BUT I SAY TO YOU THAT
EVERYONE WHO IS ANGRY WITH HIS BROTHER SHALL BE GUILTY BEFORE THE COURT:
ego de lego (1SPAI) humin oti pas o orgizomenos (PPPMSN) to adelpho
autou enochos estai (3SFMI) te krisei.
(Mt 5:28,34,44; 3:17; 17:5; Deuteronomy 18:18,19; Acts 3:20, 21, 22, 23;
7:37; Hebrews 5:9; 12:25) (Genesis 4:5,6; 37:4,8; 1Samuel 17:27,28;
18:8,9; 20:30, 31, 32, 33; 22:12-23; 1Kings 21:4; 2Chronicles 16:10;
Esther 3:5,6; Psalms 37:8; Daniel 2:12,13; 3:13,19; Ephesians 4:26,27)
(Mt 5:23,24; 18:21,35; Deuteronomy 15:11; Nehemiah 5:8; Obadiah 1:10,12;
Romans 12:10; 1Corinthians 6:6; 1Thessalonians 4:6; 1John 2:9;
3:10,14,15; 4:20,21; 5:16) (Psalms 7:4; 25:3; 35:19; 69:4; 109:3;
Lamentations 3:52; John 15:25)
But - Another striking
term of contrast.
Ellicott - I say unto you.—The
I is emphasized in the Greek ("Ego" is first word in
sentence). It was this probably that, more than anything else, led to
the feeling of wonder expressed in Matthew 7:28-29. The scribe in his
teaching invariably referred to this Rabbi and that; the new Teacher
spoke as one having a higher authority of His own.
Oh, what divine dignity there is
in this majestic Person whose ipse dixit is to shift all the sayings of
the ages! He claims authority to speak, even though he should contradict
all the Rabbis and all the learned men that went before him: “I say
But you are saying "I have never
murdered anyone". Jesus says "Wrong. If you've hated you are guilty."
The OT law dealt only with outward
actions, but citizens of the kingdom of heaven must beware of
sinful inward attitudes. In fact, the attitudes
Jesus calls for can only be fulfilled by those with a New Heart and His
Spirit, for otherwise they are an utterly impossible standard which
climaxes in the highest of all impossible standards to "Be perfect as
your heavenly Father is perfect." Only citizens of the Kingdom of
heaven, genuine believers, can obey Jesus' instructions and commands,
doing so not because of outward constraints (not "under Law") but
because of an inward life ("under grace") enabled by the indwelling
Spirit of the Living God. You might argue that the Holy Spirit is not
even mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount and you would be correct. But
from the character of the life Jesus calls for, it is unarguably clear
that one cannot practice such behavior apart from the Spirit’s
empowerment (see Romans 8, notes begin on
The phrase "but I say" is
not to suggest that the Law was merely external but was always intended
to be kept from the
heart. And so we see this sentiment in the first and
great commandment (Mark 12:30) in Deuteronomy where God commands Israel
"And you shall love the
LORD your God with all your
heart and with all your
soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you
today, shall be on your
heart (Deut 6:5, 6)
This call in the Old Testament
to love is the essence of fulfillment of the Law as Paul explains in
Romans..."Love does no wrong to a
neighbor; love therefore
is the fulfillment (fullness, with emphasis upon completeness) of the
law. (Ro 13:10-note)
The point is that Jesus was not
saying anything new or different than had already been plainly stated in
the Law. He is in no way diminishing the Law. He is showing that the
keeping of God's Law has always been an issue of a heart out of which
flows that person's loving obedience for God and his fellow man.
"But I say" uses both the
first person singular of the verb for say (lego) and the first person
singular pronoun (ego) "I" for emphasis. One might
paraphrase to bring out the emphatic character as "I myself say."
The point is that He emphasizing His authority as on a plain with the
Law and is not merely speaking content. Stated another way, "But I say" is a way Jesus
equated His Word with the authority of Scripture and thus with the
authority of God, which is valid in view of the fact hat Jesus is "the Word" (John 1:1).
In fact, indirectly by introducing the sentence in this manner, Jesus
Indeed at the end of the Sermon
Matthew records "The result was that when Jesus had
finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching for He
was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their
scribes. (Mt 7:28, 29-notes)
Jesus did not rely on the words of
other men as did the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is not speaking words
that contradict or conflict with the the Law and the Prophets, but
fulfilling those words, giving them the true meaning God had intended.
Similar Jesus is not altering, diminishing or depriving even the least
of the commandments of their authority (Ro 5:19
Jesus is correcting the perversion of the Law by the scribes and
Pharisees who had devised 613 manmade rules that only tied heavy burdens
on the people who were told that "Keep all 613 prohibitions and
commandments and you will be pleasing to Him and satisfy His demands for
righteousness." The problem of course was that their external rules left
the heart unchanged, still more deceitful than all else and desperately
sick (Jer 17:9, cf Ge 8:21).
The KJV has the phrase "without
a cause", a phrase not found in most of the modern versions.
Wiersbe - Anger is
such a foolish thing. It makes us destroyers instead of builders. It
robs us of freedom and makes us prisoners. To hate someone is to commit
murder in our hearts (1 John 3:15). (Bible exposition commentary)
= wrath) means to be or become angry,
furious, enraged or provoked and is used in the NT of human and satanic
anger. (See Topic
Orgizo describes a brooding, simmering anger that is nurtured and not
allowed to die. It is seen in the holding of a grudge, in the smoldering
bitterness that refuses to forgive. It is the anger that cherishes
resentment and does not want reconciliation.
- BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your
anger, (Why not?
- read Eph 4:27!)
Orgizo - 8x in 8v - Mt
5:22; 18:34; 22:7; Luke 14:21; 15:28; Eph 4:26; Rev 11:18; 12:17. The
NAS renders it as angry(4), enraged(3), moved with anger(1).
Resources on Anger:
Anger - Baker's Evangelical
Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Anger - Torrey's Topical Textbook
Anger - Hastings' Dictionary of the
Anger (2) - Hastings' Dictionary of
the New Testament
See also RBC (20-30 page) booklets
that deal with anger:
Moses: His Anger And What It Cost Him
When Anger Burns
The Scribes and Pharisees taught that anything short or murder might be
allowed. Jesus brings the Law back to the matters of the heart
teaching that the danger of anger was that it was expressive of a
murderous intent in the heart and such a one was in danger of the
judgment. Jesus says that anger merits execution, because
the fruit of anger is murder.
Anger is what we feel when we
believe that we have been wronged by someone. It springs from resentment
over an offense and contempt for the individual. It results in an
adversarial relationship that has the potential to disrupt fellowship
and worship alike.
One is reminded of God's warning
to Cain about his heart attitude (it was not Cain's offering
which was the problem but it was the attitude of his heart!) and how
when it was left unrestrained, "pounced" on him and led to murder
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are
you angry? (Hebrew charah = to glow or grow warn, to blaze
up and be hot or burn, be kindled, be incensed - a verb perfectly
picturing this emotion "blazing up" into a full blown fire) And why has
your countenance fallen (this suggests that anger hid itself in Cain’s
eyes and with a fallen countenance he avoided looking anyone in the eye
preventing others from seeing through the eye gate into his heart!)? If
you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not
do well, sin (this pictures Sin as an evil king that wants to reign in
our mortal bodies, exactly what Paul admonished Roman saints about in Ro
6:12, 13, 14-
is crouching (picture of a stealthy panther lurking, ready to spring) at
the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (If this is
God's desire then we know that He made provision for Cain to obey God's
will for God's commandments always include His enablements)." And Cain
told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field,
that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (Genesis
4:6, 7, 8)
- Anger is an emotional arousal caused
by something that displeases us. In itself, anger is not a sin, because
even God can be angry (Dt 9:8, 20; Ps 2:12). The Bible often speaks of
anger “being kindled” (Ge 30:2; Dt 6:15), as though anger can be
compared to fire. It is difficult for us to practice a truly holy anger
or righteous indignation because our emotions are tainted by sin, and we
do not have the same knowledge that God has in all matters. God sees
everything clearly and knows everything completely, and we do not. The
NT principle seems to be that the believer should be angry at sin but
loving toward people. The fire of anger, if not quenched by loving
forgiveness, will spread and defile and destroy the work of God (Ed
note: and the testimony of God's people). According to Jesus, anger is
the first step toward murder (Mt 5:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26), because anger gives the devil
a foothold in our lives, and Satan is a murderer (Jn 8:44). Satan hates
God and God’s people, and when he finds a believer with the sparks of
anger in his heart, he fans those sparks, adds fuel to the fire, and
does a great deal of damage to God’s people and God’s church. Both lying
and anger “give peace to the devil” (Eph 4:27-note).
Horace wrote that “Anger is
momentary insanity.” But that is not to say as do our law courts
today that the angry person is not responsible because clearly they are!
John writes that...
The one who says he is in the light
and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. (1John
Everyone who hates his brother
is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life
abiding in him. (1John 3:15)
If someone says, "I love God," and
hates his brother, he is a liar (he is not a believer); for the one
who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he
has not seen. (1John 4:20)
Paul exhorts citizens of the
Kingdom of heaven to give a proper opinion of their heavenly Father and
enabled by the Holy Spirit to "Let all bitterness and
wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put
away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another,
tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has
forgiven you. (Eph 4:26, 27-notes)
Peter - To sum up, let all be harmonious,
sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit not returning
evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for
you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
(1Pe 2:8, 9-notes)
AND WHOEVER SAYS TO HIS
BROTHER, (RACA) 'YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING,' SHALL BE GUILTY BEFORE THE SUPREME
COURT (SANHEDRIN): os d' an eipe (3SAAS) to adelpho autou, Raka,
enochos estai (3SFMI) to sunedrio (2Sa
6:20; James 2:20) (Mt 10:17; 26:59; Mark 14:55; 15:1; John 11:47; Acts
Good for nothing
(RACA = Aramaic word equivalent to Hebrew rebq =
senseless, empty headed man, worthless, term of utter vilification) refers to a vain,
empty (empty headed) or
worthless fellow and was used as a term of reproach and utter contempt by the Jews in
the time of Christ.
A few sources say raca is derived
from a term for spit, but most feel that is probably not the correct
appears often in the Rabbinic literature. The idea is that of "empty
head ("airhead")," or "numbskull," or "one who thinks like a donkey." In
that sense Raca expresses dehumanizing contempt which seeks to strip the
person of their dignity by viewing them as worthless! To say “Raca” to a
person was like saying, “You idiot!”
Smith's Bible Dictionary -
Raca denotes a certain looseness of life and manners, while ‘fool,’ in
the same passage, means a downright wicked and reprobate person.”
G. H. Waterman - The Aramaic word rêqā is used figuratively in
rabbinic literature as a term of contempt, meaning “worthless, good for
nothing, stupid.” For example, the MIDRASH on Eccl. 9:15 states that
NOAH said to his contemporaries, “Woe, ye foolish ones [rqyy]!
Tomorrow a flood will come, so repent” (Qoh. Rab. 9.17). The TALMUD
relates that “once when a certain pious man was praying by the roadside,
an officer came by and greeted him and he did not return his greeting.
So he waited for him till he had finished his prayer. When he had
finished his prayer he said to him: Fool [ryq]!” (b. Ber. 32b).
Note also that a Greek papyrus letter dating from the 3rd cent. B.C.
already uses the form rhacha as an insult (cf. BDAG, 903, which
includes a summary of patristic interpretations; for further discussion,
see J. Jeremias in TDNT, 6:973–76). (The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the
Bible, Volume 5, Q-Z)
BDAG - a term of
abuse/put-down relating to lack of intelligence = numskull, fool
TDNT - The Aramaic
term expresses disparagement accompanied by anger and contempt.
Addressed to the foolish, thoughtless, or presumptuous person, it means
“blockhead,” and is the most common term of abuse in Jesus' day.
Vine - RAKA (4469) is
an Aramaic word akin to the Heb. rêq, empty, the first a being due to a
Galilean change. In the A.V. of 1611 it was spelt racha; in the edition
of 1638, raca. It was a word of utter contempt, signifying empty,
intellectually rather than morally, empty–headed, like Abimelech’s
hirelings, Jdg. 9:4 (Ed: cp Jdg 11:3, 2Chr 13:7 - where
"worthless" = Hebrew req, 07386, derived from riq = to make empty or
empty out) and the “vain” man of Jas. 2:20. As condemned by Christ,
Matt. 5:22, it was worse than being angry, inasmuch as an outrageous
utterance is worse than a feeling unexpressed or somewhat controlled in
expression; it does not indicate such a loss of self–control as the word
rendered “fool,” a godless, moral reprobate. (Raca
- Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)
English synonyms with a similar idea include nitwit,
blockhead, numbskull, bonehead or brainless idiot. Clearly raca
expressed utmost contempt for an individual's intelligence (or supposed
Commentary - These Jewish insults are similar to the African
‘son of a dog’.
Adam Clarke - Raca
signifies a vain, empty, worthless fellow, shallow brains, a term of
great contempt. Such expressions were punished among the Gentoos by a
A. B. Bruce:
"Raca expresses contempt for a mans head-you stupid! Moros
expresses contempt for his heart and character-you scoundrel"
Although I could not find this in any
other references (so it may not be accurate), the Cambridge Bible for
Schools and Colleges says raca is "a word of contempt, said to be
from a root meaning to spit."
George Wood - Raca—that is
equivalent to murder in God's eyes. Raca is an epithet. Its use is
similar to a racial expletive in modern times. It serves to insult
Chip Bell -
"Raca sounds like spitting and means “empty head”."
Sam Storms - By “insult”
(i.e., saying “Raca”, an Aramaic term meaning “empty [headed]”) Jesus
refers to the mocking of an individual’s intelligence. This isn’t merely
a casual reference to a person’s IQ or the equivalent of our calling
someone a “nitwit” or “blockhead” or “boneheaded dufus.” He has in mind
an angry and dismissive belittling that is designed to embarrass and
- Raca is expressive of indignation and contempt; it was used as
a term of reproach. Some derive it from qqr to "spit upon"; as if the
person that used it thought the man he spoke to deserved to be spit
upon, and treated in the most contemptuous manner: but rather the word
signifies "empty" and "vain", and denotes a worthless, empty headed man;
a man of no brains; a foolish, witless, fellow.
Ray Pritchard - “Raca” is
an Aramaic insult that means something like “You worthless son of a
motherless goat.” (Not a literal translation!) Or it might mean “You
brainless blockhead” or “You idiot” or “You moron.” I think you get the
picture. You said “Raca” when you were angry and wanted to insult a
person. It was an attack on a person’s self-worth and dignity. The same
is true of “You fool!” It’s an attack on a person’s character. But what
about the person who says, “I wish you were dead.” God takes that
seriously. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and
death.” Do you realize that saying “I wish you were dead” is really a
prayer to God? You are speaking death into a particular situation.
That’s a way of murdering people! Some of you are so good at it that you
ought to be hired by the Mafia as professional hit-men! You are so fast
and so clean about it that you can kill two people on the way to the
water fountain and step over their corpses on the way back to your desk.
No blood! But you’re a murderer in God’s eyes! You’ve killed with your
abusive, unkind speech.
Adrian Rogers on RACA - What is the Lord saying? The Lord
says, "If your heart is a malevolent heart that burns with anger toward
other people, if you look down upon any human being made in the image of
God, and you speak contemptuously, if you have contempt and abhorrence
of a human being, if you say, "Raca, you fool," the Lord wrote down in
Heaven, "Murder, murder, murder." The anger that people have—the anger!
You see them, at intersections or wherever, get in a little traffic
snarl, and see them just express—the blood rushes to the face—and
they'll beep the horn, and they'll get so angry that you know that if It
were not against the law, they would take a life—if it were not against
the law; the only thing that keeps them from doing it here—murder.
Jeremias - The structure of Mt. 5:21-22 shows that the reference is
to three ascending forms of the same penalty rather than to three
courts, and that the sins that are equivalent to murder are all sins of
the tongue arranged in a kind of crescendo: Whoso is angry, says
"blockhead," or says "fool," deserves to be punished with death, to be
condemned to death, to suffer death in hell. This paradox whereby
apparently harmless words are put on a par with murder shows how very
serious sins of the tongue are in God's eyes, and it carries a warning
against ill feelings that may seem innocuous but poison relationships.
Against authenticity it is argued that there is no true crescendo from
wrath to insult, but it should be noted that the speech, style, and
outlook are all Palestinian and that the teaching accords with Mk. 7:15;
Mt. 12:36-37. (TDNT)
Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia - RACA - A transliteration of the Greek
(Ed: others consider it to be of Aramaic origin) hraka in its
only occurrence in the NT in Mt 5:22. The meaning is “empty” or
“senseless.” It is a vernacular word of comparatively mild abuse (MM).
The RSV too freely translates the passage “whoever insults his brother.”
It is not as extreme a term as mōros which means “foolish” or “fool,”
and this idea is substantiated by noting the progressive intensity of
expressions in Mt 5:22. Raca seems to cast reflection on a man’s
intellectual capacity, i.e., “you ignoramus!” This concept must not be
pressed exclusively, as we are warned by Jewish Enc. It does at times
refer to lack of morals as well. (Pfeiffer, C. F., Vos, H. F., & Rea, J.
1975; 2005. The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. Moody Press)
International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia - RACA - Jesus’ explication of the true meaning of the
law in Mt. 5:21ff moves from the prohibition of murder to the
prohibition of insult. Both the murderer and the person calling another
“Raca” count the object of their act, a person made in the image of God,
as of little worth. That the correlation of relationships to people with
the relationship to God is operative here too is clear from the
subsequent saying about leaving the altar to make peace with an offended
brother. Gk raká is a transcription of the Aram rêqā. This Aramaic
insult, in turn, is related to Heb rêq, an adjective meaning “empty,” to
which the vocative ending is added (TDNT, VI, 974). It very likely meant
“empty-headed one” and thus something like our “blockhead.” Like
“blockhead,” raká was thought a harmless insult even though it expressed
disparagement and sometimes contempt. By putting such an insult on the
same level as murder, Jesus clearly demands that insults, even
“harmless” insults, be avoided. (Bromiley, G. W. 1988; 2002. The
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised 2:856-857. Wm. B.
Encyclopedia (1901) - RACA (REKA): Noun formed from the
adjective “re” (= “empty”), and applied to a person without education
and devoid of morals (comp. Judges 11:3). The noun occurs several times
in the Talmud; e.g., Ta‘an. 20b; Ber. 22a. 33b; Giṭ. 58a; B. B. 75a;
Pesi. R. 28 (ed. Friedmann, p. 54a). The plural “reaya” is found in
Ecclesiastes Rabbah. “Raca” occurs also in the New Testament (Matt.
5:22), where it is equivalent to an expression of contempt. (Raca
- The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia)
Max Wilcox - RACA. An
expression of reproach used as an example by Jesus in one of his
teachings (Matt 5:22). The RSV translates this term as “insult.” In Matt
5:22a “raca” (Gk rhaka) is basically parallel in meaning to mōre (Fool!)
in v 22b, and is thus a term of abuse or contempt. The key difference is
that while the second of these is a Greek word, the first is not. It
seems in fact to be the emphatic state of Aram r(y)q, meaning “empty,”
and hence “worthless,” “good for nothing.” As a term of contempt, it is
found in the Talmud and Midrash, e.g., b. Ber. 22b, “. . . she said to
him, Numskull! (= ryq) . . . ;” and Eccl. Rab. to 9:15, “Woe to you,
worthless fellows (rqyy), tomorrow the Flood is coming . . .” (that is,
these are the men of the flood generation). The word was first noticed
as a Semitism by John Lightfoot (1684), who gave a series of examples
from Talmudic and Midrashic literature. The context in Matt 5:22
supports the identification of “raca” as a Semitism, in that it refers
in turn to the person who is wrathful with his fellow, calls him
“Numskull” (raqā) or “fool,” as worthy of “the judgment,” “the
Sanhedrin,” or “the Gehenna of fire.” The use of “raca” in Matt 5:22,
without any following explanation or translation in Greek, was held by
Jeremias to indicate that Matthew’s audience could cope with some
Aramaic. (The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary 5:605)
Raca - Hastings' Dictionary of the
Ellicott - As far as the
dictionary sense of the word raca goes, it is the same as that of
the “vain fellows” of Jdg 9:4, Jdg 11:3; Pr 12:11; but all
words of abuse depend for their full force on popular association, and
raca, like words of kindred meaning among ourselves, was in common use
as expressing not anger only but insolent contempt. The temper
condemned is that in which anger has so far gained the mastery that we
no longer recognize a “brother” in the man who has offended us, but look
on him with malignant scorn. (Ellicott)
Phil Newton on Mt 5:21-22
- To begin with, Jesus is not giving stages or degrees leading to
murder but showing the different manifestations of the same heart
attitude. "Anger" may manifest itself in lashing out, verbally or
physically attacking someone, or in vitriolic behavior. What we sometime
call ranting and raving may be signs of anger. It may also be what has
been termed passive-aggressive in which the angry person may not say
anything ugly but treats the other person or persons with personal
contempt. It may be the silent treatment or even manifest in what he
does not say to another person when he should be commenting in a
helpful, relational fashion. "Anger" often shows up in a spousal
relationship in which one spouse may demonstrate anger at the other by
silence, non-involvement, lack of kindness and gentleness, disregard for
showing tenderness and concern. It happens in parent-child relationships
and even in work settings. The slow, seething of the angry person looks
for ways to express animosity as much by what he does not do as by what
he does. "You good-for-nothing," or raca is Aramaic for a
term meaning "empty-head" or what we may call without a sense of levity,
"numb-skull," "blockhead," or "dingbat." I suppose that we could add
dozens of other names that convey the same general idea. This views the
other person as inferior - so obviously, pride is part of anger's root.
It is a disdainful attitude verbally expressed in insults to another.
Spurgeon on RACA -
Murder lies within anger, for we wish harm to the object of our wrath,
or even wish that he did not exist, and this is to kill him in desire.
Anger “without a cause” is forbidden by the command which says “Thou
shalt not kill;” for unjust anger is killing in intent. Such anger
without cause brings us under higher judgment than that of Jewish
police-courts. God takes cognizance of the emotions from which acts of
hate may spring, and calls us to account as much for the angry feeling
as for the murderous deed. Words also come under the same condemnation:
a man shall be judged for what he “shall say to his brother.” To call a
man Raca, or a worthless fellow, is to kill him in his reputation, and
to say to him, “Thou fool,” is to kill him as to the noblest
characteristics of a man. Hence all this comes under such censure as men
distribute in their councils; yes, under what is far worse, the
punishment awarded by the highest court of the universe, which dooms men
to “hell fire.” Thus our Lord and King restores the law of God to its
true force, and warns us that it denounces not only the overt act of
killing, but every thought, feeling, and word which would tend to injure
a brother, or annihilate him by contempt.
MacArthur adds that raca "has no exact modern equivalent.
Therefore in most Bible versions, as here, it is simply transliterated.
A term of malicious abuse, derision, and slander, it has been variously
rendered as brainless idiot, worthless fellow, silly fool, empty head,
blockhead, and the like. It was a word of arrogant contempt. (MacArthur,
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament
Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
Why is simply saying "raca" or "you fool" a sin that makes
one guilty enough to even go to hell? The answer in short is that every
man is made in the image of God and God does not say "raca" or "you
fool". Instead what God does is say I love you and to show you how much
I sent my only begotten Son (John 3:16). Paul also explains how God sees
us and how he responds in light of what He sees (remember we are to be
perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect!) writing that...
while we were still helpless,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will
hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone
would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more
then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the
wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we
were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more,
having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (See
Jesus is saying that in effect our
"cutting words" carry out the "assassination" of the person using
the weapon of the tongue and those words that proceed from a heart
filled with animosity, enmity or anger. When you call another man or
woman made in the image of God, you are in effect taking the place of
God and when you say "raca" or "you fool" you are holding them with
lower esteem than God Himself does and thus it is a grievous sin. Isn't
that what one "says" when they murder another person? They are saying in
essence that "Your life is worth less to me than it is to God!" And thus
the murderer "takes the place" of God.
Jesus exposition helps one
understand Solomon's teaching that "Death and life are in the power of
the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)
ILLUSTRATION OF ANGER - One woman
went to the doctor. He looked grave. She said, "What's wrong?" He said,
"Madam, you have hydrophobia. You have rabies." She got out a pencil and
started to write. He said, "What are you doing—making your will?" She
said, "No, I'm making a list of people I'm going to bite." I believe I
met her sister on one occasion.
William Barclay - Here is the
first example of the new standard which Jesus takes. The ancient law had
laid it down: "You shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13); but Jesus lays it
down that even anger against a brother is forbidden. In the King James
Version the man who is condemned is the man who is angry with his
brother without a cause. But the words without a cause are not found in
any of the great manuscripts, and this is nothing less than a total
prohibition of anger. It is not enough not to strike a man; the only
thing that is enough is not even to wish to strike him; not even to have
a hard feeling against him within the heart. In this passage Jesus is
arguing as a Rabbi might argue. He is showing that he was skillful in
using the debating methods which the wise men of his time were in the
habit of using. There is in this passage a neat gradation of anger, and
an answering neat gradation of punishment.
(i) There is first the man who is angry with his brother. The
verb here used is orgizesthai (orgizo).
In Greek there are two words for anger. There is
, which was described as being
like the flame which comes from dried straw. It is the anger which
quickly blazes up and which just as quickly dies down. It is an anger
which rises speedily and which just as speedily passes. There is
which was described as anger become inveterate. It is the long-lived
anger; it is the anger of the man who nurses his wrath to keep it warm;
it is the anger over which a person broods, and which he will not allow
to die. That anger is liable to the judgment court. The judgment court
is the local village council which dispensed justice. That court was
composed of the local village elders, and varied in number from three in
villages of fewer than one hundred and fifty inhabitants, to seven in
larger towns and twenty-three in still bigger cities. So, then, Jesus
condemns all selfish anger. The Bible is clear that anger is forbidden.
"The anger of man," said James, "does not work the righteousness of God"
(James 1:20). Paul orders his people to put off all "anger, wrath,
malice, slander" (Colossians 3:8). Even the highest pagan thought saw
the folly of anger. Cicero said that when anger entered into the scene
"nothing could be done rightly and nothing sensibly." In a vivid phrase
Seneca called anger "a brief insanity." So Jesus forbids for ever the
anger which broods, the anger which will not forget, the anger which
refuses to be pacified, the anger which seeks revenge. If we are to obey
Jesus, all anger must be banished from life, and especially that anger
which lingers too long. It is a warning thing to remember that no man
can call himself a Christian and lose his temper because of any personal
wrong which he has suffered.
(ii) Then Jesus goes on to speak of two cases where anger turns into
insulting words. The Jewish teachers forbade such anger and such
words. They spoke of "oppression in words," and of "the sin of insult."
They had a saying, "Three classes go down to Gehenna and return not--the
adulterer, he who puts his neighbour openly to shame, and he who gives
his neighbour an insulting name." Anger in a man's heart, and anger in a
man's speech are equally forbidden.
First of all, the man who calls his brother Raca is condemned.
Raca (see rhaka, compare Hebrew 7386 = reyq e.g., "vain" in Jdg 9:4, 2Sa
6:20) is an almost untranslatable word, because it describes a tone of
voice more than anything else. Its whole accent is the accent of
contempt. To call a man Raca was to call him a brainless idiot, a silly
fool, an empty-headed blunderer. It is the word of one who despises
another with an arrogant contempt. There is a Rabbinic tale of a certain
Rabbi, Simon ben Eleazar. He was coming from his teacher's house, and he
was feeling uplifted at the thought of his own scholarship and erudition
and goodness. A very ill-favoured passer-by gave him a greeting. The
Rabbi did not return the greeting, but said, "You Raca! How ugly you
are! Are all the men of your town as ugly as you?" "That," said the
passer-by, "I do not know. Go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly
is the creature he has made." So there the sin of contempt was rebuked.
The sin of contempt is liable to an even severer judgment. It is liable
to the judgment of the Sanhedrin (sunedrion), the supreme court
of the Jews. This of course is not to be taken literally. It is as if
Jesus said: "The sin of inveterate anger is bad; the sin of contempt is
worse." There is no sin quite so unchristian as the sin of contempt.
There is a contempt which comes from pride of birth, and snobbery is in
truth an ugly thing. There is a contempt which comes from position and
from money, and pride in material things is also an ugly thing. There is
a contempt which comes from knowledge, and of all snobberies
intellectual snobbery is the hardest to understand, for no wise man was
ever impressed with anything else than his own ignorance. We should
never look with contempt on any man for whom Christ died.
(iii) Then Jesus goes on to speak of the man who calls his brother
moros (Greek #3474). Moros also means fool, but the man who is moros
is the man who is a moral fool. He is the man who is playing the fool.
The Psalmist spoke of the fool who has said in his heart that there is
no God (Psalms 14:1). Such a man was a moral fool, a man who lived an
immoral life, and who in wishful thinking said that there was no God. To
call a man moros was not to criticise his mental ability; it was
to cast aspersions on his moral character; it was to take his name and
reputation from him, and to brand him as a loose-living and immoral
person. So Jesus says that he who destroys his brother's name and
reputation is liable to the severest judgment of all, the judgment of
the fire of Gehenna.
Gehenna is a word with a history; often the Revised Standard Version
translates it "hell." The word was very commonly used by the Jews
(Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:9; Matthew
23:15; Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43; Mark 9:45; Mark 9:47; Luke 12:5; James
3:6). It really means the Valley of Hinnom. The Valley of Hinnom is a
valley to the south-west of Jerusalem. It was notorious as the place
where Ahaz had introduced into Israel the fire worship of the heathen
God Molech, to whom little children were burned in the fire. "He burned
incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burned his sons as an
offering" (2 Chronicles 28:3). Josiah, the reforming king, had stamped
out that worship, and had ordered that the valley should be for ever
after an accursed place. "He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of
the sons of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an
offering to Molech" (2 Kings 23:10). In consequence of this the Valley
of Hinnom became the place where the refuse of Jerusalem was cast out
and destroyed. It was a kind of public incinerator. Always the fire
smouldered in it, and a pall of thick smoke lay over it, and it bred a
loathsome kind of worm which was hard to kill (Mark 9:44-48). So
Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, became identified in people's minds with
all that was accursed and filthy, the place where useless and evil
things were destroyed. That is why it became a synonym for the place of
God's destroying power, for hell. So, then, Jesus insists that the
gravest thing of all is to destroy a man's reputation and to take his
good name away. No punishment is too severe for the malicious
tale-bearer, or the gossip over the teacups which murders people's
reputations. Such conduct, in the most literal sense, is a
As we have said, all these gradations of punishment are not to be taken
literally. What Jesus is saying here is this: "In the old days men
condemned murder; and truly murder is for ever wrong. But I tell you
that not only are a man's outward actions under judgment; his inmost
thoughts are also under the scrutiny and the judgment of God.
Long-lasting anger is bad; contemptuous speaking is worse, and the
careless or the malicious talk which destroys a man's good name is worst
of all." The man who is the slave of anger, the man who speaks in the
accent of contempt, the man who destroys another's good name, may never
have committed a murder in action, but he is a murderer at heart. (Matthew
5 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
Quotes on Anger -
He that is inebriated with a passion
is unfit for an action.
When anger enters the mind wisdom departs.
Thomas à Kempis
Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is
stored than to anything on which it is poured.
Anger is as a stone cast into a wasp's nest.
Anger is just one letter short of danger.
Anger is often more hurtful than the injury that caused it.
Don't fly into a rage unless you are prepared for a rough landing.
He who can suppress a moment's anger may prevent a day of sorrow.
Nothing can cook your goose quicker than boiling anger.
One thing that improves the longer it is kept is your temper.
Sharp words make more wounds than surgeons can heal.
The anger of today is the remorse of tomorrow.
Two things a man should never be angry at: what he can help, and what he
Angry men are blind and foolish.
It is easy to fly into a passion—anybody can do that—but to be angry
with the right person at the right time and with the right object and in
the right way—that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it.
Our anger and impatience often proves much more mischievous than the
things about which we are angry or impatient.
A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good.
Now and then a man should be shaken to the core with indignation over
Henry Ward Beecher
It is better to swallow angry words than to have to eat them afterwards.
The worst of slaves is he whom passion rules.
Anger is usually inexhaustible.
Intemperate anger deprives men of their senses.
The sun should not set upon our anger, neither should it rise upon our
C. C. Colton
Anger and jealously can no more bear to lose sight of their objects than
Anger is seldom without a reason, but seldom a good one.
A man in a passion rides a horse that runs away with him.
Act nothing in a furious passion. It is putting to sea in a storm.
Anger is a sin that is its own punishment.
Angry men have good memories.
It is the great duty of all Christians to put off anger. It unfits for
duty... a man cannot wrestle with God and wrangle with his neighbour at
the same time.
The worst thing we can bring to a religious controversy is anger.
When anger was in Cain's heart, murder was not far off.
When passion is on the throne reason is out of doors.
Human anger never practises the things that God can approve.
D. Edmond Hiebert
Anger at God is a symptom. The basic problem is unbelief.
Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count a hundred.
Anger should not be destroyed but sanctified.
Anger's the anaesthetic of the mind.
C. S. Lewis
When passion enters a situation, human reasoning (unassisted by grace)
has as much chance of retaining its hold on truth as a snowflake in the
mouth of a blast furnace.
C. S. Lewis
When you are in the right, you can afford to keep your temper; and when
you are in the wrong you cannot afford to lose it.
G. C. Lorimer
Nothing makes room for Satan more than wrath.
No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.
George J. Nathan
Anger begins in folly and ends in repentance.
People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.
The greatest remedy for anger is delay.
Unrestrained anger is often more hurtful to us than the injury that
There is no old age for a man's anger.
Passion is the drunkenness of the mind.
When anger is present, look for the pain.
R. C. Sproul
Anger is temporary insanity.
C. H. Spurgeon
I have no more right as a Christian to allow a bad temper to dwell in me
than I have to allow the devil himself to dwell there.
C. H. Spurgeon
To be angry against sin is high and holy thing.
C. H. Spurgeon
Wrath in man is a tormenting fiend.
The fury of man never furthered the glory of God.
A. W. Tozer
Anger and malice differ but in age.
Anger may rush into a wise man's bosom, but should not rest there.
Ask permission from God before you dare do anything in an angry way.
It is not a sin to be angry, but hard not to sin when we are angry.
That anger is without sin that is against sin.
(Compilation of quotes from John
Blanchard Complete Gathered Gold)
Be guilty before the Supreme Court
- Offences of this kind are placed by our Lord on the same level as
those which came before the great court of the Sanhedrim.
Supreme court (4892)
(sunedrion from sun = together + hedraios =
sedentary, as one seated in a chair - see
Sanhedrin) describes an assembly or council
and in the present context describes the Jewish Sanhedrim, the council
of the seventy (not counting the high priest) who tried the most serious
offenses and pronounced the severest penalties, including death by
stoning (see Acts 6:12-7:60) (See ISBE article on
The Sanhedrin was formed in imitation of the seventy elders appointed by
Moses (Nu 11:16ff.) The members were selected from the chief priests,
former high priests, and the chief priests or heads of the twenty–four
courses or divisions, elders, and scribes or lawyers.
Ellicott - Sunedrion,
though it looks like Hebrew, is really only a transliterated form of the
Greek word for council. The court consisted of seventy or
seventy-two members, with a president and vice-president, and was made
up of the heads of the twenty-four courses of the priests, with
forty-six or forty-eight (how chosen it is not known) from the “elders”
and “scribes.” Like the Areopagus at Athens, it took cognizance—as in
the case of our Lord (Mt 26:65) and Stephen (Acts 6:13)—of blasphemy and
other like offences, and its peculiar prerogative was that it could
order death by stoning. The point of our Lord’s teaching was,
therefore, that to scorn God’s image in man is to do dishonour to God
Himself. We cannot truly “fear God” unless we also “honour all men”
(1Peter 2:17). The reverence for humanity as such must extend even to
the man who has most provoked us (Editorial note - Clearly this
necessitates our dependence on the supernatural empowerment by the
Spirit!). In the unseen eternal world the want of that reverence has its
own appropriate punishment. (Ellicott)
Sunedrion -22x in 22v-
Matt 5:22; 10:17; 26:59; Mark 13:9; 14:55; 15:1; Luke 22:66; John 11:47;
Acts 4:15; 5:21, 27, 34, 41; 6:12, 15; 22:30; 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28;
24:20. The NAS renders it as Council(m)(17), council(2), courts(m)(2),
AND WHOEVER SAYS, 'YOU FOOL,'
SHALL BE GUILTY ENOUGH TO GO INTO THE FIERY HELL (GEHENNA): os d'
an eipe, (3SAAS) More, enochos estai (3SFMI) eis ten geennan tou puros:
(Psalms 14:1; 49:10; 92:6; Proverbs 14:16; 18:6; Jeremiah 17:11) (Mt
5:29,30; 10:28; 18:8,9; 25:41; Mark 9:47; Luke 12:5; 16:23,24;
Christ here shows us that the
commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” deals with anger, with angry
words, with words of cursing,
with words of derision, for all these are killing things, hurting and
wounding things, and the passion of anger is forbidden under the
command, “Thou shalt not kill.” Men have not thought so, but it really
is so, for he who is angry with his brother is a murderer; there is the
spirit, the essence of that which leads to murder in the passion which
breeds malice and revenge. The law is spiritual; it touches the
emotions, the thoughts, the desires, as well as the words and actions of
men. If I desire ill for a man, I have within me that which would desire
his death; and what is that, after all, but murder in the heart? How
strict is this law, and yet how just and right!
(moros) conveys the root meaning of one who is mentally dull,
sluggish in understanding, foolish, morally worthless, useless, silly or stupid (English = “moron”).
Absurd (ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous)
Compare the derivative moria =
Folly, foolishness, absurdity (1Cor. 1:18, 21, 23; 2:14; 3:19).
There are a number of synonyms
including blockhead, bonehead, dimwit, dork, numbskull, and the list
goes on and on. Jesus seems to characterize calling someone a fool as a
more serious reproach than a "good for nothing".
MacArthur - Mōros
(foolish) has the root meaning of being mentally dull, silly, or stupid,
and is the word from which we get “moron.”
Webster on fool,
foolish - lacking in sense, judgment, or discretion. Foolish implies
the character of being or seeming unable to use judgment, discretion, or
good sense. Unwise; imprudent; acting without judgment or
discretion in particular things.
Vine - Moros primarily
denotes "dull, sluggish" (from a root muh---, "to be silly"); hence,
"stupid, foolish;" it is used (a) of persons, Matthew 5:22 , "Thou
fool;" here the word means morally worthless, a scoundrel, a more
serious reproach than "Raca;" the latter scorns a man's mind and calls
him stupid; moros scorns his heart and character; hence the Lord's more
severe condemnation; in Matthew 7:26 , "a foolish man;" Matthew 23:17,19
, "fools;" Matthew 25:2,3,8 , "foolish;" in 1 Corinthians 3:18 , "a
fool;" the Apostle Paul uses it of himself and his fellow-workers, in 1
Corinthians 4:10 , "fools" (i.e., in the eyes of opponents); (b) of
things, 2 Timothy 2:23 , "foolish and ignorant questionings;" so Titus
3:9; in 1 Corinthians 1:25 , "the foolishness of God," not moria,
"foolishness" as a personal quality (see C, No. 1), but adjectivally,
that which is considered by the ignorant as a "foolish" policy or mode
of dealing, lit., "the foolish (thing);" so in ver. 1 Corinthians 1:27 ,
"the foolish (things) of the world." (Fool,
Foolish, Foolishly, Foolishness - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT
Barclay - Moros also
means fool, but the man who is moros is the man who is a moral
fool. He is the man who is playing the fool....To call a man moros
was not to criticise his mental ability; it was to cast aspersions on
his moral character; it was to take his name and reputation from him,
and to brand him as a loose-living and immoral person. (Matthew
5 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
Ellicott - Jesus "Himself used
the word of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:17; 23:19), and Paul
of the skeptical Greek materialist (1Cor 15:36). The self-same word
might spring from a righteous indignation or from malignant hatred." (Ellicott)
Expositor's Greek Testament -
The word moros "expresses a more serious form of contempt than
Raca. Raca expresses contempt for a man’s head = you stupid! More
expresses contempt for his heart and character = you scoundrel. The
reckless use of such opprobrious epithets Jesus regarded as the supreme
offence against the law of humanity. (Matthew
5 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
Friberg - Moros -
foolish, stupid always a term of reproach; (1) of persons considered to
be intellectually weak, irrational, or lacking in foresight (Mt 7.26),
opposite sophros (wise) and phronimos (intelligent); substantivally =
foolish person (Mt 25.3); of one without respect for God (Mt 23.17); the
meaning of the substantive more, in Mt 5.22 is uncertain; as an insult
it could mean you fool! blockhead!; (2) of things foolish, useless (2Ti
2.23); neuter as a substantive ta. mora, what is thought of as foolish
MacArthur notes that moros
"was sometimes used in secular Greek
literature of an obstinate, godless person. It was also possibly related
to the Hebrew mārâ which means “to rebel against.” To call
someone You fool was to accuse them of being
both stupid and godless. The three illustrations in this verse show
increasing degrees of seriousness. To be angry is the basic evil behind
murder; to slander a person with a term such as Raca is even more
serious, because it gives expression to that anger; and to condemn a
person’s character by calling him a fool is more slanderous
still...Jesus’ prohibition is against slanderously calling a person a
fool out of anger and hatred. Such an expression of malicious animosity
is tantamount to murder and makes us guilty enough to go into the fiery
hell. (MacArthur, J:
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament
Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
The Septuagint uses moros
twice in a passage that gives us a "descriptive definition" of moros -
Isaiah 32:5 No longer will the fool (moros) be called noble, Or the rogue
be spoken of as generous. 6 For a fool (moros) speaks nonsense, And his
heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak
error against the LORD, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to
withhold drink from the thirsty.
Moros - 12x in 12v - NAS renders
moros as fool(1), foolish(7), foolish things(1),
Matthew 5:22 "But I say to you that
everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;
and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' (Raca) shall be
guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,'
shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
A. B. Bruce: "Raca
expresses contempt for a mans head-you stupid! Moros expresses
contempt for his heart and character-you scoundrel"
Matthew 7:26 "Everyone who hears
these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish
man who built his house on the sand.
Comment - A fool hears truth
and does not obey.
Zodhiates - In Matthew 7:24,
our Lord illustrates a sensible man as one who does not build on
shifting sand but on solid rock. It is much easier to build on sand, but
it certainly is not permanent. The person who thinks only of the present
and does not consider the eternal is a fool....Moros, someone who acts
thoughtlessly or contrary to reason. (1 Corinthians Commentary)
Matthew 23:17 "You fools and
blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that
sanctified the gold?
Zodhiates - Though in modern
Greek the word mōrós is used for "baby," the New Testament
consistently attaches the term to adults who willfully (i.e.,
consciously) and irresponsibly ignore God's commands. Christ's address
to the scribes and Pharisees, for example, "Ye fools [mōroí from mōrós]
and blind" (Mt. 23:17, 19), is a condemnation of their rebellion, not
pity toward their immaturity. Adults know that what they are doing is
wrong but do it anyway. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)
Matthew 25:2 "Five of them
foolish, and five were prudent.
3 "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with
8 "The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.'
Zodhiates - In our Lord's
parable of the ten virgins, we are told that five of them were sensible
or prudent (phrónimoi) and five were foolish (mōraí, the feminine
plural form of mōrós [Mt 25:1-13]). The sensible ones thought of the
future and considered the need to take oil in their vessels. The foolish
ones, however, thought only of the present. Thus a fool can be
characterized as one who thinks only of the present time without any
consideration of the future. (1 Corinthians Commentary)
1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the
foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is
stronger than men.
27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame
the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the
things which are strong,
1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive
himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he
must become foolish, so that he may become wise.
MacArthur - Human wisdom is
moronic in the Lord’s sight.
Mounce - Paul uses
mōros to describe the distance that exists between the world’s
wisdom and God’s. The difference is so great that “God’s foolishness”
(if he were foolish, which he is not) is wiser than human wisdom (which
is not wise) (1 Cor. 1:25); this is by God’s design (1Cor 1:27). In
fact, the distance is so great that the wisdom of God as seen in the
cross is foolishness (the related noun mōria) to the unbelieving world
but the power of God to those who are being saved (1Cor 1:18). Indeed,
the non-disciple can’t even understand the spiritual things of God (1Cor
2:14) because they are folly (mōria) to him. Consequently, true
disciples must become “fools” in the eyes of the world so they can be
truly wise (1Cor 3:18). (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old
& New Testament Words)
1 Corinthians 4:10 We are fools
for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you
are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.
2 Timothy 2:23 But refuse foolish
and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish
controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for
they are unprofitable and worthless.
Moros - 7v in the
Septuagint - Deut 32:6; Job 16:7; Ps 94:8; Isa 19:11; 32:5f; Jer
Deuteronomy 32:6 "Do you thus repay
the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has
bought you? He has made you and established you.
Psalm 94:8 Pay heed, you senseless
among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones?
Jeremiah 5:21 'Now hear this, O
foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes but do not see; Who have
ears but do not hear.
Hell (Gehenna) (1067)
from Hebrew gay = valley +
Hinnom = a
deep narrow ravine south of Jerusalem once associated with the pagan god Moloch and
his disgusting rite of infant sacrifices [cp modern practice of
abortion!], 2Kings 23:10; 2Chr 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31, 19:5, 6, 32:35; Ezekiel 16:20;
23:37 clearly prohibited by God in Lev 18:21, 20:2, 3, 4, 5) is literally the
valley of Hinnom, the valley where the filth and dead animals of
the city were cast out and burned and where there were trash fires
and perpetually burning rubbish, all a fit symbol of the future
home of all unrepentant, unregenerate wicked men and women. It was a
foul, forbidding place where the fire, smoke, and stench never ceased.
It is thus fitting that gehenna is where sin and unrepentant sinners
will one day find it's "resting place".
Vincent on Gehenna -
more accurately, the hell of fire. The word Gehenna,
rendered hell, occurs outside of the Gospels only at James 3:6. It is
the Greek representative of the Hebrew Ge-Hinnom, or Valley of Hinnom, a
deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, where, after the
introduction of the worship of the fire-gods by Ahaz, the idolatrous
Jews sacrificed their children to Molech. Josiah formally desecrated it,
“that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to
Molech” (2Kings 23:10). After this it became the common refuse-place of
the city, into which the bodies of criminals, carcasses of animals, and
all sorts of filth were cast. From its depth and narrowness, and its
fire and ascending smoke, it became the symbol of the place of the
future punishment of the wicked. So Milton: “The pleasant valley of
Hinnom, Tophet thence, And black Gehenna called, the type of hell.” As
fire was the characteristic of the place, it was called the Gehenna of
fire. It should be carefully distinguished from
Hades, which is never
used for the place of punishment, but for the place of departed spirits,
without reference to their moral condition.
Gehenna - 12x in 12v - Mt 5:22,
29f; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5; Jas 3:6
Both Raca and fool
heart of the law against murder, one by slaying a person's
intelligence and the other his character.
It is interesting that Jehovah
does have the right to use moros for He knows the heart and thus He
declared to treacherous (adulterous) Jerusalem and Judah...
'Hear this, O foolish and
senseless people, Who have eyes, but see not; Who have ears, but hear
not." (Jer 5:21)
Thus There are times when the
Scripture does consider men as fools. Jesus said so Himself, declaring
"You fools and blind men;
which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the
gold? (Mt 23:17)
addressed the rich man who had laid up for himself goods on earth but
not heaven declaring...
'You fool! This very night
your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have
prepared?' (Luke 12:20)
the psalmist explains that...
The fool has said in his
heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed
abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. (Ps 14:1) (See
Solomon presents a contrast be one
who fears God and the fool writing that...
The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs
These examples from
Scripture all have in common a stubborn rebellion against God, which is
not what Jesus is referring to. For a man to call another man "you
in a sense to put himself in the place of God. Jesus is specifically
speaking against the deliberate belittling of someone's person because
of the animosity and hatred of our own heart. That He says is as if we
had murdered them!
Have you ever been guilty of
If we are
honest, most of would have to say we are guilty of his crime against our
fellow man. Jesus' words give us pause to consider carefully what we
speak with our tongues. Our words are generally an accurate barometer of
our true spiritual condition. What is your "barometric reading" beloved?
It follows that it is of little surprise that the New Testament
repeatedly presents such clear teaching regarding the danger of
"You brood of vipers, how can you,
being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that
which fills the heart.
The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the
evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. And I
say to you, that every careless (literally "not working" -
describes a word that produces no good effect, and is not
calculated to produce any) word that men shall speak, they
shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your
words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
"Do you not understand that
everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is
eliminated? "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come
from the heart,
and those defile the man. For out of the
come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false
witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat
with unwashed hands does not defile the man." (see notes
BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN;
do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the
devil an opportunity... Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth,
but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of
the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve
the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. (see notes
The International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia has an interesting entry which says in part that
is generally explained as expressing
contempt for a man's intellectual capacity (= "you simpleton!"), while
more (translated "thou fool"), in the same verse is taken to refer to a
man's moral and religious character (= "you rascal!" "you impious
fellow!"). Thus we have three stages of anger, with three corresponding
grades of punishment:
(1) the inner feeling of anger (orgizo), to be punished by the local or
provincial court ("the judgment");
(2) anger breaking forth into an expression of scorn (Raca), to be
punished by the Sanhedrin ("the council");
(3) anger culminating in abusive and defamatory language (More), to be
punished by the fire of Gehenna. (ISBE)
One should be careful not to
misinterpret Jesus as declaring that it makes no difference whether we
kill with words like gossip or stab with literal knives of cold steel.
What Jesus is teaching is that both activities reveal the same animosity
of one's heart to his or her neighbour.
Sinclair Ferguson wisely concludes that...
Jesus recognized that we cannot be
trusted in our judgment of the seriousness of careless speech. We treat
the damage we do with our lips very lightly because we do not see the
corpses we leave behind. That is why Jesus invades our moral slumber by
telling us how serious this is in the sight of God. He uses language we
readily understand: anger incurs judgment; using terms of contempt
(like raca) is worthy of condemnation by the highest court (Mt 5:22-note);
calling someone a fool fits us for hell. Jesus is probably not placing
these sins on a scale of seriousness in the kingdom of God; He is simply
stressing vividly that they are far more serious than most of us assume.
In fact, our insensitivity to their real seriousness is indicative of
the dullness of our spiritual senses. (Ferguson,
Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth)
Freeman's Manners and Customs of the Bible has the following
summary of Mt 5:22:...
The Jewish teachers had heretofore
taught that nothing except actual murder was forbidden by the sixth
commandment. Thus they explained away its spiritual meaning. Christ
showed the full meaning of this commandment; according to which we must
be judged hereafter, and therefore ought to be ruled now. All rash anger
is heart murder. Our “brother” here indicates any person, status
notwithstanding, for we are all made of one blood. “Raca,” is a scornful
word, and is evidence of pride: “Thou fool,” is a spiteful word, and
denotes hatred. Malicious slanders and censures are lethal poison. (Freeman,
J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. Manners & Customs of the Bible. 1996. Whitaker
History of a Murder - The beginning of strife is like
releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
The newspaper reported a tragic incident of violence that took place in
a South American country. A peasant killed his best friend while they
were arguing about political differences. When asked why he did it, he
replied with these chilling words: "We began peacefully, and then we
argued. I killed him when I ran out of words."
This tragedy calls to mind Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5 about the close
connection between anger and murder. First He stressed the seriousness
of anger (Mt 5:21, 22). He warned that malicious anger, like murder, would
be punished by God. Then He gave practical advice designed to defuse
anger in a person who has something against another (Mt 5:23, 24, 25, 26).
We should all take a close look at our inner rage. We might think we can
control it. Unfortunately, though, our feelings of hostility often
control us and cause us to do things we would never do while thinking
clearly. That's why unresolved anger needs to be seen as a time-bomb
that can explode, destroying ourselves and doing irreparable damage to
others. True, not all anger is wrong. But all wrong anger needs to be
acknowledged and confessed before it leads to "murder." –M R De
Haan II (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
When I have lost my temper,
I've lost my reason too;
I'm never proud of anything
Which angrily I do. –Jackson
He who conquers his anger conquers a
J C Ryle...
These verses deserve the closest
attention of all readers of the Bible. A right understanding of the
doctrines they contain lies at the very root of Christianity. The Lord
Jesus here explains more fully the meaning of His words, "I came not to
destroy the law, but to fulfill." He teaches us that His Gospel
magnifies the law, and exalts its authority. He shows us that the law,
as expounded by Him, was a far more spiritual and heart-searching rule
than most of the Jews supposed. And He proves this by selecting three
commandments out of the ten as examples of what He means.
He expounds the sixth commandment. Many thought that they kept this part
of God's law, so long as they did not commit actual MURDER. The Lord
Jesus shows, that its requirements go much further than this. It
condemns all angry and passionate language, and especially when used
without a cause. Let us mark this well. We may be perfectly innocent of
taking life away, and yet be guilty of breaking the sixth commandment.
He expounds the seventh commandment. Many supposed that they kept this
part of God's law, if they did not actually commit ADULTERY. The Lord
Jesus teaches, that we may break it in our thoughts, hearts, and
imaginations, even when our outward conduct is moral and correct. The
God with whom we have to do looks far beyond actions. With him even a
glance of the eye may be a sin.
He expounds the third commandment. Many fancied that they kept this part
of God's law, so long as they did not swear falsely, and performed their
OATHS. The Lord Jesus forbids all vain and light swearing altogether.
All swearing by created things, even when God's name is not brought
forward--all calling upon God to witness, excepting on the most solemn
occasions, is a great sin.
Now all this is very instructive. It ought to raise very serious
reflections in our minds. It calls us loudly to use great searching of
heart. And what does it teach?
It teaches us the exceeding holiness of God. He is a most pure and
perfect Being, who sees faults and imperfections, where man's eyes often
see none. He reads our inward motives. He notes our words and thoughts,
as well as our actions. "He requires truth in the inward parts." Oh!
that men would consider this part of God's character more than they do!
There would be no room for pride, and self-righteousness, and
carelessness, if they only saw God "as He is."
It teaches us the exceeding ignorance of man in spiritual things. There
are thousands and ten thousands of professing Christians, it may be
feared, who know no more of the requirements of God's law than the most
ignorant Jews. They know the letter of the ten commandments well enough.
They fancy, like the young ruler, "all these have I kept from my youth
up." They never dream that it is possible to break the sixth and seventh
commandments, if they do not break them by outward act or deed. And so
they live on satisfied with themselves, and quite content with their
little bit of religion. Happy indeed are they who really understand
It teaches us our exceeding need of the Lord Jesus Christ's atoning
blood to save us. What man or woman upon earth can ever stand before
such a God as this, and plead "not guilty?" Who is there that has ever
grown to years of discretion, and not broken the commandments thousands
of times? "There is none righteous, no! not one." Without a mighty
Mediator, every one would be condemned in the judgment. Ignorance of the
real meaning of the law is one plain reason why so many do not value the
Gospel, and content themselves with a little formal Christianity. They
do not see the strictness and holiness of God's Ten commandments. If
they did, they would never rest until they were safe in Christ.
In the last place, this passage teaches us the exceeding importance of
avoiding all occasions of sin. If we really desire to be holy, we must
"take heed to our ways, that we offend not in our tongues." We must be
ready to make up quarrels and disagreements, lest they gradually lead on
to greater evils. "The beginning of strife is like breaching a dam." We
must labor to crucify our flesh and mortify our members, to make any
sacrifice and endure any bodily inconvenience rather than sin. We must
keep our lips as it were with a bridle, and exercise an hourly
strictness over our words. Let men call us precise, if they will, for so
doing. Let them say, if they please, that we are "too particular." We
need not be moved. We are merely doing as our Lord Jesus Christ bids us,
and, if this is the case, we have no cause to be ashamed.