Death Penalty in Light of the New Testament


Genesis 9:6,11-13 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image…11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

Romans 13:3-4 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer

As our society continues to purposefully withdraw itself from Biblical principles and embrace worldly thinking, we will individually, as well as corporately, be confronted with issues that are biblical, anti-biblical, and extra-biblical. Some of those issues are gay marriage (which we covered earlier), the death penalty, universal health care, welfare, immigration, social security and a host of other topics.

As a Christian it is your responsibility to challenge and wrestle with the issues and balance it with what you believe the Scriptures say. When you look at the already complex societal concerns and others that are coming it isn’t always as easy and as simple as “WWJD”.

I hope over the next several weeks to look at the trends in society and examine them in the light of the Scriptures in their proper cultural context; and extract out of those passages principles to provide guidance and understanding for us today.

The first issue to look at (for no particular reason other than I wanted to write about it) is the death penalty. In Genesis 9 we see God, as punishment, allowed a flood of great magnitude that covered a large portion, if not the entire, earth (local or universal flood is not the issue here) because of the increased sin of mankind both numerically and in its depravity.

As they are finishing their cruise, most likely of the Mediterranean Sea, they find land and debark from the ship. God speaks from heaven blessing them and telling them that they are to fulfill the Dominion Mandate issued to Adam and Eve. He immediately moves into a detailed account on how He plans for mankind to limit the sin of murder both numerically and in its depravity. God institutes the Death Penalty when He tells Noah if a man “sheds the blood” or murders another man he forfeits his own life.

This would seem to be pretty straightforward and, to be honest, it is. However, many people would argue that this is Old Testament or that it is “Law”, or in the New Testament Jesus is all about grace. I wholeheartedly agree that Jesus is all about grace! We are saved by grace and grace alone. Yet this Covenant is given before the Law is given to Moses; and further, God’s sign of this covenant is still evident in the sky to this day.

Paul, in his brilliant letter to the Romans, brings up several interesting truths. Paul is encouraging the Roman Christians to live a life of holiness, not rebellion, within the context of government. He continues on to tell them that if they do what is righteous they have no need to fear judgment from the government.

There are two comments of importance to the idea of the death penalty. The first reference is found Romans 13:4 with a reference to God giving the Government the “sword” (to execute law breakers) and the second reference is the seldom mentioned “avenger”. The word “avenger” in this passage is a reference back to the Old Testament customs of limiting the amount of bloodshed through the punishment of the death penalty.

When it comes to a biblical understanding of the death penalty, there are two things that should inform our opinion. The first thing would be that God directly commanded the death penalty as a part of the covenant with Noah, before the law; and secondly, it is re-enforced in the New Testament.

This should be enough to put this issue to rest for anyone who heeds the Scripture. But unfortunately, as the culture slides further and further away from Biblical literacy and Biblical obedience, it seems to have no more weight than the local weather station telling you the forecast for the next three days.

Image: Thanksgiving After Leaving Noah’s Ark; Domenico Morelli (1823–1901); courtesy of Dorotheum; public domain

About the author: John Renken

A self proclaimed “scrapper” since childhood, John Renken grew up with a burning interest in physical challenges and a strong competitive spirit which has led him to develop quite an impressive reputation in the professional fighting community. Reaching the pinnacle of his career, Renken now has over 68 professional mixed martial arts and boxing matches under his belt and many first place titles spanning three different continents. A former Satanist, Renken’s life has taken many interesting twists and turns along the way to redemption. He now pastors a church called Freedom Church and writes about topics of interest in our country.

View all articles by John Renken

  • Zundfolge

    I have no problem with the death penalty from a moral or ethical standpoint (and it is clearly Biblical to put murderers and other heinous criminals to death for their crimes).

    HOWEVER, I just don’t trust our legal system in its current state to justly and properly met it out in all but a few extremely obvious and clear cut cases.

    So from that standpoint, I don’t see the death penalty as one of those fights conservatives need to waste time and political capital on.

    • John Renken

      This is true. Our government is fault. However there are very few that are actually executed falsely. So far there are only 77 that could be in question if I remember correctly.

  • jaedub

    Todd, you continually spew mindless nonsense here. The proper translation of that commandment you reference is ‘Thou shall not murder.’ Get a clue.

  • Scott Lachut

    These are the very same points I have argued for years now. The Death Penalty is absolutely Biblical. As our society has “progressed” further into decay we can now see the results around us in the reduced respect people have for life and the casual attitude we have for those who violate the lives of others.

  • Bulldog74

    From Luke 23 in the New Testament:

    39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
    40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
    42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”
    43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
    Note that Jesus did not contradict the criminal when he said “we are getting what our deeds deserve.”

    • John Renken

      What a great point. I had not thought about that passage in the light of the Death Penalty before. Thank you for that piece of wisdom.

  • ChasGregory

    A proper translation of this Law is “You shall not MURDER”, a legal word, not the factual description “kill”.

    • charlie


  • dean29685

    A good reference on this whole subject is R. C. Sproul’s Church & State. An audio course Reformed Theology from R.C. Sproul: Ligonier Ministries

  • 9thID

    Jesus Christ came the first time as the Lamb of God to provide for mankind’s salvation. When He returns, Scripture reveals that it will be as Righteous Judge, and oh what a judgment it will be…

    • Bobseeks

      Somehow the liberal liars never get around to that Jesus as Judge thing.

  • Ted R. Weiland

    Amen! Most modern Christians are, regrettably and tragically, embarrassed by Yahweh’s altogether righteous judgments (Psalm 19:7-9).

    “…Unlike current constitutional law, Yahweh’s law allows no exceptions for the prescribed punishment of convicted murderers. Leviticus 24:17 dictates the judgment for intentional, premeditated murder is death. Human life is so valuable to Yahweh that any man (or animal) that maliciously takes another person’s life is to be put to death. Death penalty opponents find this incongruous. They believe life is so valuable it must be protected at all costs. However, the anti-capital punishment advocates are the ones who cheapen life. For example, if a murderer is given twenty years in prison instead of being put to death, the life of the victim has been assigned a value of only twenty years. The life of a murderer is certainly not more valuable thanthe life of the person he murdered. Put another way, the life of the person murdered is so valuable it requires the life of the murderer:

    ‘…surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.’ (Genesis 9:5-6)….”

    For more, see online Chapter 17 “Amendment 8: Bail, Fines, and Cruel and Unusual Punishments” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective” at

  • Randy131

    Strange, for words can be interpreted by different people in different ways, so I wonder why these passages were used from the old testament, instead of others which GOD was much more clear on, which is in Numbers: Ch.35, Vs.16-21, for which GOD directly told Moses to tell the people, while on the plains of Moab. And as far as there being conflicting orders or opinions between GOD’s law and Jesus’ ministry of grace, Jesus set that straight in the Gospel of Mathew: Ch.5, Vs.17-20. These two references from the old and new testaments are much more direct and to the point, and can be interpreted in only one way, so why were they not used in this article? GOD has made clear His tenets and precepts, only those who claim to pastor His flock confuse people, by apparently trying to have more toleration and compassion than GOD Himself, through interpretations of His word for what they want it to mean, and not necessarily what GOD intended you to understand. Beware of those who claim to know GOD’s will and mind, for He gave us all the ability to discern, so read His Holy Bible and use that ability, not for what you want it to mean, but for what GOD intended it to mean, and only that.

    • John Renken

      Randy, I didnt use those particular passages for 2 reasons. First and maybe is most important is that the majority of Western Christians have been poorly educated concerning proper biblical interpretation. So when you bring up anything from the “Law” they falsely assume that it is not applicable now, so I used Noahitic Covenant because it pre-dates Law and the sign of the Covenant (Rainbow) is still evident today testifying that this covenant hasnt been done away with. The second reason is that there is a strong connection between Roman and the passage you referenced because Paul uses the word avenger in connection with the Governments right/Ministry to execute judgement. I just thought of another reason…my posts can only be so many words :)

      • T. Edward Price

        John, you post was excellent, as usual, and much needed. I would like, however, to give you another perspective concerning law that might strengthen your argument further. You speak of the Noahitic Covenant as being pre-law. Although that is what we are taught, that is incorrect. The law was in the garden with Adam. The law was there when Cain slew Able. There were not the required two witnesses to put Cain to death, so he was banished. In Genesis 7:1-3 we see the laws of clean and unclean in effect long before Moses: “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” The law was, is, and always will be. The law was with Jacob as his family sojourned in Egypt. But, just as a Pharaoh arose who “knew not Joseph”, the Israelites had become so accustomed to the ways of Egypt, that they knew not Yahweh, and His laws. Hence, the need for them to be codified, and written in stone, until such time as they would be forever written on the hearts, and in the minds, of His people, such as we find in Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:13, Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16, etc.

        Please don’t take this too critically. I truly enjoy your writing. I just believe that we need to understand that Yahweh’s perfect, immutable moral law, as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments, are the very essence of Yahweh’s morality.

        May God bless and keep you.

        • Ted R. Weiland

          “…Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:5)

        • John Renken

          T. Edward Price, totally true. However I didnt have time to get into Natural law which binds all of mankind verses the Torah. I loved your feedback and dont mind at all!!!

      • Randy131

        GOD also referred to your noted ‘avenger’ in Numbers: Ch.35, Vs.16-21 as the ‘Avenger of Blood’, which in Moses’ time was designated as the nearest next-of-kin to the murdered victim, and which today we call the ‘Executioner’, appointed by the state. As far as anything not being applicable to the “Law” after Jesus’ time of ministry, the reference I gave of the Gospel of Mathew: Ch.5, Vs.17-20, clearly debunks that theory. The entire Ch.35 of Mathew pertains to the punishment of those who takes human life, whether it be by man-slaughter, or murder, and GOD warns that if we fail to do as He has ordered us to do in Ch.35, then our land will be accursed. Do you think GOD may be holding that against the USA at this time, along with abortion and acceptence of the abomination of homosexuality? Today, as in the past, I find many Americans know His Holy Bible well, even the Catholics of today, for which I am one, who in the past were accused of not reading their Bibles. My daughter, who is a very devout Christian and belongs to a non-denominational Christian Church, is being taught and believes that the “Law” does not apply to us today, because of the Covenant that Jesus made, which I also believe is a false teaching, for many times in His Holy Bible GOD states that His Covenants last forever, even if broken by some of His chosen people, He still honors His Covenants as a promise, all of them, to the ones who obey and honor those Covenants and Him. Don’t sell Christians and their knowledge of His Holy Bible short, for if not for them, GOD probably would have done to the USA by now, what He did to Sodom & Gomorrah, and the other 5 cities on that same plain.

        (Your short Bio is similar also to the gifts I have received from GOD, and the knowledge that some are expected to be warriors for Him, in order to protect His people, as Joshua was appointed to do, each in our own small or large way. People who see me never expected that I could accomplish what the Lord has allowed me, even though I’ve never trained in any martial art, but have excelled in many other physical endeavors, pertaining to conflict and sports. Semper Fi!)

      • Randy131

        John, first off, GOD has never negated any ‘Covenant’ he has ever made with man, or even His Angels, but they have been violated many times by men, and even the Angels. As far as the ‘Law’ being applicable now, Jesus answered that in Mathew: Ch.5 Vs. 17-20, and you should shout it from the tree tops, especially to those who falsely assume that it is not applicable. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, when using the word avenger, was referring to what GOD told Moses to tell the people in Numbers: Ch.35 Vs.16-21, as to who was to execute GOD’s sentence on the murderer, and that was to be the ‘Avenger of Blood’, the victim’s next of kin, for at that time their were no authority appointed executioners, which in our society today we do have, and the Romans also had, and probably the reason Paul dropped the words ‘of Blood’ from his letter and just used the word ‘Avenger’. Your ‘Post’ really wasn’t that long, but to make sure people understand the truth, make it as long as it needs to be, because many Priests, Pastors, and different clergy titles, actually preach against GOD’s words when it suits or benefits them, as Numbers; Ch.35 entails and informs us, and also as does Mathew: Ch.5, when they want people to disregard GOD’s ‘Laws’ from the ‘Old Testament’, by declaring that when Jesus came, He changed those ‘Laws’ to what they want you to believe. GOD is always the same, the permanent constant, and He honors all His ‘Covenants’ forever, and Jesus never negated anything of His Father’s, but did make a ‘New Covenant’ that was not in conflict with anything of His father’s, but was in fulfillment of what His Father sent Him to do, which was also GOD’s will.

        PS – Did you ever noticed how long Paul’s letters were, I guess he wanted to make sure those he wrote to also understood the ‘Truth’.

  • Bobseeks

    The Old Testament basically lists two kinds of punishment: death, and restitution. If we operated that way, the violent would disappear and the thieves would pay back the victims. Then we could close our prisons and use them to house government employees, lawyers, and politicians.

    • COTom

      True… however, we are supposed to live by the word in the New Testament.

      • Chachy

        Which REQUIRES we Obey God including all his Laws, statutes, Judgmenst

  • David Hodges

    What did Jesus say about the woman accused of adultry? He said, “Stone her.” Of course, none of her accusers felt confident that their own shenanigans would go unnoticed. So they didn’t press charges. The beauty of Yahweh’s perfect law is that it requires individuals, rather than bureaucrats, hidden safely within the DC beltway, to bring allegations. Such judicial perfection would make us all behave better.

    • Chachy

      They were GUILTY under the law for not lawfully bringing that woman to Him.. their sentence if carried out would have called for their own execution… some suggest that what Jesus wrote on the ground could have been the law – and since Jesus was speaking to those who knew the law – they would have been convicted in their hearts to the sinful truth to their actions.

    • John Renken

      ummmm…that had to do with the Law and the hypocrisy of those accusing her (notice the male who was caught in the act wasnt there.) The passages I used are the Noahitic Covenant which is still in full effect as evidenced by the Rainbow and Romans 13

  • Delbert Hoson

    So, abortion is cool because there are so many references to God killing children.

    1 Samuel 15:3 God commands the
    death of helpless “suckling” infants. This literally means that the children
    god killed were still nursing.

    Psalms 135:8 & 136:10 Here god
    is praised for slaughtering little babies.

    Psalms 137:9 Here god commands
    that infants should be “dashed upon the rocks”.

    How about we forget about invisible men in the sky and dispense judgement on bad folks because they are bad and it’s the right thing to do.

    • Light_V_Dark

      Children raised by single mothers are innocent for about as long as it takes till they begin to walk. They grow up into monsters, regardless of skin color. When God kills, the children DO, go to heaven. You, LITERALLY, ONLY HAVE SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL»»»

       A Healthy Family Social Environment May Reduce Schizophrenia Risk by 86% for High Genetic Risk Groups  ______________ The existance of such protective factors would indicate that preventive measures may be taken by parents to reduce the likelihood that their child will develop schizophrenia. The results of this study suggest that there are protective family environmental factors that may reduce the schizophrenia risk for a susceptible child by up to 86%.

    • Light_V_Dark


      From Vanessa The Afro_Conservative»»»»

      Well, on behalf of the Black race, I want to thank all the liberal feminists who screwed up Black America with their entitlement programs and their warped world views. I want to thank the Saul Alinksy’s and all the “community organizers” who used the Blacks as pawns to advance their Marxist agenda. The progressives of this day had it all figured out.

    • John Renken

      If you are going to quote the Scriptures you should do so in context instead of googling a bunch of words and just throwing them on here. 1 Sam 15:3 Those were enemies that continually harassed and attacked the Israelites and God was issuing a military order. Psalm 135:8 and 136:10 are both about the plagues on Egypt after God had in mercy continually asked for their release. There is a lot more going on here such as the subjection of pagan idols to the true God. Psalm 137:9 is a reference to the prostitute/world system of Babylon. Really you should try reading in context.

  • Light_V_Dark

    Today’s Faux-Christian-Possum, is ADDICTED, to excusing and FORGIVING EVIL.


    Jesus compared EVIL PEOPLE, TO DOGS & PIGS—————————————————— Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6, NKJV). ———

    “Jesus here refers to a class who have no desire to escape from the slavery of sin. BY INDULGENCE IN THE CORRUPT AND VILE THEIR NATURES HAVE BECOME SO DEGRADED THAT THEY CLING TO THE EVIL(^) and will not be separated from it.The servants of Christ should not allow themselves to be hindered by those who would make the gospel only a matter of contention and ridicule.”»»»»»»»»»»»»»»!%A1&bt=708#comment708

    This little puss isn’t a Christian, but Christians online, will rip me to shreds for mocking it.

  • Light_V_Dark


    IDIOT_FAUX_CHRISTIAN_POSSUMS_ADDICTED_TO_FORGIVENESS, are WORSE THAN THE MURDERERS THEY ARE FORGIVING.____________________ Revelation 21 (WYC)———- 6 And he said to me, It is done; I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. I shall give freely of the well of quick water to him that thirsteth [I shall give freely to the thristing of the well of quick water].________________

    7 He that shall overcome, shall wield these things; and I shall be God to him, and he shall be son to me.____________________  


  • Darius the Mede

    A text taken out of context, is a pretext. The Bible, in the Genesis passage is talking about murder, not self defense. Elsewhere in the OT, the Jew was told that if someone broke in his house at night and the home-owner killed him, the home-owner was blameless. Also, Christ commanded His disciples to obtain a weapon (in this case, a sword) shortly before He was taken by the Jews and eventually crucified. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us that we are forbidden to defend ourselves or our families, except possibly in the case of a Christian being punished for his faith. Even the 10 Commandments are explicit when they say, “You shall not kill.” (The Hebrew word literally refers to murder, not self defense.

  • Guest

    Murders, and those with murder in their black hearts, deserve DEATH. Numbers 35;

    17 Or if anyone is holding a stone and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 

    • Light_V_Dark

      I was trying to edit on Disqdash and I hit the X»»»»MURDERERS····

      From the link»»»» Numbers 35:33 “‘Do not pollute the land where you are. (INNOCENT) Blood-shed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.
      Note; This @§H0L€, NEEDS TO BE PUT DOWN. Sorry, Possums.

  • Light_V_Dark

    1 Peter 4

    ***3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what PAGANS choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and DETESTABLE IDOLATRY. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.

  • Delbert Hoson

    There isn’t a God.

    Kill bad people because bad people need to die.

    • Light_V_Dark



      NOTHING CAN BE MORE STUPID THAN GODLESSNESS HOWEVER CULTURED(^). The word (STUPID) literally means coarse or thick, and may suggest the idea of stolid insensibility as the last stage in the downward progress.»»»»
      For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

      ——-You would FEEL more comfortable around this SATANIC-DUNG, than, you would me. YOU CAN HAVE EM¿!¡ What’s that rubber fist for¿?

  • KroekerMom

    I agree that if you can prove conclusively that someone committed murder (ie the fort hood shooter), then the death penalty is definitely biblical. My concern is with murder cases that are more circumstantial. Several people, that have been convicted of murder, have been proven not guilty after they were put to death. All it takes is a prosecuter trying to make a name for himself and a maleable jury to convict an innocent man. I do think that we need to be careful with the death penalty. I don’t believe in the death penalty for circumstantial evidence, because in that case, only God knows for sure. We don’t want to be killing innocents. Our court system is getting more and more corrupt; police sometimes plant or hide evidence; and judges sometimes ban evidence needed by the defense. Be careful, you don’t want to be the one convicted on cirucustantial or jerry-rigged evidence.


    There are 4 God commanded calls, in ‘righteous judgement’ deemed Capitol Punishment, by man. Those areas are very specific in eyewitness and evidence. Those 4 actions are murderers, rapists, molesters and those, in this venue, that bear false witness.
    With just these 4 enforcements alone, this nation, ‘Under God’, would be a lot safer for our children, our moms, daughters, sisters…and just law abiding citizens,
    It would also put fear in place, for those crimes, in those thinking in those areas. It would also put the fear of God back in place, in those that take the covenant of truth with God under oath, in “I swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE TRUTH, and nothing but the truth…so help me God” (an actual verbal pledge to God, most these days just think are words with no restitution in lying).

  • John Renken

    Lol. You make my day reading this stuff man. Do you actually have any clue what Jesus would think about anything?

  • Bulldog74


  • charlie

    dream on liberal Jesus demands it. clearly you do not understand scripture nor do you care about truth

  • Light_V_Dark


    Revelation 21;
    7 He that shall overcome, shall wield these things; and I shall be God to him, and he shall be son to me.____________________  
    If you don’t HATE EVIL, YOU APPROVE OF IT. DAN SAVAGE DESERVES TO BE EUTHANIZED. Not all gays, do. Gayness shaves 20 years from the average homosexual boy’s or girl’s life.

  • Chachy

    WOW, Jesus us YAH in the flesh… he obeyed GODS standards in his flesh… he fully supports ALL Yah’s standards, He and Yah are One – he was YAH… how can a double minded Jesus be in harmony with the whole word?

  • dean29685

    Just a typical obama bot remark.

  • Light_V_Dark

The latest from