Duncan

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