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Raca in the Bible


The scripture of Matthew 5:22 puts forth some of Jesus' warnings regarding the words we let come out of our mouth. Christ warned, "...Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council...."

What Does Raca in the Bible Mean?

The Living Bible Paraphrased says that raca in the Bible denotes an idiot. Other Bible versions use words such as "stupid" or "vain." The authors of some commentaries explain that raca in the Bible is a word from the Aramaic language meaning "empty." Therefore, some have understandably concluded that to say raca to someone is to refer to them as an "empty head."

In Danger of the Council

Regardless of the exact meaning of raca in the Bible, one thing is clear: it is an insult to someone's intelligence. Jesus speaks of the seriousness of saying this word to our brother (or sister). In fact, he says that to do so is to be in danger of the council, which puts us in danger of the judgment or going to court. There are some basic truths that should be applied to this passage for understanding:

1. Believers in Jesus are brethren in Christ.

2. To be in danger of going to judgment is always a frightening thing. Christ warned that we cannot win a sinful case in the righteous court of God, because Jesus would be our adversary, not our advocate (Matthew 5:25-26).

Raca in the Eyes of God

What is the warning behind raca in the Bible? Why is it so displeasing to the Lord for one believer to say raca to his brother in Christ, especially if that brother has truly done something stupid? First, the fact that someone has done a stupid thing does not necessarily make him a stupid person. Also, does not the word of God repeatedly speak of what true wisdom is? Yes, it does.

We read, "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24). This is only one of several scriptures of the Christian Bible that speaks of the Lord Jesus being wisdom to all who follow him. To fear God is not necessarily salvation. However, it is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Would not someone who not only fears God but also lives in obedience to him have more than just the beginning of wisdom? Will a true follower of Christ call stupid the people God has declared wise? This is what is going on when we say raca to one of our siblings in Jesus. Raca in the Bible is understood only if there's understanding of who is wise in the eyes of God, not man.

Foolish Behavior in Some Christians

Understanding raca in the Bible should not cause us to be too fearful to call stupid behavior just as it is--stupid. This applies to the behavior of our brethren in Christ as well as to anyone else. Calling a silly action stupid is not calling the person whose behavior was silly, a silly person. What did the apostle Paul say to his brethren in Galatia when they began to embrace false teachings that they should have known better than to accept? Paul asked them saying, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Are ye so foolish..." (Gal. 3:1,3).

Paul understood raca in the Bible, or what was an equivalent of a Bible for him in his day.

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although raca could be translated today as stupid, dumb or fool the one meaning that gets overlooked seems to be (to me anyway) the word worthless. It's ascribing a person as being a waste and in all honesty, Jesus did not die for no ones or nothings. He esteemed us as priceless (1 Cor. 6:20) which would explain the reason for harsh judgment should anyone ascribe to you as otherwise.

by: Curt
Posted on 2013-08-01 18:54:21

To Curt:

Thank you for your very valuable comment that further helps us to understand why the use of the word raca is so serious in the eyes of God. Excellent point made.
by: Heavenly Manna
Posted on 2013-08-01 22:33:46

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