Don’t Call a Fool a Fool, Fool!

Matthew 5:22 and Matthew 23:17; Psalm 14:1


On one hand the Jesus says in Matthew 5:22, “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.”

On the other hand Psalm 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” And, in Matthew 23:17 Jesus says “Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”


Context. Context. Context. When Jesus said in Matthew 5:22 that we should not call anyone a fool, He was talking about those who did so in unrighteous anger. What do I mean by context? Anger is the main subject of the verse. There is such a thing as a righteous anger which is not sinful (Ephesians 4:26 – “Be ye angry, and sin not:. . .” ) as well as unrighteous anger that is sinful (James 1:20  – “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”). 

As for Jesus calling the Pharisees fools, that’s a different story altogether. When God is angry with someone, He always has a righteous reason for His anger. Therefore, He is righteous in His anger.  Jesus, being God in flesh (to be discussed another place and time John 1:1,14; 20:28; Colossians 2:9), can righteously be angry, especially the Pharisees, and call them like He sees them. And so you have Matthew 23:17.  God does not contradict Himself in calling someone a fool, especially when it is true. He would contradict Himself if He did not call sin what it is.

In the end, Jesus’ condemnation of calling someone a fool is in the context of doing so out of unrighteous anger. Because Jesus was speak to the Pharisees in righteous anger when He called them fools, Matthew 5:22 doesn’t even apply to Matthew 23:17.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Difficulties | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Call a Fool a Fool, Fool!

  1. My simplistic thought on these verses was that we should not call anyone a fool (even while experiencing righteous anger), but that it was okay for Jesus because He is God and, therefore, actually knows who is and who isn’t a fool–and his judgment of man is 1) correct and 2) actually matters. Also, we could be angry with someone righteously, but that doesn’t mean the person is a fool. We might surmise someone is a fool, but it isn’t our job to make that proclamation. We share Christ, but if they will not listen, it’s best to shake the dust off our sandals, rather than proclaim them a fool.

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