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Matthew 5:22
Is Jesus a Sinner in Some Versions?

by Brian Tegart

Here is Matt 5:22 in the KJV:

Matthew 5:22 (KJV) "But I say unto you, That 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: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

Comparing that verse between versions, we see the following:

Version
KJVwithout a cause
NKJVwithout a cause
NIV[not present, but present in footnote]
NASB[not present, but present in footnote]
NRSV[not present]
YLTwithout cause
ASV[not present, but present in footnote]
NAB[not present]

Many KJV-only supporters will point out that "without a cause" is not present in many popular translations like the NIV and NASB, and then take us to John 2:13-17 where Jesus is angry and cleanses the temple. They then say that the newer versions, because Jesus was angry yet "without a cause" is not present in Matt 5:22, have indicated that Jesus sinned. (side note: although I believe Christ was indeed angry in John 2:13-17, I notice that the word "angry" never appears.)

The main reason for the difference is due to differences between manuscripts. The textual evidence (manuscripts, quotes from Early Church Fathers, etc.) is pretty much split as to what the text should be.

However, textual evidence aside, I'd like to point out a few observations:

1. What Kind Of "Cause"?

The text of the KJV and a few other translations say that anger "without a cause" will cause one to be in danger of the judgement. I have asked several people (including some KJV-only supporters), without response, how it would even be possible to be angry "without a cause" in the first place. All anger has a cause. Sometimes the cause is good, sometimes not, but there is always a "cause" - seeing an injustice, jealousy, pride, being beaten at checkers, etc. For example, was it wrong for Cain to be angry and kill Able? He had a cause - Able's sacrifice was accepted while his wasn't. Perhaps jealousy. Perhaps pride. Perhaps he felt he was being treated unfairly.

Hitler had a "cause". Nero had a "cause". The antichrist will have a "cause". Does the KJV get these men off the hook? Now, some of you might say "but these aren't good causes". The text doesn't say "good cause" or "just cause", it simply says "cause". For this reason, I think it's possible that some ancient scribe added "without a cause" in order to remove the possibility of someone accusing Christ of sin in John 2:13-17, but didn't think it through.

2. What Is The Result of Anger?

Suppose point #1 above could be proven wrong, and that the text should indeed read "without a cause". We still need to examine what, according to this verse, the result would be. KJV-only supporters, in their attempt to slander other versions, say the result is "sin" so that they can make it appear that Jesus is sinning in John 2:13-17 in newer translations.

HOWEVER - I must ask - where does the word "sin" appear in that phrase? The phrase in the KJV does NOT read "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in sin" it ends with "in danger of the judgment". These "sin" and "danger of the judgement" are two entirely different things. And notice the phrase does not even say "judgement", but "danger of the judgement." Again, two different things. Let me illustrate with a few examples:

Also consider that in "judgement", often the verdict is "not guilty". Being examined by a judge does not mean you are guilty, it means the judge will examine the circumstances and decide if you are guilty or not. And being "in danger of judgement implies that you might not even be judged in the first place!

3. Turning the Tables

Notice in the last example above (from Matt 5:21), the words "without a cause" are NOT present. Yet many righteous saints, and even God himself, killed! (Samson on a few occasions, the Israelites entering the promised land, David killing Goliath, and God killing Ananias and Sapphira, all the people that were not on the ark, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the man who touched the ark of the covenant for just a few of many example). Does Matt 5:21 compared to Acts 5:1-10 make God a sinner in the KJV? Of course not. How then does Matt 5:22 compared with John 2:13-17 make Christ a sinner in other versions?.

Another example, right from the same verse. Note that Matt 5:22 ends with "whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Note that "without a cause" is not present in that phrase in the KJV. If the KJV-only supporters' logic is correct for the first part of the verse, then their logic must be correct for the last part of the verse, having the KJV making Jesus Christ, God the Father and the apostle Paul each deserving of hell because of the following verses:

Matt 23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

Matt 23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?

Luke 11:40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

Luke 12:20 (KJV) "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

1 Cor 15:36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

Notice also, that the phrases in Matt 5:22c does NOT have "without a cause" either. Again, Does Matt 5:22c compared with the above verses make Jesus, God the Father and the Apostle Paul deserving and going to hell in the KJV? Of course not. How then does Matt 5:22a compared with John 2:13-17 make Christ a sinner in other versions?.

As I hopefully have shown, by using the "without a cause" argument of Matt 5:22 against other versions, KJV-only supporters make God a sinner in the very same verse in the KJV by the very same logic!


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