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Matthew 18:1-9

Context
Questions About the Greatest

18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 18:2 He called a child, had him stand among them, 18:3 and said, “I tell you the truth, 1  unless you turn around and become like little children, 2  you will never 3  enter the kingdom of heaven! 18:4 Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 18:5 And whoever welcomes 4  a child like this in my name welcomes me.

18:6 “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, 5  it would be better for him to have a huge millstone 6  hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea. 7  18:7 Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It 8  is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come. 18:8 If 9  your hand or your foot causes you to sin, 10  cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have 11  two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have 12  two eyes and be thrown into fiery hell. 13 

1 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

2 sn The point of the comparison become like little children has more to do with a child’s trusting spirit, as well as willingness to be dependent and receive from others, than any inherent humility the child might possess.

3 tn The negation in Greek (οὐ μή, ou mh) is very strong here.

4 tn This verb, δέχομαι (decomai), is a term of hospitality (L&N 34.53).

5 tn The Greek term σκανδαλίζω (skandalizw), translated here “causes to sin” can also be translated “offends” or “causes to stumble.”

6 tn Grk “the millstone of a donkey.” This refers to a large flat stone turned by a donkey in the process of grinding grain (BDAG 661 s.v. μύλος 2; L&N 7.68-69). The same term is used in the parallel account in Mark 9:42.

sn The punishment of drowning with a heavy weight attached is extremely gruesome and reflects Jesus’ views concerning those who cause others who believe in him to sin.

7 tn The term translated “open” here (πελάγει, pelagei) refers to the open sea as opposed to a stretch of water near a coastline (BDAG 794 s.v. πέλαγος). A similar English expression would be “the high seas.”

8 tn Grk “For it.” Here γάρ (gar) has not been translated.

9 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

10 sn In Greek there is a wordplay that is difficult to reproduce in English here. The verb translated “causes…to sin” (σκανδαλίζω, skandalizw) comes from the same root as the word translated “stumbling blocks” (σκάνδαλον, skandalon) in the previous verse.

11 tn Grk “than having.”

12 tn Grk “than having.”

13 tn Grk “the Gehenna of fire.”

sn See the note on the word hell in 5:22.



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