|Dr. Couch, I believe in eternal security but I have problems with Matthew 5:22 where Jesus said "... and whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." How do you answer? – from England|
ANSWER: I really appreciate your questions, but you must interpret the Bible by context not by the ping pong method, where you bounce all over the place and automatically apply verses to the church. This is the Sermon on the Mount where Christ is speaking specifically to the Jews and the problems they had in the way they mistreated others.
Remember, we must interpret the Bible by context and by the Greek text, not by the English. "Hell" is a bad translation that is why Bible teachers need to take Greek in order to understand all that is happening in Scripture. I have had more Greek than any Bible teacher you'll talk with. I translate almost everyday. In this passage "hell" is Geenna or Gehenna, referring to the burning garbage dump outside of the city of Jerusalem that became a symbol of judgment. Yes, often it was symbolic of hell's fires but it can, in context, often just be referring to a judgment.
Christ is addressing how the Jews mistreated each other with their mouth—with their criticisms. Note the progression in verse 22. If one is angry with his brother he should be brought before the synagogue court and be judged. If one goes further and calls his brother Raca (or numb skull, stupid) he is to be brought before the supreme court or the Sanhedrin and be judged. But if one says to his brother that he is a fool, he receives the harshest judgment and was to be cast into Gehenna, the burning garbage dump! Now can you imagine the fear this brought to the hearts of the Jews? In their relationships with others they were terribly critical, hurt others with the mouth, and continued to destroy the relationships by harsh words! The Jews paid no attention to this mistreatment. Christ brought it to their attention. The point is not about a doctrinal or theological judgment but about the issue of mistreatment of others.
This was meant to awaken the Jews in the harshness of their human relationships.
Thanks for asking, and, I hope this helps.
Dr. Mal Couch