KILL OR MURDER: Which Is More Appropriate?

“Thou shalt not kill.”
(Exodus 20:13)

One of the things people point out to discredit the King James Bible is that in the Decalogue it says, “thou shalt not kill,” while newer translation says “thou shalt not murder.” But which is more appropriate?

People point that it is not all killing that is sin. In Deuteronomy 19 and Numbers 35, God clearly says that killing by accident should not be counted worthy of a death penalty. Only killing intentionally, either by malice or wickedness is sin. For this reason, they say not all killing is sin, but only murder, that is wilful killing.

Commands Are For Deliberate Actions

“And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them.”
(Exodus 35:1)

The argument is that it is not absolutely right to say, “thou shalt not kill.” Rather, it should have been, “thou shalt not murder.” Is this argument true?

To look at what the argument is saying in essence, it means it is wrong to say “you shall not kill at all.” Rather you should say, “you shall not kill deliberately.” But you see commands are for deliberate actions and not for accidental actions. We see in Exodus 35:1 that commandments are given that we should do them. It does not give provision for accidental actions but for deliberate actions. If you say, “you shall not kill deliberately,” then you should also say, “but you may kill accidentally.” But you can easily see the absurdity of that.

We must be able to distinguish commands from laws. Commands are what you ought to do while law are the rules that are aimed at regulating the actions of people. Commands simply states the right thing to be done, but laws tells us the penalty of failure to do that and makes exceptions to things that is beyond ones control, knowledge, or intentions.

So it is not right, in commandment, to say, “thou shalt not kill intentionally.” But in judgment it is right to consider if the killing was intentional or not so as to be able to give exception to it if it was unintentional. That is why we see the King James using the words rightly. In commandment we read, “thou shalt not kill.” But in judgment we read, “But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer…” (Numbers 35:20 – 21). Based on the consideration of enmity, hatred and laying in wait, the judgment of God is that he’s a murderer.

So commands are for deliberate actions and not accidental ones. If one fails while trying to keep the command, there’s an exception to that. It does not mean that on account of human weakness or proclivities of negligence the command should be altered to say, “thou shalt not kill deliberately.”

All Killing Is Sin

“Thou shalt not kill.”
(Deuteronomy 5:17)

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.”
(Genesis 9:5)

Apart from that. In Deuteronomy 19 and Numbers 35, God commanded the children of Israel to have cities of refuge where people involved in killing a man may have a fair hearing before judgment is passed, lest the avenger of blood kill him without proper hearing. If the person killed deliberately, he shall be killed by the avenger of blood, but if it was not deliberately he shall not be killed. But does it make it less wrong? While we may be quick to judge that he’s not guilty of crime yet we cannot say he’s without sin because even though he killed the person accidentally he is not without a punishment. He shall serve a type of imprisonment in the city of refuge and shall not leave there until the death of the High Priest. That is a punishment that shouldn’t have been if he was altogether without sin.

If it were not a sin, such confinement should not be justifiable. One may say, well it is for protection and not confinement. But I ask, “to what purpose is it then said, ‘But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession’ (Numbers 35:26 – 28). Why is the avenger of blood not counted guilty of blood for executing such judgment on him?” And yet it is obvious that if this happens after the death of the High Priest he shall be guilty of blood. So it is definitely a form of confinement. A confinement of which he’s not to have access to the land of his possession.

We can also see the fact that all killing is sin even when they’re justifiable in David. He wished to build a house for God but God told him, “Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.” (1 Chronicles 22:8). Some would say it is because of taking Uriah’s wife and murdering him that God made this statement, but the statement is quite clear and it should not be given a meaning other than what it is plainly understood to mean. No mention of Uriah was made, rather it was because the blood he shed in wars (including that of Uriah) was why God denied him that privilege.

For this reason must every man be very careful and take every necessary precautions in all that we do so that we don’t shed blood whatsoever. Whether accidentally or deliberately. The command is not, “thou shalt not kill deliberately,” but remains, “thou shalt not kill.”

About killing in self defence or in war, that is its justifiability and not whether it is sin, I’m not able to say at this point in time. It is obvious that there are times when it is justifiable to kill, and failure to do so would be evil, but it is tricky to understand how what is justifiable could still be a sin. I’ve tried considering the issue carefully and scripturally too, but I try to be in the habit of not drawing conclusion on anything without first knowing and considering the stand of the fathers on that issue. Aurelius Augustine handled the issue in his writing called, “Just War.” As a person confident about the trustworthiness, intelligence, and soundness of Aurelius Augustine’s arguments, I strongly recommend it to the consideration of anyone interested in looking into the matter. As for me, I’m yet to read it so I can’t draw a conclusion at this point in time.


“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
(Romans 13:9)

The summary of the law as pertaining to our relationship to one another is this “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” I’m yet to see anyone who doesn’t mind being killed accidentally but dreads being killed deliberately. For this reason, loving your neighbour is not to kill at all.

We can see that here again the King James is absolutely right and your new, and your newer new translations of the Bible that say otherwise are wrong and outrightly absurd. So stick to your King James Bible. Thank you for reading.

Prayer: Dear Father, I thank you the King James Bible. It is such a blessing to your church. Being a pillar of truth, the enemy is thrusting missiles at its integrity and dependability. Help us to defend this your holy gift to us and shun all false translations of your word. Help us never ever to kill. Do keep us from evil. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

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