“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:17-19).
In Romans 12, the Bible is not addressing capital punishment but is speaking against engaging in personal issues and seeking vengeful retaliation. Paul was never against administering punishment for the wrong actions of the wicked in society. But he is here advising and counseling the believers to exercise self-control and caution towards manifesting hostility towards others. By not repaying evil for evil, Christians show their love for their fellow human beings.
The Christian who wishes his light to shine before men, so that they may see his good works and glorify his Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16), will control his anger and instead of exhibiting revenge, he will show willingness to reconcile. These actions will cause people to see God’s character of love: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).Christians should use much caution so that their conduct is Christ-like. They should do everything to be found blameless in the sight of God and man. Followers of the Lord of love must see to it that their behavior is consistently above reproach. They must never give occasion for hate.
Paul says that vengeance belongs to God and then in the following chapter (Romans 13), he shows how God takes vengeance. The Lord uses the civil government as the means for justice and punishment. The legal authorities of the nations of the world should punish criminals and protect its own citizens: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he 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” (Romans 13:1-4).
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