Matthew 5:21-26 Murder And Sinful Anger.
Jesus just finished making a key point – that he came not to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (v. 17). Now he refers to specifics – namely Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 on murder (v. 21). Where biblical righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, is the inward thoughts and disposition of the heart (v. 20). Jesus says there is no place within the covenant community for harbouring anger against a brother without cause (v. 22a Cf. I Jn. 3:15). Anger itself is not sinful, but anger without cause against another member of the covenant community is. Furthermore, when one puts words to this sinful anger and calls a brother ‘Raca’, that is ‘empty headed’ or ‘good for nothing’, or a fool, this sin is further compounded, being also subject to further judgment (v. 22b Cf. Js. 2:29; 3:6). These relationships which one has with fellow believers is far more important than religious exercises. The latter, important and necessary as it is, is useless and hypocritical if one does not tend to the former (vv. 23-24 Mt. 8:4; Job 42:8). It must not go unnoticed that there is an onus here on those who know that a brother has something against them but do nothing to seek a resolution. These are matters which must be tended to immediately, and not be left to fester incurring an even greater evil (vv. 25-26 Cf. Lk. 12:57-59; Is. 55:6-7).