Matthew 5:30 is the thirtieth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Part of the section on adultery, it is very similar to the previous verse, but with the hand mentioned instead of the eye. For a discussion of the radicalism of these verses see Matthew 5:29. Jesus had stated that looking at a woman in lust is equal to the act of adultery itself and in this verse he recommends cutting off one's hand to prevent sinning.
In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:
- And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and
- cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee
- that one of thy members should perish, and not
- that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
The World English Bible translates the passage as:
- If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off,
- and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable
- for you that one of your members should perish, than
- for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.
For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 5:30
The link between the right hand and the discussion of adultery is somewhat unclear. In Jewish writings of the time it was common to have a foot, hand, eye triple structure. This full triple structure is seen in the similar discussions at Mark 9:43-47, and a version much closer to that in Mark appears at Matthew 18:8-9. Jesus here uses two thirds of the structure, the first reference to the eye is clearly linked to his previous statement that looking at a woman lustfully is sinful, but it is uncertain why he continues to the hand when he specifically stated that action and touching is not required for sin. Hill feels that this might be related to theft. At the time the law saw adultery as a form of theft, as it was taking another man's wife. The right hand, the more active of the two among most of the population, had long been metaphorically associated with theft. An alternate view, that has been adopted by some in recent years, is that the mention of a hand linked to lust is a reference to masturbation. In the New Testament this is the verse most often cited to condemn that practice. A third view is to see this verse connected less to the previous verses, and more as part of the discussion of divorce that takes up the next two verses. This argument states that the cutting off of the sinful hand is a metaphor for separation from a sinful spouse, even if it causes great pain.
- France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
- Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
- Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
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