Matthew 5:22 Meaning of Verse and Simple Commentary

Matthew 5:22
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 5:22

One of the most powerful statements in the New Testament and a great equalizer of men, this gets to the very heart of what Christ came to do; to move past the realm of outward behavior and address the wickedness in the hearts of mankind.

Jesus makes an astounding connection between anger and murder. Where does murder begin? In the angry heart. Hell is a place of bitterness and rage, so harboring anger and resentment is like the beginning of hell on earth that if left unchecked, will lead one to eternal hell as it proves unbelief.

Christians debate just how far to take this, but much of the debate centers on how much anger we can get away with. They say, “Be angry and do not sin” (Eph 4:26), and they say, Jesus was angry at the money changers in the temple (Jn 2:13-16), but he was not angry in the way that he now admonishes us against. It is one thing to be indignant at injustice on behalf of God or others, but it is another thing to be bitter over something personal. It is hatred. The true love of the Father will drive any bitterness or rage from the surrendered heart.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 5:22

#1 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry…”
There is simply no personal offense that is justified for the redeemed believer whose identity is firmly rooted in Christ. If there is any feeling of anger, resentment, bitterness, or rage, it is the seed of murder and a sign that repentance and forgiveness are in order. We have been called to freedom (Jn 8:36). Those who are angry are not free.

#2 “…with a brother or sister…”
This seems to be directed at those who would be angry at fellow Christians, but it would be consistent with Jesus’s ethic to apply it to all human beings. Jesus said to love your enemies and bless your persecutors (Mt 5:44).

#3 “…will be subject to judgment.”
This simply means that anger is an offense to God and a sign of unbelief. Those who have not been set free in Christ will face judgment and hell. The anger they harbor in this life is a deposit on such a fate.

#4 “Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court.”
Raca is most likely an Aramaic term that means, “empty-headed” or “worthless.” Jesus seems to be using it as an example of an angry outburst of name-calling. The word is not the problem, but the spirit of anger behind it.

#5 “And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
It seems to be a simple restatement. Once again, calling someone a fool who is a fool is probably not an issue if it is not done in anger.

Bible Study on Matthew Ch. 1-13

Biblical Translations of Matthew 5:22

NIV
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

NLT
“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

ESV
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

KJV
“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.”

NKJV
“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Matthew 5:22 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.