Matthew 5 (NKJV)
21 “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.’
22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. 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.
I used the New King James Version. I like the fact that the words “without a cause” are included. This is a translation of Strong’s #1500. I’m not a great Bible Scholar so I won’t try to deal with that any further. It just seems to me that those words are important to the verse.
So first, what’s being said here?
“You have heard that it was said to those of old,” seems again to be pointing to the fact that this is well-known to the Jewish audience. But the verse being pointed to only says:
Exodus 20:13 – You must not murder. (NLT)
Exodus 20:13 – Thou shalt not kill. (Old King James)
So the words, “and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment” were probably added by the Pharisees, Sadducee s and Scribes of Jesus time. In this case their added commentary is pointing towards their legal system. Calvin says in his commentary:
“… Jesus charges them with turning into a political scheme the law of God, which had been given for the government of the heart.”
I had not caught that nuance of this passage before. Jesus expands on the meaning of the Sixth commandment by telling them (and us), that if you are angry with your brother without a cause, you break the sixth commandment.
Excerpts from Calvin’s commentary again say:
“Jesus is telling them that rash anger is heart-murder…”
“Anger is a natural passion; there are cases in which it is lawful and commendable;”
“It is sinful, when we are angry without cause…”
“Cain’s killing his brother began in anger…”
With that very quick analysis, the key question is:
What does this mean to me today? The Ten Commandments do not necessarily determine my salvation, but they are Gods Law. Laws have consequences when they are broken. If I speed I will get a speeding ticket (sooner or later!) When I break Gods Divine laws I will also suffer a Divine consequence of some kind. The first level, if I can call it that, is “judgment,” the second level is “danger of the council,” and the third level that Jesus gives is “in danger of hell fire.” Is this a progression leading to actual damnation? Could be. I’m not a believer in unequivocal “once saved always saved” salvation. I believe there are ways that you can lose it (or maybe never had it). Whatever we believe, the words are there for us to ponder…
And regardless of the consequences, which I do not take lightly – I am trying to be aware of, and always trying to please my Heavenly Father.
I pray that you who read this post may be enlightened and challenged.
Blessings to all