As the title states. God commanded people to kill in the Old testament, does he still command people to kill today?

There are people who claim God commanded them to Kill. Is this legit? Or is there clear evidence in the Bible that goes against this?

Examples of God commanding people to Kill in the Old Testament:

1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

NUMBERS 21:3 The Lord gave the Canaanites over to Israel, who "completely destroyed them and their towns."

NUMBERS 31:17-18 God commanded Moses to kill all of the male Midianite children and "kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." The virgins were presumably raped. (NOTE: How could the soldiers know which women were virgins?)

There are lots of sources out there:

http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Examples_of_God_personally_killing_people http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-atrocities

I understand that most of this makes sense in context of the Old Testament. But what about people who kill today and say God commanded them to? Is this legit? Can we deny their claim?

  • 1
    can you please refer to passages where God commanded people to kill.
    – Pierre
    Feb 19, 2013 at 16:13
  • 1
    @Peter read 1 Samuel 15 for just one example. Feb 19, 2013 at 16:16
  • Num. 15:35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. Gen. 9:5-9:6. And many more.
    – user900
    Feb 19, 2013 at 16:24
  • What kind of answer are you looking for here? I understand the question, but what purpose do you want an answer to serve? What kind of perspective do you want? Because depending on the person or group the answer to this question quite well could be yes, or no. You seem to be trying to point out some kind of contradiction (all your sources are atheist or agnostic sites rather than Christian ones). what point are you trying to make here?
    – wax eagle
    Feb 19, 2013 at 19:53
  • I was merely looking for input. Someone asked me this question and I was curious how other people might answer it. Feb 19, 2013 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


While God did command nations to kill, it's important to remember that he never commanded individuals to kill devoid of their representing a nation.

So no, I don't think you could say that it is legit for any single individual to claim that God commanded them to kill. On the contrary, one of the ten commandments is, "You shall not murder." (Exodus 20:13). The word that God uses for murder is different than the word that is used to mean "kill" when it is carried out in war.

So to answer your question, yes. You can deny their claim. They were not told by God to murder.

You can read more about the words used here.

  • 4
    I don't believe so. Christ paints a picture of Him returning and subduing the nations under himself, not countries subduing others under themselves. (I Corinthians 15:20-28) The work of God now is to act through the church, for a kingdom that is not of this world, not to work through nations for the goal of conquering the world. (John 18:36) Feb 19, 2013 at 17:10

One thing to consider is the different role of the individual vs. the role as an agent of the State. With a notable exception of Abraham and Isaac (and maybe some others I can't think of) the specific command to kill an individual or obliterate a nation, etc. seems to be given to a representative agent of the State as the agent of the State. Also, bear in mind that Israel underwent a government transition throughout the OT, so in a purely theocratic society, a priest might act as judge and would deliver justice based on revelation. As the government model changed priests, kings, soldiers, spies, etc. were given orders to kill at times as agents of the State.

That being said, the individuals acting on their own behalf don't have the same authority that agents of the State do, and most governments (AFAIK) don't follow the same theocratic model that early Israel did (so, I'm not aware of many courts of law -- especially, ostensibly Christian courts -- killing someone because "God told them to"). All that to say, if someone claimed that God told him to murder someone, I think we would have very little Biblical precedent to consider him anything other than delusional.

As a bit of post script: regarding Abraham and Isaac, it's important to remember a few things: Abraham had received a promise that God was going to create a nation from him; Isaac was ultimately spared though Abraham didn't really know how that was going to pan out; and this predated Moses, the law, and the "modern" government body of Israel, so the notion of the State was not really well-defined at this point. I don't want to try so hard that I'm forcing a fit through rationalization, but I think it could be argued that based on his role within his tribe, Abraham may very well have been acting as the appropriate agent of his State (tribal priest, for example?)

  • Was Phinehas an agent of the state?
    – user900
    Feb 19, 2013 at 17:12
  • 1
    @H3br3wHamm3r81: Depends on context, but probably yes. (as a caveat, just because one may be officially an agent of the state doesn't mean that role provides universal covering... e.g. a man can't murder people, just because he may happen to be an executioner for the state) Phinehas was a priest, I think, and served some sort of role in the front-line fighting. I'm not sure that I gave it enough attention, but members of the armed service are agents of the state, as they are fighting on behalf of state interests; not just going out and shooting people for individual vendettas (or whatever).
    – Steven
    Feb 19, 2013 at 18:21

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