Sermon on the Mount: Anger and Murder

Matthew 5:21-26 NIV

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 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.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Main Points

  1. You shall not murder: Intentional, wrongful taking of human life (Exodus 20:13). Unintentional killing carried a lesser penalty (Numbers 35:25; Deuteronomy 4:42), while use of deadly force in self defense was permissible under God’s Law (Exodus 22:2-3; Luke 22:36).
  2. Subject to judgment: Murder carries the maximum penalty – life for life (Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:3-34; Romans 13:4).
  3. Angry with a brother: Evil attitudes precede evil actions (Matthew 15:19-20; 1 John 3:15); Jesus is primarily concerned with our relationships with others around us whom we ought to be at peace with (fellow Christians, kin, neighbors).
  4. You fool: Use of words to insult, demean, humiliate and tear down other people (Proverbs 12:18; Ephesians 4:29). Calling someone a fool or stupid can be fitting and helpful in certain situations (Proverbs 12:1; 26:4-5) and Jesus Himself called the Pharisees and Scribes “blind fools” (Matthew 23:17; Luke 24:25).
  5. Fire of hell: Greek, Gehenna. The valley of Ben Hinnom where human sacrifices were performed- God would declare that the bodies of idolaters be burned there in judgment. It became a picture of hell fire (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:47-48).
  6. At the altar: Be reconciled to your brother even as you are reconciled to God (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:35).
  7. Your adversary: Someone who has a grievance against you. Do whatever you can to make it right- avoid it going to a higher authority is possible (Matthew 18:15-17).


  1. Initiate reconciliation (vv. 23-25)
  2. Rebuke your brother in the wrong (Leviticus 19:17-18)
  3. Repent to your brother when you are wrong (vv. 23-25)
  4. Pray for your enemies who don’t want reconciliation (Matthew 5:44)
  5. Do good to those who hate you (Romans 12:17-21)
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