Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Matthew: Jesus As Israel's Messiah And His Kingdom
Part XI: Christ As Israel's Messiah By His Surpassing Righteousness
D. The Biblically Consistent Righteousness Of Christ's Subjects Regarding Murder
(Matthew 5:21-26)
  1. Introduction
    1. When Jesus asserted that one's righteousness had to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if he were to be part of the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20), He had to clarify to His Hebrew listeners how that could occur since the Pharisees adhered to the principle of Halacha, "concern for every jot and tittle of performance" regarding the Mosaic Law, Zondervan Pictorial Ency. of the Bible, vol. Four, p. 748.
    2. Matthew 5:21-7:6 provides many illustrations of Jesus' point, with Matthew 5:21-26 commenting on how His level of righteousness regarding the law against murder far surpassed that of the Pharisees as follows:
  2. The Biblically Consistent Righteousness Of Christ's Subjects Regarding Murder, Matthew 5:21-26.
    1. Jesus said that the scribes and Pharisees taught one should not murder, and that whoever committed this crime would be subject to judgment, Matthew 5:21 with 5:20 NIV; Bible Know. Com., N. T. , p. 30.
    2. However, Jesus conversely declared that murder was not limited just to the act of lawlessly taking a human life, but that it extended to the attitude behind the act that led to the act of murder, Matthew 5:22:
      1. Jesus claimed that anyone who was angry with his brother without just cause (implied, cf. Ephesians 4:26) would be subject to judgment, Matthew 5:22a. Thus, beyond actually physically murdering a person, merely being angry against him without just cause was a form of murderous hatred that made one subject to God's judgment!
      2. Then, if one called a brother, "Raca," Aramaic for "fool, empty-headed," he was subject to punishment by the Sanhedrin, Matt. 5:22b; Arndt & Gingrich, A Grk.-Eng. Lex. of the N. T., 1967, p. 741. Since punishment in the realm of murder was capital punishment (Genesis 9:6), merely calling one's brother "empty-headed" with no just cause left him guilty of capital punishment for murder in the Kingdom.
      3. Yet, if one called his brother "more," the Greek term for "fool" that was likely a more abusive term than "Raca" (Ibid., p. 533), he was subject to the fire of Gehenna, the continually burning fire of the city dump in the Kidron Valley south of Jerusalem that also pictured hell, Matthew 5:22c! (Ibid., Bible Know. Com., N. T.) In other words, holding a spiteful attitude against another party to where one expressed the most painful verbal abuse against him that he could muster, he was not only guilty of murder, but of hell as a godless person separated from God!
    3. Accordingly, it was imperative that, to heed God's standard of righteousness on murder, one was to try to reconcile with his brother, to eradicate all errant attitudes of disgust or hatred, Matthew 5:23-26:
      1. If a believer came to God to offer Him a gift, but there recalled his brother held a grudge against him, an attitude of murder against him, the person not having the grudge was himself to seek to be reconciled with his spiteful brother before giving his gift to the Lord lest allowing the grudge to go unaddressed itself betrayed an unloving attitude in the one who was hated, which attitude amounted to murder in God's view, Matthew 5:23-24a! Only then could he give his gift to God, Matthew 5:24b,c!
      2. Indeed, even if a party were en route to a court trial where the prosecution was already hardened in its hateful attitude, the defendant was still to try to reconcile with his adversary, Matthew 5:25a. Failure to do so could result in the case going against the defendant to where he would be imprisoned and impoverished (Matthew 5:25b), besides incurring God's discipline for harboring even a passive hatred!
Lesson: The subjects of Christ's Kingdom were not only to avoid committing the act of murder, but to avoid the attitude of hatred behind the act itself. Since that attitude can be expressed not only as open hatred where one verbally abuses another, but even in a passive way where one intentionally lets his brother hold a grudge against him, Christ's subjects were always to try to reconcile with others.

Application: (1) To align with God's righteousness on murder, may we not despise or hate another, and (2) may we seek to reconcile with all men. (3) This may not be possible as we may have to shrink back from abusive people to heed 2 Timothy 3:1-5, but we must always be open to such reconciliation!