Here are a few questions to get us thinking today:
- How did your parents settle disputes between you and your siblings when you were a kid?
- What was the best advice you have been given on how to deal with anger?
In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers that when someone is angry with his brother, saying “Raca,” he is answerable to the court, and one who calls him a “fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:21-22).
- What legal case has especially cause your attention?
- How are murder and anger related?
- What new standard of right and wrong is Jesus creating?
- Does Jesus say that anger leads to murder? NO, he says anger IS murder.
There is something called holy anger (Ephesians 4:26), but Jesus is talking about unholy anger.
Matthew 5:22 is the only passage in the Bible where the term raca is used. Raca comes from the Aramaic term reqa. It was a derogatory expression meaning “empty-headed,” insinuating a person’s stupidity or inferiority. It was an offensive term used to show complete contempt for another person. Jesus warned that the use of such a word to describe someone was deserving of the severest punishment, “the fire of hell.”
The term means “a settled anger, malice that is nursed inwardly.”Jesus describes a sinful experience that involves several stages: Causeless anger which then explodes into words (Raca, or Fool).
In Matthew 5:21, Jesus recalled the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). In characteristic fashion, Jesus took the old law one step further by explaining the TRUE significance of the law—a deeper, spiritual meaning they had never seen.
- First, Jesus warns that the very act of murder finds its roots in an angry, murderous spirit: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22a). God, who examines the thoughts and intentions of the heart, will issue judgment upon unrighteous anger.
- Next, Jesus warns against name-calling, using “raca” as an example (Matthew 5:22b).
- Then He issues a third warning against those who call someone a “fool” (Matthew 5:22c).
The first-century Jews recognized that “anyone who murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21), but Jesus warns that even calling another person insulting names such as “raca” is sinful. Murder begins in the heart, and using a phrase such as “raca” is a sign that there is hatred within the heart. The hatred that causes one person to hurl insults is the same hatred that causes another to commit murder. The attitude of the heart is the same, and it’s this attitude that makes a person morally guilty before God.
Jesus not only warns us against expressing unrighteous anger, which CAN lead to murder, but he clearly commands that name-calling must be avoided. Such abusive words reveal the true intents of one’s heart and mind for which we will be held accountable: “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10; cf. 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9).
Anger is such a foolish thing. It turns builders into destroyers. It robs of freedom and makes us prisoners. Sinful anger robs us of fellowship with God and with others. It must be faced honestly and confessed; we put ourselves into prison when we refuse to be reconciled.