Stumbling Block

STUMBLING BLOCK (מִכְשׁﯴל, H4842, cause of stumbling; מַכְשֵׁלָה, H4843, cause of stumbling; πρόσκομμα, G4682, a striking against; σκάνδαλον, G4998, a trap-stick).


In the NT the idea of “striking against” an object so as to stumble speaks fig. of a weaker brother who stumbles in his Christian walk (Rom 14:13; 1 Cor 8:9). The cause of stumbling lies in the action of the stronger Christian who in taking advantage of his superior understanding of Christian liberty fails to show consideration for one whose conscience is more easily offended. Paul’s life was an outstanding example of the proper exercise of such love and consideration (1 Cor 9).

The stronger reference to a stumbling block in the NT is built on the figure of a trap that is baited for the unsuspecting prey. This term is used in connection with the failure of Israel to recognize her suffering Messiah (Rom 11:9; 1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11). In this case the cross is not viewed as a trap. Rather the preconceived ideas of Israel regarding the person and work of Messiah were the cause of their downfall, since these ideas excluded the possibility of His suffering.

In Revelation 2:14 the trap is linked with the action of Balaam and Balak in luring Israel to eat food sacrificed to idols and to practice idolatry.

Article 2

STUMBLING BLOCK (Heb. mikshôl, Gr. skandalon). Anything that causes a person to trip or fall or, figuratively, causes material or spiritual ruin. Israel’s iniquity and idolatry were a stumbling block to her (Jer.18.15; Ezek.14.3-Ezek.14.4). Paul forbade putting a stumbling block in a Christian’s way (Rom.14.13; 1Cor.8.9). Jesus, as preached by Paul (Rom.9.32), was a stumbling block to the Jews (1Cor.1.23).