The Bible absolutely justifies the death penalty.
This principle is set down in Chapter 9 of Genesis.
“Whoever sheds human blood,
by a human being will his own blood be shed;
for God made human beings in his image.”
In this verse, the reason why is also given.
It’s because man was created in God’s image.
Murder demands the ultimate penalty.
The death penalty is actually a reflection of how much God values life.
However, the irony of ironies is that as history moves along, those societies that have now abolished the death penalty are considered to be the most civilized and humane.
Make no mistake about it, this is a direct rebellion against God’s laws and principles.
The Bible gives us ZERO latitude to waive a murderer’s death sentence and replace it with a less severe penalty.
According to God’s justice system, human life is cheapened when the murderer’s life is not terminated.
But to be fair, the move to abolish capital punishment is not necessarily a modern phenomenon.
During the time when Yeshua was alive (when the 2nd temple was standing), it was actually quite rare for the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court) to hand down a death sentence.
Although the common Christian viewpoint is that this was because the Romans had taken away the right of the Jews to carry out executions, this is not really true.
According to the records, all the Jewish court had to do was present their case to the local Roman authorities.
Unless there were serious reservations on the Roman magistrate’s part, it was pretty much a done deal.
Having said that, an examination of the Rabbinic writings on this matter reveals that for the longest time it was decided that mercy for the murderers was the superior and more moral route to take.
According to the Mishnah tractate Makkot, there is statement testifying to the Sanhedrin’s opinion on the death penalty.
It says that to hand down a death sentence even once every 7 years was too excessive.
Rabbi Ben Azariah commenting on this statement took that even further and said once every 70 years was too excessive.
Following this line of reasoning, Rabbi Akiva said that had he been a member of the Sanhedrin, he would have objected to the death sentence under any and all circumstances.
This perverted mindset might have prevailed had it not been for Rabbi Gamaliel.
Gamaliel was a first-century rabbi and a leader in the Sanhedrin.
I think most of us know him for his most famous pupil: the Apostle Paul.
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.”-Acts 22:3
Rabbi Gamaliel responded to all of these rabbis who were making light of the death sentence by saying that if the death sentence was never given out, the amount of innocent blood shed in Israel would dramatically increase.
He was right.
Take a look at the United States of America.
The death penalty has been abolished in many states.
And even in those states where it is allowed, the legal system makes it practically impossible to carry a death sentence out.
What has been the result?
Bloodshed has increased.
Think about it.
Would you like to have a monster like Ted Bundy walking around because his death sentence was commuted?
The Bible makes it clear.
To take the life of a murderer serves to PROTECT innocent life.