Execution Not Optional

As punishment for murder, the death penalty was applicable to each and every murderer:

• "Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.... You shall have the same law for the [foreigner] and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God." Lev. 24:17-22

The death penalty was not a maximum penalty, nor was it optional. As the Lord said:

• 'Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death... So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.' Num. 35:31-33

Did God change this law in the New Testament? Consider that Jesus supports the death penalty in Matthew and Mark, and so does John in Revelation, and Paul in Acts and Romans, as does the book of Hebrews.
Jesus Supports Capital Punishment

Jesus affirmed the Mosaic Law even to the keeping of the "least of these commandments" (Mat. 5:17-19). He blasted the Pharisees for giving their own ideas precedence over God's commands:

• "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying... `He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say..." Mat. 15:3-4

• "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men..." [Jesus] said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother; and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say..." Mark 7:8-11

Jesus reaffirmed the capital statutes of God's law. Not only the murderer (Rev. 13:10; 1 Tim. 1:8-9; Rom. 13:4), but even the one who curses a parent must be put to death (Ex. 21:17 and Lev. 20:9) just as God commanded. God's commands to execute the one who strikes or curses a parent are the death penalty statutes that liberal Christians are the most embarrassed over. However, Christ was not at all embarrassed over His Fathers commands. Jesus repeated these commands without caveat or reservation.

Laying aside the commands of God has its consequences. In America, murder has become the number one cause of death among young black males, and suicide is the number three cause of death among all teenagers. There is a death penalty when children disrespect their parents. If Jesus' telling of God's command is ignored, countless children will die terrible deaths at the hands of other children and by their own hands. On the other hand, if God's command were enforced, rather than ridiculed, the shedding of innocent blood would virtually disappear in our land. God's wisdom would save thousands of children. man's wisdom destroys them.
While Jesus was on the cross the Romans inflicted the death penalty on the two criminals  next to Him. Christ said nothing in their defense, or against their crucifixions. One of those two mocked Christ. In response, the other criminal (whom Jesus would immediately declare righteous, Luke 23:43) said of their punishments, "we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41). What did this forgiven criminal, this newly justified man, say about the death penalty? Bottom line: the criminals were getting their just punishment. The dying criminal knew the truth, as he said, "we indeed" are "justly" punished.

Revelation Supports Capital Punishment

The angels in heaven also recognize the principle of just punishment.

• And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord... because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due." Rev. 16:5-6

God will equip the two witnesses of Revelation 11 to execute those trying to harm them.

• And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. Rev. 11:5

The Apostle John also taught that you reap what you sow:

• ...he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Rev. 13:10

Paul Supports Capital Punishment

The Apostle Paul did not object to the death penalty. He knew his rights as a Roman citizen and defended them. Yet while on trial, he volunteered the following endorsement of capital punishment to Porcius Festus, Governor in Caesarea:

• "For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar." Acts 25:11

• Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!" Acts 25:12
Vengeance is inherently good. God said, "Vengeance is Mine." Individuals, however, are not to avenge themselves, but are to allow God to avenge in His way:

• Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. Rom. 12:19 (see also Lev. 19:18)
While Paul instructs people not to seek their own revenge, but to "give place to wrath." Paul then explains that the proper channel for wrath is the "governing authorities." The government is the "place" for wrath and vengeance:

• Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities... For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Rom. 13:1, 3

Godly rulers are a terror to evil doers. Note that God's two witnesses in Revelation "tormented those who dwell on the earth" (Rev. 11:10).

God through Paul specifically commands earthly governments to execute criminals with the sword:

• For [the governing authority] is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Rom. 13:4

A sword is not used for scourging but for killing.

Paul instructs believers to "not avenge" themselves, "but rather give place to wrath." Governments are the place for wrath for they are "God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath." Individuals have one role, governments have another. Individuals do not avenge themselves, the government does. Believers forgive, governments execute. So, if the governing authorities are to obey God, they must not bear the sword in vain but execute wrath on the criminal, for they are God's minister to avenge and bring terror on him who practices evil. Thus God commanded execution in large part to meet out vengeance against capital criminals.

God promises that the death penalty is a reliable deterrent:

• "So you shall put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously." Deut. 17:12-13
Yet, the death penalty as executed through American courts is not much of a deterrent. Wise King Solomon 2,900 years ago explained why this is so:

• Because 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. Eccl. 8:11

When a murderer is executed, three appeals and 12 years after his crime, society has largely forgotten about him. His death has almost no deterrent effect on crime. Further, a life sentence cannot be executed speedily.

The swift death penalty deters crime and aids evangelism. Thus Christians, in obedience to God, should support the death penalty.

MY COMMENT: It is considered dangerous to value deterrence too much as it can lead to harsh penalties.  The Bible God however tells us to believe in it and value it a lot, "So you shall put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously." Deut. 17:12-13.  This also says that if somebody is executed the whole nation must know.  It must have been announced at worship throughout the nation.  We learn that if you find it repulsive how the penalties are about vengeance or paying back, you still have to grapple with the other side which is not any better, deterrence. 

The Catholic Catechism now says that capital punishment should be abolished in all cases.  The Church stays that the death penalty is not inherently wrong.  The Bible God is clear that it is not inherently evil.  He even commands its liberal use.  Despite constantly complaining that his people were unfaithful and unreliable he ordered them to stone idolatrous and adulterous people to death.  So how do you make sense of the Church here?  Well they are saying it is wrong today on a circumstantial basis not a moral basis. That does not help for one thing is for sure, the Bible God just wanted vengeance though he was sure most people stoned would be innocents who were simply hated by their neighbours.


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