SHEPHERD TO SHEEP
(Genesis 9:6) “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.
For a long time there has been controversy over the issue of capital punishment. This argument has even existed in the Christian church. On the one hand you have those who say justice must be served. On the other hand you have those who say love and forgiveness must be offered. What does the Bible say and what should we as Christians believe?
Here is a list of offenses calling for capital punishment in the Old Testament: 1. INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE (Ex. 21:12; Lev. 24:17; Num. 35:16-21,29-34); 2. FALSE WITNESSING IN CAPITAL CASES (Deut. 19:16-21); 3. IDOLATRY (Deut. 13:1-18); 4. ABDUCTING PERSONS FOR SLAVERY (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7); 5. SEXUAL ACTS OF INCEST, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND BESTIALITY (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 20:11-17); 6. RAPE (Deut. 22:23-27) including the girl if she did not cry for help; 7. ADULTERY (Lev. 20:10-12; Deut. 22:22); 8. SEX RELATIONS OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE: (a) before marriage, but discovered afterward (Deut. 22:20-21), the woman alone to be executed; (b) relations with another's betrothed (Deut. 22:23-24), both to be executed; (c) the harlotry of a priest's daughter (Lev. 21:9); 9. WITCHCRAFT AND FALSE CLAIM TO PROPHECY (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 20:27; Deut. 18:20; 1 Sam. 28:3, 9); 10. PROFANING THE SABBATH (Ex. 31:14-17; 35:2; Num. 15:32-36); 11. BLASPHEMY (Lev. 24:14-16,23; 1 Kings 21:13; Matt. 26:65-66); 12. CURSING OR STRIKING ONE'S PARENTS (Ex. 21:15,17).
But some say that Jesus and the New Testament brought in a new order of love over the law. But consider that Jesus said that He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it and that God’s law will never pass away (Mat 5:17-18). The apostle Paul in Romans 13:1-4 says that the state does not bear the sword in vain and that the authorities are an avenger of evil to execute wrath on those who practice evil. Also in Acts 25:11 Paul said if he was an offender or had committed anything deserving of death he would not object to dying.
Others say that one of God’s commandments is you shall not kill. But that is not true. Exodus 20:13 says you shall not murder. Self-defense is permitted in the Bible (Exo 22:2; Luke 22:36). And the main purpose of capital punishment is not revenge but justice. A person intentionally took someone’s life and so that person’s life must be forfeited. It is punishment that meets the crime. Also the Bible teaches that capital punishment is a deterrent to crime (Deu 13:10-11) and that delayed justice will encourage people to more delinquency (Eccl 8:11).
And if you think about it…capital punishment ties into Jesus dying for our sins. Someone had to pay for our sins and Jesus did that on the cross. It was the just for the unjust (1 Pet 3:18). The cross is where justice and mercy met and mankind was forgiven! Hallelujah, what a Savior!