Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Stumbling Blocks" (SKANDALON)

According to BDAG, σκάνδαλον may denote:

(1) A device for catching someth[ing] alive, trap (Rom
11:9; Ps 68:23; 1 Jn 2:10).

(2) An action or circumstance that leads one to act
contrary to a proper course of action or set of
beliefs, temptation to sin, enticement to apostasy,
false belief, etc. (Mt 16:23; 18:7; Lk 17:1; Rom 14:13;
Rev 2:14).

Mt 16:23 is probably best understood as "you are
tempting me to sin." BDAG also has an interesting note
on Jesus being a stumbling block to those who do not
put faith in him:

"To those who cannot come to a decision to believe on
him, Jesus is a σκάνδαλον (SKANDALIZW 1b)."

(3) σκάνδαλον can also refer to "that which causes
offense or revulsion and results in opposition,
disapproval, or hostility, fault, stain, etc" (Mt
13:41; 1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11).

Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon classifies
σκάνδαλον as follows:

(1) A trap, probably of the type which has a stick
which when touched by an animal causes the trap to
shut (Rom 11:9).

(2) That which or one who causes someone to sin. There
is also a helpful note in Louw and Nida. They also
observe that σκάνδαλον used in what I have categorized
as sense (2) here is actually "a figurative extension"
of the meaning "trap" in (1) above.

(3) That which causes offense and thus arouses
opposition (1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11).

Moulton and Milligan (Vocabulary of the Greek
) has further enlightening data
concerning SKANDALIZW from the Greek papyri. In a
nutshell, Moulton-Milligan evidently favor the meaning "I set a
trap for" rather than "I put a stumbling block in the
way of" for this Biblical word. Yet this same work
indicates that the "underlying thought of enticement
or temptation can hardly be dissociated from the
word." Moulton-Milligan then refers to the Sanskrit
SKAND and the Latin SCANDO, concluding once again that
σκάνδαλον has reference to a "trap." Personally, with
BDAG, I tend to favor the "stumbling block"
denotation, although as L-N affirm, causing someone
to sin or "trip up" is actually a figurative extension
of the literal trap denotation.

In conclusion, I don't believe that Jesus stumbles
unbelievers in a negative sense. Rather, they stumble
over the figurative stone placed in Zion by refusing
to put faith in him. The good news of God's Kingdom
and the STAUROS of Christ may also cause some offense or rouse
opposition. But this again is not the fault of our
Lord and Savior.

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