Matthew 5:21-26 The Truth About Anger & Murder

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. Different Interpretations

A. Wrong Interpretation

1. Historically- O.T. written in Hebrew, but the Jewish masses spoke Aramaic
2. They depended upon the Scribes & Pharisees to read & interpret O.T. for them
3. Pharisees cared only about the actual act of murder, not the emotion behind it
4. Anything short of murder might be allowed (disdain, extreme hatred, contempt)
5. They rightly understood that murder brings judgment from the ruling authorities
6. They missed the bigger application; neglected the eternal & spiritual aspect

B. Right Interpretation

1. “But I say to you…”Jesus showed His true authority regarding God’s Law
He is superior to the Scribes & the Pharisees
2. The Law-not only external actions; includes internal feelings. See Matt. 15:18-20
3. Jesus warns against wrongful anger; escalating anger that leads to murderous intentions, and possibly murder itself
4. Jesus- not saying that anger is as bad as murder, but that the law condemns both
5. Murder is worse than murderous anger, but both are worthy of God’s judgment
6. Angry- orgizo, from orge: anger exhibited in punishment, anger that leads to punishment, anger that brings physical results

i. A person is so angry with someone that they want to see them punished
ii. Orge is the word used when speaking of the “wrath” of God

a. When God has orge anger, he is justified
b. He is right in His experiencing and expression of orge

iii. Keep in mind, Jesus is speaking about people with unjustified orge
iv. This anger may come from jealousy, envy, etc.
v. A person is forgetful, unable, impatient, needy, immature, a mistake is made
vi. You are so angry with someone that you want to see them suffer
vii. Anger is not condemned, but anger w/o a just cause. (As opposed to NIV)
viii. Killing is not condemned if it is just; killing w/o a just cause is murder

7. V. 22a- If you are angry w/o a cause-

a. Subject to judgment, damnation, condemnation, a council of Israeli elders
b. Side note-The 1st degree of capital punishment was beheading

8. V. 22b- Raca-an insult against one’s intelligence; i.e., “blockhead”, “brainless idiot”

a. This anger wants to punish by insulting one’s intelligence
b. Subject to the council, Sanhedrin, a ruling council
c. The Sanhedrin had the power to pronounce a death sentence
d. Side note-The 2nd degree of capital punishment was stoning

9. V. 22c- Fool- an insult against one’s character. A moral judgment, more serious

a. This anger now wants to punish by insulting one’s character
b. Subject to “Hell Fire”
c. Side note-The 3rd degree of capital punishment was to be burnt alive

10. Two scenarios regarding this teaching…1st scenario speaks of human judgment

a. Jesus is teaching on the civil risks that a person takes if they are wrongfully angry with someone
b. Escalating anger that goes from unjust anger, to insult, to greater insult, which might lead to murder
c. A person foolishly thinks they are safe only being angry and insulting someone
d. Their anger is satisfied by insult and character defamation
e. That anger may eventually lead to murder, and “Hell Fire”
f. They are in danger of human judgment, including capital punishment
g. “Hell Fire”Gehenna- the valley outside of Jerusalem where trash, dead animals, and the bodies of criminals were burned. Gehenna burned constantly
h. One may not imagine that he would ever kill someone, but foolishly allow anger to be unrestrained in his heart
i. This would lead them to murder, and then capital punishment

11. 2nd scenario is absolutely applicable, which is Divine judgment

a. Jesus is teaching that the judgment of God falls upon not only those who violate the letter of the Law, but even the spirit of the law
b. This is seen in Matthew 5:28; 5:32
c. Galatians 5:19-21 19Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
d. “Murder in the heart” is subject to God’s judgment.
e. Goes against intention of the 6th commandment: Thou shalt not kill (murder)

II. Godly Response

1. Therefore- Jesus gives truth, & then application. Truth should lead to application
2. As you come to worship God if you remember a legitimate accusation against you, go take care of it as soon as possible. Apologize, and be reconciled

a. The Jewish worshipper was to leave his sacrifice, & go take care of the matter
b. Our worship is vain if we don’t truthfully apologize for our wrongs
c. We are not to cause that kind of hurt or anger in others, & then not deal with it

3. Worship of God must include right relationships with others, apologizing when you are wrong, asking forgiveness when you are legitimately wrong

a. Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably w/ all men.
b. Some people may not accept our apologies; we must do our best

4. Right relationships are more important than religious service & attendance
5. If we don’t follow Jesus’ command…

a. We may be actually taken to court and found guilty of a legitimate crime
b. Debtor’s prisons existed in Jesus’ day. You are imprisoned until you pay retribution. Your family might help, or you would sell possessions to pay
c. We may actually be imprisoned physically
d. We will certainly be spiritually hindered

i. Ephesians 4:26, 27 “Be angry (orgizo), and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil.

III. The Big Picture Matthew 5:20, 48; Romans 3:19-24

Romans 7:9, 10 NLT- I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. 10So the good law, which was supposed to show me the way of life, instead gave me the death penalty.