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Bible verses about Murder
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 4:1-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the well-known story of Cain and Abel, the first man born on the earth also becomes the first murderer. A few points in this account are significant:

  • Cain killed Abel after a quarrel over a sacrifice to God. Cain brought a sacrifice, but God would not accept it because it did not meet His standards. While Abel's offering showed his complete submission to God, Cain's hints at grudging worship of God - and that done in his own way.
  • Becoming angry and sullen over his rejection, he quarreled with and killed his brother. Then, he lied to God's face! He had no fear of God or the consequences of sin.
  • Cain's retort to God's inquiry as to Abel's whereabouts is also significant: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain's attitude of indifference toward his fellow man greatly influenced later generations.
  • Coupled with his entirely selfish attitude, Cain tried to take advantage even of God's curse upon him. Using a "woe is me" ploy, he "convinced" God to guard his life from anyone avenging Abel's murder.

The way of Cain - idolatry, murder, deceit, selfishness, hypocrisy - saturated Pre-Flood society to the point that God, seeing the wickedness of man, regretted He had even created humanity (Genesis 6:5-7).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'As It Was In the Days of Noah'


 

Genesis 9:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Some people vehemently oppose capital punishment for murderers. They view it as nothing more than legalized murder committed by the state and a punishment that has no deterrent effect. But how does God, who should be our final authority, weigh in on this matter? His instruction to Noah, upon leaving the ark following the Flood, covers Genesis 8:15Genesis 9:17, part of which involves governments of men: "Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man" (Genesis 9:5).

Although man has a moral responsibility to God—"render . . . to God the things that are God's"—we must also give a reckoning to men—"render . . . to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21). God has thus delegated to human governments certain areas of His authority in which man obeys God through subjection to his fellow men. God instituted human government to regulate the corporate relationship of man to man, and this includes the authority to take life as punishment for crimes involving murder.

One of the highest responsibilities of government is the protection of life. From this commitment to protect the lives of the innocent arises the very serious responsibility of capital punishment. Humans are not only commanded not to murder, but they are also not to avenge murder. That responsibility falls on the state.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Exodus 20:13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Hebrew of the sixth commandment is about as terse as it can be. It consists of two words that are the Hebrew equivalent of "No killing." However, enough other scriptures appear in God's Word to let us know that the commandment means that God does not permit violent and premeditated killing of one perceived as an enemy. Exodus 21:12-14 clarifies this:

He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.

This clearly separates a premeditated murder from an accidental killing. One can discern from verse 14 that, under this circumstance, constituted civil authorities are permitted by God to enact the death penalty.

Verses 12 and 13 imply that no amount of money or property settlement can atone for the destruction of the image of God in a murdered person. Even if the death was truly accidental, the killer still had to flee to a city of refuge. But for one guilty of deliberate murder, there were no sanctuaries whatsoever to flee to, not even the altar of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment


 

Exodus 21:12-14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God makes provision for an accidental or carelessly caused death. Yet if the murder was premeditated, the state executed the murderer. It made no determination of his sanity. Of course he was insane! Ascertaining a person's sanity in no way alleviates the loss to the victim's family or pays the murderer's debt to society. Capital punishment at least gives a sense of justice done and supplies a measure of deterrent if it is swiftly, consistently, and fairly administered.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Exodus 21:12-14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Under the original letter of the law, it was intentional killing (murder) that was forbidden. Accidental killing was not regarded as murder. Nevertheless, manslaughter is a horrible crime, and the culprit had to remain in a city of refuge until the high priest died.

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Exodus 21:22-23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Without doubt, death is "lasting harm." These verses illustrate the accidental miscarriage of the unborn. If the miscarried baby dies, although no harm was intended against it, the judgment is manslaughter, and the accused can become a victim of the avenger of blood (Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:9-34; Deuteronomy 19:4-13; Joshua 20). How much more valid is the judgment of murder if the unborn is the intended victim? The Bible shows that the unborn "unviable tissue mass" is human. God's viewpoint is clear: Willful killing of the unborn—abortion—is murder.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Abortion: The Land Is Full of Bloody Crimes


 

Exodus 21:22-24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To whom does the "lasting harm" refer, the mother, the fetus, or both? If it refers to the fetus or both, then the Word of God recognizes the personhood of the fetus. Regardless of its age, if the fetus dies as a result of the fight, its death becomes a capital crime, just as punishable as if the mother had been killed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Murder?


 

Exodus 23:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Statistically, in the United States the most dangerous place for anyone to be is in the mother's womb! The unborn baby is a living human being who dies a painful death when aborted. By the seventh week of gestation, the fetus has measurable brain waves (see Genesis 25:21-26; Luke 1:41-44), a legal criterion to determine whether a person is alive or dead. God—not the state, not the individual, not the parent—is the Lord of life (Psalm 100:3; Isaiah 44:24; I Corinthians 6:19).

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Leviticus 4:2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Unintentionally [ignorantly, KJV]" includes more than one might think at first. It means "wander," "err," "make a mistake," and "go astray," and contains a strong sense of ignorance and even inadvertence. It suggests a lack of deep understanding of the seriousness of the sin involved. In other words, regarding this sin, the person did not know any better. It includes sins done with a degree of consciousness, an awareness of what one is doing'something done willingly out of weakness'but not sins done deliberately.

For instance, the Bible clearly differentiates between manslaughter and murder, and the underlying principle revolves around presumption:

And if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments which the LORD has spoken to Moses. . . . [T]he person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:22, 30-31)

Manslaughter is to kill someone accidentally, while murder is to take a life deliberately and willfully. To sin presumptuously is to sin willfully. Those who overstep their bounds and dare to act in a disobedient manner commit presumptuous sins such as murder. The New Testament word translated "presume" can mean "to think," "to suppose," "to deal proudly, defiantly, and recklessly," and "to look down upon." It shows an evil attitude and a twisted thinking process followed by an action one knows full well is absolutely wrong to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice


 

Leviticus 5:15-17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

One's blindness does not excuse his guilt. The person is still guilty even though he did not know.

Unintentionally, thankfully, includes more than one might think at first glance. It means "to turn aside, to wander, to err, to make a mistake, to miss the mark." The person misses the real objective in life, which is to obey God and to be holy as He is holy. It includes sins done with a degree of consciousness, that is, an awareness of what one is doing, as well as sins done willingly out of weakness, but not sins done deliberately.

For example, the Bible clearly differentiates between manslaughter and murder. Manslaughter is the taking of a life accidentally. There is no plan to do it—it just occurrs. The head flies off a hammer, hits somebody in the head, cracks his skull, and he dies. Nobody deliberately plans to do that, though there may be some carelessness involved in it.

Murder, however, includes a measure of deliberateness, lying in wait, planning, setting one's mind to do it. It may be a situation in which one burns in anger against someone for a period of time. Though he has plenty of time to bring himself under control, he does not. Then, reaching the boiling point, he murders his "enemy."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Numbers 15:31  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice these verbs: "Despise," "reproach," "cut off." There is a difference in attitude reflected in the person who sins unintentionally, even though the person is conscious of what he is doing.

There is no forgiveness here. He bears his guilt right to the grave. So, murder, which involves deliberateness, is the willful taking of a life, and to sin presumptuously is to do it willfully.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Numbers 35:9-28  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God instructed Israel about what to do when a man was killed. These verses show that God recognizes only two classifications of killing: accidental and intentional. "Self-defense" is not even listed as a possibility! God illustrates "accidental death" as occurring when there is no intent to kill or to harm. It is accidental when there is no awareness that an action will result in the death of another. Deuteronomy 19:5 provides a clear example of such an accident: ". . . as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies."

However, when there is intent to kill or injure, God's law defines it as murder regardless of what the other person was threatening to do, about to do, or in the process of doing. If a man fires a gun with the foreknowledge that it has the potential to kill another man, it is murder. The "self-defense" category is something afforded by the law of the land, not by the law of God.

David C. Grabbe
Does Scripture Allow for Killing in Self-Defense?


 

Numbers 35:33-34  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Numbers 35:9-34 contains information on the use of the cities of refuge, as well as a variety of regulations regarding the attitudes and circumstances under which a death occurred. Of special interest is God's comment about what murder does to a nation.

Murder defiles, corrupts, pollutes, debases, adulterates the land. Can murder possibly enhance the quality of life? Does it produce liberty? Does it free us to move about with light-hearted security because all is well? Or does it produce anxiety in people, stain a nation's reputation, and instill fear in outsiders who do business or have social intercourse with them? Murder has no "saving grace." It produces nothing good. For society's good, God has given authority to the state to punish those guilty of murder with a penalty commensurate with their crime.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Deuteronomy 19:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Bible clearly distinguishes between accidental and carelessly caused deaths. If two men are chopping down a tree, and one man's ax head flies off, striking and killing the other, there is no guilt. It was an unavoidable accident. But if a man fails to restrain an ox that has already gored someone, and it gores another and kills him, the owner is guilty of murder.

Here the commandment becomes very personal. Anyone who owns a swimming pool that is not fenced against children may find himself guilty of murder. A reckless driver may find himself in the same position as the owner of a goring ox - even worse, he is the ox!

Hundreds of people die in auto accidents, but thousands are killed by irresponsible traffic-law violators. It is an accident when a car's brakes fail without warning and someone dies; it is homicide to run a stop sign or red light with the same result. It is an accident when a child darts out into traffic and is struck; it is murderous to careen down a neighborhood street at sixty miles an hour and strike the child. An automobile can be a lethal weapon, especially when operated by someone under the influence of a drug.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Deuteronomy 21:18-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We can dishonor our parents through stubbornness, mocking, scorning, angrily talking back to them, thievery, and violence. These will eventually be punished by death, shame, disgrace, darkness of understanding (ignorance), and destruction. Through greedy human reasoning, the Pharisees encouraged financial neglect of parents to increase the riches of the treasury, a hypocrisy Jesus condemned (Matthew 15:3-9; Mark 7:6-13).

Martin G. Collins
The Fifth Commandment


 

Deuteronomy 32:35  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God, the giver of life (Genesis 2:7), has the right to end any life if and when He chooses (Job 1:21), but man does not unless God grants it to him (I Samuel 15:1-3). No biblical example shows any godly person taking the life of another or his own with God's approval in an act of euthanasia or suicide. Neither does God say that we must give our loved ones drugs or use machines to force them, contrary to nature, to live as long as possible, even when they are in great pain or totally unconscious. The life God has given to us is not ours to take.

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Joshua 7:20-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Covetousness produces only negative results like theft, lying, murder, harmful lusts, and apostasy. Only sorrow comes from covetousness—and eventually death, if it is allowed to dominate a person's mind.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Psalm 51:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This great psalm of repentance recounts David's personal moral history, and in these translations, it goes all the way back to the moment of conception! An unviable tissue mass or a blob of protoplasm is not—indeed cannot be—a moral agent. These translations indicate a moral disposition of a moral agent at conception!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Murder?


 

Ezekiel 28:14-16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Satan was the first one with the attitude of murder, and he has promoted it ever since. A murderer is a child of Satan with the same arrogant pride. Such a person will not enter God's Kingdom (Galatians 5:21; I John 3:15; Matthew 15:18-19).

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Habakkuk 2:12-14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Third Woe: Using violence to gain. This breaks, of course, the sixth commandment, "You shall not murder." The Chaldeans would use whatever means, to the spilling of rivers of blood, to get what they wanted.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Matthew 5:21-22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is essential to understand that Jesus did not do away with laws, but brought to completion the laws that already existed. Likewise, He did not do away with the Old Testament death penalty principles, which act as guides to civil governments. Jesus was a pioneer, not a revolutionary. A revolutionary seeks to destroy the existing order and places himself above conventional standards. A pioneer accepts the restraints laid upon him and moves forward.

Men's governments deal with the end of the act, Christ deals with the beginning. Jesus changed the law's restraint from the act to the motive. For the Christian, merely abstaining from the act is not sufficient. Jesus imposes the positive obligation of the spirit of the law on him. He seeks to prevent crimes of violence by rooting out the attitudes and drives in a person's character that make him kill. The New Covenant law searches the heart without doing away with the Old Covenant letter.

People can sometimes get infantile, sentimental feelings about Christ and fail to understand the practical realities of what He taught. A cursory reading of Matthew 5:21-22 shows that He is speaking not so much about murder but of the steps that lead to it. He traces the roots of murder and war to three major sources: 1) anger, 2) hatred, and 3) the spirit of competition and aggression—in short, the self-centeredness of passionate carnality.

"Angry without a cause" indicates someone vainly or uselessly incensed. It describes a person so proud, sensitive, or insecure that he gets angry about trifling things. He wears his feelings on his sleeve and is easily offended. He then broods on the offense and nurses it into a grudge.

What may make Jesus' comments even more startling is that many commentators feel that the best Greek manuscripts do not include "without a cause." If this is so, Jesus is saying that even getting angry—with or without a "justifiable" cause—puts one in danger of breaking this commandment! The Bible permits anger against sin (righteous indignation) but not anger against another person.

Raca literally means "vain fellow," someone who is deemed shallow, empty-headed, brainless, stupid. People said raca in a tone of voice that conveyed scorn, contempt, or bitterness born of pride, snobbery, and prejudice.

"You fool" implies a moral fool. One using it was casting aspersions upon another's character to destroy his reputation. It is an expression of condemnation, of character assassination.

We should not take the increasing severity of punishment in the examples Jesus gave literally. He is teaching about the sin of murder, and the punishment is the same in each example—death. He gives the gradations to teach the degree of wickedness and viciousness of each sin.

William Barclay, in his commentary on these verses, writes:

What Jesus is saying here is this: "In the old days men condemned murder; and truly murder is forever wrong. But I tell you that not only are a man's outward actions under judgment; his inmost thoughts are also under the scrutiny and the judgment of God. Long-lasting anger is bad; contemptuous speaking is worse, and the careless or malicious talk which destroys a man's good name is worst of all." The man who is the slave of anger, the man who speaks in the accent of contempt, the man who destroys another's good name, may never have committed a murder in action, but he is a murderer at heart.

Brooding anger, contempt, and character assassination are all the spirit of murder. Christ here traces murder to several of its major sources. To continue in any of these states breaks the sixth commandment. Death is the penalty. Christians have to keep the spirit of the law.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Matthew 5:21-24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The source of murder comes from the heart (mind, the core of an individual's character) where hate and anger are festered by Satan. If we have these evil traits in our hearts, we are fostering the spirit of murder. Thought precedes action and hatred precedes murder. If we hate someone, we break the sixth commandment.

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Matthew 5:21-22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Matthew 5:21-22 advises each individual to make efforts to cover his responsibility to ensure that his thoughts, words, and conduct do not lead to his needing the court's services. Indeed, Jesus' approach, if done perfectly, will ensure that he does not sin in any manner!

Our Savior's remedy for combating crime shifts matters from retaliation by civil authorities to stopping it at its source. When each person is responsible for dealing with anger and hatred internally, keeping them from ever manifesting themselves as external acts, it also eliminates the fear of being caught by police and punished by the courts.

The central thought Jesus expresses is that such thoughts are tantamount to murder in God's eyes. If a person never had an evil thought, no murder would exist. I John 3:15 reveals how important Christians should consider controlling our thoughts to be: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." The hostility present in a wrongly motivated person's mind already contains the ingredients necessary to persuade him to kill another who, he feels, stands in the way of his progress. The hostility connects directly to the act of murder because they are actually one process.

At first, Matthew 5:38-39 appears to say that one should simply offer himself as a sacrificial lamb: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." However, Jesus does not rule out self-defense in a life-threatening situation, as His illustrations in the wider context of Matthew 5 show.

Taken together, His illustrations reveal that He is not considering anything more than rather minor, but irritating and perhaps considerably inconvenient, interruptions in our daily routines. The general thought is that we must not set ourselves up as the angry enemy of the person perpetrating evil against us. He advises us to remove the bitterness in our own hearts by doing good rather than retaliating and doing evil. It is a warning against letting our thoughts build a hatred-based case against others.

This involves a great deal of humility and patience on our part, but it often diffuses what could build to murderous thoughts in our mind. We have all probably felt like not working at one time or another, but because we had to do it, we set our will, threw ourselves into accomplishing the work, and before we knew it, we were likely enjoying the accomplishment! This is a simple illustration, but the same general process is involved in Jesus' counsel.

Jesus followed His own teaching, as Luke 23:34 illustrates: "Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.' Then they divided His garments and cast lots." Earlier He had said, "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). Yet, retaliation was not on His mind. Fulfilling His work from His Father and in behalf of mankind overrode His personal feelings, even in this severe dilemma.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment


 

Matthew 15:17-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Because action follows thought, Jesus is against hatred, malice, and envy, all of which are included within "evil thoughts." Each is a form of the spirit of murder. His concern is not only with how we act but also why we act—not only in what we actually do but also in what we desire to do in our heart of hearts. To eat with unwashed hands does not defile the heart, but gluttony does. To eat with publicans and sinners does not defile, but self-righteousness does. What a person does against us does not defile us, but hatred, anger, and malice toward him does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Matthew 15:18-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Like all other sins, murder is generated in a person's inner being. It is interesting that the first things Jesus mentions as emanating from the heart are evil thoughts followed by murder. As the evil thoughts germinate and grow, they begin a process that ultimately produces murder. Jesus shows that the character of our thoughts becomes the character of our conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment


 

Matthew 26:51-53  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus shows that retaliation intensifies and continues an evil and that the retaliator can be consumed by it. He acknowledges that He had the power to retaliate, but He held His peace, giving us the example to follow. Verse 54 explains that if He had retaliated, God's will would not have been done!

The spirit of retaliation must be aborted before it leads to murder. We should approach it in the manner Jesus exemplifies here. We must make an honest and sincere attempt to reconcile with an offended brother. If the person truly is a brother, he will forgive quickly and go on with life without a grudge (Luke 17:1-4).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

John 8:34-35  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A slave is one who is at the disposal of his master. He has no right to choose his path in life or, in fact, even his daily routine. The master makes those choices since he owns the slave. Verse 35 reveals how spiritually serious this is in relation to God, sin, and everlasting life since the slave does not abide in the house forever. "The house" implies God's house. From a statement like this, John later infers that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (I John 3:15). This is very serious business.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Seven): Fear of Judgment


 

Romans 6:23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Not a single person would be alive if God responded to sin as carnal man wants to respond to sins that directly affect him. Consider that, in the scenario of killing in self-defense, the one killing is judging that his life is more important than the life he is willing to snuff out. One sinner accounts his life to be of more worth than the life of another sinner. Would God make the same determination?

David C. Grabbe
Does Scripture Allow for Killing in Self-Defense?


 

Romans 8:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

At the core of our entire Christian walk is government—not the government of a nation but the issue of whom we will allow to govern us. For example, either we can govern ourselves by "deciding" when it is permissible to kill, or we can submit to God's benevolent authority and His explanation of morality. In the final analysis, we are not allowed to determine what is right and wrong—God has already done this. Our only decision is if we will act in accordance with God's law!

What we decide demonstrates what we hold in the higher regard, that is, what we worship. For example, if we break the Sabbath or deny its importance in our lives, we are choosing the self over God. Likewise, if we intentionally—non-accidentally—take another man's life in defense of our own, we are worshipping the self rather than God.

Romans 8:7 describes this power struggle perfectly. Human nature puts its own cares and interests above God, and the result is that the carnal man will not submit himself to God's clear commands. The carnal man will be willing to harm, even kill, another created human being to protect his own interests, in spite of God's law and Jesus Christ's striking example to the contrary.

David C. Grabbe
Does Scripture Allow for Killing in Self-Defense?


 

Romans 12:19-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God alone has the wisdom and power and the right to take vengeance. Regarding war, Exodus 14:14 says, "The LORD will fight for you." War has never solved man's problems, and God promises that those who live by violence will die by it (Matthew 26:52). Christians must treat others with kindness, gentleness, and love (Luke 6:31; Galatians 5:14-15).

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Romans 13:1-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

These New Testament verses agree with Genesis 9 that human governmental authority derives from God. A purpose of human government is to keep chaos from developing. Paul does not specifically stipulate the extent of the wrath that human governments use to keep order, but his mention of "sword" indicates its use as an instrument of capital punishment.

Within God's purpose, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). A person practicing sin earns death by his conduct. A difference between this and capital punishment is that God executes directly. Although He has given governments the authority to take life to preserve order—in conjunction with the testimony of at least two witnesses—He has never extended the same right to an individual.

God is the source of life, and He alone, or those to whom He delegates it, may take it. Of all of God's physical creations, only man has a mind capable of becoming like God's. God gave man dominion, but to rule properly requires character, wisdom, and understanding. The building of these requires experience, and gaining experience requires time.

Several of the Bible's writers comment on the brevity of a man's life. When a person's life ends prematurely by murder, or even accidentally, it at least interrupts, or in some cases, ends God's great gift. No puny man has the right to take it upon himself to interfere with the continuation of God's great gift to another. If a man does this, he will pay a terrible price.

Capital punishment, consistently and fairly administered, will deter murder. However, capital punishment is an after-the-fact deterrent. Jesus preached a much more effective deterrent in His Sermon on the Mount:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not murder," and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, "Raca!" shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, "You fool!" shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)

It is essential to understand that Jesus did not do away with laws, but brought to completion the laws that already existed. Likewise, He did not do away with the Old Testament death penalty principles, which act as guides to civil governments. Jesus was a pioneer, not a revolutionary. A revolutionary seeks to destroy the existing order and places himself above conventional standards. A pioneer accepts the restraints laid upon him and moves forward.

Men's governments deal with the end of the act, Christ deals with the beginning. Jesus changed the law's restraint from the act to the motive. For the Christian, merely abstaining from the act is not sufficient. Jesus imposes the positive obligation of the spirit of the law on him. He seeks to prevent crimes of violence by rooting out the attitudes and drives in a person's character that make him kill. The New Covenant law searches the heart without doing away with the Old Covenant letter.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

James 1:13-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is not wrong to want something. We can want a spouse, a house, or a car, but not if it belongs to our neighbor - unless he is selling a possession, and we acquire it in a fair and honest manner. However, when "desire has conceived," it may result in breaking any of the Ten Commandments, including covetousness, to which everyone is susceptible. Uncontrolled lust for power, land and wealth can drive men to murder, if necessary, to obtain a coveted prize.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

1 Peter 2:22-23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The term "awful" arose out of the Middle Ages, invented to signify the everburning hell that many people in the world believed then and still believe. This ever-burning hell was "awful." "Awful" describes peoples' feelings about being cast into that place.

The truth is that there is no ever-burning hell. Is there anything, any situation, any circumstance that is truly awful? What is the most awful thing that has ever happened on earth? The most awful thing that ever happened on earth was the murder of God in the flesh. Absolutely, totally, innocent, vulnerable, He was a lamb led to the slaughter, and He allowed them to kill Him without defending Himself. Our Creator—put to death—was the worse thing that ever happened on earth.

How does anything that has ever happened to us measure up against that? This is why God points to this example. Christ did not revile. He kept His mouth shut. He committed Himself, by faith, to Him that judges righteously.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

1 John 2:8-11  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Life without love is death because it is a life of selfishness, the opposite of what God is. John says it is like being blindfolded and having blurred judgment besides. Yet we have the love of God; He has shed it abroad in our hearts by His Spirit (Romans 5:5). This is not an abstract love for people in distant lands but is toward and for those with whom we have daily contact. God's love not only enables us to make progress in His way, it is the solution to the murder problem.

Hatred, the spirit of murder, destroys fellowship with God and man. If one has hatred toward another, it proves he does not love God. God is love. No one with the spirit of murder within him is in the image of God. Such an attitude must be overcome, for no murderer will enter His Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

1 John 3:15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse succinctly states why it is so important not to hold the spirit of murder within us. Anger or resentment may flash into our minds, and we have not yet sinned. But if we hold it and allow it to burn, it could very well destroy us!

Hatred also is the spirit of murder. But beware! Human nature can lead us into thinking that hatred has no serious, immediate consequences because the Lake of Fire seems so far off. The spirit of murder must be nipped in the bud before it leads to murder or the Lake of Fire. Notice Matthew 5:23-24, the verses immediately after Jesus' statement on the spirit of murder:

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Do not attempt to make any offering to God while in the spirit of enmity! Jesus' words clearly imply that God will not accept our worship while we hate another person! Can we honestly say we are worshipping God in spirit and truth when we hate a brother? How can a heart burdened by grudges offer God complete adoration? Within God's court there are no unsolved crimes, nor does He lack the power to see our inner motives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Revelation 6:9-11  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is where today's violence is headed. When people begin killing Christians, they will not feel any sense of wrong in doing so than those who are currently aborting babies. By that time, justifications will have been made, minds will have adjusted, and they will think, "We need to get rid of these people because they are a threat to society. They don't deserve to live."

Do Arabs and Israelis not find justifications for killing one another? Do dictators not find justifications for killing dissidents? The mind, the conscience, adjusts, and when that happens, people feel justified in what they are doing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Handwriting Is on the Wall (1995)


 

Find more Bible verses about Murder:
Murder {Nave's}
Murder {Torrey's}
 




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