“Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.”
Exodus 21 v 12
It is an undisputed fact that God commanded the Israelites to carry out the death penalty for murder (and 15 other offenses). In doing so he was merely repeating his previous command to Noah:
“And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”
Genesis 9 v 6
Yet many people argue that since Jesus’ death on the cross and the establishing of a New Covenant that the death penalty can no longer be applied to the present day. This is a bold claim that goes against the last 1900 years of church thinking (Calvin, Luther and Spurgeon all supported the death penalty to name just three). Therefore it deserves close inspection.
So let us examine the logical basis for this claim and the New Testament teaching on the death penalty.