Are You a Stumbling Block?

Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block in Matthew 16:23. This is the Greek noun skandalon. What does he mean? Further investigation reveals that Matthew uses this word three times as well as the corresponding verb, skandalizo, eleven times in his gospel.

As you read the definitions and the corresponding verses, consider the ways you might cause another to stumble or be a stumbling block to someone else.

1. To entice to sin

5:29–30 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

18:6 If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

2. To cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one who he ought to trust and obey

13:21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

26:33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

3. To be offended by, to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority

11:6 “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

13:57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

26:31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

4. To cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another

17:27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

5. To cause one to feel displeasure or to make indignant

15:12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

In it’s noun form, skandalon, means:

6. Any person or thing by which one is drawn into error or sin

13:41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

7. Words or deeds which entice to sin

18:7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!


All scripture is from the New International Version

All definitions from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

One thought on “Are You a Stumbling Block?

  1. Pingback: Portraits of Peter: He is Every One of Us | Pondered Treasures

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