by Pastor Art Kohl
2002

The Bible Speaks On The Death Penalty

First mention.

As early as the 9th chapter of Genesis, God said: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED: for in the image of God made he man.” (v6). Believe it or not, this was the first order God ever gave concerning the institution of human governments.

When God gave the law to Israel.

The Lord really began to get specific concerning moral principles governed by law as he dealt with the nation of Israel through His man Moses. Yes, God legislated morality! The reason you can not steal is because man has legislated morality. The reason you can not shoot your neighbor is because we have legislated morality. The reason you can not rape a woman is because we have legislated morality, etc., etc., etc. Most laws in one way or another have to do with the legislating of morality.

As we list the reasons in the law of Moses for Capital Punishment by the Death Penalty keep in mind that this is the law to Israel. We live in America. This is not our law. The reason we study these is to give a biblical basis for using the death penalty. To show that God is not against it, but rather incorporated it into His nation of Israel.

In the law God showed Israel twenty-six offenses which call for the death penalty:

1. Murderers would be put to death.

Again, Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Exodus 21:12-14, “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.” Leviticus 24:17, “And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 24:21, “And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.”

Numbers 35:16-21, “And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.”

Numbers 35:30-33, “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”

Deuteronomy 19:11-12, “But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.”

Deuteronomy 19:21, “And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Notice the following observations from the above verses:

• There is a reference to the death penalty for murder in all five of the first five books of the Bible. These are the writings of the Lord through Moses called “the law” or “the Pentateuch.”

• Man is supposed to shed the blood of the murderer. He has been given the authority by God (Genesis 9:6).

• Man is to be put to death for presumptuous murder (Exodus 21:12-14). Presumptuously here means “to seethe.”

• If the murderer uses an instrument of iron or stone as a hand weapon, he is a murderer and should be put to death (Numbers 35:16-18).

• If the person has been known to hate the victim before hand, he is to be put to death (Numbers 35:20-21; Deuteronomy 19:11-12).

• There must be two or three witnesses of the murder (or other crimes mentioned later) for the criminal to be put to death. (See Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; II Corinthians 13:1; I Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28.) One witness cannot be enough to enforce the death penalty. Those found guilty based on circumstantial evidence or the testimony of one witness should not be put to death. They should be punished another way.

• Murders by conspiracy are punishable by death. II Chronicles 33:24-25 says, “And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house. But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.”

• Someone who kills a thief while the thief is breaking in should not be put to death. Man can defend himself and his property. Exodus 22:2 says, “If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.”

• Government should chase the murderer, find him and bring him back to his town to face justice (Deuteronomy 19:12).

• Government officials are not guilty of blood when executing capital punishment. Numbers 35:27, “And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:” The “revenger of blood” or “avenger of blood” is spoken of in Israel’s law as the executioner. It was the obligation of government to execute murderers, not citizens. This man was designated to do this job. (See Deuteronomy 19:6,12; Joshua 20:3,5,9; Numbers 35:12,19,21,24-25,27.)

• No one was to feel sorry for the cold blooded murderer (Numbers 35:31-32). Deuteronomy 19:13, “Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.” Deuteronomy 19:21, “And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

• All judgements of all crimes, including murder should only be handed out after “diligent inquisition.” If one is found a false accuser he should be punished with the punishment of the crime he accused someone of. Deuteronomy 19:18-19, “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.”

• The congregation would be used in judgment of the murderer. Not just one judge, the congregation would be the jury. Numbers 35:12, “And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.”

• Society would provide a place of refuge for a murderer till they could be fetched for trial. These were called a “city of Refuge.” Similar to the holding centers of today. They would be safe from execution while in there. Joshua 20:7-9, “And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.”

• Accidental deaths would not be punishable by the death penalty. Deuteronomy 19:4-6, “And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past; As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live: Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.”

• The children should not be put to death for the father’s sins, the parents should not be put to death for the children’s sins. Deuteronomy 24:16, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”

• Those that were hanged or crucified were to be taken down before the nightfall of the same day. Deuteronomy 21:22-23, “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

• Other types of Capital Punishment that Israel used included stoning to death or burning with fire. See Leviticus 20:2; 20:27; 24:23; 20:14.

2. A child that hits his father or mother would be put to death.

Exodus 21:15, “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.”

3. Kidnappers would be put to death.

Exodus 21:16, “And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” Deuteronomy 24:7, “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.”

4. A child who curses a father or mother would be put to death.

Exodus 21:17, “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 20:9, “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.”

5. If two men fighting hurt a pregnant woman and she loses the child, he would be put to death.

Exodus 21:22-23 “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,”

6. If a man knew his ox was prone to hurt people and his ox kills someone, the owner of the ox would be put to death.

Exodus 21:29, “But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.”

7. A witch would be put to death.

Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

8. Those who participate in sexual beastiality would be put to death.

Exodus 22:19, “Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.”

Leviticus 20:15-16, “And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast. And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

9. Any who sacrificed to another god would be put to death.

Exodus 22:20, “He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

10. Those who did not keep the Sabbath day would be put to death.

Exodus 31:14-15, “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.”

Exodus 35:2, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.”

Numbers 15:32-36 “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.”

11. Those who gave their children to a false god would be put to death.

Leviticus 20:2, “Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.” Molech was a false God.

12. Adulterers and adulteresses would be put to death.

Leviticus 20:10, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

Deuteronomy 22:22, “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”

13. Consenting incestuous fornication would be punished by death.

Leviticus 20:11-12, “And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.”

14. Homosexuality would be punished by death.

Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

15. Incestuous polygamy would be punished by death.

Leviticus 20:14, “And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.”

16. Those practicing spiritualism would be punished by death.

Leviticus 20:27, “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.”

17. A person who blasphemed the name of the Lord would be punished by death.

Leviticus 24:16, “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.”

18. A stranger to Israel that came near the tabernacle would be put to death.

Numbers 1:51, “And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

Numbers 3:10, “And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

Numbers 3:38, “But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

19. A stranger to Israel who came near the priest’s office would be put to death.

Numbers 18:7, “Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the veil; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

20. False prophets would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 13:5-10, “And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

Deuteronomy 18:20, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”

21. Those who try to entice others to serve other gods would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 13:6-11, “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.”

22. Those who served other gods would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 17:2-7, “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.”

23. A man who would not listen to the priest or judge would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 17:12, “And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.”

24. A rebellious son would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21, “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

25. A woman who commits fornication before her marriage, losing her virginity, would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 22:20-21, “But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.”

26. A man who rapes a woman and the woman who is raped, if she does not cry out when help is near by, would be put to death.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24, “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.”

What about the Sixth Commandment?

The sixth commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.” Some in the political world and some in the religious world quote this as “proof” that the death penalty is wrong. As we have all ready documented, the same God who said “Thou shalt not kill” gave twenty-six reasons why the government should execute—by the death penalty—those under Moses’ law in Israel.

When Jesus repeated the commandment in Matthew 19:18, He put it this way, “Thou shalt do no murder.” Jesus said it was wrong to kill an innocent victim in cold blood, not to execute a guilty criminal. It would be insensible hermeneutics to believe the sixth commandment erases all the laws of capital punishment.

The New Testament promotes governmental capital punishment.

Romans 13:1-5 states, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 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. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”

Rulers are called “higher powers.” Their power is ordained of God. If a person resists them, he is resisting the ordinance of God and faces judgment (damnation).

Rulers are to be a terror to evil works. A ruler is called “the minister of God” three times in this text. He is not to bear the sword in vain (for no reason). He is to use it. He is to be a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Just as we saw Israel with their “avenger of blood” and “revenger of blood” so all governments are to fulfill this capacity in some way.

God gave the law to expose evil people. I Timothy 1:9 says, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,”

Again in I Peter 2:13-14, we are taught about government, “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.” Evil doers should be punished. Sometimes with the death penalty.

Jesus submitted to capital punishment.

Jesus was crucified by the Roman Government. He submitted to the death penalty. In the following story, Jesus tells Pilate that Pilate’s authority and power to crucify Him came from God. Jesus should know! The sin in this story is not capital punishment, but the killing of an innocent man. That was a transgression of the law and transgression of the law is sin! (I John 3:4). Now lets read the story:

“Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:10-11).

A great deterrent to crime.

God’s laws of justice requires “diligent inquisition” (Deuteronomy 19:18) to ensure that no one is punished unjustly. The guilty, however, must be punished, and the severity of capital punishment serves an important purpose for a society. What is that purpose? To deter future crimes. Proof of this from God’s wisdom, is found in Deuteronomy 19:20, “And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.”

There you have it! The death penalty does deter crime in two ways:

1. The criminal will never commit the crime again. (obviously)

2. Those that hear of the sentence will fear to commit the same crime.

The death penalty is a sensible path to insure peace and safety in a society, where criminals are punished, not innocent people and their families.

Read on—we are all on death row.

“... We have this sentence of death in us.” the Apostle Paul said. He also said as divinely inspired: “All have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death.” Ezekiel added, “The soul that sins, it shall die.” The Apostle John added to all this further in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which bureth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” We are all behind bars. We are not in a jailhouse. Perhaps we have never been in court, but we are guilty. Guilty of sin and of the crucifixion of Christ. We will all die physically some day and the unsaved will die a second death (read Luke 16:19-31).

The good new is that we can be saved from our sins and delivered from sin’s penalty, sin’s power and someday in Heaven, from sin’s presence. This can only be done through Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1,9 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Christ died for your sins! Paid your death penalty for you! Took your place! Was your substitute! Do not waste his sacrifice by refusing Him as your Saviour! Only through Him can your record be clean and your death penalty absolved.

Ask Him to save you from your sins and come into your life as your personal Saviour today!

Click here to read our message: You Can Know For Sure That You Are Going To Heaven!

Conclusion.

Yes, God believes in the death penalty. That is why every single human being who has or ever will live is going to die. Even plants and animals die because of the curse of God on sin. God has authorized human government to execute the death penalty on certain guilty criminals in both the Old and New Testament.

Return to Political Science & The Bible Index

 

Copyright © 1997-2013 All Rights Reserved
Faith Bible Baptist Church - 8688 S Main St - Eden NY 14057 - 716-992-2091