Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Thou shalt not kill.”
No one but God has the authority to end a human life. In Deuteronomy 32:39, God spoke though Moses and said, “I kill, and I make alive.” Nothing but the will of God is appropriate to consider when ending a human life is the subject.
God appoints agents to accomplish His will. In creating all things, He worked through His son, by whom He made all things (Jn. 1:3). In Romans 13, Paul teaches us that earthly governments are God’s agents on earth. He said, “The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resists the power resists the ordinance of God.” He calls earthly rulers “ministers of God”, adding that these ministers “do not bear the sword in vain”. This means that governments of earth are doing the will of God and that they have authority from God “to bear the sword”.
The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” should be read, “Thou shalt not murder”. Those who end lives, but who are not ordained by God to do so, are guilty of breaking that commandment. Governments who execute criminals are not guilty of murder. They are only exercising their duty as “His ministers”. God ordained the execution of murderers long before the Law was ever given to Israel. He told Noah after the flood (Gen. 9:6), “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
In Exodus 20, when God said, “Thou shalt not kill”, He meant “Thou shalt not kill unless I say so.” In the next chapter, Exodus 21, God said so. He gave authority to Moses and the other officials in Israel to execute whoever killed anyone without God’s ordination. He told Moses the same thing he had told Noah, “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall surely be put to death.”
The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” applied to everyone in Israel. The commandment to execute the murderers was not given to all Israelites, but only to the judges in Israel, those whom Paul referred to as the “ministers of God”. So then while it is sin for anyone to kill without legal authority to do so, it is not sin for those with legal authority to carry out executions against those who commit the worst of crimes.