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301
On the Sword

see that "kill" and "kill not" may be entirely true and consistent with each other.

Now then we will take the word of Christ for ourselves, and see whether the magistrate is forbidden to kill. Christ says, "Thou shalt not kill," and he goes on to the roots of killing and says, "But I say to you, he who is angry with his brother is in danger of the judgment. But he who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is in danger of the council. But he who says, 'Thou fool' is in danger of hell fire." Reading that in addition, dear brothers, you shall more clearly see what killing Christ has forbidden, namely, the killing that goes with wrath, ridicule, and abuse. But the magistrate (I speak of the true magistrate) does not kill from wrath, is not moved by words of ridicule and abuse, but [acts] according to the commandment of God, who has earnestly commanded him to slay the wicked and to keep the pious in peace.

Wherefore now the magistrate may kill the evil-doer, and in doing this he is guiltless according to the ordinance of God, and himself cannot be judged. And I, or any other required and summoned thereto, am guiltless in helping him; and whoso withstands him withstands the ordinance of Christ and himself will incur the eternal judgment. Do not believe me here, dear brothers, but believe Paul, that you will find yourselves safe. Therefore those whom we call hangmen were in the Old Testament pious, honourable, and brave men, and were called prefects, that is, executors of the ordinance and law of God. Since it is honourable to the judge to condemn with the mouth the guilty, how can it be wrong to kill the same with the sword and fulfil the word of the judge, since the executor of the law strikes or kills with