Question: Please explain Matthew 5: 22.
Answer: Matthew 5: 22: “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
This passage is a part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount which He addressed to His disciples. He told them (verse 17) that He had come, not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it. He emphasized the spirit of the Law rather than the mere letter as it was kept by the scribes and Pharisees (verse 20; 23: 23). He said (verse 21), “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment [the lower court of justice – compare (Deuteronomy 16: 8) (2 Chronicles 19: 5)]: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Jesus thus stresses the fact that in God’s estimation the spirit of murder, beginning in the heart, deserves the same kind of judgment – compare (1 John 2: 11; 3: 15).
He who has malicious anger in his heart toward his brother, who hates his brother, deserves to go before the court of justice just as much as he who has committed homicide, for in his heart he has murdered him. The words “without a cause” are not found in the oldest manuscripts. Malicious hatred of a brother is moral murder. There is no good reason for malicious anger against a brother.
The murderous spirit in the heart may find expression through the lips. Jesus shows this in the next part of the threefold gradation: “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [Greek, raka – supposedly derived from the Hebrew rak – to be empty; it signifies a vain, empty, worthless fellow, shallow brains – a term of great contempt, implying ridicule, reviling, and evil speaking, in vilification], shall be in danger of the council [Greek, Sanhedrin – the Jews’ highest court].”
Finally, in the last part of verse 22, Jesus mentions a still more grievous expression of the murderous spirit in the heart, though still short of the outward act of literal murder (which alone the Pharisees stressed): “But whosoever shall say, Thou fool [Greek, moros – a stronger term of reproach and vilification, involving the added idea of impious, abandoned, a rebel against God, apostate from all good, graceless wretch], shall be in danger of hell [gehenna] fire.”
Thus, Jesus gives a threefold gradation as to the nature of the pertinent sin: (1) a disposition of malicious hatred of a brother, (2) the expression of contempt for a brother’s intelligence, and (3) the expression of contempt for a brother’s heart and character. He gives also a parallel threefold gradation as to the judgments and pertinent penalties. Since the entire statement refers to the future, Jesus was evidently alluding to the future judgments and the regulations under the New Law Covenant in the coming Kingdom of God on earth.
The Antitype of Matthew 5: 22
The respective judgments and penalties in the threefold gradation are as follows:
(1.) Judgment, including sentencing, by the tribunal or lower court of judges (typical of the Ancient and Youthful Worthies in general, as typed also by Keturah’s second son, Jokshan). These will judge mankind Millennially, assisted by the quasi-elect, especially the Consecrated Epiphany Campers, who will help particularly in judging the non-elect and in furthering their progress unto perfection.
(2.) Judgment, including sentencing, by the high council, or Sanhedrin, consisting of 71 men of recognized learning and ability. Its supervision was over the gravest offenses, and its most serious sentence was death. This is typical of a similar court to be established in the Millennial Age, composed of the 70 most prominent Ancient and Youthful Worthies, typed also by Keturah’s firstborn son, Zimran.
(3.) Gehenna fire, typical of the Second Death. Certain very obnoxious criminals were denied burial. Their bodies were cast into Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, where they were consumed by the worms and fires. Thus, the crime and the criminal were made detestable in the eyes of the people and the culprit was indicated as a hopeless case. Gehenna therefore fittingly represents the Second Death.