Matthew 18:7-9 – Amputation?

Matthew 18:7-9 – “Amputation is a silly remedy for sin”

This passage is clearly not to be taken literally, but as a vivid and memorable reminder that we should take serious measures to avoid sin, voluntarily giving up whatever is necessary (even our most cherished possessions) if it will help protect us from evil. It’s called hyperbole (Greek ὑπερβολή), a common literary device uses by authors, poets and orators – “exaggeration for emphasis or for rhetorical effect”. Intelligent readers encountering hyperbole don’t read it literally but take it as a sign that the teaching is overstating matters to make a dramatic point.

Modern marketing research has revealed the power of such figures of speech to stick in people’s minds, which is 75 percent of ads used at least one figure of speech. Jesus was a master communicator, and he knew how to craft his teaching in such a way that his main point would stick vividly.

Furthermore, the Injil is not simply a dry list of rules and regulations like a law code, it is a “living” and life-giving Word which steers our heart to God’s will. Jesus always challenged his hearers to think and ponder the meaning of his words, he often spoke in figures of speech so as to filter out the proud and draw only those who were humbly trying to understand. “He who has ears to hear let him hear” was a favorite phrase of Jesus.

 

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