What Does Raca Mean In the Bible?

What Does Raca Mean In the Bible?

The word Raca in the Bible is a transitional word Jesus used to show the extreme nature of the law so that He could contrast it with His Grace. It was an insult, the word raca in the bible meant “empty-headed” and was used as a metaphor to showcase the fact that sin was not just the act, but the intention also.

The Jews were religiously stuck on the exact nature of the law and the text. So murder was a sin but the anger leading to murder wasn’t a sin. Jesus reminded them that anger was just as much a sin as the act. In the New Testament Jesus used the law to contrast grace which came through salvation by faith. His main point was that good works and following the law was not enough, and in fact, it was impossible. That’s why Jesus came, to showcase this impossibility and then provide the answer. Himself.

Introduction to the Word RACA in the Bible

When you are reading holy texts, such as the Christian Bible, it is very likely that you will run into some unfamiliar words. After all, it was written such a long time ago, and language is constantly evolving!

Not all of the words that were used at the time will still be being used today, and if they are, they might not be as common today. Luckily, we have dictionaries and the internet to consult when we come across a word that is no longer in rotation in the present day.

An example of this is the word raca, which does appear in the Bible. Like many words and names in Christianity, it has a particular significance, which we will discuss in this article. 

Read on to learn more about the word raca, and what it means in relation to the text of the Christian Bible. 

Also Read – Who in the Bible Got Distracted?

Also Read – Overcoming Spiritual Distractions!

Meaning of Raca in the Bible

First things first, what does raca mean?

Raca is not a kind word. In fact, it was an insult! It can be interpreted to mean “worthless”, or “empty”. Similar meanings of this word include “empty-headed” or “foolish”. All of these can be used fairly interchangeably when the word raca is used.

You certainly would not want to be called worthless or empty-headed, would you? However, as the word is not largely used today, it is unsure how severe of an insult it was considered to be at the time.

The word comes from the Aramaic root word reka, meaning “empty”, and appears a few times in the Bible. One of these is in Matthew, which we will go over below. 

Raca In the Bible – Matthew

Raca is an insult to a person’s intelligence, as we went over above. It appears in the biblical text of Matthew, in the verse Matthew 5:22.

This is when Jesus was giving a sermon and compared the current interpretation of the “You shall not murder”, which was one of the 10 Commandments, with His own interpretation.

It was part of the Sermon on the Mount.

The verse said that the crime of murder is just as great as the anger that leads up to it.

It is thought that this is referencing the story of the brothers Cain and Abel, as Jesus mentions brothers implicitly in His speech.

Raca appears during this speech as follows: 

“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”.

Matthew 5:22

This is taken from the King James version of the Bible. Of course, different translations of the text have slightly different wordings, meanings, or interpretations. In the verse, Jesus is saying that those who insult their fellow man and give into this anger can be just as punished as those who commit what is typically thought to be a more grievous deed.

Raca is an insult and should not be said to a brother or neighbor, but it also stands in for any other insult or expression of anger for the purpose of this verse. It is as if Jesus was using raca as an example of a word that could be used in this type of situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the word Raca mean in Matthew 5:22?

Raca is a word that appears in the Bible, one specific sighting being in Matthew 5:22. This word is unfamiliar to many, so if you have come across it, it may have left you wondering what it meant. In the context of Matthew 5:22, Raca is a reference to the original Greek manuscript. It means “empty one”, but its true meaning and connotation can be more accurately interpreted to mean “empty-headed” or “foolish”. It is meant as an insult. 

What is Raca in Greek?

Raca is a word that appears in the Christian Bible, and is a word that is technically not Greek at all! Instead, it is a reference to the Aramaic word Reka. Reka means “empty one”, so raca is typically interpreted to mean “foolish” or “empty-headed”.

It is a term of contempt or abuse, an insult to a person. After all, nobody wants to be called empty-headed or foolish, even in today’s day and age! Rhaka is another form of this word in Greek and can be interpreted as a “lack of capacity for understanding”, or, another way to say empty-headed! Scholars are divided on how much of an insult raca was considered to be.

What does raqa mean?

Raqa is a word of Hebrew origin, similar to the Greek rhaka or the Aramic word reka, which is seen to be the root word of the other forms of the word. Raqa comes from a root word that means “empty”.

This means that raqa also means “empty”, or, more specifically, “empty-headed” or “foolish”.

Rather than being used to describe how full a vessel was, for instance, the word was interpreted to be an insult and pointed out a person’s intelligence, or lack thereof. This insult, in Jesus’ account, involved a violation of the law in regard to the Jewish legal body.

What is Racca?

The word racca is actually another spelling of the word raca, which is seen in the Christian Bible. There are a few different spellings or forms of the word, and they all come from slightly different languages, relying on the same original root word.

Racca, or raca, can also be seen as the Hebrew raqa, or the Greek rhaka. The root word for these words is reka, which is an Aramaic word. The word is an insult, and it means “foolish” or “empty-headed”. The root word of reka simply means “empty”, but the word evolved to be more of an insult over time, which was fornwed upon in the Bible. 

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About the author

Lucas is a former worship pastor and Hillsong College graduate (2005). He has spoken at churches, conferences and worship events and loves inspiring people to be more than just a Sunday service-goer. He founded 15 Degrees NE and is one of our leading authors.

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