Did Jesus contradict his own teaching about calling someone a "fool?"
Question: Jesus said, "whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt. 5:22). Yet, he himself did so repeatedly, as Matt. 23:17, 19 and Luke 11:40 and 12:20 show. Shouldn't he be in danger of hell too?
Response: The person who emailed this question to me quoted only the second part of Matthew 5:22, and that can be misleading in terms of trying to figure out the meaning of the verse. Here is the full verse, with nothing omitted:
Matthew 5:22 (NIV) -
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
The first part of the verse explains the meaning of the verse. The topic of this verse is the issue of being angry with other people. Jesus told us, in other verses, that we are supposed to settle our disputes with other people. And, if you are degrading or defaming another person, then you obviously aren't doing much to settle your dispute.