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March 14, 2006

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John Laramore

A Comment to Sir Arthur Foulkes:

The question of capital punishment in the New Testament is quite clear, most people just don't see it, including religious people.
In order to redeem man, God the Father in Genesis (OT), decided that the value of man's redemption was the death of a God - Himself! Hence, from Genesis to the gospels in the New Testament, the plan was carried out - the death of Jesus, God Himself - also a man. The result of man's sin in the garden was the penalty of death and although that penalty took a long time to be carried out (much more than 5 years), it was carried out! So, there is no mistake, Jesus did not come to make the OT void, but to fulfill it and as long as we have criminals within our boarders preying on our children and society, we should continue to hang them even if it takes years to do so! Finally, the criminal who receives the death penalty has the option to ask Jesus/God for forgiveness before his sentence is carried out - just ask the thieve who was executed along with Jesus.

Regards,

John Laramore
Kingdom Citizen

Allan R. Lee

From a biblical & theological perspective, the right and authority to exercise capital punishment is the highest symbol of the authority of government. Both "institutions" were instituted at the same time and actually have a "symbiotic" relationship [Gen. 9 & Rom. 13].
Wherever and whenever this right is discarded the state or government automatically and by the very nature of its divine constitution, loses it power to adequately enforce all other laws. It removes “the sting of the law on a social level.” Working together, they uphold the sanctity of human life and the god-ness of God by showing that man was made in the image of God. That and that alone is THE primary purpose for Capital Punishment.

Logically, and to be consistent, if one were to reject capital punishment because it originated in the Old Testament, then one would also have to reject established government. They were established and instituted by God at one and the same time. Some who hold to this view would also have to abandon much of their church ritualism, as much of it is based upon the ritualism of Old Testament worship.

Re. The Woman Caught in Adultery.
Sir Arthur's comments suggest that Jesus abolished capital punishment when He forgave the woman caught in adultery and said to her, “Go, and sin no more.” Based on this magnanimous act of Jesus, it is said that Jesus did away with capital punishment. It is amazing to me how such a conclusion can be arrived at by one who really understands the entire historical context of this incident and the true purpose and intent of capital punishment.

For instance, at this time, Jesus is still in the so called “Old Testament” or “old economy” time of history. The Church was not yet established. He was still seeking to establish His kingdom on earth as Israel’s Messiah and King! He - like all Jews - was still living under the reign of the true Law of Moses - and that Law included some 18 different reasons for capital punishment, one of which was adultery.

Therefore, the most that can be said concerning this incident and be true to the text, is that Jesus extended mercy to this woman, or perhaps [which I do not believe to be the case] , that He abolished adultery as a reason for capital punishment - not that He abolished capital punishment per se - or even that He abolished it for murder! Such conclusions are pure eisegesis - an opinion imposed upon the text, not exegesis - a fact derived from within the text.

But perhaps even this may be an overstatement of the facts. A substantial case can be made for the possibility that Jesus freed and forgave the woman because of the lack of proper legal evidence against her as required by Jewish law. For instance, why was not the man also presented for judgment? The law also applied to him. Second, Jewish Law required that a first-hand witness be present to press charges and to take part in the actual execution by casting the first stone. The men who said they were witnesses refused to do this, therefore, legally, they had no case. The woman was therefore declared both forgiven - that’s a spiritual act - and free to go, a legal act - by Jesus.

In other words, it is quite possible that the woman was freed on a legal technicality rather than on a radical legal pronouncement. It is important to remember the context. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus between the Roman law and the Mosaic law. If He said that they should stone her, He would break the Roman law. If He refused to allow them to stone her, He would break the Mosaic law (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). Jesus' answer avoided the conflict: He said that he who was without sin should cast the first stone. Since He did teach that a stone be thrown (John 8:7), this is not an abolition of the death penalty.

However, whatever the case may be, for one to conclude from this event that Jesus abolishes capital punishment per se - even for murder - is to make a gross misrepresentation of the biblical facts.

Summary: Theologically, biblically and therefore, from a Christian perspective, government upholds the dignity of man and acknowledges the sovereignty of God over human affairs when it takes the life of a properly convicted murderer. Conversely, when it fails to do so, it reduces man to mere animal status and rejects the rule of God in its affairs and the fact that it will eventually answer to Him for that rejection and failure to fulfill its mandate as given by Him.

My comments re. the "split-personality God of the Old & New Testaments will be posted in another entry.

Selah!
Allan Lee

Allan R. Lee

Now, in spite of all that has been said thus far, some Christians would still protest the administration of capital punishment on the basis that, for the most part, I have relied upon the Old Testament text of Genesis 9 to support the administration of capital punishment in our modern, Christian society. No such support can be found in the N.T., they would say.

Now, although I believe that enough has already been said to show that such a position is invalid, nonetheless, let’s address this matter more directly.

Old Testament Vs. New Testament God

I have been amazed at how some -even Christians- contrast the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament - as though they are two different Gods! The God of the Old Testament is pictured as being “barbaric,” “cruel,” “uncivilized,” “vengeful” and “vindictive,” because He endorsed and even commanded capital punishment.

The God of the New testament, however, as manifested in the Person of Christ, is seen as kind, loving, forgiving. compassionate and One who would not be so mean as to endorse, much less, command capital punishment. This concept of a contrasting dual-nature God cannot be maintained biblically.

The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New testament. In fact, Jesus Himself said that “He and the Father are One,” and that He did only what the Father told Him to do, that is, He did only what the Father approved of and did Himself.

And in Romans chapter 10, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that unless one believes that the Jesus of the New testament is the God of the Old Testament, he cannot be saved. Listen to his words in verses 8-10 of this chapter: 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is LORD," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

All reputable Bible scholars of all traditions affirm that the term, “LORD” in this passage refers to the YHWH or Jehovah of the Old Testament. In other words, in order to be saved, one must believe that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. How then can one say that the loving, compassionate and forgiving Jesus is unlike, much less THE God of the Old Testament!! How can they not see that the divine love that forgives and the divine justice that condemns are attributes of the same Just and Holy God?

The God of the New Testament, manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ, had more to say about hell and the nature of its terrible eternal anguish than all the writers of the N.T. combined - and remember, Jesus is also the one who gave John the message of the Book of Revelation in which is described the lake of fire and the bottomless pit. Does this mean that Jesus is “barbaric,” ‘inhumane” and unloving? Most certainly not, it simply underlines the fact and nature of divine holiness, justice - and love!

Jesus clearly regarded capital punishment as a just penalty for murder when He said to one of his disciples after he tried to kill a soldier who had come to arrest Jesus: "...all who take the sword will perish by the sword." (Matt. 26:52) He also recognized the death penalty for people who cursed their parents. Hear His exact words as He quotes His Father in Matt. 15:4: “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ Yes, those are the words of Jesus Christ – and He does not overturn them!

Recall also, when Jesus faced Pontius Pilate, Pilate said to Him: "Do You not know that I have power to crucify You..?" which may be paraphrased, “Don’t you know that I have power to impose capital punishment upon you by killing you on a cross? Notice carefully now, Jesus reply, quote: "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." (John 19:10-11). Jesus actually explains to Pilate that his use of the death penalty is a divinely entrusted responsibility that is to be justly implemented. He did not say, “You can’t send me to the cross. I’ve come to do away with the death penalty.” No, Jesus actually validates the Old Testament principle that capital punishment is the divinely given responsibility and obligation to government – but it must be carried out in a just manner and for the right reason. Recall also, while hanging on the cross, one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus said: "...we receive the due reward of our deeds...Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Jesus replied: "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42-43). Think for a moment, Jesus’ pardon did not extend to eliminating the consequences of this criminal’s crime.

Hear Jesus’ last words on capital punishment. They are found in the Book of Revelation, a message He personally received from His Father and then communicated to the Apostle John. Rev. 1:1 says: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,” now on to chapter 13, verses 9 & 10. Remember now, it is Jesus speaking through John: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.”

It is clear, from Genesis to Revelation: Nowhere does the Bible repudiate capital punishment for murder. In fact, according to Numbers 35: 31 & 33, it is the one crime in the Bible for which no restitution is possible - unless specifically mandated and allowed by God, Who alone has this prerogative.

Selah!
Allan Lee

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