Do Not Kill - The 10 Commandments

The Gift of Life and the Commandment to Protect It.

The last six of the Ten Commandments deal directly with mankind’s relationship to others. Each of these commandments addresses a different aspect of daily life and how mankind is to live peaceably among each other. As the Apostle Paul stated, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10) These last six commandments, found in Exodus 20, are as equally important as the first four, as all the commandments emphasize unity and right relationships.

The second of these is found in verse 13: “You shall not murder.”

This commandment was not speaking of one causing the death of another in general, as if things like accidental death and self-defense are equal with murder. Nor was it speaking of death as a result of war or political skirmishes. Rather, God was speaking of the premeditated act like what had been committed by Cain. Cain allowed both his mind and his emotions to get out of control, which drove Cain to plot to kill his brother, Abel. This was an unpardonable act, as it violated God’s gift of life to mankind.

In God’s eyes, the life of every human, regardless of age, is precious. This is because mankind, at Creation, became a living being by the very breath of God. So for an individual to take the life of another human was and is against the will of God. It also displays the absence of respect and honor for the Giver of Life.

Interestingly, this is the first of the Ten Commandments to be quoted by Jesus. He made reference to it in His Sermon on the Mount, using it as an illustration of the heart of the Law. He said, “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." (Matthew 5:21-22)

This teaching of Jesus took the concept of murder one step further. According to His words, to even have unjustified anger against someone is as if they have committed an act of murder. This is because one who harbors ill feelings toward another often either desires for them to be dead, or has written them off as such in their minds. Murder, whether in mind or in action, is a violation of the sixth commandment.

Written by: Amy Miller