New Testament Mass Murder!

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Perhaps the most famous mass murder in the New Testament is Herod the Great's slaughter of children a short time after Christ's birth (Matthew 2). Herod was a cruel man who had a giant ego and a willingness to do whatever it took to maintain his authority. Appointed king over Judea by the Romans in 40 B.C. (he was known as the "king of the Jews") his impulsive and violent nature was even noted by the first century historian Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, Chapter 9).

Herod took great interest in the Magi, and the mass of people who accompanied them, when they stated they were seeking a child born "King of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2). According to the New Testament, however, He soon grew "exceedingly angry" (verse 16) with them when they failed to tell him the exact location of the Christ child. His anger, coupled with his desire to protect his throne, led him to order the mass murder of all male children, two years old or younger, in and AROUND Bethlehem. This cruel act secured his place as one of the most evil humans in the New Testament.

In a reference found only once in the New Testament (Luke 13:1), the Bible gives us brief details regarding a mass murder commanded by Pontius Pilate. This act is mentioned when Jesus is asked what he thought about Pilate's extermination of some Galileans as they gathered to offer animal sacrifices. Although this particular event is not recorded in any other historical record, its occurrence fits Pilate's violent behavioral tendencies. He, as Rome's Prefect over Judea, was known for committing acts of murder.

WHY was Jesus born?

Important People in the New Testament

Is killing and murder the same thing?

According to the book "A Commentary on the Holy Bible," the author Philo of Alexandria wrote about several mass killings that were ferociously carried out by Pilate. Additionally, the historian Josephus relates an incidence where many Jews became angry over his construction of a water conduit into Jerusalem (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 2). According to Josephus, in order to quell opposition, Pilate had Roman soldiers, dressed in street clothes, mingle with a large group of Jews he assembled. After giving a previously agreed upon signal, the soldiers drew out hidden daggers and proceeded to hurt as many people as they could. This action caused a great number of unarmed Jews to be injured or killed in this planned mass murder.


Slaughter of the Innocents
Slaughter of the Innocents (by Herod)
Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1486 - 90

Saul's slaughter

Zealous Pharisee Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, led the first concerted effort to persecute a mass of Christians whether or not they were leaders. He was the catalyst that caused the murder of many innocent Jewish people for the "crime" of believing Jesus was mankind's promised Messiah (Acts 26:9 - 11, 1Timothy 1:13). He first appearance in the New Testament is as an active witness of Stephen's murder (Acts 6:9 - 15, 7:57 - 60). After Stephen's death he became embolden to eradicate Christianity wherever it can be found.

Saul's rage against early Christians knew no bounds. He boldly entered people's homes and arrested any Jew who professed belief in Jesus (Acts 8:3). He was notorious for entering a synagogue and, upon finding anyone who believed in "the way" (Acts 9:2), had them beaten so severely that some even blasphemed God (Acts 22:19, 26:11). He would then throw them in prison to await their punishment.

Paul admitted, years later, that he intended all those he arrested and put in prison to be killed, of which many were (Acts 22:4, 26:10, Galatians 1:13). He carried the weight from the mass arrests he carried out, and the innocent people he helped murder, for the rest of his life.

Future executions

The devil not only is the first being to commit murder, he also is the chief promoter of its practice today (John 8:44, Matthew 24:9). According to the New Testament, he will soon commit this heinous crime on a mass scale. The devil has always wanted to kill as many humans as possible and God will soon allow him to do so. When this does begin to happen, it will usher in a global time of trials FAR WORSE than anything ever experienced (Matthew 24:21 - 22).

Through his possession of the Beast, and heavy influence over a false prophet, Satan will soon carry out a mass murder of all Christians (Revelation 6:10 - 11, 7:13 - 14, 12:11, 17, 13:7). His great deceptions will lead the rest of humanity to accept the "mark of the beast" and worship him as a god. The billions who adopt the "mark," and are alive when the Day of the Lord begins, will be punished by death for refusing to repent (see Revelation 9:15, 14:20, 19:17 - 21).

Articles in this Series

Mass Murder in the Bible  -  Israel's Bloody Kings

The Wrath of God  -  War in the Bible

New Testament Homicides

Saved by Grace

Series Bibliography
Complete Book of Who's Who
Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings
Willmington's Complete Guide to Bible Knowledge


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