OFFENSE (ŏ-fĕns', Heb. ’āsham, hātā’, Gr. skandalon). The word is used in a variety of ways in Scripture, as it is in English: injury, hurt, damage, occasion of sin, a stumbling block, an infraction of law, sin, transgression, state of being offended. In the NT it is often used in the sense of stumbling block (
OFFENSE (Heb. אָשַׁם, H870, חֵטְא, H2628, מִכְשׁוֹל, H4842, Gr. σκάνδαλον, G4998). The Gr. term is tr. “stumbling block” or “occasion of stumbling” in the ASV.
The key word is σκάνδαλον, G4998. This was used first for the bait stick on a snare or trap, which would cause it to spring shut. Then it came to be used for the trap or snare itself. The cognate verb, σκανδαλίζω, G4997, (cf. “scandalize”) is tr. twenty-eight of the thirty times it occurs as “offend” (KJV), and the other two times as “make to offend.” The ASV prefers “cause to stumble.”
Both these words occur most frequently in the gospels—the noun six times, the verb twenty-six times. The Master warned His disciples solemnly: “If your right eye causes you to sin [KJV ‘offend thee’], pluck it out and throw it away” (
Jesus used the term in another way. He said: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin [KJV ‘But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe]...’” (
Another important passage is
R. C. H. Lenski, Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (1943), 227-229; W. Barclay,Wordbook (1955), 111-114.