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Matthew 5:21-26

Context
Anger and Murder

5:21 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, 1 Do not murder,’ 2  and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 5:22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother 3  will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults 4  a brother will be brought before 5  the council, 6  and whoever says ‘Fool’ 7  will be sent 8  to fiery hell. 9  5:23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. 5:25 Reach agreement 10  quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, 11  or he 12  may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. 5:26 I tell you the truth, 13  you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny! 14 

1 tn Grk “to the ancient ones.”

2 sn A quotation from Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17.

3 tc The majority of mss read the word εἰκῇ (eikh, “without cause”) here after “brother.” This insertion has support from א2 D L W Θ 0233 Ë1,13 33 Ï it sy co Irlat Ormss Cyp Cyr. Thus the Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine texttypes all include the word, while the best Alexandrian and some other witnesses (Ì64 א* B 1424mg pc aur vg Or Hiermss) lack it. The ms evidence favors its exclusion, though there is a remote possibility that εἰκῇ could have been accidentally omitted from these witnesses by way of homoioarcton (the next word, ἔνοχος [enocos, “guilty”], begins with the same letter). An intentional change would likely arise from the desire to qualify “angry,” especially in light of the absolute tone of Jesus’ words. While “without cause” makes good practical sense in this context, and must surely be a true interpretation of Jesus’ meaning (cf. Mark 3:5), it does not commend itself as original.

4 tn Grk “whoever says to his brother ‘Raca,’” an Aramaic word of contempt or abuse meaning “fool” or “empty head.”

5 tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.”

6 tn Grk “the Sanhedrin.”

7 tn The meaning of the term μωρός (mwros) is somewhat disputed. Most take it to mean, following the Syriac versions, “you fool,” although some have argued that it represents a transliteration into Greek of the Hebrew term מוֹרֵה (moreh) “rebel” (Deut 21:18, 20; cf. BDAG 663 s.v. μωρός c).

8 tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.”

9 tn Grk “the Gehenna of fire.”

sn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2, 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).

10 tn Grk “Make friends.”

11 tn The words “to court” are not in the Greek text but are implied.

12 tn Grk “the accuser.”

13 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

14 tn Here the English word “penny” is used as opposed to the parallel in Luke 12:59 where “cent” appears since the Greek word there is different and refers to a different but similar coin.

sn The penny here was a quadrans, a Roman copper coin worth 1/64 of a denarius (L&N 6.78). The parallel passage in Luke 12:59 mentions the lepton, equal to one-half of a quadrans and thus the smallest coin available.



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