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Motes and Beams

The Parable of the Mote and the Beam by Domenico Fetti c. 1619

Where Science Meets Religion by Trent Dee Stephens, PhD, for the Come Follow Me lesson February 20-26: Matthew 6-7

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount. In verses three and four he stated, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”

I have always thought that a mote was a sliver of wood. According to Bible Hub, the Greek word κάρφος(karphos), means a speck, like a speck of dust.1 But it can also mean a wood chip, splinter, or chaff. The King James Version of the Bible translates the word karphos to “mote.” According to Merriam-Webster, “mote” is a “speck,” and the word is Middle English: mot, derived from Old English, as well as Middle Dutch and Frisian.2 According to the Oxford Dictionary, the Dutch word mot means “dust or sawdust.”3 So the idea, from both the Greek and the King James English is that what the person in Matthew 7:3 had in his or her eye was a tiny speck of chaff or sawdust.

The term translated as “beam” in the King James Bible is taken from the Greek word δοκὸν (dokon), which, according to Bible Hub is a beam or spar of timber.4 Therefore, it appears that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, meant that the accuser really did have a beam – as in a large piece of timber holding up a roof – in his or her eye. Therefore, the contrast in Jesus’ analogy is even greater than what I grew up considering, because the first person did not necessarily have a wood splinter in his or her eye, but a tiny fleck of wood dust.

Please join me for my weekly discussions of Where Science Meets Religion – The Infinite Creation – 6 PM each Thursday at the Century Ward meeting house (at 4th and Fredregill, Pocatello). Last week we discussed the Creation of Stars. This coming week we will discuss The Creation of the Earth and anything else you want to discuss. I will also be Zooming the sessions: Meeting ID: 935 754 2152 Passcode: nka

Trent Dee Stephens


1.; retrieved 11 February 2023

2. “Mote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster,; retrieved 11 February 2023

3.; retrieved 11 February 2023

4.; retrieved 11 February 2023

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