The Sixth Commandment – You Shall Not Murder

Date written: October 12th, 2007

SUBJECT: Morality, Ten Commandments

TITLE: The Sixth Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Murder

PROPOSITION: In this lesson we will study the sixth commandment, namely, 1) The verb in the commandment, 2) The vindication consequent to that verb, 3) the vitality of the command today, and 4) The value of the commandment.

OBJECTIVE: The hearer should be able to explain what the commandment means, what relevance it has for our lives today and why it is so important to respect this command.

Aim: To impress upon the hearer the value of life and why God takes murder so seriously.


1. Read: Exodus 20:1-17

2. About the text:

1) In our study of the Ten Commandments we’ve looked at . . .

a. Idolatry and the priority that God demands in our lives.

b. The need to honor God’s name and keep it holy.

c. God’s requirement to Israel to remember the Sabbath.

d. Honoring Father and Mother

2) This commandment is the first of the prohibited things.

3) It also, like number five, is respecting man’s relationship with man.

4) Let’s talk about the problem of murder.

3. About the Topic:

1) According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in the year 2005, there were 16,692 homicides in the United States. This is down from a high of 23,760 in 1992. (

2) The same report stated, “Males represent 77% of homicide victims and nearly 90% of offenders. The victimization rates for males were 3 times higher than the rates for females. The offending rates for males were 8 times higher than the rates for females.”

3) The report further states, “Approximately one-third of murder victims and almost half the offenders are under the age of 25. For both victims and offenders, the rate per 100,000 peaks in the 18-24 year-old age group.”

4) While some progress has been made in this area in the past 15 years, we have work yet to do.

5) Much of this work could be accomplished by teaching the sixth commandment.

4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.


I.   The Verb in the Sixth Commandment

1. What is the meaning?

1) Many translations say, “Thou shalt not kill.”

2) Is “kill” the right word?

3) The Hebrew word indicates not mere killing, but murdering.

4) Murder is the unjustified killing of other people.

5) In Matthew 19:18, it is so translated by Jesus. “Thou shalt do no murder.”

2. Obviously, “kill” wouldn’t be consistent with the rest of the Mosaic Law.

1) This command was not intended to prohibit death as a punishment for certain crimes.

2) For example, adultery was a crime punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10).

3. Moreover, this commandment was intended for those who were murderers not those who accidentally caused the death of another.

1) Numbers 35:9-34 sets forth the definition of what was considered murder and what wasn’t.

2) Murder was something that one did out of hatred, enmity, or craftiness (Numbers 35:20-21).

3) Those who killed accidentally were provided cities of refuge in which to live.

4. So this commandment is speaking of murder, not mere killing.

II.  Vindication Implied in the Sixth Commandment

1. Punishment associated with murder.

1) The penalty for murdering another person was death.

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

3) Exodus 21:12 “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.”

2. Judicial process.

1) There was, however, a judicial process associated with this punishment (Numbers 35:9-34).

2) If someone was killed, then God provided six cities of refuge to which the killer could flee.

3) These cities were designed to protect those who killed someone “unaware” (Numbers 35:15).

4) There had to be witnesses to the murder as well. Numbers 35:30 states, “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”

5) And the congregation was to judge. Numbers 35:24 “Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:”

6) If the man was found not guilty of murder, then he was to remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest (Numbers 35:25).

7) After the high priest died, he could return to his own land.

8) If he was found guilty of murder, he was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 19:11-13).

3. Who carried out the punishment?

1) Once a man was found guilty, then he was to be taken and delivered to the hands of the avenger.

2) The avenger was the near kinsman of the man slain.

3) It was his job to pursue and kill the one who had slain his relative.

4) If he found this man outside of a city of refuge, he could put him to death.

5) If the killer was found guilty, this was the one responsible for putting him to death.

6) Israel was not to take any satisfaction in putting the guilty to death. Numbers 35:31 states, “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.”

III. The Vitality of the Sixth Commandment

1. The Sixth Command survives today under the New Covenant.

1) It is sinful to murder.

2) Jesus says that the desire to murder comes from the heart first. Matthew 7:21 ” For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders.”

3) Paul says that those who have a reprobate mind do such things. Romans 1:29 ” Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.”

4) He also includes murder among the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:21).

5) John tells us that the one keeping hate in his heart for his brother is a murderer and such a one doesn’t have eternal life (1 John 3:15).

6) And John writes that murderers will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).

2. What about punishment for murder?

1) Under the New Covenant, the government is charged with judging such cases and executing such punishments.

2) Romans 13:4 “For [government] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

3) Paul professed to Festus, “For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die…” (Acts 25:11).

4) Paul himself acknowledged the government’s authority to so punish him by death if he had committed such offenses worthy of death.

3. Can the sin of murder be forgiven?

1) Yes

2) Paul said that he gave his vote for death against Christians (Acts 26:10).

3) In 1 Timothy 1:13 Paul said that he was “before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

4) Peter said in Acts 2 to those listening, “ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay [Jesus]” (Acts 2:23).

5) Nevertheless in Acts 2:38 he said, “Repent and be baptized … for the forgiveness of your sins.”

6) The one guilty of murder can be forgiven if he/she repents.

IV.  The Values Associated with the Sixth Commandment

1. What is the primary import of this command?

1) We must understand that God places great value upon innocent human life.

2) Proverbs 6:16-17 teaches that “hands that shed innocent blood” are one of the seven things that God hates.

3) God valued innocent life so greatly that those guilty were to pay with their own life.

4) He valued innocent life so greatly that those innocent were given a place to take refuge.

5) The commandments God gave along this line were to prevent them from shedding innocent blood.

6) We read in Deuteronomy 19:9-10 “If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three: That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.”

2. Today we must understand and respect the value of innocent life as well.

1) God is a God of life, not death.

2) He desires for man to have life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

3) Under Christ He gives eternal life (Romans 6:23).

4) He wants us to have an abundant life (John 10:10).

3. The sixth commandment teaches us the value of human life.


1. In this lesson we’ve looked at . . .

1) The VERB of the sixth commandment.

2) The VINDICATION inherent in the sixth commandment.

3) The VITALITY of the commandment today.

4) The VALUES associated with this commandment.

2. Invitation