Cut off your hand (Mk 9:43-9:43)

“If your hand

Causes you

To stumble,

Cut it off!

It is better

For you

To enter life

Maimed

Than with two hands

And go to hell,

To the unquenchable fire.”

 

Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου, ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν· καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, ἢ τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν, εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον

 

This saying about better to be maimed than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes since he united the hand and foot together.    In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your hand caused you to stumble, sin, or scandalize others (Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν).  It would be better for you to enter life maimed or crippled (καλόν ἐστιν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν) than to have two hands (ἢ δύο χεῖρας).  Then you would go away into Gehenna (ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν), the unquenchable fire (εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον).  The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off maimed with one hand than being in these everlasting hell fires.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare, get rid of it, even if it is one of your own hands.

Pay the tax anyway (Mt 17:27-17:27)

“However,

Not to give offense

To them,

Go to the sea!

Cast a hook!

Take the first fish

That comes up!

When you open its mouth,

You will find a coin.

Take that!

Give it to them

For you

And for me!”

 

ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς, πορευθεὶς εἰς θάλασσαν βάλε ἄγκιστρον καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον, καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ εὑρήσεις στατῆρα· ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  After just saying that they did not have to pay the Temple tax, Jesus reminded them that they should not offend or scandalize the Temple tax collectors (ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς).  He told Peter to go the sea (πορευθεὶς εἰς θάλασσαν), probably the Sea of Galilee, and throw out a hook into the sea (βάλε ἄγκιστρον).  Peter was to catch the first fish that came up out of the water (καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον).  Then Peter was to open the mouth of this fish (καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ).  He would find a coin called a “statara” “στατῆρα,” in its mouth (εὑρήσεις στατῆρα).  This coin was worth about 2 didrachmas, enough to pay the temple tax for two people.  Thus, Peter was to pay the Temple tax collectors for Peter and himself (ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ).  The money did not come from Jesus and his disciples, but from this magic fish.  There was no mention of the other disciples paying this tax.