Matthew 5:21-26

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

ANGER AND MURDER

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Sermon on the Mount tells us of God’s expectations for people. It shows us that we are not good enough for God, that we are sinners who need to be saved. It requires perfection.

 

The problem is not with the Sermon on the Mount. The problem is with sin in the human heart. We simply cannot keep the Sermon on the Mount.

 

In Matthew 5:21-26 , we see Jesus teaching that the one who is angry with his brother without a cause is guilty of breaking the commandment which says, Thou shalt not commit murder and is, therefore, deserving of spending eternity in hell. We also see that one who has contempt for someone else is also guilty of breaking the same commandment.

 

We have seen in verse 19 that keeping the law and teaching it to others in the manner in which it should be taught is very important. However, the scribes and Pharisees were not doing this.

 

Matthew 5:19-2019 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

Jesus is showing that the righteousness of the kingdom is consistent with the moral principles taught in the Old Testament, but it is not consistent with their traditional interpretation taught by the ancient rabbis and also taught by the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

 

Jesus is contrasting the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees with another righteousness in which God delights.

 

In verse 21 Jesus is showing how the rabbis, the scribes, and the Pharisees have taught the meaning of Thou shalt not kill, and then in verses 22-26 Jesus will show what it really means.

 

The scribes and Pharisees were continuing to teach the wrong meaning taught by the ancient rabbis. They were not teaching God’s original intention of the law with its proper application.

 

Jesus will continue to contrast the false interpretation of the law with the true interpretation of the law throughout the rest of the chapter. It is apparent that Jesus is pointing out and condemning the evil disposition of the heart that lies at the root of sin.

 

Accordingly, Jesus is demanding a righteousness that is nothing less than complete conformity with God’s holy law in all that a person is and in all that a person does.

First, we see –

    I.     THE TEACHING OF THE ANCIENTS - 5:21

 

Matthew 5:21 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.

 

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time indicates that what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching was a long-standing tradition, dating back to the teaching of the ancient rabbis.

 

An identical or similar statement also appears in verses 27, 31, 33, 38, and 43.

 

Ye is you (plural) and refers to the ones listening to the Sermon on the Mount and is applicable by extension to all those who read it.

 

Have heard is heard, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

What the people have heard is that it was said by them of old time, i.e. that it was said by the ancients.

 

What was said is, Thou shalt not kill, i.e., You shall not commit murder.

 

The scribes and Pharisees were actually teaching this, but they were not teaching that the sin of murder was also committed in the heart long before an actual murder was committed.

 

In addition, the scribes and Pharisees were saying, And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment, something which was not stated in Exodus 20 .

 

Whosoever shall kill is whoever kills or whoever commits murder. Whosoever shall kill is equivalent to a condition in the sense of if someone commits murder.

 

Shall be in danger of the judgment is will be liable to or will be answerable to the court (or to the local court). It would be a court which would consist of a board of judges.

Next, we see –

  II.     THE TEACHING OF JESUS - 5:22-26

 

Matthew 5:22-2622 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. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

 

In verse 22 Jesus begins to indicate God’s intent in the commandment not to commit murder. Jesus’ listeners should not be guilty of committing murder or of committing the sins which would lead to committing murder, sins such as anger and contempt.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to verse 21.

 

I is Christ and is emphatic.

 

I say is I am saying, I am declaring, or I am asserting.

 

Unto you is referring to Christ’s hearers in the Sermon on the Mount and includes those who read it. But I say unto you is also found in verses 28, 32, 34, 39, and 44.

 

We see that we must –

            1.   Deal with anger because it is a root cause of murder – 5:22a

 

The first thing Christ is asserting is that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. . . .

 

Whosoever is angry is every one who is angry.

 

With his brother could refer to a sibling or to someone with a close relationship such as a friend or neighbor.

 

Without a cause suggests without a reason.

 

Shall be in danger of the judgment is the same phrase used in verse 21 of someone who murders someone else, meaning will be liable to (or will be answerable to) the court (or to the local court). Again, it would be a court which would consist of a board of judges.

 

Anger is thus seen to be a root cause of murder. Thus, the commandment not to commit murder includes all sins such as anger which serve as root causes which might eventually lead to murdering someone. Thus, the commandment not to kill is not limited to taking someone’s life. Being angry with someone without a cause is likewise sinful.

 

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.

 

Ephesians 4:30-3230 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour [i.e. loud shouting, harsh words], and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

Next, we see that we must –

            2.   Deal with contempt because it is a root cause of murder – 5:22b

 

The second thing Christ is asserting in this verse is introduced by and: . . . Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council.

 

Whosoever is whoever.

 

Whosoever shall say is whoever says, whoever asserts, or whoever declares. It is equivalent to the condition if someone says.

 

Again, to his brother may refer to his sibling or to someone with a close relationship such as a friend or neighbor.

 

Raca comes from an Aramaic word meaning empty head. It is a term of abuse relating to a lack of intelligence in the sense of numbskull, meaning a stupid or foolish person.

 

Declaring someone a numbskull demonstrates a contempt for an individual and is a root cause of murder. It is a sin which may eventually lead to the sin of murder.

 

Shall be in danger of the council is will be liable to (or will be answerable to) the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish council in religious and civil matters. It would be like the Supreme Court in the United States.

 

Instead, remember and practice –

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

But introduces the third thing Christ is asserting in this verse. It is a statement in mild contrast to the first two things He has already asserted. It is a second example of contempt.

 

Whosoever shall say is whoever says, whoever asserts, or whoever declares. Once again, it is equivalent to the condition if someone says.

 

Thou fool is you fool and connotes an obstinate, godless person just like it does in Proverbs. It likewise denotes contempt for the individual. Such a sinful attitude may lead to the sin of murder.

 

This person shall be in danger of hell fire, i.e. will be liable to (or will be answerable to) the Gehenna (or hell) of fire.

 

In the third place, we see that we must –

            3.   Straighten out offenses we have caused with those we are close to – 5:23-24

 

Matthew 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee.

 

In verses 23-26 an inference is drawn from what Jesus has said in verse 22.

 

In verses 23-24 Jesus instructs His listeners to deal properly with offenses they have caused with those who are close to them.

 

Therefore introduces an inference and is understood in the sense of consequently, accordingly, then, or so.

 

The rest of verse 23 and the first part of verse 24 forms a conditional statement.

 

The condition is found in verse 23, and the conclusion is found in verse 24.

 

Nothing is assumed by the condition. It may or may not be true; but if it is true, then the conclusion should also be true.

 

The condition is if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee.

 

Thou is you (singular) and refers to any individual who hears or reads this Sermon on the Mount.

 

Bring is used in conjunction with sacrificial gifts in the sense of present or offer.

 

Thy gift is your gift and is understood in this verse in the sense of your offering.

 

To the altar suggests to the place in the inner court of the temple of Jerusalem where burnt offerings would be made.

 

And there suggests and in that place, i.e. at the altar.

 

Rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee suggests you remember that your brother has something against you. It suggests that, while you are standing before the altar, getting ready to present your offering, you are reminded that you have somehow offended someone close to you.

 

Your brother may refer to a sibling or to anyone who has a close relationship such as a friend or a neighbor.

 

Matthew 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

 

Verse 24 continues the conditional statement begun in verse 23.

 

Should you find yourself in the situation described in verse 23, you are commanded in verse 24 to go to the person you have offended and seek to straighten the matter out with him before offering your gift. You need to be right with him before you can be right with God. An unresolved offense between two persons may lead to contempt and anger as described in verse 22 and possibly to murder. Do not let offenses between you and someone else brood.

 

Leave is a command whose tense indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once and without delay.

 

There is in that place.

 

Thy gift suggests your offering.

 

Before the altar defines the place where the offering is to be left. It suggests in front of the altar.

 

A second command is and go thy way, which is simply and go.

 

First suggests before you offer your sacrifice on the altar.

 

Be reconciled to thy brother implies be in harmony with your brother by removing the offense you have caused and making things right with him.

 

And then implies after reconciliation has been made with your brother.

 

Come and offer is a command whose tense suggests come and be offering or come and continue offering.

 

Thy gift is your offering.

 

Finally, we see that we must –

            4.   Straighten out offenses we have caused with those who are our enemies – 5:25-26

 

Matthew 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

 

Verses 25-26 continue the inference begun in verse 23 which is drawn from what Jesus has said in verse 22. Whereas verses 23-24 deal with a problem with a brother, whether sibling, friend, or neighbor, verses 25-26 deal with a problem with an enemy.

 

In verses 25-26 Jesus instructs His listeners to deal properly with offenses they have caused with those who are their enemies. Even though he is an anemy, you need to settle offenses you have caused, offenses which may lead to contempt and anger and possibly to murder. Do not let offenses which you have caused brood.

 

Agree is the translation of two Greek words. The first one is a command meaning be. The second one means well-disposed. Together they mean be making friends or make friends.

 

With thine adversary is with your accuser or with your plaintiff. It refers to someone who appears as an accuser in a court case against you.

 

Quickly suggests without delay or at once.

 

Whiles thou art in the way with him indicates the time when the hearer or reader of the Sermon on the Mount is to agree with his adversary.

 

Whiles is the translation of a prepositional phrase which means while or as long as.

 

Thou art is you (singular) are.

 

In the way with him suggests on the road with him (i.e. with your adversary), on the road to the judge (or to the court). But, why let it get this far? Straighten the matter out with him right away, before it festers and grows.

 

Lest at any time the adversary suggests in order that the adversary (or the accuser) . . . not.

 

Deliver thee to the judge is hand you over (or turn you over) to the judge. Deliver is a technical term of police and courts meaning hand over into the custody of.

 

The judge is the one who has the right to render a decision in legal matters.

 

And the judge deliver thee to the officer uses the same terminology except that the judge is handing you over into the custody of the officer.

 

The officer is the assistant, the helper, or the attendant of the judge who carries out the judge’s decision.

 

The result of the judge’s decision is indicated by and thou be cast into prison, and you (singular) will be thrown (or put) into prison.

 

Matthew 5:26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

 

If the matter is not settled with the accuser on the way to court, the guilty person can expect to stay in prison until his sentence has been completely served. Again, don’t let it get this far. Straighten the matter out right away. Better yet, don’t cause the offense in the first place.

 

Verily is truly and introduces a solemn declaration by Jesus.

 

I [i.e. Jesus] say unto thee is I am saying (i.e. I am declaring or I am asserting) to you, i.e. to each person hearing or reading the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Thou shalt by no means come out thence is a very strong negative statement which means you (singular) will absolutely not come out from there (i.e. out from prison).

 

Till suggests until the time when.

 

Thou hast paid is you have paid back, you have given back, or you have returned.

 

The uttermost farthing is the last penny, suggesting the last cent. Since you will not be released from prison until you have made the final payment of all that you owe this person, you might as well settle the matter on the way to court before you get before the judge and get sentenced to prison.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

So what do we see? We see that all humanity is guilty of sin before God because of breaking the spiritual intent of the sixth commandment by being angry with others without a cause, by showing contempt for some, or by causing offenses with others, whether the offenses are with those who are close to us or with those who are our enemies. As a result, we see that all humanity is deserving of spending eternity in hell.

 

Praise God, we also see God’s provision of salvation.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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