Does the Bible Contradict Itself When It uses the Term Fool?
Problem: Many skeptics have pointed out that the Bible contradicts itself when it comes to using the term "fool". They will state that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that a person should not call another person "fool" (Matthew 5:21,22), even though elsewhere throughout the Scriptures, it uses the term "fool" in a variety of ways to refer to (1) a person who does not believe that God exists (Psalm 14:1; 53:1), (2) a person who leaves God out of his plans (Luke 12:16-21; James 4:13-16), (3) a person who trusts in their own heart i(Proverbs 28:26; 12:15), and (4) a person who does not obey the words of Jesus is a foolish man who built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Even Jesus, later on, calls the Pharisees and scribes "fools" in Matthew 23:17,19. So it seems like the Bible is contradicting itself when it uses and does not use the term "fool".
Solution: In the immediate context, Jesus is speaking about hatred and its link to murder in Matthew 5:21, 22. The Bible states in 1 John 3:12 that having hatred toward a brother in one's heart is linked to murder. Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter by teaching that in the heart is where sinful desires and thoughts originate. Jesus wants the heart to be transformed (Romans 12:1,2). Jesus is as much opposed to a person hating another in their heart as He is to a person actually murdering another because evil thoughts originate from the heart. He wants us to be transformed from the inside out so that we can overcome those illicit desires by guarding and controlling the heart (Proverbs 4:23).
This Context: people hating others and calling them insulting names such as "fool". Jesus is forbidding someone who has evil intent insulting or calling another a fool. When Jesus called the Pharisees fools, He was describing who they really were without any malicious ill-will or hatred in His heart towards them. The Bible uses the term "fool" in these various ways so that true fools do not remain fools, but become wise people who start to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
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