Dietary Dilemma (Mark 7:19)

And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
(Mark 7:17-19 ESV)

Almost every modern translation of the Holy Bible have the phrase “Thus he declared all food clean” or something very similar added to the end of Mark 7:19. From this one verse (Mark 7:19) the majority of Christendom has come to the conclusion that all animals are now clean as food and that the dietary laws (Kashrut) in the Torah have been invalidated by Yeshua. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now let’s look at Mark 7:19 in the King James Bible which say, “And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” (Mark 7:17-19 KJV).

When comparing Mark 7:17-19 in the English Standard Version and the King James Version. It becomes quite clear that a line has been added to Scripture.

Even the popular “Got Questions Ministries” misinterpreted this passage in Mark to say all foods are clean. I am not knocking “Got Questions Ministries” in any way. Usually, they are a fine resource with lots of valuable and useful information.

There are also serious contextual data involved here, it wasn’t what Jesus’ disciples were eating, it was that they were not following the Pharisees custom of washing their hands three times and following this cleansing with a ritualistic prayer before eating.

Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
(Mark 7:1-23 KJV)

Jesus’ disciples had broken the traditions of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They had not broke any Torah laws, nor were they eating unclean or prohibited foods of any kind.

In addition, Yeshua would not change the Torah. He was fully man and fully divine, but the Scriptures point out on many occasions that He was subject to YHVH’s authority and subject to the will of YHVH. Yeshua was totally obedient to all laws and ordinances ever prescribed by YHVH. To change or abolish the Torah would have been a sin.

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
(Deuteronomy 4:2 KJV)

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
(Deuteronomy 12:32 KJV)

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
(Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV)

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:17-19 KJV)

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 1:6-12 KJV)

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
(Revelation 14:12 KJV)

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(Revelation 22:18-19 KJV)

It is very easy to conclude that adding to or taking away from Scripture is a very serious offence in the eyes of God. Yeshua, as part of the Godhead, could have easily changed any Scriptures He wished to change, but as previously noted, He was subject to YHVH’s authority and subject to the will of YHVH. Yeshua was the only “person” to ever walk the earth and never break one commandment. If He has broke YHVH’s commandments, He would not have been divine and would not be the Messiah and Savior of the world. His blood would have been shed for nothing, and His crucifixion would have been just another Roman execution of a heretic.

What does the Bible say about clean and unclean food?

And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even. And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean. And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you. These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole. These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even. And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed. And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it. Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean. And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you. Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean. And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean. But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you. And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even. And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.
(Leviticus 11:1-47 KJV)

Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing. These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase. These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you. Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, And every raven after his kind, And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowls ye may eat. Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk. Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
(Deuteronomy 14:1-29 KJV)

Some people like to claim there were no clean or unclean foods before Moses received the law from YHVH at Mount Sinai. This an obvious oversight a fallacy made by those who either do not know Scripture, choose to ignore Scripture, or a combination of their lack of knowledge and ignorance.

And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
(Genesis 7:7-9 KJV)

YHVH did not have to explain clean and unclean food to Noah and his family after the deluge. Why? Because Adam and Eve and all the generations that were before Noah had been taught by their elders (which would be referred to as oral Torah today) what was clean and unclean. Adam and Eve had a very intimate relationship with YHVH until she heeded the words of the serpent and directly disobeyed God.

Another passage of Scripture that Christendom has distorted to justify the consumption of unclean food is the Apostle Peter’s vision. “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them” (Acts 10:9-20 ESV).

Peter three times stated “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean (Acts 10:14). Then in (Acts 10:15) God says “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common”. Such a statement proves that the dietary law was still in effect after the resurrection.

Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
(Acts 10:21-27 KJV)

The real revelation of this vision and the events that follow are brought into complete focus in the next verse. Peter says, “Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
(Acts 10:21-28 KJV)

Peter’s statement in Acts 10:28 indicates that the divine disclosure reflected only a teaching about people, and not one about food. Peter realized the puzzling vision could not be annulling God’s instructions. In retrospect, Mark 7:17-19 (with the addition that states “thus he declared all foods clean”) is spurious at best, but also places man’s authority over the authority of the Word of God.

A better interpretation or translation would have been, “Thus He declared all things given by God as food to be clean, regardless of ritual hand washing.”

What you eat isn’t going to determine your ultimate destine in Heaven and Hell. However, I have a major bone to pick with anyone who intentionally perverts the Word of God for their own sanctification. Some animals are clean and meant to be food for us, some are unclean and were never intended for human consumption.

My personal friend, Rav. Hezekiah Ross, recently posted that, “In 1963, the State of Israel instituted a law prohibiting the raising of pigs on Jewish farms. According to Jewish law, one is not allowed to make his livelihood by dealing in non-kosher products. Beyond this, the Talmud states that one should not raise a pig, even as a pet. Why such great opposition against the pig? The answer may be rooted in the fact that the pig is the only animal in the world possessing the outward symbol of kosher (split hooves), but not the inward symbol (chewing cud). The pig therefore represents that which is kosher in outward appearance, but is in fact unclean on the inside. This type of hypocrisy is described by the Talmud as one of the behaviors that God most detests. For that moral reason, the pig is universally viewed as reprehensible to the Jew.”

Pastor Jim Staley at Passion for Truth Ministries has done an audio teaching called “To Eat or Not to Eat: Does God Care About What We Eat” which is available at the following link.

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Capital Punishment: A Biblical Perspective

Capital punishment is the sentence of death upon a person by a court order and carried out by the government as a punishment for a criminal offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences.

Whenever an execution is imminent, many questions are often raised Should capital punishment be acceptable in a civilized society? Is it morally right for a government to administer capital punishment? What is the purpose behind capital punishment, and is it accomplished? How do we find the answers to such questions? For Christians who believe in Biblical inerrancy and infallibility, we must look to the Holy Bible (the Word of God) for answers.

In the Book of Genesis, we have an account of the first murder in history. Cain killed his brother Abel in a fit of anger and jealousy after God was pleased with Abel’s offering and displeased with the offering made by Cain. The punishment that Cain received from God for killing his brother was not death. Cain received exile from being in the presence of God and was sentenced to be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. God then protected Cain from receiving harm or death at the hands of any man.

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
(Genesis 4:3-16 ESV)

Lamech was a descendent of Cain and the father of Noah. The scriptures tell us that Lamech killed a young man at one point for hitting him (Genesis 4:23) Throughout the generations wickedness continued to flourish and increase on the earth until every intention of the thoughts of mankind’s his heart was only evil continually. This made God sorry that he had made man, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them (Genesis 6:7).”

Noah found favor in the eyes of God. Noah and his wife, their three sons, and their son’s three wives were spared from the flood that destroyed the rest of mankind. Only eight people were selected for salvation. That is the problem with a society without just punishment for criminals. Lawlessness abounds and spreads like a disease until all of society is corrupted.

Immediately after the flood, God blessed Noah and his family saying to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood (Genesis 9:1-4).”

But they were also given a new and awesome responsibility. God told Noah and his family, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image. (Genesis 9:5-6).”

God now is requiring mankind to account for their actions. He requires murderers to be put to death by mankind. This new requirement is based on one fact, the fact that God had made mankind in His image. To murder someone who is created in the image of God is a serious offense that is punishable by the death of the offender. Also, because mankind was created in the image of God, he possesses the ability and responsibility to exercise justice and righteousness. Mankind is capable of administering the sentence prescribed by God.

It would appear that before the flood people may have taken God’s protection of Cain as a license to murder without any consequences. With the flood, God administered a form of capital punishment upon a violent and corrupt society. After the flood, God gave mankind the obligation and responsibility to take the life of those who committed the crime of murder.

The Torah, or Laws of Moses, prescribed the administration of capital punishment for many additional offenses. These laws were both civil and religious laws and they have served as the basis for criminal justice in many other civilizations since first given by God. The Torah prescribes capital punishment for premeditated murder, kidnapping, striking an expecting mother which causes the child to be born prematurely and die, failure to keep a killer animal from killing, killing a thief in revenge, sorcery or witchcraft, bestiality, adultery, incest, homosexuality, being a medium or spiritualist, and even breaking the Sabbath among many other offenses.

Were the laws of the Torah good laws? The Apostle Paul said that they were “holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). While the religious aspects of these laws were temporary (Galatians 2:23-25), the civil laws served their purpose well to govern and preserve a nation. Who would be so presumptuous to say that they could improve upon such a civil code of ethics? Many have arrogantly presumed they could do better, and crime has gotten worse, not better. In conclusion, capital punishment was ordained by God in the laws of the Torah.

Unlike the Old Testament, the New Testament is not designed to govern or regulate civil governments. It is designed for those in Messiah Yeshua’s kingdom, which is spiritual in nature (John 18:36). The purpose of the New Testament is to help mankind achieve and maintain a relationship with God through Yeshua,  His only begotten Son. So for the most part, it does not concern itself with telling mankind how to righteously regulate their civil affairs as these commandments had already been given to mankind in the Tanakh. However, in defining our relationship to civil authorities while subject to a higher law, there are references which reveal God’s attitude toward capital punishment

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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, 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. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
(Romans 13:1-7 ESV)

The Apostle Paul tells us that governmental authorities are established and instituted by God and that they serve as ministers of God, as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” When a government fulfills its responsibility upon those who are evil, it “does not bear the sword in vain.” This is a clear allusion to the administration of capital punishment. Therefore, the New Testament supports the government’s right to exercise the death penalty on those who commit capital offenses.

The Apostle Paul also said he was willing to die if he committed anything for which he deserved to die (Acts 25:11). This is a clear implication that in Paul’s opinion some crimes were worthy of the death penalty.Although the New Testament focuses on the responsibilities of the followers of Yeshua in His spiritual kingdom, there is certainly no indication that it is wrong for government to administer capital punishment when deemed appropriate. The principle established in Genesis 9:5-6, given to all of mankind before the saving grace that is provided by Yeshua’s atonement for our sins remains a responsibility placed upon the governments of mankind.

Some opponents of capital punishment will tell you that the Holy Bible says “Thou shalt not kill.” This is actually a mistranslation of the Hebrew word ‘ratsach.’ Ratsach is literally translated to murder. This commandment forbids killing with malice and premeditation (Exodus 20:13). Throughout the following two chapters of Exodus, God prescribes the death penalty for nine different crimes. The commandment not to murder is directed toward individuals; one must ignore the context and twist the Scriptures to apply this verse to the issue of capital punishment.

Ezekiel wrote that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32). However, one must consider the context of this passage of Scripture which states that the soul that sins shall die and no one else will bear the iniquity of any other person (Ezekiel 18:4). It also states that certain sins make one worthy of death (Ezekiel 18:10-13). God encourages the wicked to repent and do what is right (Ezekiel 18:21-23), but states that even the righteous person who begins to do wickedness shall die if they do not repent (Ezekiel 18:24). The entire contextual discourse of the passage is that mankind should repent before it is too late because God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that will not prevent Him from carrying out capital punishment when appropriate.

Some opponents of capital punishment claim that it does not work as it does absolutely nothing to deter crime. That is only true when the sentence is not carried out quickly. King Solomon said, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil (Ecclesiastes 8:11 ESV).” Capital punishment does keep an offender from killing again, escaping from a life sentence in prison, or possibly being paroled or pardoned in the future. The ineffectiveness of capital punishment in deterring crime by others is an argument against our system of administering capital punishment. It is not an effective argument against capital punishment itself.

Capital punishment is not just a deterrent. There is also the issue of justice, and justice always demands that the punishment fits the crime. This is what is meant by “an eye for an eye.” It is a reference to equal and just punishment, not the actual plucking out of another person’s eye. Some crimes are so heinous that any punishment other than the death penalty is an injustice.

Other capital punishment opponents argue that innocent people are executed occasionally. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life. But as before, this is an argument that pertains to a system in which capital punishment is administered. It is not an argument against the idea of capital punishment itself. The Holy Bible states that capital punishment could not be applied unless the crime was seen by two or more witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6). If a single witness made an accusation that proved false, the penalty for the crime could be applied to the false witness (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).

Capital punishment should be applied to criminals that are convicted in cases in which there are two or more eyewitnesses, and there is no doubt about the guilt of the defendant. When the conviction is dependent upon laboratory evidence and there are no eyewitnesses, then the maximum penalty should be life in prison. Sometimes laboratory evidence is later proved faulty as it did in the case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito who were convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher on the witness of Rudy Guede (who had already admitted to the crime and was brokering a deal with prosecutors) and tainted forensic evidence. In these type of criminal proceedings that rely almost entirely on circumstantial evidence, a convicted person can later be released from prison if the laboratory evidence is later proved faulty.

Does God approve of capital punishment? I have demonstrated that God gave mankind the responsibility of carrying it out after the flood, God’s own illustration of justice in the government He gave to Israel, how believers today are to acknowledge the right and responsibility given by God to governments to be His ministers in avenging wrath on wrongdoers. Obviously, any civilized nation detests violence and bloodshed. However, civilization cannot exist with violence and corruption running rampant. or when government fails to administer justice with punishment that fits the crime.

How does God view governments that fail to carry out their responsibility to execute wrath upon the wrongdoer? As with anything that takes away justice, with sorrow and distress (Isaiah 5:20-23), and as with anyone who fails to fulfill their responsibility, they are cursed (Jeremiah 48:10).

Many people may refuse to accept what the Holy Bible has to say about capital punishment, but let those who profess to be believers and accept the Holy Bible as the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God acknowledge that capital punishment is ordained by God.