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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Offence; Offend

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o - fens ´, o - fend ´ ( מכשׁול , mikhshōl , אשׁם , 'āsham , חטא , ḥāṭā' ; σκάνδαλον , skándalon , σκανδαλίζω , skandalı́zō ): "Offend" is either transitive or intransitive As transitive it is primarily "to strike against," hence, "to displease" "to make angry," "to do harm to," "to affront," in Scripture, "to cause to sin"; intransitive it is "to sin," "to cause anger," in Scripture, "to be caused to sin." "Offence" is either the cause of anger, displeasure, etc., or a sin. In Scripture we have the special significance of a stumbling-block , or cause of falling, sin, etc.

1. Old Testament Usage:

In the Old Testament it is frequently the translation of 'āsham , "to be guilty," "to transgress": Jeremiah 2:3 , the Revised Version (British and American) "shall be held guilty"; Jeremiah 50:7 , the Revised Version (British and American) "not guilty"; Ezekiel 25:12 , "hath greatly offended"; Hosea 4:15 , the Revised Version margin "become guilty"; Hosea 5:15 , "till they acknowledge their offense," the Revised Version margin "have borne their guilt"; Hosea 13:1 , "He offended in Baal," the Revised Version margin "became guilty"; Habakkuk 1:11 , "He shall pass over, and offend, (imputing) this his power unto his god," the Revised Version (British and American) "Then shall he sweep by (as) a wind, and shall pass over (margin "transgress"), and be guilty, (even) he whose might is his god."

In 2 Chronicles 28:13 , we have'ashmath‛al , literally, "the offense against," the Revised Version (British and American) "a trespass (margin "or guilt") against Yahweh"; we have also ḥāṭā' , "to miss the mark," "to sin," "to err" (Genesis 20:9 , the Revised Version (British and American) "sinned against thee"; Genesis 40:1 , "offended their lord"; 2 Kings 18:14 ; Jeremiah 37:18 , the Revised Version (British and American) "sinned against thee"); bāghadh , "to deal treacherously" (Psalm 73:15 , "offend against the generation of thy children," the Revised Version (British and American) "dealt treacherously with"); ḥābhal , "to act wickedly" (Job 34:31 ); mikhshōl , "a stumbling block" (Leviticus 19:14 ; translated in Isaiah 8:14 , "a rock of offense"; compare Ezekiel 14:3 ; 1 Samuel 25:31 ; Psalm 119:165 , "nothing shall offend," the Revised Version (British and American) "no occasion of stumbling"; compare Isaiah 57:14 ; Jeremiah 6:21 , etc.); pāsha‛ , "to be fractious," "to transgress" (Proverbs 18:19 , "a brother offended," the Revised Version margin "injured"). "Offence" is mikhshōl (see above, 1 Samuel 25:31 ; Isaiah 8:14 ); ḥēṭ' , "sin," etc. (Ecclesiastes 10:4 , "Yielding pacifleth great offenses," the American Standard Revised Version "Gentleness (the English Revised Version "yielding") allayeth," the American Revised Version margin "Calmness (the English Revised Version "gentleness") leaveth great sins undone"). "Offender" is ḥaṭṭā' (1 Kings 1:21 , margin "Hebrew: sinners"; Isaiah 29:21 , "that make a man an offender for a word," the American Standard Revised Version "that make a man an offender in his cause," margin "make men to offend by (their) words," or, "for a word," the English Revised Version "in a cause," margin "make men to offend by (their) words").

2. New Testament Usage:

The New Testament usage of these words deserves special attention. The word most frequently translated "offend" in the King James Version is skandalizō ( skandalon , "offence"), very frequent in the Gospels ( Matthew 5:29 , "if thy right eye offend thee"; Matthew 5:30 ; Matthew 11:6 ; Matthew 18:6 , "whoso shall offend one of these little ones"; Matthew 13:41 , "all things that offend"; Luke 17:1 , "It is impossible but that offenses will come," etc.; Romans 14:21 ; Romans 16:17 , "Mark them which cause ... offenses"; 1 Corinthians 8:13 twice, "if meat make my brother to offend," etc.). Skandalon is primarily "a trap-stick," "a bentstick on which the bait is fastened which the animal strikes against and so springs the trap," hence, it came to denote a "snare," or anything which one strikes against injuriously (it is Septuagint's word for mōḳēsh , a "noose" or "snare," Joshua 23:13 ; 1 Samuel 18:21 ); "a stumbling-block" Septuagint for mikhshōl (see above), Leviticus 19:14 ). For skandalizō , skandalon , translated in the King James Version, "offend," "offence," the Revised Version (British and American) gives "cause to stumble," "stumbling-block," etc.; thus, Matthew 5:29 , "if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble," i.e. "is an occasion for thy falling into sin"; Matthew 16:23 , "Thou art a stumbling-block unto me," an occasion of turning aside from the right path; in Matthew 26:31 , Matthew 26:33 twice, "offended" is retained, margin, Matthew 26:33 twice, "Greek: caused to stumble" (same word in Matthew 26:31 ); Mark 9:42 , "whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble," to fall away from the faith, or fall into sin; Luke 17:1 , "It is impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come; but woe unto him, through whom they come"; in Romans 14:21 ; Romans 16:17 ; in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 , Paul's language has the same meaning, and we see how truly he had laid to heart the Saviour's earnest admonitions - "weak brethren" with him answering to the master's "little ones who believe"; Romans 14:21 , "It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth," i.e. "is led by your example to do that which he cannot do with a good conscience"; Romans 14:20 , "It is evil for that man who eateth with offense (diá proskómmatos )," so as to place a stumbling-block before his brother, or, rather, 'without the confidence that he is doing right'; compare Romans 14:23 , "He that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin"; so 1 Corinthians 8:13 ; Romans 16:17 , "Mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine, (margin "teaching") which ye learned" (Is not the "teaching" of Christ Himself implied here?). Everything that would embolden another to do that which would be wrong for him, or that would turn anyone away from the faith, must be carefully avoided, seeking to please, not ourselves, but to care for our brother, "for whom Christ died," "giving no occasion of stumbling (proskopḗ ) in anything" (2 Corinthians 6:3 ).

Apróskopos , "not causing to stumble," is translated "void of offense" ( Acts 24:16 , "a conscience void of offense"; 1 Corinthians 10:32 , the Revised Version (British and American) "occasion of stumbling"; Philippians 1:10 , "void of offense"); hamártanō , "to miss the mark," "to sin," "to err," is translated "offended" (Acts 25:8 , the Revised Version (British and American) "sinned"); hamartı́a , "sin," "error" (2 Corinthians 11:7 , the Revised Version (British and American) "Did I commit a sin?"); ptaı́ō , "to stumble," "fall" (James 2:10 ; James 3:2 twice, "offend," the Revised Version (British and American) "stumble," "stumbleth"); paráptōma , "a falling aside or away," is translated "offence" (Romans 4:25 ; Romans 5:15 twice, Romans 5:16 , Romans 5:17 , Romans 5:18 , Romans 5:20 , in each case the Revised Version (British and American) "trespass"); adikéō , "to be unrighteous" (Acts 25:11 , the Revised Version (British and American) "wrongdoer," the King James Version "offender").

In the Apocrypha we have "offence" ( skandalon , Judith 12:2 ), the Revised Version (British and American) "I will not eat thereof, lest there be an occasion of stumbling"; "offend" ( hamartanō , Sirach 7:7 ), the Revised Version (British and American) "sin"; "greatly offended" ( prosochthı́zō , Sirach 25:2 ); "offended" ( skandalizō , Sirach 32:15 ), the Revised Version (British and American) "stumble."

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Offence; Offend'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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