It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)It were batter for him . . .—See Note on Matthew 18:6, where the order of the two sayings is inverted. Assuming the words to have been repeated where we find them here, the “little ones” must mean the disciples of Christ who are, in both senses of the word “offended” by the worldliness of those who profess to be religious. They are made to stumble by the temptation to follow the bad example, or their faith in the reality of godliness is shaken by seeing that the form exists without the power.Matthew 18:6-7.
Lu 17:1-10. Offenses—Faith—Humility.
1, 2. (See Mt 18:6, 7).See Poole on "Luke 17:2" Matthew 18:6 and See Gill on Mark 9:42. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 17:2. λυσιτελεῖ (λύω, τέλος), it profits or pays; here only in N.T. = συμφέρει in Matthew 18:6.—λίθος μυλικός, a millstone, not a great millstone, one driven by an ass (μύλος ὀνικὸς, T.R.), as in Mt.: the vehement emphasis of Christ’s words is toned down in Lk. here as often elsewhere. The realistic expression of Mt. is doubtless truer to the actual utterance of Jesus, who would speak of the offences created by ambition with passionate abhorrence.—περίκειται = perf. pass. of περιτίθημι in sense = has been placed; with ἔρριπται, another perfect, suggesting the idea of an action already complete—the miscreant with a stone round his neck thrown into the sea.—εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν: here again a subdued expression compared with Mt.—ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ, than to scandalise; the subj. with ἵνα = the infinitive. Vide Winer, § 44, 8.2. It were better for him, &c.] The literal rendering of the verse is “It is for his advantage if a millstone is hanging round his neck, and he has been flung into the sea, rather than that, &c.” In other words, the fate of a man who is lying drowned at the bottom of the sea is better than if his continuance in life would have led to causing “one of these little ones” to stumble. The general thought is like that of Queen Blanche, who used to say of her son St Louis when he was a boy, that she would rather see him dead at her feet than know that he had fallen into a deadly sin.
a millstone] The true reading here is lithos mulikos, not mulos onikos, a millstone so large as to require an ass to work it. This is introduced from Matthew 18:6.
one of these little ones] St Mark adds “that believe in me” (Luke 9:42). The reference is not to children, or the young, though of course the warning applies no less to their case; but primarily to publicans and weak believers. Christ calls even the Apostles ‘children, John 13:33 (cf. 1 John 2:12-13).Luke 17:2. Τούτων, of these) By this pronoun, Luke shows evidently that “the little ones” were present in the midst of them.
Only here in New Testament. The verb means to pay what is due, and is equivalent to our phrase, it pays.
Compare Matthew 18:6. The correct reading here is λίθος μυλικός, a millstone; not a great millstone as Matthew
Hurled: with an underlying sense of violence, called out by so great an outrage.
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