Matthew 5:22, Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca

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.

//I think today’s verse is commonly misunderstood. “Raca” in this verse (taken from the King James Version) is Aramaic for “empty-headed” or “worthless.” It’s roughly equivalent to saying “Thou fool.” A person who says “Raca” to his brother is in danger of the council.

But what is the council? Jesus is not talking about the Sanhedrin, or any earthly council. He’s talking about the heavenly Sanhedrin, or heavenly court. Jewish literature described God’s heavenly tribunal as a supreme court, like the one on earth. This court has the power to condemn one to everlasting life or to hell fire.

It’s not my intention to delve into the meaning of “everlasting life” or “hell fire”; that’s a topic all of its own. Today’s point is that this verse isn’t comparing three different offenses and listing three different punishments. It’s saying if you get angry with your brother without cause, or call him empty-headed, or say “you fool” to him, you’re in danger. Your act will be remembered in the coming age of God’s rule, when it will be brought before the heavenly court. You’ll be in danger of being judged and sentenced to hell fire.

So be nice to your brother.

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