Reverence for Human Life

MEMORY VERSE: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” —I John 3:15

EXODUS 20:13

THE commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” points up the value of human life as looked upon by God. This is a commandment which is binding upon God’s people today, even as it was upon the Israelites under the Law. Critics often point out the fact that in ancient Israel God sent his people to war, and instructed them to kill, and that this nullifies the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

The point to remember here is that God is the Creator of life, and that he is able to restore life. From his standpoint death is as a long sleep from which, by divine power, the dead will be awakened, so death ordered by him has a different connotation than when humans kill one another without instructions from the Almighty. Besides, God knows when killing is justified—we do not. Certainly the rulers of today are not in a position to speak for God when they send their armies to war to kill others.

MATTHEW 5:21-26

In the New Testament God’s law against killing is made even more exacting. Jesus said, “Whosoever is angry with his brother … shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [an insult], shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.” (vs. 22) The hell-fire here referred to was the valley of Hinnom, just outside of the city of Jerusalem, where the offal of the city was destroyed. It became symbolic of the eternal destruction of wilful sinners.

The matter of being reconciled to our brethren was very important. Jesus explains that it properly should be related to our offering of sacrifice; that if we had given our brother any reason to be at enmity with us we should go to him and be reconciled, and then offer our gift to the Lord.—vss. 23,24

JAMES 4:1, 2

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (vs. 1) All members of the fallen race are subject more or less to passions, which, if not controlled, might well lead to “wars and fightings” among the Lord’s people. Those who have dedicated themselves to the doing of God’s will should make every effort possible to control their emotions so as to radiate an atmosphere of peace and good will.—vs. 1

James sums up the matter this way: “Ye lust, and have not; ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain.” (vs. 2) It has been truthfully said that in war no one is really victorious, and this is also true when heated disputes arise among the Lord’s people. The way of love is the better way—and Paul wrote, “Love seeketh not her own.” (I Cor. 13:5) Where this aspect of love rules in the heart there cannot be bitter disputes.

I JOHN 3:15-18

How important it is to have love for our brother instead of hate. If we do have hate we are guilty of murder, which means that we cannot be in the way of eternal life. Our example is the love of God; a love which prompted him to send his Son to be our Redeemer, and motivated Jesus to lay down his life in sacrifice, that we might through him have life. (See Revised Standard Version of vs. 16) So, instead of hating our brethren we should love them, and be glad to lay down our lives for them.

John suggests one way in which we can show our love for a brother: “Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (vs. 17) And there are many other ways in which we can demonstrate our love for our brethren.

“My little children,” John continues, “let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” This is just another way of saying that our actions should show the sincerity of our words.


Explain how the New Testament expands the meaning of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |