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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                     The Anger That Kills (5:21-26)


1. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus challenges us to attain to a high
   level of righteousness...
   a. To exceed "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees"
      - Mt 5:20
   b. He illustrates what is meant through a series on contrasts
      1) Between what they had heard from those of old
      2) And what He was now declaring to them

2. The first contrast (Mt 5:21-26) pertains to properly understanding
   and applying...
   a. The Sixth Commandment
   b. I.e., "You shall not murder" - cf. Exo 20:13

[How should the sixth command be understood and applied?  Is the actual
act of murder the only thing we need to be concerned about?  Before we
consider what Jesus taught, let's look at...]


      1. Jesus is responding to traditional interpretations of the Law,
         not the Law itself
         a. I.e., what had been taught by the "traditions of the
            elders" - cf. Mt 15:2
         b. Note His preparatory remarks:  "You have HEARD that it was
         c. Referring to oral traditions rather than the written Law
            (cf. earlier lesson on "Jesus And The Law")
      2. Which traditions had likely been accepted by the scribes and

      1. Is seen in the phrase "whoever murders will be in danger of
         the judgment"
      2. The term "judgment" likely refers to the local courts of their
         day (see below)
      3. This interpretation may sound fine, but evidently did not go
         far enough in how the Law should have been interpreted and
         a. Was the Law only concerned about the actual act of murder?
         b. Should the disciples of Jesus also limit their concern to
            actual acts of murder?

[To answer these two questions, let's now take a closer look at...]


      1. As found in Mt 5:22...
         a. One angry without a cause should be in danger of the 
            1) I.e., the local courts through Palestine
            2) Which were normally reserved for common criminals
         b. One who calls his brother "Raca!" (stupid, empty-headed)
            should be in danger of the "council"
            1) I.e., the Sanhedrin council
            2) Which was the high court normally reserved for special
         c. One who says "You fool!" would be in danger of "hell fire"
            1) I.e., Gehenna
            2) The place of everlasting torment - Mk 9:43-48
         -- The judgment normally accorded to murderers, Jesus deemed
            worthy of those whose anger led to just verbal abuse!
      2. Jesus' teaching was in harmony with the Law regarding anger 
         - cf. Pr 6:16-19
         a. "Hands that shed innocent blood" (murder) are an
            abomination to the Lord
         b. So also a "heart that devises wicked plans" and "one who
            sows discord among brethren" (due to anger)
         -- This being true, the Law should have been interpreted and
            applied accordingly
      3. Thus the traditional interpretation and application of the Law
         fell far short
         a. The "righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" only 
            condemned murderers when those with hateful emotions were
            just as guilty!
         b. While the righteousness of the kingdom would be in harmony
            with the original intent of the Law
            1) The Law taught to forsake wrath and anger - Ps 37:8
            2) So does the righteousness of the kingdom - cf. Ga 5:19-
               21; Ep 4:31

      1. We should not try to worship God when we are "at odds" with a
         brother - Mt 5:23-24
         a. Repair strained relationships with a brother before 
            worshipping God
         b. Just as a husband must treat his wife with understanding if
            he desires to have his prayers heard - 1Pe 3:7
         -- Wrong emotions toward others can "kill" our relationship 
            with God!
      2. We should be quick to "make amends" lest uncontrolled anger
         cause us to wind up in court, possibly prison! - Mt 5:25-26
         a. Many "hot-heads" let anger prompt them to do things that
            send them to prison
         b. But note how those in the kingdom are to act - Ro 12:18-21
         -- Wrong emotions can "murder" our relationships with man as


1. In His first contrast between the "righteousness of the kingdom" and
   the "traditional treatment of the Law", Jesus:
   a. Declared that the ancients did not go far enough in applying the
   b. Illustrated how it should be applied by those seeking to surpass
      the "righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees"
   -- The "righteousness of the kingdom" is actually in harmony with
      the Law!

2. Jesus also reminds us that there is "The Anger That Kills"...
   a. Improper anger toward our fellow man can "kill" our relationship
      with God
   b. It can "murder" our relationships with our fellow man, and ruin
      our lives in the process
   -- One does not have to be guilty of actual murder to do this!
Thus Jesus calls upon us to deal with the anger that often leads to
murder, if we desire to truly be His disciples!  This requires that we
be "born again"... - cf. Jn 3:5; 1Pe 1:22-23
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