"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"
The Anger That Kills (Mt 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
[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…]
I. THE "TRADITIONAL" INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION
A. NOTE THAT I SAY "TRADITIONAL"…
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
B. THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION…
1. Is seen in the phrase "whoever murders will be in danger of
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…]
II. THE TEACHING OF JESUS
A. JESUS PRONOUNCED JUDGMENT ON ANGER…
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. Pro 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
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 – Psa 37:8
2) So does the righteousness of the kingdom –
cf. Ga 5:19-21; Ep 4:31
B. JESUS ILLUSTRATED THE SERIOUSNESS OF ANGER…
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
b. Just as a husband must treat his wife with understanding if
he desires to have his prayers heard – 1 Pe 3:7
— Wrong emotions toward others can "kill" our relationship
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
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!