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 11:9 “And 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 “But 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.”
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
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 34:31 “Surely 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
Hosea “Though thou,
In the New Testament it is used by James twice, both cases as a synonym for sinning. First:
James “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 32:19 “And 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
I Kings “And
The time will come when God will
again destroy this earth because of sin and purge his people just as he did
Matthew “The Son of man shall send
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 “Wherefore, 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 8:9-10 “9But take heed lest by any means this
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 8:11-12 “And 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 14:21-22 “It 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
Acts 25:7 “And when he was come, the Jews
which came down from
They “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 25:8 “While he answered
for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the
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 3:5 “Circumcised
the eighth day, of the stock of
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:
Psalms 73:15 “IF I SAY, I WILL SPEAK THUS; BEHOLD, I SHOULD OFFEND against THE GENERATION OF THY CHILDREN.”
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
Psalms 73:1 “TRULY GOD is GOOD TO ISRAEL, even TO SUCH AS ARE OF A CLEAN HEART.” v.4-5 “FOR there is NO BANDS IN THEIR DEATH: BUT THEIR STRENGTH is FIRM. THEY are NOT IN TROUBLE as other MEN; NEITHER ARE THEY PLAGUED LIKE other MEN.”
Psalms 73:8-9 “THEY ARE CORRUPT, AND SPEAK WICKEDLY concerning OPPRESSION: THEY SPEAK LOFTILY. THEY SET THEIR MOUTH AGAINST THE HEAVENS, AND THEIR TONGUE WALKETH THROUGH THE EARTH.”
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 5:29-30 “And 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 -47
Second: Jesus used this word to indicate one who would place a stumbling block before a little child that believes in him:
Matthew 18:6 “But 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 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 17:27 “Notwithstanding, 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
John 6:61 “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?”
Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Wednesday Evening Adult,