1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (KJV)
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

I realize that the word unrighteous (NIV – "wrongdoers") would include murderers implicitly, but it seems like it would have been an easy and obvious thing to have included murderers in the list.

And what about liars? Why are liars not included?

  • 1
    From memory Paul is writing about specific issues that were affecting the Corinthian church. This is only a partial list of those who are "unrighteous"
    – Greg
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 20:53
  • Regarding liars: Yes, the traditional Church teaching that equates lying with bearing false witness is wrong. However you will find examples of liars and lying being wrong in the Bible. With that said however, lying has been rewarded when it saved lives in the case of Rahab the prostitute. Another thing would be the traditional understanding of the word translated as "fornication" but that's a whole another topic.
    – user1160
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 22:18
  • sidebar - murder IS theft: the murderer has stolen the victim's life
    – warren
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 17:27
  • @warren Incorrect. A typical legal definition: "Theft is the taking of another person's personal property with the intent of depriving that person of the use of their property" (law.cornell.edu/wex/theft). A life is not property. In murder, there is also no intent to use or sell, typical of the synonym "stealing." The closer analogue is vandalism, which is another commonly prohibited wrong Paul leaves out. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 18:37
  • @RayWoodcock - if you murder someone, are they any longer able to use their life? Of course not. Murder is theft of life. This is clearly covered, for example, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q73-75
    – warren
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


In general, Christian teaching, as well as a scholarly understanding, attempts to read intended meaning, rather than the exclusively literal meaning. The author, Paul in this case, doesn't intend to discount the sinfulness of known-sinful actions by their omission from this particular list, which serves one or both of two main purposes:

  1. For clarification and/or literary effect. It's a fairly normal construct to list examples in writing, whether to make the writing more tolerable or to ensure your readers understand your terms more fully. For instance, if I write to the general public about apples, I might list a few kinds.

    "All apples, Gala, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and so forth, are eligible for my apple contest."

    But I'm certainly not going to try my reader's patience or risk omitting an important apple by attempting to list all kinds of apples. I just want to quickly make the point that all kinds of apples are eligible apples in context X, even though I may leave Red Delicious, Fuji, and Macintosh off the list.

  2. To note sins that may have found some degree of acceptance or normalcy in the community. Paul wants to remind them that these actions, albiet normal in the community, are sinful and damning. But, it doesn't imply that things not on the list aren't sinful. Bestiality, for instance, is also not on the list, but is a sexual sin like others on the list. And as you pointed out, murder is omitted -- and no major Christian denomination will dispute the sinfulness of murder.


Capital Punishment was likely the penalty for murderers under Roman law. Unlike today, people probably did not spend years and years on "Death Row", but received the punishment in a short amount of time.

It should be noted that Barabbas was crucified (sentenced to death) for taking part in a rebellion, which would be considered treason. Paul does not mention treason either.

Essentially, you would not mention an offense whose punishment was death, because dead people cannot repent or feel conviction.

Svidgen's second point is quite noteworthy as well.

  • 1
    I am curious to know where it is written that Barabbas was crucified for taking part in a rebellion. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 17:10
  • 1
    Mark 15:7 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+15:7&version=ESV
    – Narnian
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 17:52
  • being "sentenced to death" is not the same as "crucified" - yes, crucifixion is a method of execution, but until the sentence is carried out (barring an unusual circumstance of dying in custody), the one sentenced is not dead :)
    – warren
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 12:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .