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Capital Punishment

Yet another case which has been a point of much discussion is that of capital punishment. Genesis 9:6 gives the command for such, ď Whoso sheddeth manís blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.Ē The ground for capital punishment is not primarily the deterrent effect of such punishment, but the fact that the image of God has been attacked. That is, the sanctity and glory of God is the ground for capital punishment. There may well be side effects such as deterring others from such a crime, but this is not the reason given in Scripture for this punishment. (See also Numbers 35:31; Exodus 21:15; Deuteronomy 13:5; and Romans 13.)

- Morton H. Smith, Systematic Theology

Capital Punishment In Scripture

As to the delegation of the right of capital punishment for flagrant crimes, the feeble attempt has been made to represent the injunction of Gen. 9:6 as not a precept, but a prediction; not as Godís instruction what ought to be done to the murderer, but His prophecy of what human vindictiveness would do. The context refutes this. This command for the capital punishment of the murderer, having been given to Noah, the second father of mankind, and before there was a chosen people, is of course, universal. Look also at the express injunction of capital punishments for several crimes: for murder, Num. 35:31; for striking a parent; Ex. 21:15; for adultery, Lev. 20:10; for religious imposture, Deut. 13:5. In Numb. 35:33, a reason is given which, on general principles, necessitates the capital punishment of murder. "For blood, it defileth a land, and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it." Capital punishments are also authorized in the New Testament. Rom. 13. assures us that the magistrate "beareth not the sword in vain," but in bearing it he is Godís minister to execute wrath upon the evil doer.

- R. L. Dabney, Topical Lectures on Scripture

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