The Old Testament is undoubtedly fundamentally different to the new especially when it comes to the nature of God, in the Old Testament God orders the murder of men, of women and of children but in the New Testament he comes across as a more loving, kind and forgiving, but how should Christians approach or view the ethnics and morality of the Old Testament?

  • Please see the Tour and the Help as to the purpose and functioning of the site. Questions which do not address a particular text of scripture, hermeneutically, are liable to closure as we do not discuss and debate biblical topics, as such.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 22, 2021 at 3:18
  • Did you ask this question on Christianity stack overflow? I don't doubt your sincerity in trying to understand the problem of suffering, but if you think about it a little bit, all answers are going to be theological in nature. For example, I could tell you that pagans who never heard the gospel go to purgatory. Or I could tell you all have sinned and so are deserving of death, thus the issue isn't who God kills but how many breaths he allows us to have. These are theological debates. I will say judging scriptures by the standards of post-enlightenment humanism is foolish.
    – Robert
    Jun 22, 2021 at 3:36
  • The OT portrays a God of love just like the NT does. Mal. 3:6 says God does not change. If you believe that God changed, your hermeneutics will be distorted, and unbiblical. The Bible is clear that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Either you believe that, or you don't. Your choice. But as much as you might say that the OT portrays a different nature of God, it cannot turn lies into truth. The lie is still just that: a lie. -1
    – Polyhat
    Jun 22, 2021 at 4:22
  • Question should be migrated to christianity.stackexchange.com/questions
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 22, 2021 at 8:59
  • 1
    Polyhat and others have yet well explained why your idea about a sharp moral difference between the two covenants (the Old and the New) is a non-biblical doctrine. Your is not a new idea. In fact it was the one of the pivotal teachings of the Gnostic movement of ancient ages. If you trust in the Nt teachings, you should absolutely read the book of Acts. In fact, on Acts 3:13 you will find that is just the apostle Peter teached his hearers that the OT's God - the God of Patriarchs - glorified the Messiah Jesus , so establishing a chain-link between the two Covenant (see also Rev 19:17-18). By. Jun 22, 2021 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


This question will probably be closed, but I'd like to provide a meta-answer that the way you approach the ethics of the Old Testament is with integrity and honesty.

It's not the case that post-enlightenment humanistic ethics are compatible with the scriptures. They're just not. Moreover the Bible is very clear that they are not. E.g. that God's ways are not man's ways, and that God judges differently than man. That the mind of man is at enmity with God. That God did not want man to judge good and evil.

So why not take all those passages at face value? Attempts to look at the mass killings in the Bible and try to make them palatable to the carnal (human) mind will go down two paths

  1. The people who were killed deserved to die because they were bad from the view of the human mind
  2. God didn't really kill them, Satan did.

These don't meet basic honesty tests. It's hard, for example, to justify all the children and animals killed in Noah's flood or the deaths of the firstborn in Egypt in terms of people being guilty according to the natural mind, as infants are considered innocent by most people, and that's a lot of infants. Similarly saying God didn't want to do it or really it was Satan that sent that Angel of Destruction or Satan that opened up the waters of the heavens leads to a poor reading of the texts.

I think you must face these issues with integrity and honesty. You can conclude that your sense of morality is wrong, or that God is wrong, or that the text is wrong. That then is a personal decision and now we get into theological debates.

But I do think that this is an important topic because it's an example where there is a great temptation to change the meaning of the text in order to meet your sense of morality so this is the canonical test of doing honest hermeneutics.

  • You have to go by the OT as this is what Jesus and the disciples followed. The NT - no one can be sure who the authors are, when it was written or the accuracy. The OT is much more reliable. Matt 5:17-20 - Jesus never came to change the laws. Jun 22, 2021 at 13:23

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