Matthew 5:29 And if your right eye offend you,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 5:29 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.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

If, however, your eye, the right one, trips you up, you should take it out for yourself and toss away from you! Because it helps you when it destroys itself, one of those members of yours, and you don't want your whole body tossed in a trash heap.

Hidden Meaning: 

this is again another of those verses where Christ suddenly switches to the first person singular, apparently addressed to a single person, not the crowd who was being addressed in the previous verses. It is important to understand that this verse follows after Mat 5:28, where the point is looking at a woman to the point of an obsession. While this verse seems very harsh reading its translation in English, in the Greek, it comes across much more as a humorous exaggeration. Keep in mind that Christ was entertaining an audience here.

The word translated as "and," is usually translated as "but" or "however." "However" gives a similar feel to the Greek because the Greek word always appears as the second word in the phrase, which doesn't work with "but" or "and."

The Greek word for "right" means "right" but it has a few different connotations in Greek than English. It means "lucky" and "clever." In the original text, this word is used as a noun after the word eye so it has the sense of "the right one" or "the clever one."

The word translated as "eye" means "eye," and has many of the same uses as a metaphor as English, but different ones also. For example, the head of a household was called the "eye" of the household. The king's "eye" was considered his confidant.

The key word here the Greek word translated as "offend." It is one that is found only in the Bible and later Christian works. It refers to putting a stumbling block before someone so that they trip and thereby offending them. In English, we would simply say, "trips you up."

The Greek verb translated as "pluck..out" means literally to "choose out of," but its primary meaning is "to take out for oneself" with a strong secondary means of "to choose for oneself." In referring to the "eye," it means both taking out the eye for yourself and choosing the best for yourself. The word is humorous in the way it is applied to a large range of situations. It is much like our phrase 'picking out," which can be applied to making a selecting and pulling out a splinter.

The Greek word translated as "cast" means "to throw" or "to toss." Christ uses it most commonly in the sense of "tossing out" something from demons to trash. Like our word, "to toss" it takes on a humorous feeling the way Christ uses it.

The Greek word translated as "it is profitable" primarily means "bring together" and "to gather." In English, we say "assist" in the same sense. So it also means to "work with", "help", or "be useful" in the sense of conferring a benefit. In an adjective form (not used here), it has the sense of "fitting" and "useful". The sense is that "it is good for one."

The Greek word translated as "that" can also mean "when." This works better because of the form of the next word.

The word "one" is used here explicitly. It is the subject of the word translated as "perish."

The word translated as "member" primarily means "limb." However, it also means a "feature," that is, a part of the whole. However, coupled with the one, it suggests a double entendre for another part of the body that is more like a limb.

The word translated as "shall perish" also means "to lose." Christ often uses it to mean "to destroy." It is in the form of something that "might" happen. This form is used when the verb is preceded (as it is here) with a word that indicates something that only happens at certain times. It is not in the future tense, but the tense of something happening at some time. Also, it is not in a passive form, but in a form where the thing (here the number "one") acts on itself.

The negative here is the subjective negative, something you don't want or think. Often if works best translating this word as "don't want."

The "cast" here is the same verb as above. It has the feeling of "toss."

The Greek word translated as "hell" refers to the trash dump outside of Jerusalem. See this article on the words for "hell".  



The "right eye" also means a "lucky sight," in this case, referring to looking at an attractive woman.

"Plucking out" an eye also means "choosing" the best "for yourself." 

The Spoken Version: 

“When it comes to women, my right eye has a mind of its own!” The joker responded.
This brought guffaws from several in the crowd, but most looked to see how the teacher would react.
The speaker surprised them, grinning at the comment.
“If, however, that eye of yours—,” he answered quickly. “The right one?” He pointed to his own right eye. Then his right eye slowly began to wander as if following something while his left eye focused on the man he was addressing.
Many in the crowd noticed, pointed, and laughed.
As his eyes crossed, the speaker attempted to take a step only to stumbled.
Everyone laughed.
“Trips you up!” The speaker squawked as he staggered. Then he wagged an accusing finger at his eye angrily and said, “Pluck it out—.” He covered the offending eye with one hand while the other pretended to pull it out. “And toss it away from you.” He made a clumsy toss while still covering his right eye and grimacing in mock pain.
The people laughed at his antics.
“Because,” he explained, “it helps you when it destroys itself—.” He paused, moving his hand as if to protect his privates. “One of your—members,” he said carefully,

The audience groaned and laughed.
“And you don’t want your body,” he continued lightheartedly, “tossed into the Gehenna.” He repeated the motion of tossing out the trash followed by holding his nose and waving away an imaginary stench.


εἰ (conj) "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 (partic) "And" 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").

ὀφθαλμός (noun sg masc nom) "Eye" is from ophthalmos, which means "eye", "sight", "the dearest and best", "light", "cheer", "comfort," and "the bud [of a plant]."

σου (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

δεξιὸς (adj sg masc nom) "Right" is from dexios, which means "on the right hand", "fortunate", "skillful", "ready", "clever," and "kindly."

σκανδαλίζει ,(3rd sg pres ind act) "Offend" is from skandalizo, which means "to cause to stumble", "to give offense," and "to scandalize."

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

ἔξελε (2nd sg aor imperat act) "Pluck...out" is from exaireo, which means "to take out", "to take out for oneself", "to remove from stock", "to choose for oneself", "to chose", "to carry off booty", "to have accepted", "to be set apart [for funds]", "to remove [people]", "to destroy", "to annul," and "to set free." It literally means "to choose from."

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "It" 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 (conj) "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 (2nd sg aor imperat act) "Cast" is from ballo (ballo), which means "to throw", "to let fall", "to put", "to pour," or "to cast."

ἀπὸ (prep) "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to a place or a 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."

συμφέρει (3rd sg pres ind act) "It is profitable" is from symphero, which means "to bring together", "to gather", "collect", "contribute", "to confer a benefit", "to be useful", "work with", "be with," and "agree with." In the passive, it means "to come together", "to engage", "to battle," [of events] "to occur", "to happen," "to turn out" and [literally] "to be carried along with."

γάρ (partic) "For" comes from gar (gar) which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

σοι (pron 2nd sg dat ) "For you" is from su which means "you" and "your."

ἵνα (conj) "That" is from hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

ἀπόληται (3rd sg aor subj mid) "Should perish" is from apollymi, which means "to demolish", "to lay waste", "to lose", "to perish", "to die", "to cease to exist," and "to be undone."

ἓν (noun sg neut nom) "One" is from heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

τῶν μελῶν (noun pl neut gen) "Members" is from melos, which means "limb", "feature", "form", "a musical phrase," and "the music to which a song is set."

σου (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

καὶ (conj) "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."

μὴ (partic) "Not" is from me, which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

ὅλον (adj sg neut nom/acc) "Whole" is from holos, which means "the whole", "entire", "the universe," and "safe and sound."

τὸ σῶμά (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Body" is soma, which is the physical substance of things, the body of men and animals or of heavenly bodies or groups of people.

σου (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

βληθῇ (3rd sg aor subj pass ) "Should be cast" is from ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall", "to put", "to pour," or "to cast."

εἰς (prep) "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)."

γέενναν: (noun sg fem acc) "Hell" is geenna, which is Greek for Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom (the Hebrew word), south of Jerusalem where trash, including diseased animals and human bodies were burned. A constant fire was kept burning there. This area was originally where children were sacrificed to Baal, and Baal (Beelzebub, "lord of the flies") is the name that Christ says others call him as the personification of evil.

Related Verses: 

Jan 24 2017