What Does The Bible Say About War And Killing

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What does the Bible say about killing in war? Is killing in war a sin ...

What the Bible Says About War and Killing

War is a devastating force that wreaks havoc on individuals, communities, and entire nations. Its consequences are far-reaching and often irrevocable. As Christians, we are called to live as peacemakers, yet we also recognize that there may be times when the use of force becomes necessary. In this article, we will explore what the Bible says about war and killing, examining the complexities of this issue and seeking to understand God’s perspective on such a difficult and often heart-wrenching topic.

Before delving into the specifics, it is crucial to acknowledge the inherent value of human life. The Bible unequivocally declares that each person is created in the image of God and is, therefore, inherently valuable (Genesis 1:27). With this understanding, we must approach the topic of war and killing with great care and sensitivity.

Types of War

Defensive War

The Bible does not explicitly condemn all wars. In certain instances, defensive warfare may be justified. When a nation or people group is under attack or faces imminent threat, the use of force may be necessary to protect innocent lives and preserve the integrity of society.

Offensive War

Offensive warfare, on the other hand, is generally viewed as more problematic from a biblical perspective. The Bible places great emphasis on peacemaking and reconciliation, and offensive war often runs counter to these principles. However, there may be rare exceptions where offensive action is deemed necessary to prevent greater harm or injustice.

Conditions for Just War

When considering whether war is justified, a number of factors must be taken into account. These include:

  • Just cause: The war must be fought for a just cause, such as defending against aggression or protecting innocent lives.
  • Right intention: The war must not be motivated by selfish gain or a desire for conquest.
  • Last resort: Other peaceful means of resolving the conflict must have been exhausted.
  • Proportionality: The force used must be proportionate to the threat posed.
  • Discrimination: Non-combatants, such as civilians and medical personnel, must be protected from harm.

Killing in War

The Bible acknowledges that killing in war may sometimes be necessary, but it also places strict limits on this practice. Soldiers are instructed to fight only against enemy combatants and to avoid harming civilians whenever possible. The indiscriminate killing of non-combatants is strictly forbidden.


The Bible’s stance on war and killing is complex and multifaceted. While it does not explicitly condemn all wars, it places a high value on human life and emphasizes peacemaking and reconciliation. When considering whether war is justified, Christians must carefully weigh the factors outlined above and seek to make decisions that are consistent with biblical principles.

It is important to remember that war is always a tragedy and should only be considered as a last resort. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to work for the day when all wars will cease, and peace will reign supreme.


Q: Does the Bible ever condone killing?

A: Yes, the Bible does condone killing in certain limited circumstances, such as self-defense or the execution of criminals by the government.

Q: What is the difference between defensive and offensive war?

A: Defensive war is fought to protect innocent lives or preserve the integrity of society, while offensive war is fought to gain territory or conquer another nation.

Q: Are there any restrictions on killing in war?

A: Yes, the Bible prohibits the indiscriminate killing of non-combatants and requires soldiers to fight only against enemy combatants.

Q: Is war ever justified?

A: The Bible does not explicitly condemn all wars, but it places strict conditions on their justification, including a just cause, right intention, and the exhaustion of peaceful alternatives.

Q: What is the Christian’s role in war?

A: Christians are called to be peacemakers and to work for the day when all wars will cease. When war is necessary, however, Christians should seek to fight with justice and compassion, and to protect the innocent.

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