Does God Forgive Murderers? A Biblical Answer!

By Charalampos •  Updated: 03/25/23 •  6 min read

Do you ever wonder what God thinks about those who commit terrible crimes, like murder? It can be hard to know the answer, especially when it feels like God’s standards of justice differ from ours.

 But in the Bible there are clues that shed some light on this difficult question – does He forgive a murderer?

Today we’re delving into these scriptures and examining a biblical answer to this thought-provoking question.

A Sin of Murdering

It’s important to note that God’s forgiveness isn’t limited, until a person is alive, he can always repent his sins and be forgiven.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that everyone who has sinned and gone away from God can be justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24). 

This means that every person regardless of their past actions and sins can get God’s forgiveness.

The Bible is full of examples of God’s forgiveness, even for those who have committed the most terrible sins.

Examples of God’s Forgiveness

God's Forgiveness on sin

One of the most well-known examples is King David, who committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed in a battle by putting him on the front lines.

David repented and was forgiven by God when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. The Psalms written by David are also full of pleas for forgiveness, such as Psalm 51:1-2.

Another example of God’s forgiveness can be found in the story of the prodigal son, as told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32.

In this story, a young man demands his inheritance from his father and then spends it on wild living.

When he is left with nothing and finds himself starving, he decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness. The father not only forgives him but throws a feast to celebrate his return.

This story is a metaphor for God’s forgiveness, which is freely given to those who repent and turn back to Him. God will never abandon such a person and will greet him with joy and love.

We can also recall the story of the outlaw who was crucified together with Christ. Most likely, that man killed people, but before his death, he repented and believed in God, because of which he was forgiven.

That story of the thief on the cross is told in Luke 23:39-43. The criminal accepts Jesus as God and asks Christ to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus responds by saying, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Despite the fact that the thief had lived a life of crime and was justly executed for his actions, he was still able to receive God’s forgiveness in his final moments.

The Opinion of The Church Fathers

The Church Fathers on murdering sin

The Orthodox Church Fathers wrote about the importance of repentance and confession by which even murder can be forgiven.

1. Saint John Chrysostom: Confessing Sins

Saint John Chrysostom, for example, wrote in his Homily on Repentance, “Let us then confess our sins with humility, that we may obtain pardon and forgiveness from the merciful God, who pardons and forgives all who repent and confess their sins.”

This quote shows that God can forgive all sins if a person who has committed them repents and believes in God. For true repentance, a person must become humble and confess his sins, recognizing that he has made awful things. 

To receive forgiveness, a person must first repent of the sins and turn back to God. This is made clear in the Bible, such as in Acts 2:38, where is written that every person must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to be forgiven.

2. Saint Isaac The Syrian: Importance of Confession

Saint Isaac the Syrian also wrote about the importance of confession: “The one who confesses his sins and exposes them to the light is already in the act of beginning to be healed.”

Repentance or confession is seen as healing in Orthodox Christianity. A person hurts his soul through sins and can be healed only by believing in God.

So, what does this mean for murderers? Can they be forgiven by God?

The answer is yes, but it isn’t so easy to repent. This must be made not formally, but spiritually. This always goes together with the sufferings of a soul which can be very strong.

A person must also acknowledge the severity of his actions, confess them to God, and seek His forgiveness.

After that, it’s important to live a life that is pleasing to God, because even if a person repented once, he can still live a sinful life and not go to heaven because of it.

What If A Person Doesn’t Repent? 

God’s justice is perfect and He alone has the authority to determine the appropriate punishment for sin. So, a murderer can suffer during his lifetime, not find any joy until he repents, or he will suffer after death.

God will show the person that he needs to confess his sins, and the rest depends on the person’s decision.

It’s also important to know that forgiveness does not necessarily mean that the consequences of a murderer’s actions will be completely erased.

Saint John Chrysostom wrote in his Homily on Repentance, “Though the sin is removed, the punishment is not always removed.” In other words, even if a murderer is forgiven by God, he can still be subject to earthly consequences such as imprisonment or exile.

Saint Isaac the Syrian wrote, “The mercy of God is always ready to receive the repentant soul, like a loving mother who rejoices at the return of her child.”

Although God can forgive such a person, he shouldn’t expect that world will make the same. 

Final Thoughts

It can be concluded that we can’t answer the question without considering the circumstances of each individual case since every person is different and can repent at any time.

However, we can definitely say that God’s forgiveness is available to all who repent, regardless of their sins.

So, if a murderer repents and gets faith in God, he can be forgiven. Such forgiveness can’t be gotten easily, so in another case, if a murderer repents not strongly enough, he won’t be forgiven.

St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Repentance (1)
St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 72 (2)


Charalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.

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