“You shall not murder.
And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
1 John 3:11-16
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. While nearly all reliable English translations use the word “murder” in Exodus 20:13, the King James Version (also a reliable translation) uses the word “kill.” Think about the various meanings of the words “murder” and “kill”. Which word fits better with the context and the idea God is trying to get across to us here? Is God prohibiting the slaughtering of animals for food? Stepping on a bug? Capital punishment? Killing during war? What, precisely, does the sixth Commandment prohibit?
2. What do the Genesis and Exodus passages say was the punishment for murder? What does this tell you about whether or not the sixth Commandment prohibits capital punishment? What does the last line of Genesis 9:6 (“for…”) tell us is the reason God commands capital punishment for murder?
3. Returning again to the context of the Ten Commandments passage (God was setting Israel apart as His own special people and establishing them as a nation.), how would the command not to murder, and the penalty for doing so, have helped set the framework for law and order in Israelite society? How would it have honored God for the Israelites to obey this Commandment? How would Israel’s obedience to this Commandment (and punishing those who broke it) have pointed the surrounding pagan nations to the one true God?
4. What is the context of the Genesis passage? Did this event occur before or after God gave the Ten Commandments? Before God gave the Ten Commandments, did people know murder was wrong? How? How does this show us that God’s moral law transcends time, place, and culture?
5. The Exodus and Genesis passages address the external behavior of murder. Jesus takes it a step further in the Matthew passage. What does Jesus say about hatred and abuse as the root of murder? Where does the external sin of murder actually start? Is it OK with God for Christians to harbor hatred, resentment, or bitterness toward someone as long as we don’t actually harm her? Is there someone you know that you’re murdering in your heart?
6. Restate “Thou shalt not murder” as a positive statement (“Thou shalt ______.”) Examine the 1 John and Romans 13 passages. John often teaches by contrasting two opposite ideas. What is the opposite of murder according to his passage and the Romans 13 passage? What does 1 John 3:14-15 say about loving the brethren vs. hating/murdering the brethren as indicators of salvation? Can someone who has hated and murdered Christians ever be saved?
7. Examine 1 John 3:16 and Romans 5:6-8. How did Jesus exemplify love and self-sacrifice- the opposite of murder? What are some ways we can follow in His footsteps and not just refrain from the act of murder, or hating someone in our hearts, but proactively do the opposite of murder?
8. How do the commands to love and not to murder apply to the modern day issues of abortion and euthanasia?
Usually the reason we murder someone in our hearts (harbor hatred or bitterness) is because that person has hurt us in some way. 1 Peter 3:9 says:
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Is there someone in your life who has reviled you or done evil to you? Ask God to forgive you for murdering her in your heart and to help you forgive her. Then, think of a way to bless her. Could you pray for her? Send her a card? Bake some cookies? It’s God’s job to mete out justice, it’s our job to forgive and bless.