“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.”
King James Version (KJV)
5:22 But I say unto you - Which of the prophets ever spake thus? Their language is, Thus saith the Lord. Who hath authority to use this language, but the one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Whosoever is angry with his brother - Some copies add, without a cause - But this is utterly foreign to the whole scope and tenor of our Lord's discourse. If he had only forbidden the being angry without a cause, there was no manner of need of that solemn declaration, I say unto you; for the scribes and Pharisees themselves said as much as this. Even they taught, men ought not to be angry without a cause. So that this righteousness does not exceed theirs. But Christ teaches, that we ought not, for any cause, to be so angry as to call any man Raca, or fool. We ought not, for any cause, to be angry at the person of the sinner, but at his sins only. Happy world, were this plain and necessary distinction thoroughly understood, remembered, practised! Raca means, a silly man, a trifler. Whosoever shall say, Thou fool - Shall revile, or seriously reproach any man. Our Lord specified three degrees of murder, each liable to a sorer punishment than the other: not indeed from men, but from God. Hell fire - In the valley of Hinnom (whence the word in the original is taken) the children were used to be burnt alive to Moloch. It was afterward made a receptacle for the filth of the city, where continual fires were kept to consume it. And it is probable, if any criminals were burnt alive, it was in this accursed and horrible place. Therefore both as to its former and latter state, it was a fit emblem of hell. It must here signify a degree of future punishment, as much more dreadful than those incurred in the two former cases, as burning alive is more dreadful than either strangling or stoning.
Mt 5:22 But I say unto you. Jehovah had spoken the Decalogue to Israel. Christ assumes the right to amend it. Such a claim is based on a claim of divinity. Whosoever is angry with his brother. Jesus goes back of the murderous act, and forbids the anger and the reproachful words that precede it and are likely to lead it. He places the murderous heart on the level of actual murder. Raca. An epithet of contempt; "empty head", or "spit out", that is, a heretic. The council. The Sanhedrin, the highest court of Israel. It corresponded to our Supreme Court, and had seventy members. Thou fool. The original implies a stupid, wicked fool. Of hell fire. The Greek is "the Gehenna of fire". The term "Gehenna" arose from the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the Canaanites burned human sacrifices to Moloch. After the return of the Jews from the Captivity they made it a place of defilement, where the refuse of the city was thrown and burned. The name was applied to the place of future punishment by the Jews. The word is often used in the New Testament (Mt 23:33 5:29 10:28 18:9 Mr 9:43), and always denotes a place of future punishment.