This lesson is designed to be a study of the word offend that we find in the English translation of scripture.  It has a variety of applications and we will study as many as we have time for tonight.  First of all let’s look at the Greek source and its meaning.  From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:


Greek SKANDALIZO; It is a verb, an action word, something that we do.  In scripture it is not always used the way we most commonly use it today.  “It signifies to put a snare or stumbling block in the way, always metaphorically in the N.T. in the same way as the noun,” offense is used.  This noun form, translated offense, is the Greek word SKANDALON.  Its original usage in that language was “the name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence, the trap or snare itself”.  David used it to request that which he wanted God to do to those who were his enemies:


Psalms 69:22 “LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE BEFORE THEM: AND that which should have been FOR their WELFARE, let it become A TRAP.”


Paul quotes David in the Roman letter where he considers those Jews who would destroy his work for the Lord.


Romans 11:9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:”


            When we look at the original language in:


Matthew 16:23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”


Peter protested when Jesus told his disciples that he must die.  Jesus is telling Peter that in Peter’s words Jesus finds a trap laid for him by Satan.  Satan is using Peter to try to weaken the resolve of the Christ to go to Jerusalem and face his death and crucifixion that will occur there.

            So let’s look at some the places and ways that we find this word, offend or it’s synonyms, used in scripture.


1. To commit any sin in thought, word or deed:


On a few occasions it is used to describe something that God finds offensive.  Elihu uses it to tell Job what he needs to do in order to make himself right with God and to escape the trials that have been brought upon him.


Job 34:31Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:”


Elihu is telling Job that he should go before God in repentance and not offend God any more.  In this context it is used to indicate sin.  And it is used by the prophet to express God’s desire for Judah:


Hosea 4:15Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.


In the New Testament it is used by James twice, both cases as a synonym for sinning.  First:


James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”


Then in God’s warning for “masters” or teachers is that if they offend, i.e. sin, with their tongues or their teaching they will bear “greater condemnation” because of their responsibility:


James 3:2  For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word; the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”


But when we limit the word to that narrow definition it is difficult to think of God being trapped or snared and I wonder if there may be a stronger word available to translate God’s reaction to our sin.  In the way we use the word today God is offended when we sin.  There are a number of other words that are used to explain God’s response to sin.  In our common usage of the word we would say that those who use false weights and measures, cheat people in business offend God. 


16For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 25:16


The word abomination is used in this context and it is commonly used in scripture.  Those who sin are an abomination to God; something that he abhors, another word for hate:


Deuteronomy 32:19And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.”


Those who offend God provoke him to wrath, the kind of wrath that caused him to destroy this world once by flood and that caused him to remove his chosen people from their land promised and eventually destroy them completely.  Speaking of Rehoboam the son of Judah:


I Kings 14:22And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.”


            The time will come when God will again destroy this earth because of sin and purge his people just as he did Judah to prepare for the coming of Christ.  The parable of the tares brings this message from God:


Matthew 13:41 “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;”


2. The word offend means to be scandalized (the Greek SCANDALIZO). We use the word scandal much differently today but in scripture to scandalize is to cause one to stumble by our example.  This traps or snares them into thinking the wrong thing and can even cause them to sin.


I Corinthians 8:13Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”


            Paul is writing about a person being offended by seeing another person do something that they are free to do but that the first person thinks is wrong.  It weakens their faith; they sin as a result and lose their soul.  Most often when we study this subject, teachers and preachers alike most often talk about eating meat that had been offered to idols and then sold in the marketplace.  While that would be a valid situation it is not the entire context of I Corinthians 8.


I Corinthians 8:9-109But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;”


The offense would be if one who knows that the meat offered to idols is no different that any other meat, the point that Paul makes in verse eight and by exercising this freedom offends another and cause him to stumble:


I Corinthians 8:11-12And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”


Paul also writes to the Roman church:


Romans 14:21-22It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”


3.  The word offend is used to mean to act unjustly or to injure someone.


            When Paul was brought before Festus, Jews came down to Caesarea from Jerusalem to testify against him.  The scripture tells us that they brought all manner of charges against Paul:


Acts 25:7And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.”




This sounds like some of our mud-slinging politicians of today doesn’t it?  It doesn’t matter how big the lie is, if they repeat it often enough a lot of folks will believe it.  This is the tactic being used against Paul.  His response gives us this definition for the word offend:


Acts 25:8While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.


Though Paul was God’s apostle to the Gentile people he never lost sight of his origin nor did he offend God and or the Mosaic Law.  The Holy Spirit calls him “BLAMELESS” in his defense against Judaizing teachers:


Philippians 3:5Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”


Though he could have offended other men this way, Paul did not and by recording these words help us understand that meaning of the word offend.


4.   Offend is used to mean “to wrong” someone but still in the context of becoming a stumbling block:




            Asaph here is talking about offending the children of God, becoming a trap, snare or stumbling block to them.  First of all he saw that God was good to Israel:




But Israel was corrupt, unfaithful and rebellious:




Asaph said that he was envious of them but would hold his tongue and not speak evil of them lest he cause other children of God to stumble.

            In addition to his admonition to Peter Jesus uses this word throughout the gospels to indicate a cause of stumbling or allowing someone to be trapped or snared into sin.  These examples are from the KJV, in the RSV the same verb is translated “to stumble” or “to cause to stumble in many of these references.


First of all we can cause ourselves to be trapped or to stumble:


Matthew 5:29-30And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”


This usage if repeated in Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:43-47


Second: Jesus used this word to indicate one who would place a stumbling block before a little child that believes in him:


Matthew 18:6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”


And again in Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2  Of course, this can be applied to anyone whom we might cause to stumble.


Third: Jesus uses it to teach us that disobedience of civil authority would not only be sin but possibly that it would cause one to stumble or think evil of the kingdom of Christ by the example we would be portraying:


Matthew 17:27Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”


Fourth: Jesus uses it to describe the condition of his disciples in their reaction to his teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum:


John 6:61When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?”


William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Wednesday Evening Adult, April 8, 2009