Death Penalty not addressed in NT?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by SRBooe, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. SRBooe

    SRBooe
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    Since I saw someone make this claim in a thread today, I figured to post this information that I looked up. I know it may have been discussed before, but I figured at least one person hasn't participated yet:
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    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 criminals2 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 forgive3, 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.
     
  2. Luke2427

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    Excellent work.

    I concur.
     
  3. Iconoclast

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  4. canadyjd

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    Cain was the first murderer...he did not recieve the death penalty. Moses was a murderer...he did not recieve the death penalty. David was a murderer...he did not recieve the death penalty. Paul was a murderer...he did not recieve the death penalty.

    Your first premise.. (execution not optional) is clearly contrary to the facts found in scripture.

    Yes. John 8:1-11 demonstrates that God did change this Law in the New Testament.

    When Jesus says "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." He wasn't just shaming them, He was referring to the O.T. Law for the adminstration of the death penalty in:

    Deut. 17:6-7 "On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death.....(7) The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people..."

    Jesus changed the standard for administering the death penalty from 2 or 3 witnesses initiating the punishment to the "One who is without sin..." initiating the punishment. Since only God is without sin, only God is able to administer the death penalty without bias and in perfect righteousness.
    We don't live under the Mosaic Law. But if you do, then you must keep the whole Law (not just what you pick and choose to keep) according to scripture.
    You are simply wrong. Jesus gave a different command for Christians. In I Tim. 1:16, the Apostle Paul (who was a murderer by his own admission and calls himself the worst of sinners) tells us "And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."

    This passage is clearly saying that Jesus showed mercy to Paul (the murderer) so that future Christians would have an example of mercy and perfect patience that they were to follow. This is not optional. Supporting the death of someone is contrary to showing mercy and/or patience, therefore, Christians should not support the death penalty. To do so is contrary to the teachings of of our Lord.

    These passages are clearly an embarrassment for those Christians who refuse to believe God's Word which commands us to show mercy and perfect patience to the worst of sinners (even murderers like Paul) in favor of a secular worldview which supports the death penalty.

    So, your second premise, that the N.T. and our Lord Jesus supported the death penalty is contradicted by our Lord's own words in John 8, and the Apostle Paul (under inspiration of Holy Spirit) in I Tim. 1:16.

    peace to you:praying:
     
    #4 canadyjd, Dec 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2010
  5. Steven2006

    Steven2006
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    :thumbs: Excellent post.
     
  6. canadyjd

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    Thanks.:jesus: I sometimes think I'm a lone voice on this issue.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  7. Steven2006

    Steven2006
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    No I agree with you 100%, I am just not as eloquent as you are in expressing myself in the written form.
     
  8. matt wade

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    You can count another one with you right here :).
     
  9. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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  10. canadyjd

    canadyjd
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  11. canadyjd

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    I feel a big ol cyber hug coming our way!!:1_grouphug:

    peace to you:praying:
     
  12. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    #12 Luke2427, Dec 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2010
  13. The Archangel

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    Canadyjd, et al.

    Unfortunately, you have errors in your interpretation of John 8 and that is leading you to wrong conclusions.

    First, let me say where you are correct. You are correct that two or three witnesses were required in the Law to carry-out a sentence of death. The Law, therefore, errs on the side of grace.

    But, Jesus didn't change any standard for the administration of the death penalty. In Matthew 5, Jesus says:
    [17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)
    It appears your interpretation would run afoul of this passage. Certainly, Jesus would not advocate relaxing a commandment and the commandment of the Old Testament clearly states that adulterers are to be stoned. So, no, Jesus was not changing anything.

    So, what happened in John 8?

    Well, as you alluded to, the Law required both the man and the woman to be stoned. And, according to practice at the time, it was insufficient for the alleged adulterers to be caught in a compromising position; the accusers actually had to witness the copulative act.

    So, when the Scribes and Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus, their accusation of her as an adulteress carried with it their testimony that they had witnessed the act. If they witnessed the act, which they were implicitly claiming, where was the man? One cannot commit adultery by one's self.

    As I see it there are 3 possibilities: 1.) They made up the charges, thereby committing false witness against their neighbor. 2.) They entrapped the lady. 3.) They let the guilty man go. In any of these cases, there was an horrific miscarriage of the Law and justice according to the Law.

    So, when Jesus says "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” He is saying "Let him who is without sin in this matter..." Why is this the proper interpretation? Because we know that the Old Testament requires all the people to participate in the stoning and all those people are still sinners.

    So, your contention that Jesus is changing the standard for administering of the death penalty is wrong here too. Obviously, you are correct that God is the only one without sin, but, as I stated above, perfect sinlessness was never a requirement to participate in corporate punishment. The only stipulation was that someone who was also found guilty of the same crime at the same instance could not participate. So, Person A and Person B are convicted of robbing the First National Bank of Jerusalem. Person A could not participate in the stoning of Person B.

    Proper interpretation of the passage relies on v. 9: "But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him."

    So, what happened? The accusers left. The woman was left standing alone before Jesus. Jesus asks, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She answers, "No one, Lord" Jesus then says, "Neither do I condemn you..."

    Why didn't Jesus condemn her? Because there were no witnesses against her...they had all left. And according to the Old Testament Law, if there are no witnesses, no crime has occurred (at least in civil terms). So, Jesus was not changing the Law, He was actually following it perfectly and upholding it.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  14. The Archangel

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    To All,

    I would encourage you to remember that the Old Testament makes a distinction between what we would call first-degree and second-degree murder.

    In the case of first-degree murder (pre-meditated murder), the death penalty was not optional.

    On the other hand, if someone committed second-degree murder, the murderer had the option to run to a city of refuge--to avoid the vengeance of the family of the murdered. In the case of the one who fled to the city of refuge, remember that when the high priest died, the murderer would go free.

    So, it isn't so cut and dry to say "murder" demanded the death penalty. There were different "degrees" of murder and the Law reflects that and makes provision for that.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  15. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    5And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

    6Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

    Again.......like the 10 commandments.....the death penalty was before the law of moses.It has never been abrogated.

    Nothing cleanses the land except the blood of the murderer.
     
  16. SRBooe

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    I DID NOT say that all murderers receive the death penalty.

    In my original post, I showed the the death penalty is STILL SUPPORTED by the New Testament. Those are not my claims, those are scripture that do not require interpretation - they say what they say.

    It is still to be enforced by governments and not by individuals. That is the key element.

    God has mercy where He thinks mercy is due. He punishes where punishment is due.

    Just how righteous would God be if he had mercy to the point where he never punished anyone? There would be no Hell and everyone would go to Heaven. There would also be no reason for anyone to follow laws. That is not the way things are, and He never told us to operate that way either.

    We cannot ignore scripture in the New Testament merely because we wish those scriptures didn't exist.
     
    #16 SRBooe, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2010
  17. canadyjd

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    This what what I said
    This what what I based that statment on, from your first post :
    To say the death penalty is "not optional" and that it applies to "each and every murderer" seems, imho, that you are saying every murderer must recieve the death penalty. If I have misunderstood your position in some way I stand corrected.
    I have demonstrated from scripture you are wrong as the death penalty concerns Christians. John 8 is a specific passage where the death penalty is the issue. Jesus clearly references the O.T. Law that regulates the implementation of the death penalty and He clearly changed the standard for implementing the death penalty.

    I Tim. 1:16 is a specific passage concerning the attitudes that Christians should have toward the worst of sinners, even murderers like Paul. The passage very clearly states that future believers are to have the same attitude of perfect patience resulting in mercy that Jesus had toward Paul.

    Christians should not support the death penalty. It is contrary to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    A straw man. The options are not (1) capital punishment or (2) let them go unpunished.

    Life in prison without parole is an appropriate punishment.
    I agree.

    BTW, I noticed you ignored the passages of scripture I quoted. :smilewinkgrin:

    peace to you:praying:
     
  18. canadyjd

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    The OT Law commanded two or three witnesses to throw the first stone. Jesus said let the one who is without sin throw the first stone.

    Surely you can see that is a change.
    I disagree. It seems clear to me that based on this passage and others, Christians shouldn't support the death penalty.
    The I Tim. 1:16 passage is absolutely clear. Jesus showed mercy to Paul as an example to perfect patience that is to be followed by future believers.

    Paul was a murderer. Paul says he was the worst of sinners. How can you possibly believe it is "too simplistic" to follow our Lord's teaching in this matter of mercy and patience? The context is clear. The command is clear.

    I urge you to reconsider the meaning of this passage.
    As I stated before, I am not suggesting people not be punished. I am stating that, according to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians should not support the death penalty.
    And only God has the unbiased, perfect judgment to make those decisions.
    Pushing the text a little bit I think.
    Thank you for the kind words. God bless and

    peace to you:praying:
     
  19. SRBooe

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    Your references are not ignored, they just didn't mean what you want them to mean. Using your method of interpretation, there are whole new avenues of rationalization available, but I'd still have to ignore specific verses that say something different. Therein lies the rub.

    The ones I posted are actually specific to the topic of discussion. They do not have to be rationalized as to their meaning in order to draw a different conclusion.

    I don't think God intended for anyone to get a law degree in order to understand his verses, nor should anyone have to resort to courtroom style argument to present a different slant on His words. That seems to go on a lot around this forum, though.

    When Jesus gives us individual instructions, they apply to our own behavior - specifically us. When we are told the required outcome of a crime against the community, it is for the community to follow (government) and enforce the law as given. It is also a free will world, and that being the case, I have very little faith in government.

    As I already showed, the words stayed the same in reference to putting people to death. That did not change from the Old Testament to the New Testament. If all murderers had been put to death all along, there would have been far less murder in the world. Repeat offenders would be a rare breed.

    If you happen to find a verse where Jesus says that God's instructions to put murderers to death is hereby recinded; I'd love to see it. Or, if you wish, I'd accept verses that cancelled the ones already presented. Until then, I'll just go with plain instructions as we are given.

    I'll continure to be a Christian that supports the Word of God, thank you. Doing that makes it impossible to be contrary to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, wouldn't you say?
     
  20. Luke2427

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    I think this is a tremendous post.

    Everyone ought to read it who is interested in the truth on this matter.
     

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