There is a precedent of using this response to falsehood in the OT Hebrew.

1. kesil – implies a self-confidence in Wisdom Literature (e.g., Proverbs 17 and 26; Ecclesiastes 7)

2. evil  – implies a mental competence also used mostly in Wisdom Literature (e.g., Isa. 29:11; 35:8; Hos. 9:7)

3. nabal – implies an empty headed person (e.g., Deut. 32:6,21; 2 Sam. 3:33; 13:13; Ps. 14:1; 53:1; Jer. 12:11)

4. sakal – implies a thickheaded person (e.g., 1 Sam. 26:21; Eccl. 2:19; 10:3,14)


Jesus used three words to describe foolish people.

1. aphrōn, Luke 11:40; 12:20

2. anoētos, Luke 24:25

3. mōros, Matt. 5:22; 23:17,19 

The strongest statement by Jesus in regard to the use of a characterization of one person by another is in Matt. 5:22, where mōros reflects the Aramaic word raca, which means incapable of life.

  Notice Jesus' words in Matt. 5:22, raca was Aramaic for "an empty-headed person incapable of life." This section is not dealing with what specific titles one can or cannot call another person, but with a supposed believer’s attitude toward others, especially covenant brothers.

The Greek term, mōros, translated "fool," was meant to reflect the Aramaic term raca. However, Jesus’ word play was not to the Greek word mōros, but the primarily Hebrew word mōreh, BDB 598, which meant "rebel against God" (cf. Num. 20:10; Deut. 21:18,20; see F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p. 42). Jesus called the Pharisees by this very term in Matt. 23:17. Not only our actions, but our motives, attitudes, and purposes determine sin against our fellow human. Murder, as far as God is concerned, can be a thought! Hatred of our brother or sister clearly shows that we do not know God (cf. 1 John. 2:9-11; 3:15, and 4:20). Socially speaking, a hateful thought is better than a death, but remember that this section of Scripture is meant to shatter all self-righteousness and pride in one’s own goodness.

Paul follows the OT and Jesus in using several terms to describe foolish people.

1. aphrōn, 1 Cor. 15:36; 2 Cor. 11:16,19; 12:6,11

2. mōros, 1 Cor. 3:18; 4:10 and a related form in Rom. 1:22

People who claim to know God, but think and act in inappropriate ways, are often characterized as poor thinkers!  Paul's sarcastic comments, so frequent in 1 and 2 Corinthians, reveal this type of person.  They were so confident that they possessed knowledge that they could not see nor recognize true knowledge!


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