Previous to this we learned that in Jesus’s mind, the law of Moses and the writings of the Prophets are still in effect today. But now He begins to expand a little on a few topics.
Check. Don’t plan on murdering anyone. Never really even felt the urge to do so. *pats self on back* Good to go …
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Well now this is interesting isn’t it? Never thought of myself as a murder before – have you? Oh, but I sure got angry with my brother when we growing up, pesky little thing he was. lol But this word translated as brother or sister is actually referring to a fellow Christ follower, neighbor, or associate. I’m sure you’ve never been upset with one of them before, right? *one eyebrow raised* You know lying is a sin too. *wink*
If we take in the big picture, we know that God has expressed anger. Jesus looked at the Pharisees with anger (Mark 3), and Paul instructs us to be angry but do not sin. So we can extrapolate and realize this would most likely be referring to an anger which is unjustified, disproportionate, self-centered or selfish in nature. Righteous anger would be a valid anger. But regardless of the anger we may feel, our actions must remain those which would be acceptable by God.
Raca means “vain, empty, worthless. The Jews used it as a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit.”” It is “a term of reproach derived from the Chaldee reka , worthless. (“Raca denotes a certain looseness of life and manners, while fool, in the same passage, means a downright wicked and reprobate person.”) ”
I can think of a few choice four-letter words we use today which might be equivalent. I think Jesus is making the point words are not just words. And we should be careful with them.
Albert Barnes sums up this instruction in this way:
The amount, then, of this difficult and important verse is this: The Jews considered but one crime a violation of the sixth commandment, namely, actual murder, or willful, unlawful taking life. Jesus says that the commandment is much broader. It relates not only to the external act, but to the feelings and words. He specifies three forms of such violation:
1. Unjust anger.
2. Anger accompanied with an expression of contempt.
3. Anger, with an expression not only of contempt, but wickedness.
I think that’s a great sum up so we’ll just leave it here.