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Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.9: Capital Punishment)

November 17, 2019 Speaker: Series: Sunday School: Christian Ethics

The sixth commandment reads: You shall not murder. (Ex. 20:13)


The Hebrew verb here is translated “murder.” This verb is used in the Old Testament to refer to the unlawful taking of a human life -  what we call “murder” (in a criminal sense) today.  The verb is also used to speak of “causing human death through carelessness or negligence.”  (What we would call manslaughter.) But it’s not the ordinary word for judicial execution, and it is never used to refer to killing in war.

This commandment is restated several times in the New Testament

  • 1:29; 13:9.
  • 1 Tim. 1:9
  • James 2:11; 4:2
  • 1 John 3:12, 15
  • 9:21; 16:6; 18:24; 21:8; 22:15

THE QUESTION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: Is it ever right for the government to put a criminal to death


  1. Genesis 9:5–6

    2. Romans 13:1–7

  1. 1 Peter 2:13–14

But Is It Right to Desire That Government Punish a Criminal?

What Crimes Are Worthy of Capital Punishment?

Conclusion. God gives to civil government the right and the responsibility to carry out capital punishment for certain crimes, at least for the crime of murder (which is specified in Gen. 9:6). Whether there should be other crimes subject to capital punishment is a question that each government in each society must decide through its normal political and governmental decision-making process.