Over the last century, the death penalty has come under attack and there have been organized efforts to abolish it. Because of these efforts, the death penalty has been used less and less and many states and countries have banned the practice. One of the main arguments against it is that it is cruel and a violation of human rights.
On the other hand, the Bible contains very clear statements in favor of the death penalty. Does it matter what the Bible says? If so, why? Let’s start by looking at what the Bible says, then we will consider whether or not it matters.
Genesis 6-8 tell us about the flood that destroyed all of humanity except for Noah and his family. Genesis 9 tells us about Noah and his family resuming life on dry land after the flood. Read the following verses. Who was speaking to whom?
Gen. 9:1 ¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
Gen. 9:2 “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.
Gen. 9:3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.
Gen. 9:4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
God was speaking to Noah and his sons. Now read the next two verses. What did God tell Noah and his sons about using the death penalty? Pay close attention to verse 6.
Gen. 9:5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
Gen. 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
God clearly stated that if any man kills another man, he should be killed by his fellow men. In other words, God clearly stated that there should be a death penalty.
Should we follow the Bible’s teaching on this? Should we be using the death penalty in our society? Should every murderer be put to death?
First of all, notice that the Bible is very clear that God Himself issued the command to use the death penalty. The Bible’s teaching concerning God is this: There is only one God and His name is Yahweh. Yahweh created the universe and everything in it. Yahweh has the power to enforce His commands. Someday everyone will give an account of themselves to Yahweh. If all this is true, then society should obey God and use the death penalty.
Is. 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.
Ex. 20:11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them,
Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Rom. 14:12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Another issue to be aware of is that there is not a verse in the Bible that supersedes or cancels the command in Genesis 9:6. In other words, God never rescinded the command to use the death penalty. This means that the command still applies to us today.
The conventional wisdom in society leans towards abolishing the death penalty, but Yahweh has made it very clear that there should be a death penalty and that murderers should be put to death.
Pray that you and I will have a correct view of crime and punishment and that our views will conform to God and the Bible.
“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”