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Matthew 5:21-22

On Respect for Life

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 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.


Murder? Not me! I would never do such a thing. This section of the Sermon on the Mount must be for those people who live in that bad neighborhood across town. Right?

Wrong! Perhaps you did not read the fine print. Jesus continued emphasizing the sinfulness of men by explaining the finer points of the law. He took the time to show how these laws must first be applied to our hearts before we can claim any kind of righteousness.

"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,.." This was a series of expressions used to point out the well established fact of a subject. People in those days learned by hearing. The scriptures and accompanying Pharisaical laws were read in the synagogues on the Sabbath. Often the readings were done in Aramaic, which many could not understand, so translators would paraphrase for the listeners. Overtime, this created a tradition of law passed down through many generations that was accepted as the law of God.

Jesus did not debate the traditions, but used them as a foundation upon which to teach the practical application of scripture. God's laws are neither new nor unproven. They are old, well established and known by each of us. Quoting, therefore, the prohibition against murder, he focuses on an issue of the heart that is the number one cause of murder, i.e. the lack of love and respect for other human beings.

It is out of the lust of our hearts, which cause us to value our own comforts above the lives of others, that wars and killings originate. The error of the rabbis of that day was their failure to apply the law any farther than the actual physical act of murder. The punishment that they had in mind was the execution of the guilty party. Whereas, Jesus made application to the heart and clarified that the judgment was worse than physical death. The penalty was to perish in the fires of hell.

Everyone of us has been angry at someone without a just cause. At the time, we may think that we are justified. We often find, however, that our emotions have run away with us. And, exactly what is a just cause for anger anyway? Most angry outbursts are over damaged pride, hurt feelings, or material loss. We should ask ourselves whether any of these things are worth more than a person who was created in the image of God and for whom Christ died at Calvary.

Modern expositors also want to define "Raca" (vain man) or "fool" as different levels of contempt and the words "judgment", "council", and "hell fire" as different levels of judgment, but that is being ridiculous. The words which are spoken have nothing to do with levels of contempt for others. In fact, James 2:20 uses the phrase "O vain man" and Jesus called the religious leaders of His day "Fools." (See Matthew 23:17-19) Surely we would not say that Jesus had contempt for anyone, simply because He used these words! Clearly, then, Jesus is using various words to depict a condition of the heart which condemns us to divine judgment. He wants us to respect and love one another, because we are valuable to Him. Anything less is sin.

Before The Throne:

Let's pray together for all men to have more respect for human life. Pray for our society which elevates the value of even an animal's life above that of a human being. Ask God to intervene and to give us leaders who will take a strong stand against the killing of innocent unborn babies. Pray for the leaders who have lost their respect for life. Confess your anger to God and ask for His forgiveness.

For Further Study:

(v.21)
** it. 2Sam 20:18; Job 8:8-10; ** Thou. Gen 9:5-6; Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17; ** and. Exod 21:12-14; Num 35:12, 16-21, 30-34; Deut 21:7-9; 1Kgs 2:5-6, 31-32;

(v.22)
** I say. Matt 3:17; Matt 17:5; Deut 18:18-19; Acts 3:20-23; Acts 7:37; Heb 5:9; Heb 12:25; ** That. Gen 4:5-6; Gen 37:4-8; 1Sam 17:27-28; 1Sam 18:8-9; 1Sam 20:30-33; 1Sam 22:12-23; 1Kgs 21:4; 2Chr 16:10; Esth 3:5-6; Ps 37:8; Dan 2:12-13; Dan 3:13, 19; Eph 4:26-27; ** his brother. Matt 18:21, 35; Deut 15:11; Neh 5:8; Obad 1:10, 12; Rom 12:10; 1Cor 6:6; 1Thess 4:6; 1John 2:9; 1John 3:10, 14-15; 1John 4:20-21; 1John 5:16; ** without. Ps 7:4; Ps 25:3; Ps 35:19; Ps 69:4; Ps 109:3; Lam 3:52; John 15:25; ** Whosoever. Matt 11:18-19; Matt 12:24; 1Sam 20:30; 2Sam 16:7; John 7:20; John 8:48; Acts 17:18; 1Cor 6:10; Eph 4:31-32; Titus 3:2; 1Pet 2:23; 1Pet 3:9; Jude 1:9; ** Raca. 2Sam 6:20; Jas 2:20; the council. Matt 10:17; Matt 26:59; Mark 14:55; Mark 15:1; John 11:47; Acts 5:27; ** fool. Ps 14:1; Ps 49:10; Ps 92:6; Prov 14:16; Prov 18:6; Jer 17:11; ** hell. Matt 10:28; Matt 18:8-9; Matt 25:41; Mark 9:47; Luke 12:5; Luke 16:23-24; Rev 20:14;

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