But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.

2 Peter 3:18





“Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13)


“Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:6)



Right at the dawn of human history, immediately after the Great Flood of Noah, God ordered human government to inflict the death penalty (capital punishment) on murderers.  But the death penalty is even older than Noah.







God introduced the death penalty (capital punishment) in the Garden of Eden.  It was the punishment for man's sin. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  (Genesis 2:17)


The nature of the death threatened by God included instant withdrawal of the divine favor and fellowship upon which man's life depended.  The alienation and curse of God, the sense of guilt, corruption of nature and consequent actual transgressions all follow.


But that's not all.  Death meant the miseries of life, the dissolution of the body and the pains of Hell forever.  DEATH ultimately means SEPARATION.  It means far more than just the separation of the soul from the body upon physical death.  It means separation from God.


The New Testament upholds the death penalty and gives our only hope of escape “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)  Christ suffered the death penalty in the place of sinners and rose again.



“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:6)


“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)



Eternal life is a GIFT to be received by faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).  Christ Himself tells us to “Repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:14-15)“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  (Romans 10:13)






The Hebrew word for “kill” in Exodus 20:13 is “ratzach”.  It means “murder”.  Our Lord Jesus quoted it that way in Matthew 19:18 when he said, “...thou shalt do no murder....” What is the difference between “kill” and “murder”?


“Kill,” means any taking of life.  “Murder” means PREMEDITATED, UNLAWFUL taking of life.  ”Murder” is killing WITHOUT ANY COMMAND OR PERMISSION FROM GOD.  God creates life.  It can only be taken on God's terms.  Anything else is MURDER.


To illustrate this difference between “kill” and “murder” further, let's take a look at some lawful killings in the Bible.  Israel killed the Passover lamb.  David killed Goliath in battle.  God commanded human government to apply capital punishment for crimes such as murder.


Those who oppose capital punishment argue that we should have a reverence for life.  But what is needed is reverence for God (the Giver of Life) and His Law.






“Capital Punishment” by human government is still Biblical (Romans 13:4).  Many who oppose Capital Punishment support a “woman's right” to choose an abortion (murder her unborn child).  God commanded Moses to apply the physical death penalty for many crimes:


1. Murder, but not accidental killings (Exodus 21:12-14)


2. Striking or cursing a parent (Exodus 21:15 and Leviticus 20:9)


3. Kidnapping (Exodus 21:16)


4. Adultery (Leviticus 20:10-21)


5. Incest (Leviticus 20:11-12,14)


6. Sex with animals (Exodus 22:19 and Leviticus 20:15-16)


7. Homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13)


8. Unchastity (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)


9. Rape of a betrothed virgin (Deuteronomy 22:23-27)


10. Witchcraft (Exodus 22:18)


11. Offering human sacrifice (Leviticus 20:2)


12. Habitual Criminals (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)


13. Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:11-14,16,23)


14. Sabbath desecration (no longer binding) (Exodus 35:2 and Numbers 15:32-36)


15. Preaching false doctrines (Deuteronomy 13:1-10)


16. Sacrificing to false gods (Exodus 22:20)


17. Refusing to abide by court decisions (Deuteronomy 17:8-13)


Thus, to argue against capital punishment is to argue against God.  Some religious groups say that ALL killing is wrong.


But when they say that, they claim to have a higher way than God's way.  It is MURDER, not all killing, which is forbidden by the Sixth Commandment.



The Sixth Commandment and War (Part 1)

George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows the Lamb of God.  He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019).  They have 8 grown children.  You can contact George at support@tulipgems.com

Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss