This is a scary thought that occurred to me, which is, do all soldiers go to hell?

I thought this because one of Gods commandments is thou shalt not kill. Surely the main job of a soldier is to kill other men. And even if he didn't actually kill anyone, he knew that he might well have to kill someone in cold blood. This is a scary thought for me, as I don't want to go to hell, but I do want to be a soldier.

If a soldier kills someone, and is a completely devout Christian for the rest of his life then will he go to heaven or hell?

One other thing is that if you confess and repent a sin then God forgives you, so if you kill someone and repent will you go to hell?

Or is it really the soldier that kills someone, what is he doesn't see the bullet land and doesn’t know that he has killed someone, or thinks that he hasn't killed them and he has. He won't know if he has killed someone, will he go to hell then?

Is the commandment 'thou shalt not kill' referring to killing someone with your bare hands, after all it is the bullet/sword/explosion/bayonet that actual kills the person.

It's a touchy subject and I don't want to get too involved but it makes you think, doesn't it?

The quick and easy response is that the word "kill" in the quoted commandment is more properly translated "murder" and thus would not apply to actions taken against an enemy in time of war. But this doesn't really go to the heart of the problem; isn't war itself a sin?

Sin is not something we do so much as something we are in. We are broken people, living in a broken world. Terrible things happen in it that demand a response. They may not be the kind of responses we would like; we may in fact end up doing things for which, I think, we should justifiably ask forgiveness of our God. But the alternative (leaving innocent civilians undefended against a marauding enemy, for example) may be to fall deeper into sin. These are the types of choices we must make, and of all the promises in the Bible, nowhere does it say that these choices will be easy.

Anyone who thinks at all about Christianity, whether they believe or not, will inevitably ask if one thing or another will send people to Hell. As a Christian I can only answer that in Jesus Christ all sins are forgiven, and we are all saved through His sacrifice on the cross. Beyond that we do the best we can to let God guide us as we live our lives, and ask forgiveness when we stumble on the path.

The entirety of Exodus 20:13 is one word: 'xcr' or 'ratsach' (Strong's number 07523) used in the qal tense (imperfect).

What does this word mean:

  1. to murder, slay, kill
    1. (Qal) to murder, slay
      1. premeditated
      2. accidental
      3. as avenger
      4. slayer (intentional)
    2. (Niphal) to be slain
    3. (Piel)
      1. to murder, assassinate
      2. murder, assassin
    4. (Pual) to be killed

The use of ratsach continues to be used throughout the Old Testament, most notably in Numbers 35 (verses 6, 11, 12, 16-19, 21, 25-28, 30, 31) which cover the refuge for accidental killers and again as specific acts in Judges and 1 Kings which are murders and assassinations - not wartime killing.

The ideas of one language do not always clearly map into another language, and this is certainly the case with ratsach - it does cover the same set of ideas as 'kill' and 'murder' in English. In some cases it covers more 'thought space' and in other areas less.

One possible word that may more closely fit that of the Hebrew meaning is 'manslaughter' or killing in anger. While this does not appear to cover all instances, it is a starting point.

Looking at other verses (Judges 20:4, 1 Kings 21:19, Job 24:14, Psalms 62:3, Proverbs 22:13, and Hosea 6:9) another image of ratsach begins to emerge - that of a predatory animal. This is especially clear in Proverbs 22:13 ("The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets." - here ratsach is translated as 'slain').

This differs from the use of the word nakah which has the approximate meaning of 'to strike' (David nakah Goliath). This act is one of judgment.

Returning to the original question - do soldiers break the commandment of 'thou shall not kill'? The answer in almost all cases is that of 'no'. However, there are times when people go out and prey upon others in such a manner as a predator. We call these instances when they are discovered 'atrocities' and 'war crimes'.


Albeit a tangent, it is something that is interesting when the word study of ratsach is fresh in the mind. In 'thou shall not kill', it the word in no way relates to that of capital punishment. There is no anger in the action nor predatory behavior on the part of those carrying out the sentence.

People would commonly associate solider with murder and killing... but the truth is, you can simply use statistics and basic math to determine just if they do go to this mythical land of "hell".

If you do not count civilian deaths and suicides, I can guarantee you that most soliders will never kill anyone... it is impossible to have a majority of soldiers kill (other soldiers), because that implies that the majority died - and this is physically impossible without friendly fire, simultaneous death, suicide, civilian casualities, etc.

Of course, I would assume this node would address the situations that allows soldiers to have multiple kills each. The most common of these situations would probably be the civilian casualties - and the ammounts of these is always highly disputed and debated (I will not delve into how many any country / -army has inflicted). It would be apparent that killing any civilian would gaurantee the soldier a spot in "hell" (according the Ten Commandments).

If a group of soldiers managed to kill civilians, you can assume that any soldier that killed a civilian is on the road to hell. Thus, if that soldier kills any other soldiers (this process eliminates that soldier from going to hell unless he has already killed a civilian / soldier). It is safe to assume that certain soldiers are better at killing than others. If any group of soldiers immerges from an army with the ability to take out twice that number of troops, they insure (if the group is of appropriate size) that they will save a much larger population. Thus, small percentages of "elite" troops can preserve the majority of the troops from going to "hell" by eliminating new soldiers before they had a chance to kill anyone, or by eliminating soldiers that are also elite.

The ideal battle to prevent soldiers from going to "hell" would be an unfair one... hopefully one where elite troops manage to pick off a mass of other troops. The perfect system of war and the prevention of "hell" requires a small, stable, elite infantry to pick off all the new recruits. However, this "ideal battle" requires for only one side to have access to the elite troops, unless both sides are going to lose all of their elite troops. For example, if the most aggresive troops (based on their past expierence) are the fastest to run into this battle (which they do not know is heavily stacked against them), the small aggressive division will loose a great deal of men without taking any - the worst possible scenario.

Assuming that the worst possible scenario is rare (soldiers killing exactly one other soldier (that has killed on other soldier and so forth)), it is possible for the majority of the soldiers to go to some place other than hell.

So... the answer to this question is "Typically no, but it depends - if A kills B, C kills A , D kills C, E kills D, etc, then it is possible for a good deal of the soldiers to go to hell. However, since in practice, not all soldiers are at the same strength (same enviornment, same training, same weapons, etc), certain soldiers rise up to kill more than one soldier. A sniper is a good example. Since the worst possible scenario (the A kills B, C kills A scenario) depends on soldiers killing each other in order (which does not happen), it is safe to say that your average soldier will not go to hell."

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