A Christian View<br>of the Death Penalty

Christians need to think through this life-and-death issue.

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Whether the death penalty is right or wrong has been hotly debated for many decades and will probably continue to be debated for many more. What has not received much discussion, however, is the matter of how the death penalty should be applied. How can biblical guidelines on the death penalty ensure justice and fairness? What should be the church’s position on capital punishment?

Table of Contents

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 9:5–6; Exodus 20:13; 21:12–17; Matthew 5:17–26, 38–48; 22:37–40; John 8:3–11; Romans 12:17–21; Philemon 8–20


    • The Issue

Sample questions:

Why is the death penalty controversial, even among Christians?

In what ways has United States policy acted in accordance with biblical guidelines for capital punishment?

    • The Scriptures

Sample Scriptures:

Genesis 9:5–6, Exodus 20:13, and 21:12–14: Why did God institute the death penalty in the Old Testament?

Compare Matthew 5:17–26 with 5:38–48: What do these verses say to us about the death penalty?
    • The Application

Sample application questions:

How would you change our nation’s present approach to the death penalty? Would you abolish it altogether?

Regardless of whether Christians approve or disapprove of capital punishment, what should be our attitude toward lawbreakers?


    • Punishable by Death, by Daniel W. Van Ness (August 1987, 6 printed pages)

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