I don't know if you've ever wondered about this, but thought I'd share it, just in case somebody approaches you about it. Remember, "The heart of the righteous studieth to answer..." (Proverbs 15:28).
Someone contacted me with this question that I now share with you. I also have provided my reply to the individual.
"I was reading the King James Bible, and in Matthew 5:22, Jesus said, '... but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.' Then in Matthew 23:19, Jesus called the Pharisees fools. Does this mean that Jesus is in danger of Hell fire? Please explain."
The question you asked is not too difficult to figure out if we look at the volume of the Book.
The use of the word "fool" itself is not forbidden here, but the use of the word "fool" as an angry, hateful, unjust slander. Jesus Christ Himself on occasion called men fools. He denounced the Pharisees in public, calling them fools to their faces (Mt. 23:17,19; Lk. 11:40). After rising from the dead, Jesus called His own disciples fools when they did not believe in His resurrection (Lk. 24:25).
In His word, God calls men fools when they live foolishly and reject the path of righteousness in favor of wicked ways (Ps. 14:1; 53:1; Lk. 12:20, and many places in the Proverbs).
The Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called certain people fools who questioned the bodily resurrection (I Cor. 15:36).
Often when someone finds an apparent problem, contradiction, or error in the Bible,
The truth can be discovered by considering well the context. The proper meaning of
this admonition in Mt. 5:21-24 is given. Jesus Christ our Saviour addresses the issue of murder and is making it manifest that the heart is the root of the problem, that murder is in reality the result of hatred and strife between men. If you can resolve the hate in the heart (seen by God as murder- I John 3:15), you can prevent the physical murder.
So, remember, Matthew 5:21-22 is referring to murder (killing someone who is INNOCENT-- unjustifiable homicide), being hateful and angry WITHOUT a cause, and WRONGLY slandering someone else. So basically, the words in question are saying, Do not accuse a person UNJUSTLY (calling someone a fool who isn't one).
How should we use the word "fool?" Well, one good example is if God in His Book says that a person who says there is no God is a fool (Psalm 14:1), and you warn the wicked who reject the existence of God, calling him a fool, there is nothing wrong, for you are simply relaying a message from God to them, and calling them by what they truly are.
While we are in this passage, I must point that in Mt. 5:22 some of the modern versions omit the words "without a cause."
For instance, The [Pois]NIV says,
"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment..."
As well as the NASt,
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court..."
Whereas the KJV reads,
"Whosoever is angry with his brother WITHOUT A CAUSE shall be in danger of the judgment…"
This "little" omission creates a most serious error, because our Lord Jesus Christ Himself
was angry at times. Mk. 3:5 says, "And when He had looked round about on them WITH ANGER…" This would mean that our Saviour was a sinner. God forbid! He "knew no sin" (II Corinthians 5:21).
It is not necessarily a sin to be angry, for the Scripture says, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26). However it IS a sin to be angry "without a cause." This is just one of many omissions, changes, and dangerous differences that are found in "happy cat" Bibles (purr-versions). I would counsel caution about use of them, and recommend using the Authorized Version (King James Bible) as the preserved word of God in the English tongue.
If you'd like to get a good, informative book that answers seeming contradictions in the Scriptures, I would recommend you get the book, Things Hard to Be Understood, by David Cloud. It will be helpful in many areas. However, the best book to work out the "problems" in the Bible, is the Bible itself. Check Scripture with Scripture.
I hope this has been helpful. May the Lord bless you as you continue to study, trust,
and obey His Word.
There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.