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Capital Punishment

First, Jesus never condemned capital punishment. In fact, capital punishment was unjustly carried out against Him. If capital punishment were looked upon with disdain by Jesus, He had ample opportunity to speak out on the topic. In Luke 23:41, the repentant thief said He and the other offender had justly received the death sentence, but Jesus was guiltless. "And we indeed [justly]; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss." Jesus could have said to the repentant thief, "It does not matter what you have done, capital punishment is wrong. It should be done away with." But, he did not say that when he had a golden opportunity to say it.

There is a second incident that can shed some light of Jesus' view of capital punishment also in John 8:1-11. This passage deals with the Pharisee's sting operation relating to the adulterous woman. It was designed to trap Jesus and make Him reject the Law God had given to Moses or the Roman Law of the day. Jesus did neither, but in fact invited those without sin to throw the first stone (commit capital punishment). John 8:7 says, "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." This is hardly a rejection of capital punishment. Christ did recognize a set-up when he saw one though.

Human government is ordained by God. If you have any doubt about that just look at Romans 13:1-7. What powers does God sanction for government?

THE POWER TO TAX -- (6-7)
THE POWER TO ENFORCE LAWS -- (2-3)
THE POWER OF PUNISHMENT FOR EVIL (even capital punishment)

Note 1 Peter 2:13 before you look at Romans 13:4.

"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."

Romans 13:4
"For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

The sword is a symbol of the governments power to use capital punishment. Dr Charles Ryrie says "it may be said that Romans 13:4 does teach the right of the government to take the life of a criminal, although what cases is not specified."

There is another incident that involves the apostle Paul that makes it even clearer. Turn to Acts 25:1-12. The key verse in this section is Acts 25:11, "For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Ceasar."

What Paul is saying is very clear. He says, "if I have committed a crime deserving of the death penalty then I will not fight it. But I have not and so I appeal to Ceasar."

Capital punishment is established in Genesis 9:6, developed in the Mosaic law and reaffirmed in the New Testament. Capital punishment IS Biblical. It is for today.

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