We should never say "you fool"?

Matthew 5:22
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

This says you shouldn’t say “you fool”.

Matthew 23:17
You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?

Jesus kind of said “you fool” in this. So how is this permissible?

I prefer to use the term “imbeciles” myself. :smiley:

I would think that the reason “you fool” would put someone in danger of Hell is because often times when a person says that to another, they’re saying it with an attitude of being better than the other person, and from a place of pride and conceit. If one considers oneself higher and more important than others, instead of being kind, sympathetic, compassionate, understanding, etc etc and serving others, they begin to see their fellow human beings as either children to be corrected or as underlings to do as they command, both of which are uncharitable views to have towards others.

For one, Jesus is God, so to Him, all of us are rather foolish. I would think He was saying it not derisively, but exasperated, as the people in question were considering the gold in the temple more important than the temple for which the gold existed.

Your looking at an English translation. I would imagine there is not actually an English word for what Jesus says in Matthew 5. He is referring to a very serious word. Not the ordinary term in English.

In looking briefly too at the two passages in Latin - the terms in Latin are different terms.

So one would have to look more deeply into the two terms that are used in the Greek for those too passages. Translation is always a tricky art (hence the old saying “translator- traitor”).

But suffice it to say- Jesus is not doing anything wrong in his use of the term he uses in the later Matthew passage but is pointing to the truth of the truth about his particular audience there.

In Greek, the two words are both forms of the same Greek word “moros”. That is interesting that the Latin uses two different words. Of course, Jesus would have been speaking Aramaic.

I think the point is that Jesus is condemning an internal attitude of anger towards our neighbor than condemning the use of a specific word. As Jesus is God and the Judge of all, I think he is uniquely qualified to make such assessments with accuracy. We are not in such a position.

I think calling someone or anyone an imbecile is even worse than calling a person a fool. A fool can change, grow or be educated in a sense. A true imbecile does not have these options. and it is an insult to the families or care tenders of anyone with mental disabilities. Words hurt and are powerful when misused. We need to take care of what comes forth. This is just my opinion…so there.

It is important that the word Jesus was discussing was not the English term but something very different.

Right. The commentaries I have say that it was likely that Jesus used the Aramaic word ‘Raca’ which literally meant “empty-head” or something like “numskull”.

No that was the other word.

I too conflated the too in a past post.

I trained myself, especially when driving on the LA freeways, to use FOOL instead of a list of several other quite inappropriate adjectives when shouting to my rear view mirror about other drivers!!!:eek:

This is the answer…

Jesus was not teaching about language in the first passage. The actual words used are not the point. Jesus was using what was common knowledge at the time, how the Jewish court systems worked, to illustrate liability and possible punishment for various types of and severity of sin. Jesus equates anger with killing and says that it is just as bad and goes on from there…

**"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment**.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the court, and whoever says,You fool!’ shall be liable to the council. (Matthew 5:21-22)

*]The first sin, anger in the heart, is internal. No words are spoken to anyone else but you feel anger. This leaves you liable to judgement.

*]The second sin is when you say something to “your brother” with whom you are angry. Your anger becomes external and you hurt the person with whom you are angry with your words. This external sin leaves you liable to “the court” which is a reference to the small claims and civil courts at the gates of the city which could sentence you to prison.

*]The third sin is a public statement - you call someone a fool publicly. You hurth them and you damage their name in a public setting. This leaves you liable to “the council” which is a reference to the Jewish Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Israel, which could sentence you to death.

It is about levels of sin; 1) internal anger - liable to judgement, 2) angry words directed at another person - liable to the court and, 3) publicly smearing someone’s name - liable to death. These have varying levels of liability based on their severity and scope and even anger is as bad as killing.

Jesus is raising the bar on the Jewish view of sin.


Jesus knows the state of each person’s soul. He knows who the fool is. We don’t. We can only guess and chances are we would be the greater fool.

Perhaps that may be true however, when one calls another person a “fool” they are dismissing the value of the person as a beloved child of God. We must remember it is not wise to insult beloved children.

Further more, when we assigned that label to a person we effectively cut off any chance of learning from that person, who may be much wiser than we are.

More important, I strongly suspect, that each one of us is a fool in some capacity. It goes back to the concept of needing to remove the beam from our eyes before removing the splinter from another.

We need to be careful in interpreting what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:22.

Many people cite this verse to show that anger is in itself sinful. But we know that this is not true (see below). Instead, we know that the proper interpretation should be that *unjust *anger is sinful. So Jesus surely means here that to call someone “a fool” unjustly is a very serious sin indeed.

Conversely, to be angry with someone for good reason is not sinful - such as when Jesus drove the traders out of the synagogue - or indeed when he called the Pharisees and scribes “you fools”.

Here are a couple of descriptions of anger, for those who doubt what I’ve said above:



I’m sorry but as you are an atheist why would you care what Jesus said??

Thanks for the correction. I was misreading my commentary.

The question and the answer though were not addressing the fact that we ought not “call others names” but addressing the meaning in the texts in question.

Yes I agree we need to love one another and do to others what we would want done to us.

Raca means insulting some one while spitting in their face. One doesn’t have to study in depth to find the technical the meaning of a word. The important thing is not search for a meaning that may justify our own behavior.

It is important to note that Raca is not the word under discussion (that was a misreading by one poster who later realized such).

As to Raca it is a word that meant “utter contempt” (see Navarre Matthew).

I thought the question at hand was whether or not we should say “fool”. I guess I was foolish and misunderstood the title of the thread. I will bow out now.

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