Two arguments from Christians who think that God does not support the death penalty in the New Testament are first, the sixth commandment of the bible and second, capital punishment is only allowed in the Old Testament because Jesus Christ changed many things in the New Testament. We will rebut them here:
Claim: Some Christians claim the commandment, "thou shall not kill," is a prohibition of capital punishment.Truth: First of all, this is an incorrect translation from Hebrew. The commandment should read, "Thou shall not murder." This commandment would apply to individual instances of homicide and wouldn't be construed in any way to exclude society from executing murderers. It is worth noting that those making this claim do so oblivious to the fact that the ten commandments are located in the Book of Exodus and merely a chapter later we find Moses prescribing the death penalty for a variety of offenses including murder.Claim: Some Christians claim that Christ broke with the torah and the Old Testament is obsolete as a result.Truth: Let's recount some facts: Jesus' acceptance of God's unchanging torah (Matt. 5:17-19), a torah wherein God's unambiguous attitude toward murder is beyond debate; outlines applications that are deeper than are explicit in torah (Matt.21-48); Jesus' repeated encouragement of others to obey the guidelines of torah (Matt. 8:1-4), especially if they would enter eternal life (Matt. 19:16-17); Jesus' quotation from torah specifically about the death penalty (Matt. 15:4); appeals to the "law [torah] and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12); instructs a leper concerning observance of Levitical guidelines (Matt. 8:1-4); instructs his followers to obey the teachings of Moses even as interpreted by the Pharisaic bet-din (Matt. 23:1-3); cites torah in a discussion with the Sadducees (Mark 12:18-27).Matthew 5 verse 17 to 19: 17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The Sixth Commandment, as translated by the Book of Common Prayer (1549). The image is from the altar screen of the Temple Church near the Law Courts in London.
INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_shall_not_murder
You shall not murder sometimes translated as You shall not kill, KJV Thou shalt not kill (LXX οὐ φονεύσεις, translating Hebrew לֹא תִּרְצָח lo tirṣaḥ), is a moral imperative included as one of the Ten Commandments in the Torah, specifically Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17.
The imperative is against unlawful killing resulting in bloodguilt. The Hebrew Bible contains numerous prohibitions against unlawful killing, but also allows for justified killing in the context of warfare, capital punishment, and self-defense.
The Hebrew verb רצח (r-ṣ-ḥ, also transliterated retzach, ratzákh, ratsakh etc.) has a wider range of meanings, generally describing destructive activity, including meanings "to break, to dash to pieces" as well as "to slay, kill, murder".
According to the Priestly Code of the Book of Numbers, killing anyone with a weapon, or in unarmed combat, is considered retzach. The code even includes accidental killing as a form of retzach.
The Bible never uses the word retzach in conjunction with war. The Covenant Code and Holiness Code both prescribe the death penalty for people that commit n-k-h.
The act of slaying itself, regardless of questions of bloodguilt, is expressed with the verb n-k-h "to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill". This verb is used of both an Egyptian slaying an Israelite slave and of Moses slaying the Egyptian in retaliation in Exodus 2:11-12.
Another verb meaning "to kill, slay, murder, destroy, ruin" is h-r-g, used of Cain slaying Abel in Genesis 4:8, and also when Cain is driven into exile, complaining that "every one that findeth me shall slay me" in Genesis 4:14, he uses the same verb.
Bloodguilt in the Hebrew Bible
The concept of bloodguilt pervades the Bible and entails punishment for the shedding of innocent blood.
Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.— (NIV)
The commandment against murder can be viewed as a legal issue governing human relationships, noting that the first five commandments relate strongly to man's duty to God and that the latter five commandments describe duties toward humans. The commandment against murder can also be viewed as based in respect for God himself. Since man is made in God's image, the shedding of innocent blood is viewed as a direct offense against the Creator.
The ancient understanding of guilt that is incurred from the shedding of innocent blood is seen in the Genesis narrative, in which Cain killed his brother Abel out of anger, and the LORD cursed Cain for shedding his brother's blood.
The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.— (ESV)
The Genesis narrative also portrays the prohibition of shedding innocent blood as an important aspect of God's covenant with Noah.
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
The Torah portrays murder as a capital crime and describes a number of details in the moral understanding and legal implementation of consequences.
If a man strikes someone with an iron object so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. Or if anyone has a stone in his hand that could kill, and he strikes someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. Or if anyone has a wooden object in his hand that could kill, and he hits someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at him intentionally so that he dies or if in hostility he hits him with his fist so that he dies, that person shall be put to death; he is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.— (NIV)
In contrast, if the killing was accidental, the accused person was permitted to flee to a city of refuge where he would be safe from the avenger of blood. Carrying out the death penalty required the testimony of multiple witnesses; putting someone to death on the testimony of a single witness was strictly prohibited.
The Torah had the expectation that capital crimes would be investigated thoroughly, and moral guilt was attached to failure to investigate crimes thoroughly or failure to give testimony when a call was made for witnesses. The understanding of bloodguilt also required a procedure to make atonement for unsolved murder. If a dead body was found lying in a field, the elders and judges were to carefully determine the distance to the closest town, and the elders of the nearest town were to break a heifer's neck in a prescribed manner and location.
Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, and they shall declare: "Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, O LORD, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent man." And the bloodshed will be atoned for. So you will purge from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood, since you have done what is right in the eyes of the LORD.— Deuteronomy 21:6-9 (NIV)
Responsibility for bloodguilt also extended to areas of gross negligence. A man who failed to build a parapet or railing around the roof of his house would incur bloodguilt if someone fell and died. The owner of a bull who was known to have a habit of goring could be put to death if he failed to keep the animal confined and the bull gored a man or woman to death. The Torah also instructs that homicidal animals were also to be stoned to death and the carcass reviled.
Although judicial mechanisms existed, the Priestly Code permits a close relative of the victim (known as an avenger of blood) to hunt down the suspect and kill them, before any trial has even taken place; however, the avenger of blood was not permitted, by this law code, to kill the suspect while they resided in a city of refuge. The right of the avenger of blood to such revenge ceases, according to the code, after the death of the person who was the Jewish High Priest at the time of the crime.
Justified killing: due consequence for crime
The Torah and Hebrew Bible made clear distinctions between the shedding of innocent blood and killing as the due consequence of a crime. A number of sins were considered to be worthy of the death penalty including murder, incest, bearing false witness on a capital charge, adultery, idolatry, etc.
For example, the Exodus narrative describes the people as having turned to idolatry with the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain receiving the law from God. When Moses came down, he commanded the Levites to take up the sword against their brothers and companions and neighbors. The Levites obeyed and killed about three thousand men who had sinned in worship of the golden calf. As a result, Moses said that the Levites had received a blessing that day at the cost of son and brother. On a separate occasion, a blasphemer was stoned to death because he blasphemed the name of the LORD with a curse.
The Hebrew Bible has many other examples of sinners being put to death as due consequence for crimes. Achan is put to death by Joshua because he caused defeat of Israel’s army by taking some of the plunder and hiding it in his tent. David ordered that an Amalekite be put to death because he claimed to have killed King Saul. In his charge to his son Solomon, King David ordered him to deal with the bloodguilt of Joab, who had murdered Abner and Amasa. Solomon ordered that Joab be killed:
Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my father's house of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed. The LORD will repay him for the blood he shed, because without the knowledge of my father David he attacked two men and killed them with the sword. Both of them—Abner son of Ner, commander of Israel's army, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of Judah's army—were better men and more upright than he. May the guilt of their blood rest on the head of Joab and his descendants forever. But on David and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be the LORD's peace forever.— 1 Kings 2:31-33 (NIV)
The biblical refrain for those justly executed as due punishment for crimes is that “their blood will be on their own heads.” This expresses the idea that those guilty of certain actions have brought the shedding of blood upon themselves, and those carrying out due punishment do not bear bloodguilt.
Justified killing: in warfare
Further information: Herem (war or property)
The ancient Hebrew texts make a distinction between the moral and legal prohibition of shedding of innocent blood and killing in battle. For example, the Torah prohibits murder, but sanctions killing in legitimate battle. The Bible often praises the exploits of soldiers against enemies in legitimate battle. One of David’s mighty men is credited with killing eight hundred men with the spear, and Abishai is credited with killing three hundred men. Of course, David himself is portrayed as a hero for killing Goliath in battle.
The 613 Mitzvot extend the notion of lawful killing to the nations that inhabited the Promised Land, commanding to exterminate them completely. Deuteronomy 20:10-18 establishes rules on killing civilians in warfare:
- the population of cities outside of the Promised Land, if they surrender, should be made tributaries and left alive (20:10-11)
- those cities outside of the Promised Land that resist should be besieged, and once they fall, the male population should be exterminated, but the women and children should be left alive (20:12-15)
- of those cities that were within the Promised Land, however, the population should be exterminated entirely (20:16-18), specifically "the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites" (20:16-18). Deuteronomy 25:19 further commands the extermination of the Amalekites.
Justified killing: intruder in the home
As described in the Torah, the ancient understanding of the prohibition of murder made an exception for legitimate self-defense. A home defender who struck and killed a thief caught in the act of breaking in at night was not guilty of bloodshed. “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.”
A man's house is his castle, and God's law, as well as man's, sets a guard upon it; he that assaults it does so at his peril.
— Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Exodus 22
Jewish law views the shedding of innocent blood very seriously, and lists murder as one of three sins (along with idolatry and sexual immorality) that fall under the category of yehareg ve'al ya'avor, meaning "One should let himself be killed rather than violate it." Jewish law enumerates 613 Mitzvot, or commandments, including prohibition of murder and a number of other commandments related to the preserving of human life and administration of justice in cases of shedding of innocent blood.
482. Don't commit murder (Exodus 20:13) 483. Don't accept ransom for life of the murderer (Numbers 35:31) 484. Exile an accidental murderer (Numbers 35:25) 485. Don't accept ransom from him (Numbers 35:32) 486. Don't kill the murderer before trying him (Numbers 35:12) 487. Save the pursued at the cost of the life of the pursuer (Deuteronomy 25:12) 488. Don't show pity for the pursuer (Numbers 35:12) 489. Don't stand idly by when you can save a life (Leviticus 19:16) 490. Set aside cities of refuge for those who commit accidental homicide (Deuteronomy 19:3) 491. Break the neck of the calf by the river (in ritual following unsolved murder) (Deuteronomy 21:4) 492. Don't till by that river or sow there (Deuteronomy 21:4) 493. Don't cause loss of human life (through negligence) (Deuteronomy 22:8) 494. Build a parapet (in roof of house) (Deuteronomy 22:8) 495. Don't mislead with advice which is a stumbling block (Leviticus 19:14) 496. Help a man remove the load from his beast which can no longer carry it (Exodus 23:5) 497. Help him load his beast (Deuteronomy 22:4) 498. Don't leave him in a state of confusion and go on your way (Deuteronomy 22:4)— Sefer Hamitzvot by Maimonides
Life is considered very precious, even sacred by Jewish teaching. The Talmud cites the prohibition of shedding innocent blood in Genesis 9:6 as the reason why the death penalty should be carried out against non-Jews as well as Jews, and while faithful Jews are required to obey 613 Mitzvot, gentiles are only obliged to obey the seven Noahide laws, which include the prohibition of murder and establishment of a justice system to administer law honestly. Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld offers a representative modern summary of Jewish teaching regarding the command not to murder.
Chapter 68. Murderer and Protection of Life - Rotze'ach u-Shemiras Nefesh It is forbidden to murder, as it says "You shall not murder". (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17) A murderer must be put to death, as it says "He shall be avenged"; (Exodus 21:20, see Leviticus 24:17,21) it is forbidden to accept compensation from him instead, as it says "You shall not take redemption for the life of a murderer...; and there shall be no atonement for the blood that was spilled... except the blood of him that spilled it". (Numbers 35:31-33) It is forbidden to execute a murderer before he has stood trial, as it says "And the murderer shall not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment". (Numbers 35:12) However, we are commanded to prevent an attempted murder by killing the would-be murderer if necessary, and it is forbidden to refrain from doing so, as it says "And you shall cut off her hand; you shall not be merciful" (Deuteronomy 25:12); and similarly for attempted fornication, as it says "[If the man seizes her and lies with her...] just as a man rises up against his friend and murders him, so is this thing."(Deuteronomy 22:26) It is forbidden to refrain from saving life when it is in one's power to do so, as it says "You shall not stand on your friend's blood."(Leviticus 19:16)— Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld
In the Talmud, Genesis 9:5 is interpreted as a prohibition against killing oneself, and Genesis 9:6 is “cited in support for the prohibition of abortion.”
New Testament view
See also: Biblical law in Christianity
The New Testament is in agreement that murder is a grave moral evil, and maintains the Old Testament view of bloodguilt. Jesus himself repeats and expands upon the commandment, “Do not murder.” The New Testament depicts Jesus as explaining that murder, as well as other sins, comes from the heart.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.— Matthew 15:19 (NIV)
The New Testament acknowledges the just and proper role of civil government in maintaining justice and punishing evildoers, even to the point of “bearing the sword.” One criminal on the cross contrasts his death as due punishment with Jesus’ death as an innocent man. When Jesus appeared before Pilate, both Pilate and the crowd recognize the principles of blood guilt. There is no indication in the New Testament that it is unjust, immoral, or inappropriate for secular civil governments to execute those guilty of shedding innocent blood.
Like the Old Testament, the New Testament seems to depict the lawful use of force by soldiers in legitimate battles as justified. The profession of soldier is used as a metaphor by Paul exhorting the Ephesians to “put on the full armor of God.” Cornelius, the Roman centurion, is portrayed as a righteous and God-fearing man. Jesus praises the faith of a Roman centurion on the occasion of healing the centurion’s servant, and states that he has not found such great faith even in Israel. When John the Baptist was preaching repentance and baptizing penitent sinners in the Jordan river, soldiers came to John and asked for specific instructions regarding their repentance. John the Baptist did not demand that the soldiers renounce their profession, instead he exhorted them to be content with their pay.
Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.
— Luke 3:14 (NIV)
Jesus, while not explicitly condoning the use of violence in self-defense, implicitly suggests the need to be prepared for it when he tells his disciples to buy a sword if they do not have one, “now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” However, Jesus was also quick to correct his servant for the improper use of the sword in cutting off the ear of the high-priest’s servant.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?— Matthew 26:52-53 (KJV)
Roman Catholic Church
The modern Catechism of the Catholic Church as developed and published in the 1990s under John Paul II, asserts that the prohibition of murder stems from man being created in God’s image and recognizes the principles of bloodguilt as being necessary for all time. Life is portrayed as sacred, and no one can claim the right to destroy an innocent human being. The sin of shedding of innocent blood cries out to heaven for vengeance.
’’Human life is sacred’’ because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being… The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere... The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.— Catechism of the Catholic Church
Legitimate defense is depicted as justifiable, even if the defender deals his aggressor a lethal blow. However, a man should not use more force than necessary to repel an attack. The legitimate defense of persons and societies should not be considered as an exception to the prohibition of murdering the innocent: the preservation of innocent life is seen as the intended outcome. Injury or death to the aggressor is not the intended outcome, it is the unfortunate consequence of using necessary force to repel an imminent threat.
Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catholic Catechism teaches that legitimate public authority has the right and duty to punish criminals proportionally to the gravity of the offense to safeguard the public good. Nonlethal means are preferred, if these are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety. However, recourse to the death penalty is not excluded, provided the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined.
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.— Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catholicism asserts that abortion is a grave moral evil because the act takes an innocent human life: human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, “a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (Jeremiah 1:5; See also: Job 10:8-12, Psalms 22:10-11) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. (Ps 139:15)
— Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catholic teaching strictly prohibits euthanasia and suicide as violations of the commandment, “You shall not kill.” Recognizing life and health as precious gifts from God, adherents are encouraged to avoid excess of food, tobacco, alcohol, and medications. Endangering others with excesses speed or drunkenness on the roadway incurs grave guilt. The use of drugs, except on strictly therapeutic grounds is a grave offense. Clandestine production and trafficking in drugs constitute “direct co-operation in evil.”
The Catholic Catechism urges prayer for the avoidance of war. All citizens and governments are obliged to work toward the avoidance of war. However, it recognizes that governments cannot be denied the lawful right to self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed. The use of legitimate defense by a military force is considered grave and therefore subject to rigorous considerations of moral legitimacy. Elements of a “just war” doctrine are explicitly enumerated.
-the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; - there must be serious prospects of success;- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.— Catechism of the Catholic Church
Reformation and Post-Reformation views
Martin Luther summarized the commandment against shedding innocent blood as grounded in the fear and love of God, and as having both positive and negative aspects: negative in that we must neither harm nor hurt our neighbor’s body; positive in that we must help our neighbor and care for him when he is ill.
You must not murder.(Exodus 20:13) Q. What does this mean? A. We should fear and love God so that we may not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body]. Martin Luther, The Small Catechism
In a more detailed teaching, Martin Luther explains that God and government are not constrained by the commandment not to kill, but that God has delegated his authority in punishing evildoers to the government. The prohibition of killing is forbidden to the individual in his relation to anyone else, and not to the government.
We have now completed both the spiritual and the temporal government, that is, the divine and the paternal authority and obedience. But here now we go forth from our house among our neighbors to learn how we should live with one another, every one himself toward his neighbor. Therefore God and government are not included in this commandment nor is the power to kill, which they have taken away. For God has delegated His authority to punish evil-doers to the government instead of parents, who aforetime (as we read in Moses) were required to bring their own children to judgment and sentence them to death. Therefore, what is here forbidden is forbidden to the individual in his relation to any one else, and not to the government.
— Martin Luther, Large Catechism
In The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin viewed the purport of this commandment as the safety of all being entrusted to each person. All violence and injustice, and every kind of harm from which our neighbor’s body suffers is thereby prohibited. Christians are therefore required to faithfully perform that which is within their power to defend the life of their neighbor, be vigilant in warding off harm, and assist in removing danger when it comes. Calvin asserts that the same rule must also be applied in regulating the mind against anger, arguing that since God sees the heart and mind, the commandment against shedding innocent blood also prohibits murder of the heart and requires a sincere desire to preserve our brother’s life. The hand does not commit the murder unless it is conceived by the mind under the influence of wrath and hatred. According to Calvin, where wrath and hatred dwell, there is an inclination to do mischief, quoting the Bible, “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer”(1 John 3:15) and “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement” (Gospel of Matthew 5:22).
John Calvin also makes a case that the command against shedding blood is founded both in the creation of man in the image of God and in the need for a man to cherish his own flesh.
Scripture notes a twofold equity on which this commandment is founded. Man is both the image of God and our flesh. Wherefore, if we would not violate the image of God, we must hold the person of man sacred—if we would not divest ourselves of humanity we must cherish our own flesh. The practical inference to be drawn from the redemption and gift of Christ will be elsewhere considered. The Lord has been pleased to direct our attention to these two natural considerations as inducements to watch over our neighbour's preservation, viz., to revere the divine image impressed upon him, and embrace our own flesh. To be clear of the crime of murder, it is not enough to refrain from shedding man's blood. If in act you perpetrate, if in endeavour you plot, if in wish and design you conceive what is adverse to another's safety, you have the guilt of murder. On the other hand, if you do not according to your means and opportunity study to defend his safety, by that inhumanity you violate the law. But if the safety of the body is so carefully provided for, we may hence infer how much care and exertion is due to the safety of the soul, which is of immeasurably higher value in the sight of God.— John Calvin
Matthew Henry considered the commandment against killing to apply to both one’s own life as well as the life of one’s neighbor and considered it to apply not only to causing of death but also to prohibit any thing unjustly hurtful to or injurious to the health, ease, and life of one’s own body or the body of any other person. He also ties the commandment against bloodshed back to the command to Noah, and he sees it as a command applying to the individual against his neighbor, but not against killing in lawful war, for one’s own necessary defense, or against the government instituting due punishments for criminal offenses. He portrays laying in wait for the blood of the innocent as a grave offense against human dignity as one of the fundamental laws of nature.
This is one of the laws of nature, and was strongly enforced by the precepts given to Noah and his sons, Gen. 9:5, 6. It does not forbid killing in lawful war, or in our own necessary defence, nor the magistrate’s putting offenders to death, for those things tend to the preserving of life; but it forbids all malice and hatred to the person of any (for he that hateth his brother is a murderer), and all personal revenge arising therefrom; also all rash anger upon sudden provocations, and hurt said or done, or aimed to be done, in passion: of this our Saviour expounds this commandment, Mt. 5:22. And, as that which is worst of all, it forbids persecution, laying wait for the blood of the innocent and excellent ones of the earth.— Matthew Henry