“causes you to fall away.” The REV has translated the Greek as “causes you to fall away,” a translation of skandalizō (#4624 σκανδαλίζω). “Offends you” misses the mark, because many people are not offended by sin, especially their own. You may or may not be offended by your own sin, but that is not the point of the verse. The idea is that if your hand causes you to fall away from obedience, then something has to be done. We felt that “cause you to stumble” was too weak, given that by definition stumble means “almost fall.” Christ is not saying that if your hand almost makes you fall, then cut it off, but rather if your hand causes you to fall into sin and disobedience, do what it takes to stop the situation from happening. Christ’s making this point is important, and occurs three times (Matt. 5:29; 18:9; and Mark 9:47).
“gouge it out.” This is the figure of speech hyperbole (exaggeration).a The people of the Eastern culture often use hyperbole to make a point, even as we Westerners do. We say, “I’m starved,” when we mean we are hungry, or “I’m freezing” when we are uncomfortably cold. In the same way, people in the biblical culture overstated points to make a point. In this case, Christ was saying that people need to take drastic action to keep from sinning. This is a lesson we all need to learn: many people make peace with their sin rather than deal with it and stop sinning.
“Gehenna.” For information on Gehenna and that people do not burn forever, see commentary on Matthew 5:22.
[For information on annihilation in the lake of fire, see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire.”]