Friday, February 05, 2010

More Good

Mark 9:47-48
(47)  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
(48)  'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'

(47)  καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε, ἔκβαλε αὐτόν· καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν, 
(48)  ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται·

There are a couple of things I'd like to point out in this passage.  The first has to do with the Greek.  These verses come at the end of Jesus' brief discourse about what Setting Captives Free calls "radical amputation."  Jesus is using hyperbole to explain that holiness is worth any price.  I don't think He literally meant that we should dismember ourselves.  After all, blind men can still lust.  His point is that we must be willing to do whatever it takes in our pursuit of holiness.  It is better to enter heaven after living without internet access than it is to have internet access and go to hell.

What is interesting is that the Greek doesn't literally say "it is better."  Instead, it says "it is good."  Greek doesn't use comparative and superlative like English does (better, best).  Instead, it bumps things down a notch.  In this instance, when there are two things set in opposition to each other and there is a modifier like καλόν between them we can take that to mean comparison.  This isn't earth-shattering, but if you're a new student of Greek this can be kind of tricky.

The other point is that this is yet another passage where Jesus speaks of eternal reward contrasted with eternal condemnation.  Those who have been thrown into hell have to deal with eternal worms and unquenchable fire.  That sounds pretty grisly and pretty graphic to me.

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