Biblical Murderers and How They Relate to Us
Consider some of the best-known biblical murderers.
Cain Kills Abel
We’re only four chapters into the Bible when the first murder occurs. Cain kills his brother Abel. The account in the Bible suggests that Cain premeditated his actions. First degree murder.
But let’s not view Cain as all evil. Like his brother, Cain worships God and brings an offering to him. (We do this too.) Yet God finds Cain’s offering lacking. As a result, Cain is angry with God. (Are we ever angry at God?) Out of jealousy (another common human trait), Cain kills his brother (Genesis 4).
Although we haven’t likely killed someone, we have more in common with Cain then we want to admit.
Moses Kills an Egyptian
Another well-known and esteemed person in the Bible is Moses. Yet Moses is another one of our biblical murderers. Moses witnesses an Egyptian overlord beating a Hebrew man, one of Moses his own kind. Seeing no one else watching, Moses kills the Egyptian and hides the evidence (Exodus 2:11-14).
Again, we see another instance of premeditated murder. Though we might sympathize with Moses’s actions or even say it was a just killing, the reality is that it’s still murder. But despite Moses killing another man, God still uses Moses to free his people. God later has an intimate relationship with Moses, one that we’d all like to have.
David Kills Uriah
The third of biblical murderers is David. David spends many years of his life leading an army and slaying his enemies. But we don’t call him a murderer for his military exploits. We call him a murderer for planning and ordering the death of his lover’s husband.
Not only is David a murderer, he’s also an adulterer (2 Samuel 11).
Yet the Bible later calls David a man after God’s own heart. Yes, David suffers for what he did, but God restores David into a right relationship with him.
Paul Kills Stephen
Paul, a key figure in the early church and the New Testament’s most prolific writer, is another of our biblical murderers. Paul, a righteous and devout Jew, a godly person, is zealous in his opposition to the followers of Jesus. Paul does this for God and in the name of religion.
History is full of people who kill for their faith, but that doesn’t justify their actions.
Though Paul kills many for his religion, the Bible only gives us details of one: Stephen (Acts 7:57-8:1). Yet despite Paul’s violent opposition to team Jesus, Jesus later calls Paul to follow him and grows him into a most effective missionary.
Judas Kills Jesus
Let’s not forget that Judas is another on the list of biblical murderers. Though he doesn’t physically kill another person as did Cain and Moses, and he doesn’t orchestrate a death like David, Judas is the catalyst for another death, Jesus.
Jesus—the most significant death to occur in the Bible, for humanity, and throughout all time. Though Jesus’s death is necessary to save us, that doesn’t forgive Judas for his part in making it happen.
Like Cain, we must realize that Judas isn’t all bad. He is a follower of Jesus, after all, a disciple. Yet he is also greedy, and in his greed he sells out Jesus (Luke 22:47-53).
Though Judas might have received forgiveness from Jesus—just as Jesus forgave and restored Peter into a right relationship with him—we’ll never know. Judas commits suicide out of remorse over what he did to Jesus.
Who Do We Kill?
Jesus teaches us what the Old Testament commands: killing is wrong. Yet he goes beyond the physical act of murder to tell us that even being angry at another person is a sin. Implicitly it’s murder. As a result of anger, we are no less innocent than someone who murders another.
But there’s more. Much more. Though we blame Judas for Jesus’s death, we are part of it too. Because of our sins, Jesus had to die to reconcile us with Father God. Our sins made it necessary for Jesus to die. As painful as it is to say, we helped murder Jesus.
All five of these biblical murderers had a relationship with God. And at the time of the murders they committed, orchestrated, or approved, they weren’t in a good place with God on their faith journey. But it’s what happens afterward that counts.
Are we willing to put the past behind us—regardless of how horrific or benign it might be—and move forward to serve Jesus and advance the kingdom of God? We can do much like Moses, David, and Paul. Or we can falter like Cain and Judas. The choice is ours.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.