Here is my translation of Matt 5:22 with the parallel structure highlighted:
But I say to you:
- everyone being angry with his brother will be liable to the judgement
- but whoever shall say to his brother, "Raka" will be liable to the Sanhedrin
- but whoever shall say "Fool" will be liable to the Gehenna of fire
The matter at issue here is the Greek adjective ἔνοχος (enochos) translated "liable" three times above. The word only occurs 10 times in the NT, Matt 5:21, 22 (three times), 26:66, Mark 3:29, 14:64, 1 Cor 11:27, Heb 2:15, James 2:10.
BDAG gives this meaning:
- pertaining to being held in or constrained, subject to, eg, Heb 2:15
- pertaining to being required to give an account for something held against one, liable, answerable, guilty, eg, (a) with dative:
Matt 5:21, 22; (b) with genitive: Matt 26:66, Mark 14:64 3:29; etc.
Thus, Jesus' three-fold statement of consequences is just that - a statement that the consequences of these actions makes one culpable and required to give an account and so defend oneself.
This is in stark contrast to Jesus' statement in John 5:24 -
Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who
sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he
has crossed over from death to life.
Thus, Jesus is giving good advice - we cannot and will be unable to defend ourselves in any heavenly judgement. The only way to avoid this is to trust Jesus and the problem of judgement is removed. Then (back to Matt 5), when we become followers of Jesus, we will want to reconcile with our enemies:
Matt 5:23 - So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there
remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift
there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother;
then come and offer your gift.
The Expositor's Greek Testament offers this comment on Matt 5:22 -
Matthew 5:22. ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν. Christ supplies the defect, as a
painter fills in a rude outline of a picture (σκιαγραφίαν), says
Theophy. He goes back on the roots of crime in the feelings: anger,
contempt, etc.—πᾶς … αὐτοῦ. Every one; universal interdict of angry
passion.—ἀδελφῷ: not in blood (the classical meaning) or in faith, but
by common humanity. The implied doctrine is that every man is my
brother; companion doctrine to the universal Fatherhood of God
(Matthew 5:45).—εἰκῆ is of course a gloss; qualification of the
interdict against anger may be required, but it was not Christ’s habit
to supply qualifications. His aim was to impress the main idea, anger
a deadly sin.—κρίσει, here as in Matthew 5:21. The reference is to the
provincial court of seven (Deuteronomy 16:18, 2 Chronicles 19:5,
Joseph. Ant. iv. 8, 14) possessing power to punish capital offences by
the sword. Christ’s words are of course not to be taken literally as
if He were enacting that the angry man be tried as a criminal. So
understood He would be simply introducing an extension of legalism. He
deserves to go before the seven, He says, meaning he is as great an
offender as the homicide who is actually tried by them.