Pastor Rick Rogers
Key Verse: Genesis 9:6
I. THE BIBLICAL COMMANDS ADVOCATING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
A. In the Old Testament (not an exhaustive listing)
Note that the life of man is to be protected, whether from animals (9:5a) or other men (9:5b). Life is a direct from God (2:7-9), was divinely imparted (2:7), and divinely maintained (2:9). The importance of the life of man, made in Gods image, emphasizes the importance of protecting that life! Some would argue that capital punishment for a murderer "cheapens" human dignity. In reality, it accentuates human dignity! When one person murders another, he is murdering one made in Gods image. Some would argue this is a form of "Deicide" along with "homicide." Life is so valuable, that if you dare break the command of God regarding the sanctity of life, your own life would be required. This is the essence of Gen. 9:6.
Note that there are other instances that God commanded capital punishment in the Scriptures, such as kidnapping (Exo. 21:16), adultery (Lev. 20:10), cursing father or mother (Lev. 21:17), offering human sacrifices (Lev. 20:2), rape (Deut. 22:23-27), and even rebellion in a son (Deut. 21:18-21) among many other examples. We would argue today that murder seems to be the crime which would demand capital punishment, and perhaps even in the Old Testament. Kaiser states, "Only for the first crime, premeditated murder, was there a ransom or a substitute payment unacceptable (Num. 35:31) but presumably all other capital crimes could be committed as the judges determined. The death penalty marks the seriousness of these errors."1 Though this may be arguable, there has been no documentation that any rebellious son was stoned in the ancient writings that have been found. David was not put to death for adultery (2 Sam. 11:4, though he certainly should have been for murder!), nor was Solomon for worshipping Molech, which likely included child sacrifices (Lev. 20:2, 1 Kings 11:7). Thus I would at least argue that not all of the capital crimes listed demanded death. The crime of "murder," the Heb. radzah, however, had no exceptions.
B. In the New Testament
II. THE SECULAR ARGUMENTS OPPOSING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
A. Social Argument: "Capital punishment does not restrain
B. Penal Argument: "Capital punishment does not
rehabilitate the criminal."
C. Moral Argument: "Capital punishment does not reflect
D. Pacifist Argument: "Capital punishment does not
rectify evil. Two wrongs dont make a right."
E. Spiritual Argument: "Capital punishment could snatch
sinners out of heaven before salvation. Our efforts should be on salvation, not
Summary: Kaiser summarizes it well, "It was because humans are made in the image of God that capital punishment for first degree murder became a perpetual obligation. To kill a person was tantamount to killing God in effigy. That murderers life was owed to God, not to society "3
It is important to see that capital punishment for the crime of murder was commanded in Genesis 9, is practiced in the Old Testament, maintained in the New Testament, and was never rescinded. Thus, it is still compelling! It is also important to note that all human life taking was not wrong e. g. besides capital punishment, wars may be justified (Gen. 14, Josh. 6), as is self defense (Exo. 22:2, Luke 22:36).End Notes:
 Walter Kaiser, Toward Old Testament Ethics, p. 92.
 Study: Executions as a Deterrant, the Des Moines Tribune, Nov. 30, 1976.
 Walter Kaiser, Toward Old Testament Ethics, p. 91.