Q. What is the sixth of the Ten Commandments?
A. The sixth of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not kill.”
Every person, even non-Christians, understands that it’s wrong to take a life. Killing someone is the worst thing you can do to a person because their life is the most you can take from them (physically speaking).
So if its wrong to kill, how do we justify capital punishment, wars, and the God-ordained killing in the Bible? We need to understand the differences in the words.
Kill, as it is used in the sixth commandment, should be translated as murder. The Hebrew word God used, ratsach, means, “to murder, slay, or kill.” While the word has been associated with accidental killing, such as manslaughter, it usually refers to premeditated murder and assassination.
Compare that to the word muwth, which means, “to be executed, to die as a penalty.” That word is used throughout the law as a consequence for violating the law. In English we might miss the difference, but in Hebrew the difference is black and white—you might say a matter of life and death.
But the command that is most likely to hit home with believers today is the angle that Jesus took. He said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment (Matthew 5:21-22).’”
The most important issue for us is not whether or not we are murdering people, but whether or not we are showing love.