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Answering The Hell Verses


#6  -  Mark 9:43 


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.

NIV (New International Version)


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.

NLT (New Living Translation)


And if thy hand may cause thee to stumble, cut it off; it is better for thee maimed to enter into the life, than having the two hands, to go away to the gehenna, to the fire—the unquenchable

YLT (Young's Literal Translation)


And if your hand should ever be snaring you, strike it off. It is ideal for you to be entering into life maimed, rather than, having two hands, to come away into Gehenna, into the unextinguished fire. 

CLV (Concordant Literal Version)


Further, if ever your hand should at some point be entrapping you (be giving cause for stumbling or becoming captured, trapped, held in bondage or enslaved), at once cut it off! It is ideal [for] you, yourself, to enter into the Life maimed, than, having the two hands, to go off into the Valley of Hinnom (or: Gehenna; [note: this is a ravine south of Jerusalem where fires were kept burning to consume the dead bodies of animals, criminals and refuse]) – into the fire which is not extinguished. [note: Nestle-Aland, Westcott & Hort, Tasker, and Panin texts, following the oldest MSS, omit vss. 44 and 46, which are the same as vs. 48; MSS A D and others contain them: "'where their maggot (or: worm) continues not coming to the end [of its food], and the fire continues not being extinguished.']

JMNT (Jonathan Mitchell New Testament)


Scriptures are from




Points to consider as you study this passage . . . 



  1. This entire portion of Mark is puzzling to many. It contains statements by Jesus that can be somewhat mysterious on the surface. 

  2. It’s intriguing to note that these words are addressed to Jesus’ disciples just after the twelve had been squabbling over their hierarchy in “the kingdom.” It’s helpful to know that most theologians agree the disciples were all between nineteen and twenty two years of age.     

  3. Some have observed that if Christians really took this passage literally, we would see lots of one handed folks.

  4. Verses 42 and 43 are an example of parallelism, giving two examples of offenses – each followed by a potential judgment for the offense.  Both offenses are cause for stumbling and becoming captured, trapped, held in bondage or enslaved. The subject matter of the offense differ in each verse, but each offense is generalized about actions taken in this life, here on earth.

  5. Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to sin…” But it wasn’t really my hand that caused me to sin. In Matthew 15:9, Jesus said, “out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, and fornication.” If we cut out our  physical heart and had an artificial heart - we would probably still lust.

  6. Hebrews 4:12 says, “to the division of soul and spirit–(psyche and pneuma) discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Then we must ask, “What knife could separate psyche from pneuma?”

  7. 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes that we have a psychikos (natural body) that must be replaced by a pneumatikos (spiritual body) for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom.” Then in Romans 7, he writes, “With my flesh, I serve the law of sin.” 

  8. Romans 8:6-9 - Paul declares: For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. - Perhaps Paul is saying the exact same thing as Jesus in Mark 9:43.

  9. While flesh may be an issue here, we can not entirely discount flesh as the issue. We know that Adam and Eve were flesh and our saviors resurrected body was flesh - even though He certainly had extraordinary aspects to that flesh such as sudden appearance and passing through walls. 

  10. What knife could cut off my self, and yet love myself? How could I die and yet live?

  11. Jonathan Mitchell notes: In vs. 42, the potential penalty is death by drowning in the sea. In vs. 43, some sort of death is assumed, but the emphasis is where his or her dead body will end up.In neither of these cases is there a chance for the offender’s body to be buried by the family or friends. In vs. 43 we have the added aspect of dishonor.  The person’s body is treated like that of a criminal, or of an animal, or simply as refuse. Jesus spoke these words to a society based on honor versus shame.  These kinds of “non-burials” brought shame upon the individual, and upon the person’s family.  We might compare this to the shame and the “curse” of having one’s body hung on a tree, or a pole, or to being crucified.  Gehenna was the physical end of many criminals and rebels that were crucified by Rome.

  12. Three body parts were used in this lesson – hands, feet, and eyes. Notice there are two of each. Jesus tells them to cut off, pluck out, or remove the one that causes us to stumble. What causes us to stumble? Perhaps Jesus is telling us to not trust in ourselves. Not to trust in our hands or even our eyes. Just before this, Jesus tells us to trust like a child. Simple faith in the Father. To teach otherwise, is worse than having a heavy stone tied to your neck and to find yourself in the bottom of the sea.

  13. The six verses just before these words were recorded by Mark: [A] Whoever receives a little child in my name, receives me, and [B] whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 38 John spoke up: [C] Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in your name. We tried to stop him because he does not follow us. 39 But Jesus said: [D] Do not stop him, [E]  for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 40 [F] For whoever is not against us is on our side. 41 [G] Whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most assuredly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. 42 [H] Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.  - We might ask, “What role do each of these specific items play in Jesus’ directive to cut off one’s hand that sins?" 

  14. Self-righteousness and self-reliance will not get us there; reliance on His righteousness and His strength will. 

  15. Matthew and Mark are noted for their use of rhetoric or extreme hyperbolic language - and Jesus’s words may be recorded here in that same manor.

  16. Then Paul, who rarely uses rhetoric, concludes in verses 12 - 15: So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”  It’s interesting that Paul brings us right back to a child-like act - crying out “Daddy” - and Jesus begins this teaching with an observation about us becoming childlike.

  17. If any of us were to cut off/gouge out every part of our bodies, and even worse our minds, that "sinned" (missed the mark of God's perfection) there would be nothing left of most of us. 

  18. If we are to take this passage as literal, would it not be a sin to cut off your hand (which is a gift from God)?

  19. Some have observed that children have not become judgmental, critical and disapproving. Younger children don’t try to judge, nor justify themselves. Interestingly, just before Jesus stated these words, the disciples were arguing among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom - justifying themselves obviously, while judging the others.  

  20. This passage is interpreted by some to be prophetic. Concerning Israel specifically, and others in general, and how they would be able to enter into His kingdom. God was about to remove the old covenant of the law, which caused Israel to stumble, and replace it with a covenant of grace. Israel was still holding onto the law and resisting the new. This would cause their death as a nation in 70 A.D. partly because they erroneously believed it was their ability to keep the law, they suffered the curses of it, and ended up in Gehenna. [However, they too are included in the resurrection and restoration of all.]

  21. June Agular notes: This passage is yet another example that Jesus gives us that it is impossible to "save" humans via the law/their own behavior.  Thus preparing those that He would later give ears for the message that He is the Savior of the Whole World!  It’s not ourselves, even if we were to cut off every part of ourselves that might offend.

  22. Through Jeremiah, God says, “Is not my word like fire?” The breath of God, Word of God, substance of God is fire: “Our God is a consuming fire.

  23. This fire cannot be extinguished because this fire is God’s fire, hence the word “unquenchable.” It is relentless until it achieves its purpose. Some translators have erroneously added “never” to the single Greek word asbestos, defined as “not extinguished.” The NAS, with many other translations, accurately reads “the unquenchable fire” without the word “never.” Furthermore, the context confirms this as a purifying fire - something good. 

  24. It is clear that the offenses committed in verse 42 are in this life, here on earth. The potential punishment exacted in vs. 42 is without question performed here on earth, ending a life that was lived here on earth. 

  25. To imply that the dead bodies of these who “go into Gehenna” ended up in some extra-worldly sphere is a blatant example of eisegesis: reading our own interpretations into the text, where the text gives no support for such a conclusion.

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