Question: Would you please help me with an explanation of Matthew 5:21, 22?
Answer: We quote:
“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:” (21)
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 unto his brother, RACA, shall be in danger of the council (Greek: Sanhedrin): but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”(22)
Verse 22 shows what can happen to any person who, without a cause, allows the little things to fester, (i.e., by misunderstandings, lies someone has told you about someone else; combined with jealousy, resentment, and etc.), until “a pebble becomes a mountain” in that person’s mind. “Angry without a cause,” literally means: “a troublemaker,” may incur more (i.e., judgment) from the offended than he expected.
The next step is “RACA”, which means, “empty one or worthless.” This the offender calls his brother and which, in reality, describes his own character. He is angry without a cause; but, persistent in pursuit of the innocent person. This could result in an assault, which could result in civil charges to be faced in front of the court, the Sanhedrin.
Then, should he continue by calling a person a fool to his face; it would be evident his hatred and emotions were completely out of control. This could result in his killing the person and then facing criminal charges. Verse 21 covers the end result, which is murder.
“Whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.”
This means, if the offender is caught and convicted, he would be put to death under the law (Exodus 21:12).
The law had provided for six refuge cities to which a person could flee for protection, who had killed someone accidentally, until the case could be judged. (Numbers 35:11,15). Should a person be found guilty of murder, which was unprovoked by the victim and witnessed by two people, then that person was to be put to death. Numbers 35:30 explains,
“Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”
A very practical lesson may be that we should never allow the “pebbles” of life to escalate into “mountains” which could ruin our own life, as well as the life of another.