The Bible says that capital punishment was first instituted by God Himself in Genesis 9:6: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Murder was condemned in the Ten Commandments “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20).
Man is the highest form of life on this earth, created in God’s own image, and crowned with glory and honor (Psalms 8:5). God has given man the moral duty to exercise capital punishment on those who choose to take the lives of others. Here is what the Old Testament have to say about capital punishment:
“He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Exodus 21:12).
“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. 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 19:11-13).
“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” (Numbers 35:30-31).
What does the New Testament say about capital punishment?
“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword” (Revelation 13:10).
“For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die” (Acts 25:11). Paul admitted that some things were “worthy of death,” and that he was willing to “die” if he was guilty of such an offense. If the death penalty is not for today, then why didn’t Paul tell us?
In the Old testament the king administered capital punishment while in the New Testament the government carried out the capital punishment.
Paul reaffirms this truth in Romans 13:1-4: “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.”
Capital punishment is necessary to cleanse the land from the pollution of shedding blood: “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” (Numbers 35: 33-34).
In His service,