Matt 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother is subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother ‘Raca’, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
In the Greek, there are two words translated as ‘anger’. One is ‘orge’ and refers to violent passion, indignation, long-lived vengeance and wrath. The other is ‘thumos’ and refers to anger that flares up quickly and quickly passes. Jesus forbids ‘orge’ that broods, is unforgiving, refuses to be pacified, and seeks revenge. We must banish that sort of anger form our hearts. (Eph 4:26-27) Jesus got angry, but the anger was at the hardness of hearts, not some personal insult or injury – mark 3:5. The Jewish teachers said that there were three classes that went to Gehenna – the adulterer, the one who shames his neighbor, and the one whom insults his brother’s name. Anger shows up in a person’s speech.
The term ‘Raca’ was always said with the attitude of contempt. It meant brainless idiot, empty-headed, or blunderer. It was said from a sense of superiority due to birth, money, or supposed knowledge. God said we should never look with contempt on any person for whom Jesus died -2 Pet 3:9.
The term ‘You fool’ comes from the Greek ‘moros’ and is not a criticism of the intellect, but rather of the morals. It was used to describe someone who had lived an immoral life. To call someone a ‘fool’ was to take his good name and reputation from him, and cast doubt on his moral character. Jesus said that the gravest thing one can do is to destroy another’s reputation. The gossip that destroys people’s reputation is a hell-deserving sin.
So what Jesus is teaching is this: In the judgment of God, long lasting anger is bad, contemptuous speaking is worse, and talk that destroys a person’s good name is the worst of all. The man who does these things may never commit murder outwardly, but he is a murderer at heart. Matt 18:1-6
May we think on the responsibility we have for our words – Eph 4:29-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”