What does Mark 9:43 mean?
ESV: And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
NIV: If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
NASB: And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.
CSB: "And if your hand causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, the unquenchable fire.
NLT: If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands.
KJV: And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
NKJV: If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—
Verse Commentary:
Jesus' words about a vague sin committed by a concrete body part parallels how scholars at that time spoke of concrete sins committed by an abstract body part, such as the heart. In Jesus' manner of speaking, the emphasis is placed on the choice, the action, and the responsibility of the perpetrator. The "hand" is a metaphor for the way in which the heart may lead the person to do something sinful.

The transition from Jesus' warning about causing others to sin in verse 42 is not as abrupt as it appears. Just as our heart may cause our hand to commit a sinful act, so it may cause a child or a younger Christian to commit a sinful act. Both require that we take serious steps to prevent our hearts from sinning.

The term translated as "hell" in English is literally tēn geennan. This is a reference to the Valley of Hinnom, the dump outside of Jerusalem where animal carcasses and other waste was burned. During the times of the worst idolatry in Israel, parents sacrificed their children to Molech by placing them in glowing-hot metal statues (Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35). Good king Josiah tore down the altars and dedicated the valley to the burning of offal (2 Kings 23:10).

To "enter life" doesn't refer to being born. As "hell" means eternal punishment, "life" means eternal paradise for those who are saved by Christ. Jesus isn't giving a detailed description of eternity, here. Like in Matthew 5, He's illustrating how impossible it is to keep from sinning. Our resurrected bodies will not reflect the hardships we experienced in this life. Paul describes our new bodies as imperishable, glorified, and empowered (1 Corinthians 15:42–49).
Verse Context:
Mark 9:42–48 shows that even if we follow the letter of the law, or maim ourselves in the attempt, we cannot be good enough to get to heaven on our own. In Matthew, directly after Jesus' hard words against sinning and tempting others to sin, Jesus talks about God's forgiveness and love for us (Matthew 18:12–14) and our responsibility to forgive others (Matthew 18:15–35). The various parallels in Matthew and Luke, as well as phrasing intended to transition subjects along suggest this passage is a synopsis of several different teachings. Still, Matthew 18:7–9 gives a reasonable parallel.
Chapter Summary:
Mark chapter 9 contains an account of Jesus' transfiguration, where three of the disciples witness Him in a glorified form. In this passage, Jesus also heals a demon-possessed boy. His teachings in this section include a prediction of His death and resurrection, and corrections to the disciples' errors on questions of pride and temptation.
Chapter Context:
Mark 9 continues Jesus' efforts to teach the disciples who He is, what He has come to do, and what their role is in His mission. The chapter begins with the transfiguration, where Peter, James, and John catch a glimpse of Jesus' glory, and ends back in Capernaum. Jesus spends most of that time teaching. Although the disciples do quarrel with the scribes, the misconceptions and errors Jesus addresses come from the disciples, themselves, not outsiders. In the next chapter, He will leave Galilee and travel toward Jerusalem and the cross.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
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