From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The English word ‘offence’ is derived from the Lat. offendere, ‘to strike against’ or ‘to injure’ (O.Fr. offens, Fr. offense), and is employed to translate various Heb. and Gr. nouns, in the sense of an injury, a trespass or a fall, or as an occasion of unbelief, doubt, or apostasy. The chief Heb. words in the OT are the verb אָשַׁם, which has the meaning of ‘to trespass’ or ‘to be guilty,’ and the noun מִכְשׁוֹל, in the well-known passages  Isaiah 8:14;  Isaiah 57:14, translated as ‘a stone of stumbling,’ ‘a stumbling-block.’ The other terms are generally synonyms of error and sin.

The most important NT words are παράπτωμα and σκάνδαλον. The former is used with respect to a moral fall, ‘a falling beside,’ and thus completes the conception of sin (ἁμαρτία, ‘missing the mark’) by that of falling short or falling aside. The one is a loss of aim, the other the perversion of aim or culpable error. As transgression, it is found in  Romans 4:25;  Romans 5:15 bis.  Romans 5:16-18; Romans 5:20, where ‘offence’ in the Authorized Versionis rendered ‘trespass’ in the Revised Version. πρόσκομμα is found only in  Romans 14:20, signifying ‘something to strike against’: a man runs, as it were, against an obstacle, and does wrong when he eats contrary to the dictates of his conscience. In  2 Corinthians 6:3 προσκοπή is that which causes stumbling, and the Christians are enjoined to place no stumbling-block in the way of others. As an adjective, ἀπρόσκοπος is used in  Acts 24:16 with respect to the conscience, also in  1 Corinthians 10:32 and in  Philippians 1:10 as giving no occasion of stumbling.

The word σκάνδαλον (verb, σκανδαλίζω) is frequently brought into use especially in Matthew. It signifies a bait or stick in a trap and generally anything which causes a person to be entrapped or to fall. It is a modified form of the classic σκανδάληθρον. Sometimes it is used in reference to persons, who may become stumbling-blocks to others. When Christ called St. Peter a stumbling-block, He evidently recognized in His disciple’s remonstrance the agency of the arch-enemy (Σατανᾶς) who was tempting Him to do what was contrary to the will of God ( Matthew 16:23). Isaiah’s description of ‘the stone of stumbling’ and ‘the rock of offence’ ( Isaiah 8:14) is applied by St. Paul to Christ ( Romans 9:33) because the lowliness of His origin and of His earthly surroundings as well as the deeply spiritual character of His ministry offended the religious leaders of His day ( Matthew 13:57). The rejection of His claims by the Pharisees was attended by some irritation and the spirit of opposition ( Matthew 15:12); thus they were offended or caused to stumble. This was later accentuated by the ‘scandal of the Cross,’ which, when not accepted in faith as the symbol of the Divine redemption, became a stumbling-block. Its disgrace and ignominy made it difficult for the Jews to accept Christ as their Messiah, and it also roused their animosity to the preachers of the gospel ( Galatians 5:11). They expected a Messiah who should restore their political freedom and re-establish the kingdom in material success and splendour, and our Lord’s ministry being essentially spiritual made Him to be a stumbling-block to them. The fault was in their lack of faith and spiritual insight; but, on the other hand, Christ’s followers are to be on their guard against giving occasion to others to stumble through their own selfishness or folly. Thus the term σκάνδαλον is employed in reference to actions or habits which might prove to be a stumbling-block to those who are weak or inexperienced. To cause Christ’s little ones to stumble or to fall is severely condemned ( Matthew 18:6). The casuistry concerning meats offered to idols should involve the consideration of the hyper-sensitive consciences of the weaker brethren, who are not to be offended or made to stumble by those who are less scrupulous (Romans 14;  Romans 15:1-3). In all such cases the exhilarating and newly-found consciousness of liberty is to be controlled by love.

Clement of Rome uses the word παραπτῶσις in combination with danger, in the sense of a fault incurred through disobedience to the counsels of the Fathers (Cor. 59). Ignatius, whilst not employing the word ‘offence,’ warns the believers against the snares of the devil and against giving occasion to the heathen to triumph, and thus bringing discredit upon the whole body of believers through the folly of the few (Ep. ad Trall. 8). If love be the ruling principle of Christian morals, there is no σκάνδαλον, for love removes rather than creates difficulties.

Literature.-articles ‘Offence’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)and in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels; Sanday-Headlam, International Critical Commentary, ‘Romans,’ 5 1902, p. 390; F. J. A. Hort, The First Epistle of St. Peter, I. 1-II. 17, 1898, p. 121; F. W. Robertson, Sermons, new ed., 1876, 3rd ser., xvi.; J. Moffatt, ‘Jesus upon “Stumbling-blocks,” ’ in Expository Timesxxvi. [1914-15] 407 ff.

J. G. James.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Σκάνδαλον (Strong'S #4625 — Noun Neuter — skandalon — skan'-dal-on )

originally was "the name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence, the trap or snare itself, as in  Romans 11:9 , RV, 'stumblingblock,' quoted from  Psalm 69:22 , and in  Revelation 2:14 , for Balaam's device was rather a trap for Israel than a stumblingblock to them, and in  Matthew 16:23 , for in Peter's words the Lord perceived a snare laid for Him by Satan.

 Romans 9:33 1—Peter 2:8 1—Corinthians 1:23  Galatians 5:11  Romans 11:9  Matthew 13:41 Matthew 18:7 Luke 17:1  Romans 14:13 Romans 16:17 1—John 2:10Fall Hosea 4:17

A — 2: Πρόσκομμα (Strong'S #4348 — Noun Neuter — proskomma — pros'-kom-mah )

"an obstacle against which one may dash his foot" (akin to proskopto, "to stumble" or "cause to stumble;" pros, "to or against," kopto, "to strike"), is translated "offense" in  Romans 14:20 , in  Romans 14:13 , "a stumblingblock," of the spiritual hindrance to another by a selfish use of liberty (cp. No. 1 in the same verse); so in  1—Corinthians 8:9 . It is used of Christ, in  Romans 9:32,33 , RV, "(a stone) of stumbling," and  1—Peter 2:8 , where the AV also has this rendering. Cp. the Sept. in  Exodus 23:33 , "these (the gods of the Canaanites) will be an offense (stumblingblock) unto thee."

A — 3: Προσκοπή (Strong'S #4349 — Noun Feminine — proskope — pros-kop-ay' )

like No. 2, and formed from the same combination, occurs in  2—Corinthians 6:3 , RV, "occasion of stumbling" (AV, "offense"), something which leads others into error or sin. Cp. the Sept. in  Proverbs 16:18 , "a haughty spirit (becomes) a stumblingblock" (i.e., to oneself).

 Romans 4:25 5:15Trespass.  2—Corinthians 11:7Sin.

B — 1: Ἀπρόσκοπος (Strong'S #677 — Adjective — aproskopos — ap-ros'-kop-os )

akin to A, No. 3, with a, negative, prefixed, is used (a) in the Active sense, "not causing to stumble," in  1—Corinthians 10:32 , metaphorically of "refraining from doing anything to lead astray" either Jews or Greeks or the church of God (i.e., the local church), RV, "no occasion of stumbling" (AV, "none offense"); (b) in the Passive sense, "blameless, without stumbling;"  Acts 24:16 , "(a conscience) void of offense;"  Philippians 1:10 , "void of (AV, without) offense." The adjective is found occasionally in the papyri writings.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Offence . The Greek word skandalon is properly used of a ‘stick in a trap on which the bait is placed, and which, when touched by the animal, springs up and shuts the trap’ (Liddell and Scott). The word is used by Christ (  Matthew 18:7 ,   Luke 17:1 ) of offences in the form of hindrances to the faith of believers, especially of Christ’s little ones. The context makes it clear what kind of stumbling-blocks are referred to. In the corresponding passage in the Sermon on the Mount (  Matthew 5:29-30; cf.   Mark 9:45;   Mark 9:47 ) the right eye and right hand are given as instances of the kind of offences that may arise. The members here cited are not only in themselves good and serviceable, but necessary, though they are capable, in certain circumstances, of becoming the occasion of sin to us. In the same way the Christian may find pursuits and pleasures, which in themselves are innocent, bringing unexpected temptations and involving him in sin. The possible applications of this are numerous, whether the warning be referred to artistic gifts (the ‘hand’ and ‘eye’), or abuses of certain kinds of food and drink, or any other circumstances which may lead a man from the higher life or divert him from his aims. All these may be compared to the stumbling-blocks which cause a man to fall. Such things must be dispensed with, for the sake of entering the ‘eternal life,’ which is the Christian man’s goal.

T. A. Moxon.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

  • A stumbling-block or cause of temptation ( Isaiah 8:14;  Matthew 16:23;  18:7 ). Greek skandalon, properly that at which one stumbles or takes offence. The "offence of the cross" ( Galatians 5:11 ) is the offence the Jews took at the teaching that salvation was by the crucified One, and by him alone. Salvation by the cross was a stumbling-block to their national pride.

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Offence'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

    This word answers to two different terms in the original, the one signifying a breach of the law,  Romans 5:15,17 , the other a stumbling-block or cause of sin to others,  Matthew 5:29;  18:6-9; or whatever is perverted into an occasion or excuse for sin,  Matthew 15:12;  John 6:61;  Romans 9:33;  Galatians 5:11 .

    Webster's Dictionary [6]

    (1): ( n.) See Offense.

    (2): ( n.) The state of being offended or displeased; anger; displeasure.

    (3): ( n.) A cause or occasion of stumbling or of sin.

    (4): ( n.) The act of offending in any sense; esp., a crime or a sin, an affront or an injury.

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

    See SIN.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

    may be either active or passive. We may give offense by our conduct, or we may receive of peace from the conduct of others. The original word ( Σκανδαλίζω ) , in our version usually rendered "offend," literally signifies To Cause To Stumble, and by an easy metaphor, To Occasion Afall Into Sin ( Matthew 5:29). It may, therefore, apply to ourselves as well as to others ( Matthew 18:6-14). Hence the noun Σκάνδαλον signifies not only "an offense," in our common use of that word, but also A Stumbling- Stone, a trap, a snare, or whatever impedes our path to heaven ( Matthew 18:17;  Romans 14:13;  1 Corinthians 10:32). Sometimes offense is taken unreasonably; men, as Peter says, "stumble at the word, being disobedient." Hence we read of "the offense of the cross" ( Galatians 5:11;  Galatians 6:12). To positive truth or duty we must adhere, even at the hazard of giving' offense; but a woe is on us if we give it unnecessarily ( Romans 14:13-21;  1 Corinthians 8:9-13). We should be very careful to avoid giving just cause of offense, lest we prove impediments to others in their reception of the truth, in their progress in sanctification, in their peace of mind, or in their general bourse towards heaven. We should abridge or deny ourselves in some things, rather than, by exercising our liberty to the utmost, give uneasiness to Christians weaker in mind or weaker in the faith than ourselves ( 1 Corinthians 10:32). On the other hand, we should not take offense without ample cause, but endeavor by our exercise of charity, and perhaps by our increase of knowledge, to think favorably of what is dubious, as well as honorably of what is laudable.

    It was foretold of the Messiah that he should be "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" ( Isaiah 8:14;  Romans 9:32-33;  1 Peter 2:8). Perhaps predictions of this kind are among the most valuable which Providence has preserved to us, as we see by them that we ought not to be discouraged because the Jews, the natural people of the Messiah, rejected him, and still reject him; since the very offense they take at his humiliation, death, etc., is in perfect conformity to and fulfillment of those prophecies which foretold that, however they might profess to wish for the great Deliverer, yet when he came they would overlook him, and stumble at him.