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Capital Punishment and the Bible:

The Bible is the written Word of God. Within its pages, we find the wisdom of God. We find what is
best for the human racehow God intends for life to be conducted. What is Gods view of capital
punishment? Both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament address this subject.
OLD TESTAMENT TEACHING
Very early in human history, God decreed that murderers were to forfeit their own lives: Whoever
sheds mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he the man
(Genesis 9:6). This standard continued into the Mosaic period (cf. Numbers 35:33). As a matter of
fact, the law God gave to Moses to regulate the Israelite nation made provision for at least sixteen
capital crimes. In sixteen instances, the death penalty was to be invoked. The first four may be
categorized as pertaining to civil matters.
1. Under the law of Moses, the death penalty was required in cases of premeditated murder(Exodus
21:12-14,22-23; Leviticus 24:17; Numbers 35:16-21). This regulation even included the situation in
which two men might be fighting and, in the process, cause the death of an innocent bystander or
her unborn infant. It did not include accidental homicide, which we call manslaughter.
2. Kidnapping was a capital crime under the Old Testament (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). One
movie, which was based on an actual incident, depicted the kidnapping of a seven-year-old boy as he
was walking home from school. The man who stole him kept him for some seven years, putting the
child through emotional and sexual abuse, before the boy, at age fifteen, was finally returned to his
parents. He was a different child, and never again would be the same. God would not tolerate such a
thing in the Old Testament, and much of the same would be stopped in America if such crimes were
taken more seriously.
3. A person could be put to death for striking or cursing his parents (Exodus 21:15,17; Leviticus 20:9).
Jesus alluded to this point in Matthew 15:4 and Mark 7:10.
4. Incorrigible rebelliousness was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 17:12). For example, a
stubborn, disobedient, rebellious son who would not submit to parents or civil authorities was to be
stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
The next six capital crimes can be identified as more specifically pertaining to religious matters.
5. Sacrificing to false gods was a capital crime in the Old Testament (Exodus 22:20).
6. Violating the Sabbath brought the death penalty (Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36).
7. Blasphemy, or cursing God, warranted the death penalty (Leviticus 24:10-16,23).
8. The false prophet, specifically one who tried to entice the people to idolatry, was to be executed
(Deuteronomy 13:1-11), as were the people who were so influenced (Deuteronomy 13:12-18).
9. Human sacrifice was a capital crime (Leviticus 20:2). The Israelites were tempted to offer their
children to false pagan deities, like Molech. But such was despicable to God.

10. Divination, or the dabbling in the magical arts, was a capital crime. Consequently, under Mosaic
law, witches, sorcerers, wizards, mediums, charmers, soothsayers, diviners, spiritists, and
enchanters were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26,31; 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14).
The next six crimes pertain to sexual matters.
11. Adultery was punishable by death under the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:10-21; Deuteronomy
22:22). Can you imagine what would happen in our own country if adultery brought the death
penalty? Most of Hollywood would be wiped out, as well as a sizeable portion of the rest of our
population!
12. Bestiality, i.e., having sexual relations with an animal, was punishable by death (Exodus 22:19;
Leviticus 20:15-16).
13. Incest was a capital offense in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:6-17; 20:11-12,14).
14. Homosexuality was a capital crime (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).
15. Premarital sex brought the death penalty (Leviticus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
16. Rape of an engaged or married woman was a capital crime in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy
22:25-27). Again, imagine what would happen in this country if rape brought the death penalty!
Much of the unconscionable treatment of women now taking place would be terminated.
Capital punishment was written into Gods will for the Jewish nation in the Old Testament. The
death penalty was a viable form of punishment for at least sixteen separate offenses. Some people
have misunderstood one of the Ten Commandments which says, You shall not kill (Exodus 20:13).
They have assumed that the law forbade taking human life under any circumstances. But
God required the death penalty for some sixteen crimes. Therefore, the commandment would have
been better translated, You shall not murder. In other words, the command was a prohibition
against an individual taking the law into his own hands and exercising personal vengeance. But God
wanted the execution of law breakers to be carried out by duly constituted legal authorities.
NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING
Moving to the New Testament, which reveals Gods will this side of the cross, the matter of capital
punishment is treated virtually the same. The New Testament clearly teaches that capital
punishment is Gods will for human civilization. Consider, for example, Romans 13:1-4.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God,
and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists
the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a
terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and
you will have praise from the same. For he is Gods minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be
afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Gods minister, an avenger to execute wrath
on him who practices evil.
This passage clearly affirms that the statecivil governmenthas the God-ordained responsibility to
keep law and order, and to protect its citizens against evildoers. The word sword in this passage

refers to capital punishment. God wants duly constituted civil authority to invoke the death penalty
upon citizens who commit crimes worthy of death.
For about the last thirty years, Americans have actually witnessed a breakdown on the part of
judicial and law enforcement system. In most cases, the government has failed to bear the sword.
Instead, the prison system has been overrun with incorrigible criminals. Premature parole and early
release has become commonplace in order to make room for the increasing number of lawbreakers.
The apostle Paul, himself, articulated the correct attitude when he stood before Porcius Festus and
defended his actions by stating, If I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I
do not object to dying (Acts 25:11). Paul was acknowledging that the state properly possesses the
power of life and death in the administration of civil justice.
Peter held the same position as that of Paul. He enjoined obedience to the government that has
been sent by God for the punishment of evildoers (1 Peter 2:14; cf. Titus 3:1). Jesus implied the
propriety of capital punishment when He told the Parable of the Pounds. Those who rebelled against
the king were to be brought and executed in his presence (Luke 19:27). Compare that parable with
the one He told about the wicked husbandmen in Luke 20:15-16 in which He indicated that the
owner of the vineyard would return and destroy the husbandmen.
POSSIBLE OBJECTIONS
Those who oppose capital punishment raise a variety of objections to its legitimacy. For example,
someone might raise the question: Did not Jesus teach that we should turn the other cheek? Yes,
He did, in Matthew 5:39. But in that context, He was impressing upon the Jews their need not to
engage in personal vendettas. The same point is stressed in Romans 12:14-21. Paul said, Repay no
one evil for evil and do not avenge yourselves. In other words, Christians are not to take the law
into their own hands and engage in vengeful retaliation. God insists that vengeance belongs to Him.
Notice, however, that Romans 13 picks right up where Romans 12 leaves off and shows howGod
takes vengeance. He employs civil government as the instrumentality for imposing the death
penalty. So, individual citizens are not to engage in vigilante tactics. God wants the legal authorities
to punish criminals, and thereby protect the rest of society.
A second objection to capital punishment pertains to the woman taken in adultery. Did not Jesus
exonerate her and leave her uncondemned? Surely the story about the woman taken in adultery in
John 8 has been misused and misapplied more than almost any other Scripture. Yet a careful study
of this passage yields complete harmony with the principle of capital punishment. At least four
extenuating circumstances necessitated Jesus leaving the woman uncondemned:
First, Mosaic regulation stated that a person could be executed only if there were two or more
witnesses to the crime (Deuteronomy 19:15). One witness was insufficient to evoke the death
penalty (Deuteronomy 17:6). The woman was reportedly caught in the very act, but nothing is said
of the identity of the witnesses. There may have been only one.
Second, even if there were two or more witnesses present to verify the womans sin, the Old
Testament was equally explicit concerning the fact that both the woman and the man were to be
executed (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Where was the man on this occasion? Obviously,

this was a trumped up situation that did not fit the Mosaic preconditions for invoking capital
punishment. Obedience to the Law of Moses in this instance actually meant letting the woman go.
A third point to take into consideration is the precise meaning of the phrase He who is without sin
among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7). If this statement is taken as a blanket
prohibition against capital punishment, then this passage flatly contradicts Romans 13. Instead, what
Jesus was getting at was what Paul meant when he said, you who judge practice the same things
(Romans 2:1). Jesus knew that the womans accusers were guilty of the very thing of which they
were willing to condemn her. He was able to prick them in regard to their guilt by causing them to
realize that He knew they were guilty of the very same thing. The Old Law made clear that
the witnesses to the crime were to cast the first stones (Deuteronomy 17:7). Jesus was striking
directly at the fact that the womans accusers were ineligible to fulfill this role.
Fourth, capital punishment would have had to have been levied by a duly constituted court of law.
This mob was actually engaging in an illegal actionvigilantism. Jesus, though the Son of God, would
not have interfered in the responsibility of the appropriate judicial authorities to handle the
situation. Remember that, on another occasion when one of two brothers approached Jesus out of a
crowd and asked Him to settle a probate dispute, Jesus responded: Man, who made Me a judge or
an arbitrator over you? (Luke 12:14). So the effort by this mob in John 8 to ensnare Jesus was
without legal justification.
Jesus actually handled the situation appropriately, in keeping with legal protocol of both Old
Testament law as well as Roman civil law. The woman clearly violated Gods law, and deserved the
death penalty. But the necessary prerequisites for pronouncing the execution sentence were
lackingwhich is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, Neither do I condemn you. Since the
legal stipulations that were needed to establish her guilt were not in place, He would not override
the law and condemn her. Jesus action on this occasion in no way discredits the legitimacy of capital
punishment.
A third objection that has been raised in an effort to challenge the propriety of capital punishment is
the insistence by some that the death penalty serves no useful purposeespecially when it comes
to deterring other criminals from their course of action. Opponents insist, capital punishment is not
a deterrent to crime. This kind of humanistic, uninformed thinking has held sway for some 30+
years. It might be believable if it were not for the inspired Word of God informing to the contrary.
Even if capital punishment did not serve as a deterrent, it still would serve at least one other
worthwhile purpose: the elimination from society of those elements that persist in destructive
behavior. The Bible teaches that some people can be hardened into a sinful, wicked condition. They
have become so cold, cruel, and mean that even the threat of death does not phase them. Paul
referred to those whose consciences had been seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2). Some
people are so hardened that they are described as past feeling and completely given over to
wickedness (Ephesians 4:19). God invoked the death penalty upon an entire generation because
their wickedness was great in the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of [their] heart
was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).
So the human heart and mind can become so alienated from right, good, and truth that a person can
be unreachable, incorrigible, and irretrievable. The death penalty would spare law-abiding citizens

any further perpetration of death and suffering by those who engage in such repetitive actions. How
horrible and senseless it is that so many Americans have had to suffer terribly at the hands of
criminals who already have been found guilty of previous crimes, but who were permitted to go free
and repeat their criminal behavior!
So even if capital punishment was not a deterrent, it is still a necessary option in society. It holds in
check the growth and spread of hardened criminals. A careful study is warranted of the expression
so you shall put away the evil from your midst (Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21; 1
Corinthians 5:13).
But the Bible clearly teaches that the application of penal punishment, including the death penalty,
is, in fact, a deterrent. For example, God wanted the death penalty imposed upon any individual,
including ones relative, who attempted secretly to entice others into idolatry. Such a person was to
be stoned to death in the presence of the entire nation with this resulting effect: So all Israel shall
hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you (Deuteronomy 13:11).
Another instance of this rationale is seen in the pronouncement of death upon the incorrigible rebel:
And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously (Deuteronomy 17:13).
The principle is stated again when the Jews were instructed to take a rebellious and stubborn son
and stone him to death with the effect that all Israel shall hear and fear (Deuteronomy 21:21).
This same perspective is illustrated even in the New Testament. Paul emphasized that elders in the
church who sinned were to be rebuked publicly that others also may fear (1 Timothy 5:20).
Ananias and Sapphira, a Christian couple in the early church, were divinely executed in Acts 5, and in
the very next verse Luke wrote: So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard
these things (Acts 5:11). These passages prove that a direct link exists between punishment and
execution on the one hand, and the caution that it instills in others on the other hand.
The Bible teaches the corollary of this principle as well. Where there is inadequate, insufficient and
delayed punishment, crime and violence increase. Notice Ecclesiastes 8:11Because the sentence
against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in
them to do evil. This very phenomenon is occurring even now in America.
The court system is clogged and backed up to the point that many cases do not come to trial for
literally years. Criminals who have been shown to be guilty of multiple murders and other heinous
crimes are given light sentences, while those who deserve far less are given exorbitant sentences. A
mockery of the justice system has resulted. Such circumstances, according to the Bible, only serve to
encourage more lawlessness. The overall citizenry cannot help but grow lax in their own attitudes.
This principle is evident in the biblical expression, a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1
Corinthians 5:6).
If the Bible is to be believed, capital punishment is, indeed, a deterrent to criminal behavior. The
elimination of hardened criminals is necessary if societies are to survive. The liberal, humanistic
values that have held sway in America for the last 40 years are taking their toll, and getting back to
Gods view of things is the only hope if the nation is to survive.
A fourth quibble that someone might raise is that capital punishment appears to be a rather extreme
step to take since it is as cruel, barbaric, and violent as the action committed by the criminal himself.

Is it not the case that capital punishment is resorting to the same kind of behavior as the criminal?
May capital punishment be viewed as a vindictive retaliation? The biblical response to this question
is seen in the oft-repeated phrases: his blood be upon him (Leviticus 20:9,13,27; Deuteronomy
19:10; Ezekiel 18:13; 33:5) and his blood be upon his own head (Joshua 2:19; 2 Samuel 1:16;
Ezekiel 33:4; Acts 18:6).
Those who carry out the death sentence are, in reality, neutral third parties. They are merely
carrying out the will of God in dispensing justice. The criminal is simply receiving what he brought
upon himselfhis just desserts. The expression his blood be upon him indicates that God assigns
responsibility for the execution to the one being executed. Its like we tell small children: If you put
your hand in the fire, youre going to get burned. There are consequences to our actions. If we do
not want to be executed, we should not commit any act that merits death. If we do commit such an
act, we have earned the death penalty, and we deserve to get what we have earned. The one who
metes out the punishment is not to be blamed or considered responsible for the execution of the
guilty.
Rather than oppose those who promote capital punishment, painting them as insensitive ogres or
uncaring, callous, uncivilized barbarians, effort would be better spent focusing upon the barbaric
behavior of the criminals who rape, plunder, and pillage. It is theirbehavior that should be kept in
mind. Tears and compassion ought to center on the innocent victims and their families. Lethal
injection of a wicked evildoer hardly can match the violent, inhuman suffering and death
experienced by the innocent victims of crime. They continue to suffer, while the perpetrator carries
on for many years, many trials, and many appeals before justice is servedif it ever is. The God of
the Bible is incensed and outraged at such circumstances. The time has come to start listening to
Him as He speaks through His inspired Word.

Capital Punishment: A Biblical


Perspective On State Sanctioned Killing
Preface: The premise that an individual has the right to take another humans life (in specific circumstances); Is
something which has been debated and deliberated for centuries. Christian scholars and theologians have
explored how the Bible (especially in the Old Testament law and the teachings of Christ) presents the
argument and many still are divided over the issue. This essay will explore how the bible depicts the
justification of Killing (in the form of state sanctioned killing) and what the ramifications are for a follower of
Christ.
Old Testament:
The Old Testament is explicit on this issue. Stated in Pre-Mosaic law and Mosaic law, the escalations and
punishment for capital crimes is clearly expressed. God values human life. Life is so valuable to God that he
was willing to sacrifice himself for us. This extreme love is what makes it such an abomination to God when it is
taken away; hence the extreme punishment. Throughout the Old Testament, we find many cases in which God
instructs and supports the use of capital punishment. We see this first with the acts of God Himself.

Genesis 9:6,

New Testament:
Correlations & Discrepancies:
Value of Human life:
Modern Day Application:

Genesis 9:5-6 (before the law)


Romans 13
Jesus submit to capitol punishment

image of god created man


man is an image bearer
man is so valuable indicate value of human life
god Is not agains capitol punishment because he initated it
Just because there is a law as maxium penalty, does not mean you have to always punish with that
Is it appropriate for capotiol punishment for capitol crimes
I show mercy on whom I show mercy

Death pelanty supports gods love for life

There is nothing worse than taking life, its most valuable

If someone takes it away a lofe, the only atonement is taking away that persons life

KJVthou shall not kill

Exedous 20,21:12,14 ,

Levidicus 24:17

Numbers 35:16

Duteronomy 19:11-13

Death penalty is the affirming of life and directs to obey god

Moses, Joshua, david, samual all excetuted criminals, who all read the laws

New testamt does not chande the perspective

1 timnothy 1:8, what is proper use of law? To read it in context and right

CP sounds harsh( to our modern ears) ut they reflect gods goodness! We cant accuse of god making
bad laws. We dont have a safe society because we have disobeyed god.

The bible is affirming of CP and it affirms gods creation and a safe society

Deterrent. 40% who get out of prision are back in within 3 years. CP stops that. Eccleastes 8:11.we
dont put this verse into act. Hence there hearts are filled with schemes to do wrond. 15-20 years to
put some to death.we we followed the bible, we would have the results.

People say not to judge. Sermon on mount. DONT MAKE EVIL JUGMENTS. Make good jugments matt
7:1, but john 7:4. IF WE MAKE JUGMENTS, MAKE THEM BE RIGHT

Does NT contradict OT. Luke 6:29, sticking one another on cheek was an insult at that time.
Lamentation 3:30. Job 16:10. Dont let someones insult ruin your life? Dont react to banter. TURN
THE OTHER CHEEK IS NOT ABOUT CAPITOL CRIMES!!!

Dont draw sword Matt 25:52. CONTEXT: they had a legal arrest warrant fo rjesus. Peter was trying to
stop the governing authority. Of course you will die by yht soward. Luke 22:36, the afternoon before
his arrest ( in which he sais theis), he said 22:36.

Why say sell coat and buy soward. Luke 22:36. CONTEXT: IF YOU USE SOWARD AGAINST LEGAL
AUTHORITIEZ ( WHO ESTABLISHED BY GOD BTW) IT WILL NOT END WELL.

Is CP loving? Yes, whoever loves me will keep my commands


Reason to as innocent people being excuted? We dont folloew the bible. People commit purgjury(
lying) DUET 19:16. PEOPLE LIE. Most cases of innocent incarsoration is due to lying. Ible teachers if
you lie in capitol case, ou get killed, if people follew that, there would be no lieing haha.

References:
One example is the flood of Noah in Genesis 6-8. God destroyed all human and animal life except that which
was on the ark. Another example is Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19), where God destroyed the two cities
because of the heinous sin of the inhabitants. In the time of Moses, God took the lives of the Egyptians firstborn sons (Exod. 11) and destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exod. 14). There were also punishments
such as the punishment at Kadesh-Barnea (Num. 13-14) or the rebellion of Korah (Num. 16) against the Jews
wandering in the wilderness.
The Old Testament is replete with references and examples of God taking life. In a sense, God used capital
punishment to deal with Israels sins and the sins of the nations surrounding Israel.
The Old Testament also teaches that God instituted capital punishment in the Jewish law code. In fact, the
principle of capital punishment even precedes the Old Testament law code. According to Genesis 9:6, capital
punishment is based upon a belief in the sanctity of life. It says, Whoever sheds mans blood by man his blood
shall be shed, for in the image of God, He made man.
The Mosaic Law set forth numerous offenses that were punishable by death. The first was murder. In Exodus
21, God commanded capital punishment for murderers. Premeditated murder (or what the Old Testament
described as lying in wait) was punishable by death. A second offense punishable by death was involvement
in the occult (Exod. 22; Lev. 20; Deut 18-19). This included sorcery, divination, acting as a medium, and
sacrificing to false gods. Third, capital punishment was to be used against perpetrators of sexual sins such as
rape, incest, or homosexual practice.

Within this Old Testament theocracy, capital punishment was extended beyond murder to cover various
offenses. While the death penalty for these offenses was limited to this particular dispensation of revelation,
notice that the principle in Genesis 9:6 is not tied to the theocracy. Instead, the principle of Lex Talionis (a life
for a life) is tied to the creation order. Capital punishment is warranted due to the sanctity of life. Even before
we turn to the New Testament, we find this universally binding principle that precedes the Old Testament law
code.

https://www.probe.org/capital-punishment/

http://web.a.ebscohost.com/src_ic/detail/detail?sid=c7a88ed7-29e5-4ea7-b306168388119368%40sessionmgr4003&vid=7&hid=4212&bdata=#AN=9405040328&db=anh
Neff, David
Source:
Christianity Today, 22/11/1993, Vol. 37 Issue 14, p13, 3/5p
Document Type:
Editorial
Subject Terms:
HOMICIDE
Abstract:
Editorial. Opposes the justifiable homicide argument. Logic for justifiable homicide; Christianity's view
of killing as always sinful; Impossibility of eradicating evils in this life; Positive and constructive ways
of Christians in working against evil; Spiritual issue posed by the justifiable homicide argument.
I
S
S
N
:
Does the New Testament support the death penalty / capital punishment?
We should not expect God to have to repeat Himself in the New Testament if what He said in the Old
Testament still applies. Yet people often think that if the New Testament does not specifically state something,
it must not be true. However, Gods laws are to be considered binding, unless He tells us there is a change. For
example, in the Old Testament God commanded animal sacrifice, so why do we not have it today? We do not
just ignore the law because sacrificing animals is distasteful to us, nor do we really believe that God changed
and became more civilized. Rather, the New Testament specifically tells us that animal sacrifices were made
unnecessary because Christ was a permanent sacrifice. So there was a change in the law and God told us of
that change.
There are many people who will admit that the Old Testament supports the death penalty, but deny that the
New Testament does also. That is just not the case, as we will now show. The first thing to notice in the New
Testament is that Jesus Christ never said anything against the death penalty. In fact, he specifically stated that
he had not come to put an end to the Law.[1] Even when he appeared before Pilate, Jesus never denied that
Pilate had the legal authority to execute him. If he were against the death penalty, this would have been a

good place to say it. In fact, there is no record of any person in the Bible stating that the death penalty is
wrong in the eyes of God.
People sometimes say that Jesus taught us to love our fellow man, as if the death penalty were not loving. But
God is love, and He commanded the death penalty for certain crimes. Furthermore, Jesus got his teaching on
love from the Old Testament. When Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor
as yourself, he was quoting Leviticus 19:18. The Law of Moses did teach love, and part of that love for people
and society was to protect them from evil by enforcing the Law, which included the death penalty.
When something is clearly established in the Old Testament as the will of God, it does not need to be repeated
word by word in the New Testament so we will know that it is still the will of God. When God wants to change
something, like His laws concerning animal sacrifice or circumcision, He tells us. The proper way to interpret
Scripture is to believe that Gods will is constant unless He tells us He has new rules for us. In the case of
capital punishment for murderers, kidnappers, etc., not only does God not say He changed His mind in the
New Testament, He confirms what He said in the Old Testament.
1 Timothy 1:8-10
(8) We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
(9) We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful,
the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,
(10) for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders [man-stealers] and liars and perjurersand for whatever else
is contrary to the sound doctrine.
It is noteworthy that these verses in the New Testament say that the Law is good if it is used properly, and
then go on to say that the Law was made for people such as murderers. If God had changed His mind about
what He said in the Old Testament, and decided that we should not execute criminals, this would have been
the perfect place to say so. Surely it is not good exegesis of Scripture to read that the Law is good and was
made for murderers, kidnappers and the like, and then say that according to the New Testament we should
not execute criminals.
These verses in Timothy echo Romans 7:12, which says, So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is
holy, righteous and good. It is important to note that murder, perjury and kidnapping, crimes we have
examined in this booklet, are all specifically mentioned in the New Testament in the context of the Law being
good and made for such people. In verse 10 above, the NIV has slave traders when the Greek text actually
has man-stealers. In the ancient world, most people were kidnapped for money. Today, kidnappers
sometimes kidnap for ransom money, but in the ancient world the easy money came from selling the person
as a slave, which worked especially well if the one kidnapped could not speak the language of those he or she
was sold to. The familiar story of Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery is a good example. Since slavery
was common in Bible times, kidnapping someone and then selling him or her as a slave in another country was
a way to get quick money. Thus, while the NIV translation can be defended culturally, it is really too narrow.
Many other versions have either the more literal men-stealers or the more modern kidnappers, which
does include slave traders.
It is clear that the Apostle Paul did not consider the death penalty an ungodly thing. When he was on trial for
supposedly causing riots across the Roman world (Acts 24:5), he made the following statement: If I am guilty
of doing anything deserving death, I refuse not to die (Acts 25:11). It can hardly be imagined that Paul would
say such a thing to a Roman governor if in his heart he felt the death penalty was wrong. Since Paul was a
Roman citizen (Acts 22:25-29) and was being accused by Jews, he could probably have found a way to save his

life, so it would not have made sense for him to mention the death penalty if he believed it was wrong. Acts
24:26 says that the Roman governor was hoping for a bribe, a fact that Paul could not have been ignorant of.
Thus, a study of the New Testament reveals that it supports the death penalty just as the Old Testament does.
Endnotes
[1] Jesus Christ ended the Levitical Law governing worship, animal sacrifice, etc., but he did not end the moral
law or civil as represented by the 10 Commandments. http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/does-thenew-testament-of-the-bible-support-the-death-penalty-capital-punishment

The Bible is the written Word of God. Within its pages, we find the wisdom of God. We find what is
best for the human racehow God intends for life to be conducted. What is Gods view of capital
punishment? Both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament address this subject.
OLD TESTAMENT TEACHING
Very early in human history, God decreed that murderers were to forfeit their own lives: Whoever
sheds mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he the man
(Genesis 9:6). This standard continued into the Mosaic period (cf. Numbers 35:33). As a matter of
fact, the law God gave to Moses to regulate the Israelite nation made provision for at least sixteen
capital crimes. In sixteen instances, the death penalty was to be invoked. The first four may be
categorized as pertaining to civil matters.
1. Under the law of Moses, the death penalty was required in cases of premeditated murder(Exodus
21:12-14,22-23; Leviticus 24:17; Numbers 35:16-21). This regulation even included the situation in
which two men might be fighting and, in the process, cause the death of an innocent bystander or
her unborn infant. It did not include accidental homicide, which we call manslaughter.
2. Kidnapping was a capital crime under the Old Testament (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). One
movie, which was based on an actual incident, depicted the kidnapping of a seven-year-old boy as he
was walking home from school. The man who stole him kept him for some seven years, putting the
child through emotional and sexual abuse, before the boy, at age fifteen, was finally returned to his
parents. He was a different child, and never again would be the same. God would not tolerate such a
thing in the Old Testament, and much of the same would be stopped in America if such crimes were
taken more seriously.
3. A person could be put to death for striking or cursing his parents (Exodus 21:15,17; Leviticus 20:9).
Jesus alluded to this point in Matthew 15:4 and Mark 7:10.
4. Incorrigible rebelliousness was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 17:12). For example, a
stubborn, disobedient, rebellious son who would not submit to parents or civil authorities was to be
stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
The next six capital crimes can be identified as more specifically pertaining to religious matters.
5. Sacrificing to false gods was a capital crime in the Old Testament (Exodus 22:20).

6. Violating the Sabbath brought the death penalty (Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36).
7. Blasphemy, or cursing God, warranted the death penalty (Leviticus 24:10-16,23).
8. The false prophet, specifically one who tried to entice the people to idolatry, was to be executed
(Deuteronomy 13:1-11), as were the people who were so influenced (Deuteronomy 13:12-18).
9. Human sacrifice was a capital crime (Leviticus 20:2). The Israelites were tempted to offer their
children to false pagan deities, like Molech. But such was despicable to God.
10. Divination, or the dabbling in the magical arts, was a capital crime. Consequently, under Mosaic
law, witches, sorcerers, wizards, mediums, charmers, soothsayers, diviners, spiritists, and
enchanters were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26,31; 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14).
The next six crimes pertain to sexual matters.
11. Adultery was punishable by death under the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:10-21; Deuteronomy
22:22). Can you imagine what would happen in our own country if adultery brought the death
penalty? Most of Hollywood would be wiped out, as well as a sizeable portion of the rest of our
population!
12. Bestiality, i.e., having sexual relations with an animal, was punishable by death (Exodus 22:19;
Leviticus 20:15-16).
13. Incest was a capital offense in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:6-17; 20:11-12,14).
14. Homosexuality was a capital crime (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).
15. Premarital sex brought the death penalty (Leviticus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
16. Rape of an engaged or married woman was a capital crime in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy
22:25-27). Again, imagine what would happen in this country if rape brought the death penalty!
Much of the unconscionable treatment of women now taking place would be terminated.
Capital punishment was written into Gods will for the Jewish nation in the Old Testament. The
death penalty was a viable form of punishment for at least sixteen separate offenses. Some people
have misunderstood one of the Ten Commandments which says, You shall not kill (Exodus 20:13).
They have assumed that the law forbade taking human life under any circumstances. But
God required the death penalty for some sixteen crimes. Therefore, the commandment would have
been better translated, You shall not murder. In other words, the command was a prohibition
against an individual taking the law into his own hands and exercising personal vengeance. But God
wanted the execution of law breakers to be carried out by duly constituted legal authorities.
NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING
Moving to the New Testament, which reveals Gods will this side of the cross, the matter of capital
punishment is treated virtually the same. The New Testament clearly teaches that capital
punishment is Gods will for human civilization. Consider, for example, Romans 13:1-4.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God,
and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists
the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a
terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and
you will have praise from the same. For he is Gods minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be
afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Gods minister, an avenger to execute wrath
on him who practices evil.
This passage clearly affirms that the statecivil governmenthas the God-ordained responsibility to
keep law and order, and to protect its citizens against evildoers. The word sword in this passage
refers to capital punishment. God wants duly constituted civil authority to invoke the death penalty
upon citizens who commit crimes worthy of death.
For about the last thirty years, Americans have actually witnessed a breakdown on the part of
judicial and law enforcement system. In most cases, the government has failed to bear the sword.
Instead, the prison system has been overrun with incorrigible criminals. Premature parole and early
release has become commonplace in order to make room for the increasing number of lawbreakers.
The apostle Paul, himself, articulated the correct attitude when he stood before Porcius Festus and
defended his actions by stating, If I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I
do not object to dying (Acts 25:11). Paul was acknowledging that the state properly possesses the
power of life and death in the administration of civil justice.
Peter held the same position as that of Paul. He enjoined obedience to the government that has
been sent by God for the punishment of evildoers (1 Peter 2:14; cf. Titus 3:1). Jesus implied the
propriety of capital punishment when He told the Parable of the Pounds. Those who rebelled against
the king were to be brought and executed in his presence (Luke 19:27). Compare that parable with
the one He told about the wicked husbandmen in Luke 20:15-16 in which He indicated that the
owner of the vineyard would return and destroy the husbandmen.
POSSIBLE OBJECTIONS
Those who oppose capital punishment raise a variety of objections to its legitimacy. For example,
someone might raise the question: Did not Jesus teach that we should turn the other cheek? Yes,
He did, in Matthew 5:39. But in that context, He was impressing upon the Jews their need not to
engage in personal vendettas. The same point is stressed in Romans 12:14-21. Paul said, Repay no
one evil for evil and do not avenge yourselves. In other words, Christians are not to take the law
into their own hands and engage in vengeful retaliation. God insists that vengeance belongs to Him.
Notice, however, that Romans 13 picks right up where Romans 12 leaves off and shows howGod
takes vengeance. He employs civil government as the instrumentality for imposing the death
penalty. So, individual citizens are not to engage in vigilante tactics. God wants the legal authorities
to punish criminals, and thereby protect the rest of society.
A second objection to capital punishment pertains to the woman taken in adultery. Did not Jesus
exonerate her and leave her uncondemned? Surely the story about the woman taken in adultery in
John 8 has been misused and misapplied more than almost any other Scripture. Yet a careful study

of this passage yields complete harmony with the principle of capital punishment. At least four
extenuating circumstances necessitated Jesus leaving the woman uncondemned:
First, Mosaic regulation stated that a person could be executed only if there were two or more
witnesses to the crime (Deuteronomy 19:15). One witness was insufficient to evoke the death
penalty (Deuteronomy 17:6). The woman was reportedly caught in the very act, but nothing is said
of the identity of the witnesses. There may have been only one.
Second, even if there were two or more witnesses present to verify the womans sin, the Old
Testament was equally explicit concerning the fact that both the woman and the man were to be
executed (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Where was the man on this occasion? Obviously,
this was a trumped up situation that did not fit the Mosaic preconditions for invoking capital
punishment. Obedience to the Law of Moses in this instance actually meant letting the woman go.
A third point to take into consideration is the precise meaning of the phrase He who is without sin
among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7). If this statement is taken as a blanket
prohibition against capital punishment, then this passage flatly contradicts Romans 13. Instead, what
Jesus was getting at was what Paul meant when he said, you who judge practice the same things
(Romans 2:1). Jesus knew that the womans accusers were guilty of the very thing of which they
were willing to condemn her. He was able to prick them in regard to their guilt by causing them to
realize that He knew they were guilty of the very same thing. The Old Law made clear that
the witnesses to the crime were to cast the first stones (Deuteronomy 17:7). Jesus was striking
directly at the fact that the womans accusers were ineligible to fulfill this role.
Fourth, capital punishment would have had to have been levied by a duly constituted court of law.
This mob was actually engaging in an illegal actionvigilantism. Jesus, though the Son of God, would
not have interfered in the responsibility of the appropriate judicial authorities to handle the
situation. Remember that, on another occasion when one of two brothers approached Jesus out of a
crowd and asked Him to settle a probate dispute, Jesus responded: Man, who made Me a judge or
an arbitrator over you? (Luke 12:14). So the effort by this mob in John 8 to ensnare Jesus was
without legal justification.
Jesus actually handled the situation appropriately, in keeping with legal protocol of both Old
Testament law as well as Roman civil law. The woman clearly violated Gods law, and deserved the
death penalty. But the necessary prerequisites for pronouncing the execution sentence were
lackingwhich is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, Neither do I condemn you. Since the
legal stipulations that were needed to establish her guilt were not in place, He would not override
the law and condemn her. Jesus action on this occasion in no way discredits the legitimacy of capital
punishment.
A third objection that has been raised in an effort to challenge the propriety of capital punishment is
the insistence by some that the death penalty serves no useful purposeespecially when it comes
to deterring other criminals from their course of action. Opponents insist, capital punishment is not
a deterrent to crime. This kind of humanistic, uninformed thinking has held sway for some 30+
years. It might be believable if it were not for the inspired Word of God informing to the contrary.

Even if capital punishment did not serve as a deterrent, it still would serve at least one other
worthwhile purpose: the elimination from society of those elements that persist in destructive
behavior. The Bible teaches that some people can be hardened into a sinful, wicked condition. They
have become so cold, cruel, and mean that even the threat of death does not phase them. Paul
referred to those whose consciences had been seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2). Some
people are so hardened that they are described as past feeling and completely given over to
wickedness (Ephesians 4:19). God invoked the death penalty upon an entire generation because
their wickedness was great in the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of [their] heart
was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).
So the human heart and mind can become so alienated from right, good, and truth that a person can
be unreachable, incorrigible, and irretrievable. The death penalty would spare law-abiding citizens
any further perpetration of death and suffering by those who engage in such repetitive actions. How
horrible and senseless it is that so many Americans have had to suffer terribly at the hands of
criminals who already have been found guilty of previous crimes, but who were permitted to go free
and repeat their criminal behavior!
So even if capital punishment was not a deterrent, it is still a necessary option in society. It holds in
check the growth and spread of hardened criminals. A careful study is warranted of the expression
so you shall put away the evil from your midst (Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21; 1
Corinthians 5:13).
But the Bible clearly teaches that the application of penal punishment, including the death penalty,
is, in fact, a deterrent. For example, God wanted the death penalty imposed upon any individual,
including ones relative, who attempted secretly to entice others into idolatry. Such a person was to
be stoned to death in the presence of the entire nation with this resulting effect: So all Israel shall
hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you (Deuteronomy 13:11).
Another instance of this rationale is seen in the pronouncement of death upon the incorrigible rebel:
And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously (Deuteronomy 17:13).
The principle is stated again when the Jews were instructed to take a rebellious and stubborn son
and stone him to death with the effect that all Israel shall hear and fear (Deuteronomy 21:21).
This same perspective is illustrated even in the New Testament. Paul emphasized that elders in the
church who sinned were to be rebuked publicly that others also may fear (1 Timothy 5:20).
Ananias and Sapphira, a Christian couple in the early church, were divinely executed in Acts 5, and in
the very next verse Luke wrote: So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard
these things (Acts 5:11). These passages prove that a direct link exists between punishment and
execution on the one hand, and the caution that it instills in others on the other hand.
The Bible teaches the corollary of this principle as well. Where there is inadequate, insufficient and
delayed punishment, crime and violence increase. Notice Ecclesiastes 8:11Because the sentence
against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in
them to do evil. This very phenomenon is occurring even now in America.
The court system is clogged and backed up to the point that many cases do not come to trial for
literally years. Criminals who have been shown to be guilty of multiple murders and other heinous

crimes are given light sentences, while those who deserve far less are given exorbitant sentences. A
mockery of the justice system has resulted. Such circumstances, according to the Bible, only serve to
encourage more lawlessness. The overall citizenry cannot help but grow lax in their own attitudes.
This principle is evident in the biblical expression, a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1
Corinthians 5:6).
If the Bible is to be believed, capital punishment is, indeed, a deterrent to criminal behavior. The
elimination of hardened criminals is necessary if societies are to survive. The liberal, humanistic
values that have held sway in America for the last 40 years are taking their toll, and getting back to
Gods view of things is the only hope if the nation is to survive.
A fourth quibble that someone might raise is that capital punishment appears to be a rather extreme
step to take since it is as cruel, barbaric, and violent as the action committed by the criminal himself.
Is it not the case that capital punishment is resorting to the same kind of behavior as the criminal?
May capital punishment be viewed as a vindictive retaliation? The biblical response to this question
is seen in the oft-repeated phrases: his blood be upon him (Leviticus 20:9,13,27; Deuteronomy
19:10; Ezekiel 18:13; 33:5) and his blood be upon his own head (Joshua 2:19; 2 Samuel 1:16;
Ezekiel 33:4; Acts 18:6).
Those who carry out the death sentence are, in reality, neutral third parties. They are merely
carrying out the will of God in dispensing justice. The criminal is simply receiving what he brought
upon himselfhis just desserts. The expression his blood be upon him indicates that God assigns
responsibility for the execution to the one being executed. Its like we tell small children: If you put
your hand in the fire, youre going to get burned. There are consequences to our actions. If we do
not want to be executed, we should not commit any act that merits death. If we do commit such an
act, we have earned the death penalty, and we deserve to get what we have earned. The one who
metes out the punishment is not to be blamed or considered responsible for the execution of the
guilty.
Rather than oppose those who promote capital punishment, painting them as insensitive ogres or
uncaring, callous, uncivilized barbarians, effort would be better spent focusing upon the barbaric
behavior of the criminals who rape, plunder, and pillage. It is theirbehavior that should be kept in
mind. Tears and compassion ought to center on the innocent victims and their families. Lethal
injection of a wicked evildoer hardly can match the violent, inhuman suffering and death
experienced by the innocent victims of crime. They continue to suffer, while the perpetrator carries
on for many years, many trials, and many appeals before justice is servedif it ever is. The God of
the Bible is incensed and outraged at such circumstances. The time has come to start listening to
Him as He speaks through His inspired Word.