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In consideration of capital punishment



Editor: The question of capital punishment – to practice or not to practice state’s judicial execution is a very emotive one. It is also one of enormous significance that must be carefully and dispassionately considered. A letter in the February 20th issue of your paper has provoked me to pen these thoughts which should be taken on board by all who wish to engage in the debate.{{more}}

1. It was after the great destruction and purging of the earth with water because it was judged to be wicked, corrupt and filled with violence that God gave the authority for capital punishment. (Gen.6:5, 11-12 and 9: 6) Any unlawful shedding of human’s blood is viewed as serious by God: for man was made in the image of God. It is not correct to say that this law was for the Israelites under the Old Testament. It referred to all peoples and was given centuries before the covenant between God and the children of Israel was enjoined.

2. The Almighty One who sets up governments expects that they will protect the innocent, punish those guilty of evil and dispense justice to all. (Pro. 8: 15-16; Rom. 13: 3-4; 1 Pet. 2: 13-14)

3. A distinction must be made between the powers given by God to civil authorities compared to the obligations of individuals. God fearing individuals are expected to practice non-retaliation, to refrain from vengeance. (Mat. 5: 38f; Rom. 12: 19f) On the other hand civil rulers are required to avenge wrath to them that do evil; even to use the sword, an instrument of death.

4. In recognition of the above, Paul, a distinguished apostle of Jesus Christ, when on trial before Festus a Roman Governor declared: “Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all……For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die……..” (Acts: 25: 8 &11) It is also decreed that: “Because 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; see also Ezra 7: 26 under the Jewish economy)

More than one witness, care and justice are required for this severe penalty but no one can rightly use the Bible in opposition of capital punishment in this or any age. Search the scriptures to see if these things are so.

Joel H. Jack