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Question 385

What is the churches view on capital punishment???   



Answer to Question 385


 The Jews had a form of Capital punishment where whoever broke certain laws was punished with stoning until dead. In the light of the New Testament Jesus shows us that this is no more acceptable when the woman caught in adultery was to be stoned, but Jesus reprimanded the Jews saying let him who is without sin cast the first stone. God is the giver of life an no one has the right to take another person's life even if his crime is against humanity. The church teaches repentance and even a murderer or pedophile has the possibility to repent of his evil ways.


Same member

Didn't St Paul support capital punishment... I cant remember the verses of Paul often quoted as supporting capital punishment... 

"The State is there," he said, "to serve God for your benefit. If you break the law, however, you may well have fear; the bearing of the sword has its significance. The authorities are there to serve God; they carry out God's revenge by punishing wrong-doers" (Romans 13:4).



I find it hard to understand this verse as St. Paul condoning Capital punishment when in the previous chapter he writes: “Recompense to no man evil for evil... avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12: 17-19) Is he then contradicting himself?


Same member

I take the verse that you refer to as St Paul saying this to the individual but in the verse I quoted he is saying the state is within its right to give punishment rather than the individual taking action or revenge....

So on one hand we as individuals are forbidden from taking the law into our own hands and taking revenge but the state is authorised to carry out punishment to the criminal on behalf of the victims and society in general...



St. Paul says that we must honour and obey those in authority because they have been assigned to their position by God. The mention of the sword is not to be taken literally as meaning they have the right to use it on people. The sword is a symbol of authority, judgement and punishment. I cannot believe that Paul extends this punishment to capital punishment, but only to incarceration. He would not write something that is opposed by the Gospels.