Matthew 5:22

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Matthew 5:22 is the twenty-second verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. It is the first of what have traditionally been known as the 6 Antitheses. In this one, Jesus compares the current interpretation of "You shall not murder" from the Ten Commandments with his interpretation.

Text[edit]

The original Koine Greek, according to Westcott and Hort, reads:

εγω δε λεγω υμιν οτι πας ο οργιζομενος τω αδελφω αυτου
ενοχος εσται τη κρισει ος δ αν ειπη τω αδελφω αυτου
ρακα ενοχος εσται τω συνεδριω ος δ αν ειπη μωρε
ενοχος εσται εις την γεενναν του πυρος

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of the
judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,
shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall
say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of the
judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca!'
shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say,
'You fool!' shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.

For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 5:22

Analysis[edit]

This verse asserts that just as great a crime as murder itself, is the anger that leads to it. Schweizer notes that this view is not particularly new to Jesus, appearing in the Old Testament at places such as Ecclesiastes 7:9 and in works such as Sirach, the Slavonic Enoch, Pesahim, and Nedraim.[1] A similar teaching also appears at 1 John 3:15.[2] Gundry notes that "I say to you" is one of Matthew's favourite phrases using it 68 times.[3] Schweizer feels it is used here to link to the word of God in the previous verse.[4]

Davies and Allison note that the references to brothers is probably an allusion to the story of Cain and Abel.[5] Nolland notes that the word usually translated as brother is gender neutral in the original Greek, and is more accurately translated as "brother or sister."[6] Harrington notes that brother does not literally refer to sibling, or even to just the small group of followers or disciples. Rather he states that the verse should be read as referring to all Israelites or all human beings.[7] France disagrees, feeling that in this particular verse Jesus is referring only to the group of disciples.[8]

Early manuscripts are divided between whether this verse should read "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" or "whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment." The two versions are significantly different in implication and most modern scholars feel that "without a cause" was a later addition by a copyist trying to make the statement less radical.[9]

Insults[edit]

The word Raca is original to the Greek manuscript; however, it is not a Greek word. The most common view is that it is a reference to the Aramaic word reka, which literally means "empty one", but probably meant "empty headed," or "foolish." Scholars seem divided on how grievous an insult it was. Hill feels it was very,[10] France thinks it was a minor slur.[11] The word translated as fool is the Greek moros, which has a similar meaning to the Aramaic reka. However moros also was used to mean godless, and thus could be much more severe a term than reka. It is very similar to the Greek word for apostate, and Albright and Mann feel that word was originally intended, but the current version is a typo. The reading of godless can explain why the punishment is more severe.[12] Jesus uses the term himself in Matthew 23:17 when he is deriding the Pharisees.

This verse has also recently become part of the debate over the New Testament view of homosexuality. Some scholars have argued that raca can mean effeminate, and was a term of abuse for homosexuals. Similarly moros can also refer to a homosexual aggressor. From Semitic cognates Warren Johansson argued that the word was an Aramaic pejorative, similar to the English words faggot or fairy. By these interpretations Jesus could be specifically condemning homophobia. Most scholars reject this view, considering it more likely that the terms were meant as general insults, rather than specific attacks on homosexuals. See also the Bible and homosexuality.[13][14]

Punishments[edit]

While some scholars have searched for one, the offenses in the verse do not seem to increase in severity. By contrast the verse contains an escalating scale of punishment.[15] Those that are angry with their brother are said to be subject to judgement. This is often interpreted as the judgement of the local council, which would mete out justice in a community. The council is generally seen as a reference to the Sanhedrin, the council of leading religious thinkers that acted as the central court in Jerusalem. Most controversial is what fate is implied by the third punishment. In Greek the word used is Gehenna, it refers to a valley south of Jerusalem where there was an ever burning rubbish fire, and where in the past human sacrifices had been cremated.

In the Old Testament, followers of various Ba'als and gods in the Caananite Pantheon, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire, especially in the area Tophet (2 Chr. 28:3, 33:6). Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:31, 19:2-6).[16]

Some scholars believe this to be a metaphor for damnation and for Hell, and traditionally it was translated this way. Albright and Mann reject this view and conclude that Jesus was here literally referring to the valley and the potential of being thrown in there as punishment.[17] Gehenna appears six other times in the Gospel of Matthew: 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 18:19, 23:15, and 23:33[18]

Some scholars reject the idea that the first two sections refer to secular institutions. Albright and Mann argue that only God could know a person's internal emotions, and no human institution could punish such crimes.[19] Hill argues that this verse has been misunderstood as applying to the general population. He believes that the reference to brothers means that these rules are not meant for society at large, but only the disciples and leaders of the new religion, and that the council refers to an internal structure.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  2. ^ Davies, W.D. and Dale C. Allison, Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1988-1997. pg. 77
  3. ^ Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  4. ^ Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  5. ^ Davies, W.D. and Dale C. Allison, Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1988-1997. pg. 77
  6. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 pg. 230
  7. ^ Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel of Matthew. Liturgical Press, 1991 pg. 86
  8. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 134
  9. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985. pg. 120
  10. ^ Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  11. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  12. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  13. ^ Johansson, Warren "Whosoever Shall Say To His Brother, Racha." Studies in Homosexuality, Vol XII: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy. Ed. Wayne Dynes & Stephen Donaldson. New York & London: Garland, 1992. pp. 212-214
  14. ^ Robinson, B. A. 1996-2005 What the Bible says about homosexuality. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
  15. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 202
  16. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Gehenna: "The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the "valley of the son of Hinnom," to the south of Jerusalem (Josh. xv. 8, passim; II Kings xxiii. 10; Jer. ii. 23; vii. 31-32; xix. 6, 13-14). For this reason the valley was deemed to be accursed, and "Gehenna" therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for "hell.""
  17. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  18. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 202
  19. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  20. ^ Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981


Preceded by
Matthew 5:21
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 5
Succeeded by
Matthew 5:23