Proverbs 24:11

ESV Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
NIV Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
NASB Rescue those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to the slaughter, Oh hold them back!
CSB Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter.
NLT Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death.
KJV If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;

What does Proverbs 24:11 mean?

Verses 11 and 12 make up the twenty-fifth of Solomon's thirty recorded wise teachings (Proverbs 22:17–21). Both verses are important to grasp the context of this lesson. The following verse (Proverbs 24:12) helps clarify that this is not about interfering in every instance of the death penalty. These are not convicted, guilty criminals being executed in a lawful setting; they are the innocent being persecuted and murdered. When a believer sees cruelty, injustice, or atrocity, they are obligated to act in some way. The underlying theme of this wise saying resembles Ezekiel 3:18, James 4:17, and 1 John 3:17–18. Another useful expression is found in the "golden rule" of Matthew 7:12. These all imply an active responsibility to do good, rather than a passive avoidance of evil.

It might be tempting to avoid controversy; being enmeshed by speaking and acting can invite trouble. Yet the victims of injustice desperately need help, so Solomon counsels his reader to get involved. That can mean speaking on behalf of the falsely accused. It might mean intervening in an unfair or abusive situation. By doing so one can save a wrongly condemned person from harm or even death.

An indirect application of this concept touches on evangelism. Christians ought to seek out "rescue" for those guilty and under the sentence of spiritual and eternal death (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Jude 1:21–23). Proverbs 11:30 teaches that "whoever captures souls is wise." Every unbeliever is in Satan's clutches and bound for eternal punishment (John 3:36). Every believer who rescues an unbeliever and introduces him to the Savior applies godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; James 5:20).
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