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Murder


21. Ye have heard that it was said to men of old, Thou shalt not murder; and whosoever shall murder shall be liable to judgement. Christ does not mention by whom this was said. For if He had said, "My Father said to the men of old, but I say to you," it would have appeared that He was giving laws in opposition to the Father. Again, if He had said, "I said to the men of old," this would have been hard to accept. Therefore He speaks indefinitely, "It was said to the men of old."' He shows that the law has become antiquated by saying, "It was said to the men of old." Therefore, since the law has become old and antiquated and near the point of obliteration, it is necessary to leave it and to run to the new commandments.

22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with His brother without good cause shall be liable to judgement. The prophets, about to prophesy, would say, "Thus saith the Lord," but Christ says, "I say," showing the authority of His divinity. For the prophets were servants; but He is the Son and possesses all that the Father has. He who "is angry with his brother without good cause" is condemned; but if anyone should get angry for good reason, either by way of chastisement or out of spiritual zeal, he is not condemned. For even Paul spoke words of anger to Elymas the Magician and to the high priest, not "without good cause," but out of zeal. But when we get angry over money or opinions, then it is "without good cause." And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the council. "The council" means the court of the Hebrews. "Raca" means something like "Hey, you!" as when we say to someone whom we scorn, "Hey you, get out of here!"

The Lord exhorts us in these matters because He desires to teach us to be strict even in small things and to give honor to one another. Some say that "Raca" is a Syriac word for "despicable" or "scum." Therefore, whoever insults his brother as "despicable" will be liable to the council of the holy apostles when they sit to judge the twelve tribes. But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be liable to the gehenna of fire. There are many who say and believe that this is too grievous and severe a judgement. But it is not. For is he who would deny the existence of his brother's faculties of reason and thought, those characteristics by which we differ from the beasts, is such a man not deserving of gehenna? For he who reviles and insults, dissolves love; and when love is dissolved, all the virtues are destroyed along with it, just as when love is present it unites to itself all the virtues. Therefore, he who hurls insults, destroys all the virtues by tearing love to shreds, and rightly does he deserve the fire of hell.

23-24. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother have aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. God disregards His own honor solely that we might love one another. He said, "If thy brother have aught against thee," and added nothing more. Whether rightly or wrongly your brother has anything against you, he reconciled. And Jesus did not say, "If thou hast aught against him" but, "If he hath aught against thee" hasten to make him your friend. He commands you to leave the gift so that you will be compelled to he reconciled. For when you intend to make an offering, you must first be reconciled. At the same time the Lord shows that love is the true sacrifice.

25-26. Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art on the way with him, lest thy adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Some believe the "adversary" to mean the devil, and "the way" to mean our life. The Lord is thus exhorting us: while you are still in this life, give back to the devil what belongs to him and be done with him, so that later he will not he able to accuse you of some sin, as if you had something that belonged to him. For then you will be handed over for punishment so that you make an accounting for even the smallest transgressions. For a farthing equals two mites. You, O reader, understand that this passage also refers to human adversaries and that the Lord is exhorting us not to become entangled in lawsuits, lest we be distracted from doing the works of God. Even if you have been wronged, He says, do not enter the court but settle the dispute while still on the way, lest you suffer something worse on account of your adversary's power.

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