Read Matthew 5:21-26
I read a blog the other day where the author was puzzled about some of the things that Jesus said. I tried to leave a comment but because I don't have a WordPress account any longer, I couldn't. But I wanted to tell her the reason she was puzzled was because of the Bible translation she was using. A whole verse had been left out of her translation which was why she was confused. If things don't make sense or don't add up, that's when I check to see what's missing.
In today's verses I once again found some missing words that are not found in modern translations. And it's an important part too because it explains what Jesus really meant. What is left out in the NIV, NLT and the NASB for example is the following:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment (Matthew 5:21-22)."
Did you catch that? "Without a cause." In modern translations this crucial verse is left out and says:
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."
In modern translations if you are angry at someone you are in danger of judgment. In the more trustworthy versions like the KJV however, you are only in danger of judgment if you are angry without a cause. Which brings me to my next question. What was "the judgment" Jesus was talking about here?
The word used for judgment is krisis and has a variety of meanings from condemnation, to someone's opinion concerning justice or injustice in that they are "casting judgment" on them. Yet Jesus compares the feeling of anger or rage that leads to murder, as being the same as the act of murder itself. For murder, the judgment was laid out in the Torah, Leviticus 24:17 - whoever takes a human life will be put to death. In the NIV, by leaving out three words, the implication is that anyone who is angry will be subject to the same judgment as one who commits murder. One allows for me to be angry without the risk of judgment and the other says I can't get angry at all. To be clear then, Jesus DID NOT say that if you are angry you will be subject to the same judgment as one who murders. He DID SAY you WOULD NOT be subject to judgment if you had a good reason for your anger. This is backed up by Jesus Himself, when in his justifiable anger he trashed the temple by driving out the money changers (John 2:13-17). He had a good reason for his anger. His holy temple was being turned into a thieves den.
So what did Jesus mean by this verse?:
"And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire."
First, we need to find out the meaning of the word "Raca". Translated, it was an Aramaic word of utter contempt, signifying "empty," intellectually rather than morally, So basically if you called someone Raca, you were calling them empty-headed. You were attacking their intellect rather than their value as a person. The consequence being that you could be taken before the Sanhedrin (Jewish ruling authority) for slander or libel. However, if you called someone a fool, that was much worse because you were attacking their value as a person, someone God created, so you were effectively telling God that what He created was of no value, hence the reason why you would be in danger of hell fire. FYI - Jesus' concept of hell is vastly different than ours. Check this out from the Quest Study Bible:
The word hell is derived from gehenna, which refers to the Hinnom Valley. It was there where human sacrifices were offered to the pagan god Molek. It subsequently became a dumping ground, a place of perpetually burning trash and smouldering garbage, as well as the place where corpses of criminals were discarded. Jesus described hell as a place of torment (Lk 16:23), destruction (Mt 10:28) and eternal fire (Mk 9:43), where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:50; Lk 13:28).
By calling someone a fool in Jesus' day, was to imply they were worthless enough they should be thrown away and discarded like a corpse thrown into the Hinnom Valley. Words in Jesus' day had meaning behind them and they still do today, so be careful how you use them.
So what do we learn from all this? How do we apply these principles of dealing with anger to our lives? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:23-26 - if you know your brother has something against you (angry with you) be reconciled to them. It was so important to be reconciled that Jesus told his followers to not even leave an offering to God until that was taken care of first. In other words, don't let your anger fester. Be reconciled or agree with your adversary before things get out of hand and you end up in prison.
Jesus effectively demonstrates to his followers that sin begins in the heart. The desire to harm another with words is just as bad as physically harming them because God looks at the intent of the heart. You may think your words have no impact on another, but they do and ultimately you will be justified or condemned by what you say (Matthew 12:37).
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