Sunday, January 10, 2016

Raca, Fool, Worthless

Raca is a contemptuous term. Jesus said in Mathew 5: 22 that someone that says raca to his brother is in danger of the council. That was the Sanhedrin that convened in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Obviously then, this is a serious matter, when one calls another raca. The 1910 New Catholic Dictionary quotes Saint John Chrysostom. This saint comments that it means, "despised, vile, dirty, poor." It quotes Saint Jerome thusly: in the sense of good-for-nothing. It also means foolish or intellectually inferior according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Apparently, that one word is many insults in one package. It also means empty-headed according to Strong's Concordance. An insult to someone comes from the speaker's heart. The bible contains many passages that talk about the condition of the heart. This name calling indicates that hatred is in the speaker's heart.

The root meaning of raca is to spit. We spit something out that tastes bad, or we spit out mucus. People sometimes spit on others, when they are mad.

Jesus talks about the sixth commandment: Thou shalt not murder. He expands into a more profound spiritual meaning that they hadn't heard before. He points out the grave problem of an angry spirit. It can lead to murder. He explains that anyone unjustifiably angry with someone is answerable to God. The Jewish community in the first century knew the ten commandments. They knew that murder is a sin and that a murderer is answerable to God.

Jesus exhorts that name calling is a sin. This is a refinement in the understanding of the law. It's an example of Jesus fulfilling the law. An unrighteous anger that causes someone to lob insults is the same anger that leads to committing murder. He clarifies the full meaning of the sixth commandment.

This attitude of anger lies in the heart. God searches the heart of man. The bad attitude is morally wrong. The intention of the heart, when someone insults another clearly comes from hatred. The feeling beneath the insult is the sin. It is the contemptuous feeling accompanying the verbal abuse that comprises the sin.

Thus, in Luke 24:25 Jesus isn't being inconsistent when he calls two of his followers foolish. According to Barnes' Notes on the Bible, the Greek word used is different than the insult word discussed. The one Jesus' uses means dullness in the sense that they hadn't paid enough attention to what the prophets had foretold about his death and resurrection.

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