The Fifth Commandment
The thief does not come except to steal and to slaughter and to destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
AC 8901. Thou shalt not murder, signifies not to take away spiritual life from anyone, also not to extinguish faith and charity, as well as not to hold the neighbor in hatred.
AC 8902. [This] is evident from the meaning of “murdering,” as being to deprive of spiritual life. That “murdering” means this in the internal sense, is because in this sense spiritual life, or the life of heaven with man, is treated of; and spiritual life, or the life of heaven with man, is the life of faith and of charity. Therefore by “not to murder” is meant also not to extinguish faith and charity in anyone. The reason why “not to murder” is also in the internal sense not to hold the neighbor in hatred, is that he who holds [someone] in hatred continually wishes to murder, and also would murder in act unless prevented by the fear of the penalty, of the loss of life, of reputation, and the like. For hatred [springs] from evil, is contrary to charity, and breathes nothing but the murder of him whom it hates: in the world, the murder of his body; in the other life, the murder of his soul....
AC 8902:12. “In the consummation of the age they shall deliver you into tribulation, and shall kill you; and you shall be hated by all the nations for My name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9).
“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘The hour comes, that whoever kills you shall think that he offers holy worship to God; and they will do these things because they do not know the Father, nor Me’” (John 16:2, 3).
In these passages also by “killing” is signified to deprive of spiritual life, that is, of faith and charity; for by “the disciples” are signified all things of the truth and good of faith and charity.... That the disciples, to whom the Lord spoke, are not meant here, is evident from the fact that the subject dealt with is the consummation of the age, when the Lord is to come in the clouds of heaven; the disciples had asked about this, and by the consummation of the age is meant the last time of the church, when the disciples would not be alive (see n. 3488).
AC 8902:17. ...Hence it is plain what is involved in the commandment “not to murder,” namely, that not only is man not to be murdered as to the body, but also that he is not to be murdered as to the soul; thus that he is not only not to be deprived of life in the world, but especially that he is not to be deprived of life in heaven. If this commandment had not involved within it at the same time this meaning, it would not have been pronounced by Jehovah Himself, that is, the Lord, in a living voice upon Mount Sinai with so great a miracle. For all peoples and nations know without immediate revelation, and moreover their laws decree, that man is not to be killed, as well as that adultery, theft, and false witness are not to be committed.... But the revealed Word, being from the Divine Itself, over and above this [civil law] stores up in its bosom higher and more universal things, namely, such things as are of heaven, thus which not only concern the life of the body, but which also concern the life of the soul, or eternal life. In this the Word differs from, is separated from, and is preeminent over, all other writing.
AE 1012:3. ...In all the commandments of the Decalogue, as in all things of the Word, two internal senses are involved, besides the highest, which is a third: one that is next to the letter and is called the spiritual moral sense, another that is more remote and is called the spiritual celestial sense...
AE 1012:4e. These three, namely, spiritual murder, which pertains to faith and love, moral murder, which pertains to reputation and honor, and natural murder, which pertains to the body, follow in a series one from the other, like cause and effect.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- To what extent does the Lord permit one person to murder another person spiritually? Can one person cause another to go to hell eternally?
- Is racism an example of spiritual murder, if it leads people to hold certain others in contempt or hatred?
- Considering how the Word is pre-eminent above all other writing, how come we spend so little time reading it and instead read other things?