What Does The Bible Say About Taking A Life


The Bible is clear on its stance towards taking a life. In both the Old and New Testament, it explicitly states that taking a life is a grave moral wrong. To put it simply, in the Bible killing a human being is seen as a serious violation of God’s commandment to not kill. In the Ten Commandments, God says “Thou shalt not kill”. In the New Testament, Jesus famously says “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the Judgment”, echoing the consequences of taking a life.

The Bible not only strictly forbids the act of killing, it also elaborates on why it is forbidden. It is seen as an act of aggression and violence that goes against God’s design for peace and love among all beings, creatures, and ideas. Killing is seen as damaging relationships, as it cannot be undone and affects everyone who knew the person who has been killed. The Bible is also known to warn that shedding innocent blood is a grave moral violation that will be punished.

Killing in Self-Defense

In most cases, if someone takes another person’s life, then the Bible see this as immoral and sinful. However, in some rare cases, the Bible does make exceptions for taking a life in particular instances. For example, Exodus 22:2, states that it is justified to kill someone in self-defense, saying “If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him”.

This is an example of how the Bible provides an exemption for killing if it is done in self-defense. This is also seen in Romans 13, which states that the law can authorise people “to use deadly force in stopping a criminal who is fleeing and refusing to surrender”. However, this exception is only applicable when the individual is in immediate danger and there is no other means of escape.

Just War/Military Action

Another way in which the Bible allows the taking of another’s life is during military action or a just war. The Bible is clear that these conflicts are seen by God as an extension of justice and can be necessary in preventing injustices. This is seen in the books of Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Numbers, which all state that the Lord is with them “who go out to battle”. In Matthew 10:17, Jesus states that if a city does not accept the message of peace, then “it will be more bearable on the day of judgment than for that city”.

This view is also echoed in the Old Testament, where forces were instructed to hand out warnings before taking military action. According to Leviticus, it was stipulated that if a besieged city does not capitulate, the attacking forces were only allowed to wage war after a warning was issued. This is known as a “just war”, as it has a cause that is both just and lawful.

Capital Punishment

Another area in which the Bible allows for taking a life is in the context of capital punishment. This includes both physical and spiritual death, depending on the sin. The most extreme example of this is seen in Deuteronomy 21:22-23, where God instructs the Israelites to stone someone to death as punishment for rebellion. This is also seen in Exodus 21:12-14, which states that if someone commits murder then the act is considered capital punishment. This is also echoed in Leviticus 20:10 and Numbers 35:33, which both outline the consequences that those found guilty of murder were to experience.

Ultimately, the Bible is clear on its stance regarding taking a life: it is forbidden except in particular cases, and then it is done only after careful consideration and under the permission of God or the law. In any case, it is seen as a sincere violation with severe consequences.

War and Violence in the Bible

The Bible also contains accounts of battles, conflicts, and violence. In Numbers 31, the Israelites are instructed to fight against the Midianites, killing the opposing men and taking the women and children captive. In Judges 10 and 11, God instructs Jephthah to wage war against the Ammonites, while in 1 Samuel 15, God instructs Saul to wage war against the Amalekites and exterminate them without mercy.

These violent episodes are often used as examples to illustrate how God can use violence as a way to punish unrighteousness and how those who go against God face the consequences of His wrath. It is important to note, however, that these passages must be viewed in the context of their time and should not be used to condone contemporary warfare and violence.

Societal Values

The Bible is also clear on its condemnation of taking a life outside of any Biblical context or moral justification. In most cases, it is seen by the Bible as a serious moral breach that goes against God’s plan for peace and harmony between all beings. In the modern world, society has adopted similar values and laws prohibiting the taking of another life without serious cause.

Most modern laws prohibit any taking of a life, both in criminal and civil contexts, whether it’s by a private individual or the state. In criminal cases, the penalty for taking a life can be severe and the act is considered a serious violation of the law. In civil cases, any one taking the life of another is responsible to pay retribution to the victim or their family.

Religious Values

In the Bible, taking a life without just cause is seen as a moral wrong, as it goes against moral principles established by God. In the modern world, most religions have a very similar stance on taking a life, with very few exceptions. Most major religions believe that taking a life is a violation both of God’s laws and of the laws of the state, and any killing without proper justification is wrong.

Non-religious groups also have a similar stance on taking a life without proper justification. These include humanism and secularism, which both have an ethical stance prohibiting taking a life without good reason. In essence, taking a life outside of any just cause is seen as immoral and wrong across various religions, philosophical stances, and legal systems.

Psychological Effects

The taking of a life has severe consequences, both legal and psychological. In most cases, the individual responsible for taking a life will experience devastating effects on their mental health. These individuals often suffer from depression, guilt and PTSD, amongst other psychological symptoms. They may also struggle to cope with their actions and the sense of regret that comes with taking another person’s life.

At the same time, those people who have had their life taken away may find it difficult to move on, with their family and friends often experiencing traumatic bereavement. Trauma, grief and loss can have devastating effects on the mental and physical health of those affected. Therefore, taking a life can have serious consequences, both for those who have experienced loss and for those who have caused it.


In conclusion, it is clear that the Bible takes a serious stance on the taking of a life. While there are some exceptions to the rule, taking a life is seen as a violation of God’s commandment to not kill, and immediately results in serious consequences. From a psychological perspective, taking a life can also have devastating effects on all those involved. Therefore, it is important to consider the long-term consequences for both the perpetrator and the victim before taking any such action.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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