James Arlandson today takes on the verse about Jesus and the sword, so I would like to take up a biblical verse of my own: the Sixth Commandment.
One of the oldest pieces of political correctness, still spun today, is the King James Bible translation of sixth of the Ten Commandments as "Thou Shalt Not Kill." In fact, the correct translation of the passage is "Thou Shalt Not Murder."
The Illustrated Jerusalem Bible Hebrew—English, on page 166, has for the Sixth Commandment, in Exodus 20:13, "Lo Tirsach" (imperative case: "No Kill", Hebrew using fewer words to express thoughts than does English). This is from the verb "lirtzach," to murder (infinitive) or "rotzach" (1st—3rd person singular), although the English translation in this Old Testament is "Thou Shalt Not Kill. It is not thou shall not kill (harog=kill, 1st—3rd person singular in Hebrew).
If you go to the Judaism 101 website, it states the Sixth Commandment as Thou Shall Not Murder. The Signet Hebrew/English English/Hebrew Dictionary also documents that the Sixth Commandment is linguistically connected for the verb for murder (p.213), not killing (p. 182).
So why am I making this big to—do? Because so many left wing churches or synagogues — and many of the mainstream ones — wag their fingers at anyone who mortally fights to protect their home from criminals, or their country from terrorist. Even uniformed soldiers in a just war are criticized as being morally wrong because this could lead to killing, which King James and his translators have spun into a way of demonizing assertive self—defense.
Self—defense is legal under both English Common Law and Judaism — and I suspect Christian Law (otherwise it would not be English Common Law). The Politically Correct — and the Islamists — make full use of this brainwashing by religious pacifists.
And we have this from Christian Homesite.com.
"The sixth of the ten commandments reads, Thou shall not kill. The New International Version translates it, Thou shall not murder. This is more accurate because the Hebrew word so translated does not refer to killing in general but to malicious and unlawful killing."
Then we have this from Biblestudy.org
Q. I am studying the 10 commandments. Please explain the Sixth commandment "thou shall not kill."
A. The commandment "thou shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17), is better understood to mean "you shall not murder," most modern translations of the Bible rendered it this way. According to the Bible not all killing, the taking of a life, is murder. Murder is the unlawfully taking of human life. The command not to murder applies to human beings, not to killing animals or plant life for food. God gave animals to mankind for his use (Genesis 1:26—30; 9:1—4). But, this does not mean that humans have the right mistreat animals and the environment (Genesis 2:15; Deuteronomy 22:6—7; 25:4; Proverbs 12:10). Under the Old Covenant God allowed the Israelites to kill other humans under very special circumstances such as punishment for certain sins, for example, murder (Exodus 21:12—14, Leviticus 24:17, 21) and adultery (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22—24). God also allowed the Israelites to engage in warfare and even gave them instructions about waging war (Deuteronomy 20:1—20). God also recognized that humans might accidentally kill each other, and he made provisions for this (Numbers 35:9—34; Deuteronomy 19:1—13).
Jack Kemp (not the politician) 10 08 06
Update: 10 09 06 James Arlandson responds:
Greetings, Mr. Kemp.
It seems I did not make myself clear. My goal was a narrow focus, to interpret Matthew 10:34 accurately. Just because this verse does not permit a physical use of a sword does not mean that the New Testament teaches pacifism. This is a complicated topic, but the short version may be tried here.
First, Jesus and the New Testament authors separate off the kingdom of God from the kingdom of Caesar. We see this in such verses as "Render to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's." Also, according to the Gospel of John, during Jesus' arrest and his trial before Pontiuus Pilate, the accused said: "My kingdom is not of this world, if it were my servants would fight for me." There are more, but I'll let it go at that.
Second, the Church——as the Church——must never wage war on people. Its mission is to save and rescue them, not kill them. I could go on and cite verses about how the early Church chose the path of peace, following the path of their Lord, but that would take too much space. I will instead refer you to 2 Corinthians 10:4—5, in which Paul——often persecuted and imprisoned (falsely)——says explicitly that he does not fight with worldly weapons, but with divine weapons——moral and spiritual and verbal ones that knock down false ideas.
Third, the problem with church history is that the leaders did not make the distinction between the Church and the kingdom of Caesar, and neither did the kings of Europe. If the church needed help militarily, then it should have asked the governments in "Christendom" for help. Church leaders indeed did this, but too often the Church and State were fused together back in the day.
Fourth, I believe the Founders of our own nation saw the distinction between the Church and the State. They got that principle from hard—learned lessons in Europe, when the Church, even the Protestants, persecuted people (Test Acts and all that), and from Scripture. That's why we enjoy religious freedom, thankfully.
Fifth, the New Testament is not entirely pacifist (and therefore, neither am I, incidentally). But the New Testament authors gives the authority to wield the sword to the State, not the Church itself. To repeat, the Church——as an insititution——is not called to the sword, but it recognizes that the kingdom of Caesar, so to speak, has God—given authority to bring order. Here is Romans 13:1—4:
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Sixth, this verse says the "servant" or "law enforcement" is ordained of God, and by extension, so is the military, if I read those verses aright. Therefore, a Christian may join the police force or military, if he wants. He will be considered God's servant (Rom. 13:4). To me, he or she has a noble profession, and Christians outside of these two institutions should support them. But Christan soldiers and police officers must follow justice and mercy, since they serve a just and merciful God.
Seventh, and finally, we live in a government system that permits a redress of grievances. If we don't like a policy, we can run for office, email our congressperson or state representative, or appear at city hall and speak at the city council. This is not considered rebellion (see Rom. 13:2). Therefore, if the military or law enforcement has an unjust policy here in the US and abroad, we may appeal to the authorities to seek a change.
I hope this clarifies matters. Matthew 10:34 has been wrenched out of context so often on the web that I had to clarify it, and I hope I did. But the entire New Testament is not pacifist, once force of arms is placed in the right institution——the State.