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Matthew 5:16, 21-22

May 28, 2011

Matthew 5 contains three references, starting in verse 16, to “Father in heaven” or “heavenly Father.” This clearly is related to the “children of God” comments in the passage. However, the terms are commonly used by Christian and have some theological significance to Christianity. It’s just interesting to note that the terms are not used in the Hebrew scriptures or in any New Testament document except the Synoptic Gospels.

Verses 21 and 22 compare the kind of judgment that should be given to those who get angry with a brother to the judgment given to murderers. I can only assume this refers to human government. I cannot explain why Jesus would be advocating thought control by the government, though.

I’m also not sure what the difference is between this kind of civil punishment and “the court” or “the council,” who are said to deal punishment to those who say “Raca” (basically “worthless person”) to their brothers (probably sisters, too–the NIV actually adds “sister,”  even though there’s no underlying textual reason). It’s likely that the translation of the NIV of 1984 and the HCSB of “Sanhedrin” in the place of “the council” was the intended meaning. The NASB actually has “the court” in the place of the “judgment” that is to be given to those who are just angry with their brothers.

I don’t know what kind of textual evidence there is for the “without a cause” reference to those who get angry with their brothers. The KJV and the NKJV (also Young’s Literal Translation, whatever that is) are the only translations I’ve found that include this phrase. I assume this is because it lacks good textual evidence, but I don’t know. Here’s a link that discusses the controversy surrounding this phrase.

Verse 22 contains the first mention of “hell” in Matthew. It is also the first reference to “hell” in the NIV, since it counts Matthew as the first book of the New Testament. The KJV, of course, sometimes translates the “sheol” of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) and the “hades” of the New Testament as “hell,” as well. Even the NIV, though, as well as the NASB and ESV translate 2 Peter 2:4’s “tartaros” as “hell,” compared to the HCSB’s “Tartarus.”

The exact nature of Christianity’s hell is debated. See this article for an interesting discussion.

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