Capital Punishment

For he 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” (Romans 13:4).

God has assigned civil governments with the task of punishing evildoers. In both eras of Biblical history prior to the Christian dispensation, capital punishment was divinely authorized.

In the Patriarchal age—immediately after the Flood, God explicitly told Noah: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Authorized in this brief declaration is the impartial exercise of the death penalty for anyone who murders another human being.

In the Mosaic age, God’s words are explicit and plain: “Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty. 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” (Numbers 35:30-31, 33). Authorized in this edict is the impartial, evidence-based exercise of the death penalty for anyone who murders another human being.

Though a Christian is not to engage in any personal vendettas or vigilante justice (Romans 12:17-21), God’s minister is expected to punish evil swiftly (Ecclesiastes 8:11), justly (Leviticus 24:19-20), and decisively.

God has given His minister a sword, not a butter knife.

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Author: jchowning

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