Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if your hand or your foot offend thee,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast 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.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

If, however, your hand or foot trips you up, [then] cut it out and toss [it] away from you! It is noble for you to come into life limping and deformed than, having two hands and two feet, to be tossed into perpetual funeral fire.

Hidden Meaning: 

In the KJV, this verse sounds very threatening, but reading it in the Greek, it is clearly meant to be light and a comedic play on words and exaggeration. You can practically see Christ acting out the limp and deformity like someone playing Richard the III.

The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether than condition is met or not. It

"Offends" is from a verb which means "to cause someone to stumble" and "to give offense." It is from a Hebrew word that means "trap" or snare." We saw its noun form used several times in the previous verse (Mat 18:7). In that verse, "traps" worked better but we often translate this word as "to trip up," since that idea captures much of sense.

"Cut off" is from a verb which means "to cut out", "knock out", "to make an end to," and "to bring to a stop." It has much the same meaning as when you tell someone, to "cut it out!" The listener wouldn't even think of the "cutting off" meaning until the "throw" is added, especially since the pronoun is not them, but "it."

"Throw" is from a verb which means "to throw to hit", "to let fall without caring where", "to put," or "to caste." Its use might be compared to the way we use "throw" in a phase like "throw into confusion" or "tossing" something away. The term used for "cast" also means "drop it" like we would drop a bad habit.

The word translated as "them" is actually singular, "it." This works better because the sense here is to stop what you are doing and drop "it", while the word play makes it sound like cutting off your members.

When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence without a subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." The verb here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

The word translated as "better" means "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality." It is not in the comparative form. See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

"Enter" is from a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind."

The word translated as "into" means into a place, but generally takes its "to" and "into" meaning from the context. In English, we would say "through" life but the "into" here is intentional.

The word translated as "life" means "living" but it also means "substance", "existence," and "property." Christ uses it to mean "existence" the includes and reaches beyond physical life. Because of

"Halt" is from an adjective that means "lame", "limping," and "defective."

"Maimed" is from an adjective means "club-footed", "deformed", "crooked," and "crippled."

"Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primary "or", as it is used many times in this verse, but serves as "than" in a comparison.

"Everlasting" is from an adjective that means "lasting for an age", "perpetual," and "eternal." From "aion" which is used in the bible to mean an "age."

"Fire" is from the noun that means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", "hearthfire", "lightning", "the light of torches," and "heat of fever." It is the word basis for our word "pyre."

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "cut..off" primarily means to stop, Christ plays on both sense of the word here. Stopping what we are doing and cutting off our body parts. 

Vocabulary: 

Εἰ "If" is from ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions.

δὲ "But" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

χείρ (noun sg fem nom) "Hand" is from cheir (cheir) which means "the hand and arm," and "with the help of agency of another." Like "hand" in English, it has a lot of meanings including "an act or deed", "a body of people," and the measurement "handful."

σου "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

"Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primary "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

πούς (noun sg masc nom) "Foot" is from pous, which means a "foot", "a talon [of a bird]," and the concept of "to trample" or "to tred upon." -- The word translated as "feet" refers to human feet, birds's talons, and trampling things. It was the Jewish

σου "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

σκανδαλίζει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Offends" is from skandalizô, which means "to cause someone to stumble" and "to give offense." It is from skandalon, which means a "trap" or "snare" for an enemy. this is one of the words that starts with the Greek version of the Old Testament from the Hebrew word for "noose" or "snare."

σε, (pron 2nd sg acc) "Thee" is from su which means "you" and "your."

ἔκκοψον (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Cut...off" is from ekkoptô, which means "to cut out", "knock out", "to make an end to," and "to bring to a stop." It has much the same meaning as when you tell someone, to "cut it out!"

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Them" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of ones own accord." -

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

βάλε (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Cast" is from ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall," "to cast," "to put", "to pour", "to place money on deposit", "push forward or in front [of animals]", "to shed", "to place", "to pay,"to throw [of dice,]" "to be lucky", "to fall", "to lay as foundation", "to begin to form", "to dash oneself with water," and "to bathe."

ἀπὸ "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

σοῦ: (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thee" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

καλόν (adj sg neut nom) "Better" is from kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "beautiful", "fair", "good", "auspicious", "moral beauty", "virtue," (of good fortune) "well," "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base."

σοί (pron 2nd sg dat) "For thee" is from soi which is the singular, second person pronoun, "you".

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

εἰσελθεῖν (verb aor inf act) "To enter" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

εἰς "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)." -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

τὴν ζωὴν (noun sg fem acc) "Life" is from zoe, which means "living", "substance", "property", "existence," and, incidentally, "the scum on milk." It has the sense of how we say "make a living" to mean property. Homer used it more to mean the opposite of death.

κυλλὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Maimed" is from kullos, which means "club-footed", "deformed", "crooked," and "crippled."

"Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primary "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

χωλόν, (adj sg masc acc) "Halt" is from chôlos, which means "lame", "limping," and "defective." A very similar word, cholos, which means "gall", "bitter", "angry," and "wrathful."

"Rather than" is from e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than."

δύο "Two" is from duo, which means the number "two", "a couple," and "a pair."

χεῖρας (noun pl fem acc) "Hands" is from cheir (cheir) which means "the hand and arm," and "with the help of agency of another." Like "hand" in English, it has a lot of meanings including "an act or deed", "a body of people," and the measurement "handful."

"Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primary "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

δύο πόδας (noun pl masc acc) "Feett" is from pous, which means a "foot", "a talon [of a bird]," and the concept of "to trample" or "to tred upon." -- The word translated as "feet" refers to human feet, birds's talons, and trampling things. It was the Jewish

ἔχοντα (part sg pres act masc acc) "Have" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do." -- The word translated as "have" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

βληθῆναι (verb aor inf pass) "To be cast" is from ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall," "to cast," "to put", "to pour", "to place money on deposit", "push forward or in front [of animals]", "to shed", "to place", "to pay,"to throw [of dice,]" "to be lucky", "to fall", "to lay as foundation", "to begin to form", "to dash oneself with water," and "to bathe."

εἰς "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὸ πῦρ (noun sg neut acc) "Fire" is from pyr (pur), which means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", "hearth-fire", "lightning", "the light of torches," and "heat of fever."

τὸ αἰώνιον. (adj sg neut acc) "Everlasting" is from aionios, which means "lasting for an age", "perpetual," and "eternal." From "aion" which is used in the bible to mean an "age."

adj sg masc acc

noun sg neut acc

Related Verses: